News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California
July 25, 2019 
Scripture of the Week

"Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God."
Colossians 2:16-19
"Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs."  Jesus

At Grace, we have Godly Play (Sunday School) during the school year. During the summer we continue to offer Nursery Care. School age children are invited to join their families in the Sanctuary. We provide coloring and drawing materials, books, and soft toys, as well as a children's area for children who prefer not to sit in the pews with their families.
Commissioning of the Altar Guild
this Sunday    
 The Altar Guild is a group of parishioners who  care for the altar, vestments, vessels, and altar linens of the parish. Altar Guild members prepare the sanctuary for services, and clean up afterwards. This week we will formally commission these volunteers and thank them for their important work.
St. Christopher's Guild meeting
this Sunday    
The St. Christopher's Guild is a ministry of the women of Grace. All women are invited to attend. St. Christopher's raises funds for local nonprofit organizations through social events. Please join us for our monthly meeting this Sunday, July 28, at 9am at the conference table in the Education wing. 

Welcoming Committee  to meet on Sunday, August 11   
Our beloved congregation is growing! Alleluia! Let's take a look at how we welcome new people into our church family and make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure they have a wonderful first experience that inspires them to come back for more! Please join our newly formed Welcoming Committee for its monthly meeting this Sunday, July 21, at 9am at the conference table in the Education wing. For information contact Christina Reich by email  or at (925) 266-0567. Thank you!  
The Survey Results are in

Many thanks to everyone who completed the Grace Parishioner survey. The survey is now closed. 
62 people responded to the survey. That is about two-thirds of the congregation. Both 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. parishioners were represented. Parish Leadership has reviewed the data in aggregate, which gives us a good sense of what the majority of parishioners feel about different worship options, music, and communications at Grace. There are several strong trends present and many helpful comments.  Here is a brief synopsis of the results of each of the ten questions we asked everyone to answer: 
How do you feel about Family Sunday? The majority of Grace parishioners like Family Sunday and would like it to continue as it is.
Are you happy with the worship opportunities at Grace?  Most folks are happy with the current worship offerings at Grace. There was a trend toward introducing an Evensong service, which the Worship and Liturgy Committee has discussed and decided to try in the fall.
Preaching at Grace: Most people are very happy with the preaching at Grace.
How do you like the music at Grace?: This question generated the most comments, as well as the most varied responses. While some people requested more "traditional" music, others asked for the introduction of some "contemporary" music. There was some confusion about what folks meant by "traditional," as music that is traditional in one congregation is not the same as in another. Rev. Deb and Arthur Omura, our Music Director, are in conversation about how to best respond to these music concerns.  Overall, there was positive response to the idea of beginning a Children's Choir at Grace. As a result, Arthur (with Amelia Brooks assisting) will be starting a Children's Choir in the fall.
Would you like more educational opportunities at Grace? There was a great deal of interest in having an online study experience. Rev. Deb is currently working on a weekly podcast. Please share your ideas with her.
Yoga at Grace: It appears that not many people are interested in Yoga at Grace. Leadership will be discussing whether it is worth continuing this program as a community outreach effort.
Communications at Grace: Most people felt that they receive adequate information from Grace. More than half of respondents indicated that they know most of the parish leadership and the primary decision-making criteria at Grace. 
Here is some general information, in response to several questions we received:
  • You can receive Grace notes by contacting The Parish Office. (Past "issues" of Grace Notes are posted on the church website.)
  • The Mission statement of Grace is framed in the Narthex of the Church and printed on the bulletin each Sunday. The Vision statement is posted in the Parish Hall next to the light switch. 
  • Important Vestry policy and/or financial decisions are always part of the Vestry minutes. If you have questions about a specific policy or decision, you are welcome to speak to any Vestry member or Rev. Deb. The Vestry members' photos and email addresses can be found in the bulletin each Sunday. Vestry members also introduce themselves during services. You are also welcome to attend Vestry meetings, which are on the second Wednesday of the month at 5 p.m.
  • The minutes of Vestry meetings and current financial information are posted physically on the clipboard on the bulletin board near the door of the Parish Hall and online on The Grace Church Martinez website 
  • Information about the SWWEePS acronymn, the difference between a Family and Pastoral-sized parish, and our relationship to The Episcopal Church, has been presented at several successive Annual Parish Meetings and can also be found in Vestry minutes. Rev. Deb also recently posted an article regarding Grace's relationship to the larger Episcopal Church. For more information about how decisions are made at Grace, please ask a Vestry member or Rev. Deb. They will be happy to talk to you.
Safe Church  
(Whole and Healthy Church) 
Sometimes it feels like summer will go on forever, but at Grace we are already gearing up for our program year, which begins in September.  In order to provide Godly Play (Sunday School), Nursery, and Youth programming for our young people, we need quite a few volunteers - and the diocese requires our volunteers to complete the Whole and Healthy Church online safety training. If you are a regular volunteer who works with or is interested in helping children or senior citizens at Grace, you must complete this program. Unfortunately, if you do not complete Safe Church training prior to the end of the summer, Rev. Deb will have to remove your name as a volunteer for these programs.  This would be a devas tating blow to our child and youth programming, so please take a couple of hours to complete the training.

In addition to Godly Play, Nursery, and Youth Group, other ministries that require certain levels of Safe Church training are: Eucharistic Visitors, Altar Guild, Vestry members, and anyone who has a key to Grace.

News Flash ... As an alternative to taking the courses online, there will be an in-person training on August 9 at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley from 2-4 pm. If you'd like to sign up for this option, contact Jennifer Sabroe no later than August 7.

If you have any questions about these requirements or don't know if you need to take the training, please contact  Jennifer Sabroe in the Parish Office.  Many thanks!
The church in the world

Jesus "said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'" Mark 16:15

I was raised with the firm conviction that religion and politics do not mix, a notion which was consistent with what I learned in (Episcopal) church. In that time and place, it seemed possible to discuss national and world events without bringing God into it. This is no longer true. People representing themselves as Christians are not only mixing politics and religion, but they are, in some cases, putting love of country above love of God ( see article here). This is wrong. 

Under these circumstances, The Episcopal Church has adopted a view which compels us to speak to issues that bear directly on our convictions as Christians. Some have referred to this as the church's "social welfare agenda." The truth is that it is Jesus's agenda. It is Jesus who told us to love the poor, the disenfranchised, the homeless, the hungry, and the stranger. It is Jesus who warned us against the love of power and money. It is Jesus who, when asked who our neighbor is, replied by telling a story about someone the disciples thought of as a despicable, foreign, apostate who nonetheless demonstrated the way that Jesus asks us to follow. And it is Jesus who commanded that we share his message.

For these reasons, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Michael Curry, and the Bishop of California, The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, sometimes issue statements on national events, as both did recently. These statements are based in holy scripture and specifically on the words and actions of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You can find them here:

Deacon's Pantry items needed
We are running down on food and other items in our Deacon's Pantry. The Deacon's Pantry is a cabinet in the kitchen (accessible from the Parish Hall) that contains food and other practical items that are available to anyone in need of them. Please ask Rev. Walter what is needed and then drop it off in the new box in the Parish Hall labeled, "Deacon's Pantry supplies." Many thanks!
IMPORTANT Traffic Notice

Discovery Builders has begun construction on the development that is being built on the lot above our upper lot (formerly the trailer park). Continuing at least through the month of July, Muir Station Road will be closed daily in both travel directions between the hours of 9 am and 5:30 pm, Monday through Saturday. If you spend time at Grace during the week, please take this into account prior to visiting.  
To access the church you need to approach from the east end of Muir Station Road (Center Ave). If you are coming from the west end of Muir Station Road, you will be detoured via the freeway to the east end (off of Center). At the barricade, the flag person will allow you to pass if you tell them you are going to the church. When you leave the church you must turn right to go back up to Center Ave.

Here is a link to the map and detour plan. Thank you for your patience.
Backpack / School Supplies Drive
The annual Grace Church Backpacks/School Supplies Drive is underway! For many years, we have been filling backpacks with school supplies for students at Martinez Jr. High. Over the summer we collect supplies. In early September we spend a Sunday afternoon filling the backpacks. The backpacks are then delivered to the school where counselors distribute to the students most in need.
How you can help:
3) Bring your donations to church and leave in the bin in the Narthex.
4) Mark the Tracking Chart (new this year). As you bring in donations, mark the tracking chart (located in the Narthex) indicating the quantity for the item(s). By doing this, everyone can see what items (and how many) are still needed to meet our goal.  
We have 60 backpacks to fill so let the shopping begin!   
Every little bit helps, definitely makes a difference, and is greatly appreciated!
Ken Roan Memorial
A Burial Service will be held next  Friday, August 2 at 1 p.m.  at Grace. Please save the date.
If you are willing to contribute to or help with the reception after the service, please let Susan Bremmer know. Please see the notice in regard to traffic restrictions that will be in place on that day.
Grace Book Group

Want to participate in a book discussion group? Come drop in on the Grace Book Club! We meet on the third Wednesday of the month. We'd love to see you! Our next get-together is Wednesday, August 21, at 6:30 p.m., at Smooth Season restaurant at Muir Station shopping center, when we will discuss "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles.  For more information call/text Jennifer Sabroe at (925) 383-8386.
Support our military members and veterans

You are invited to take part in the Veteran Alcatraz Swim Challenge (VII) on Wednesday, August 24 .The event is free for Veterans, Active Duty Military, and Immediate Family members. We offer training for the one mile swim. We are also in need of folks to ride in kayaks as safety monitors.
Click here to download the flyer.  
For specific information about how you can get involved, contact   Shannon Kleinschmit.  
Scrapbooking event 
There will be a gathering of avid scrapbookers on Saturday, August 24 at 9 a.m. in the Education Building. For safety reasons, children under the age of 10 cannot be included. For more information, contact Karen Lowe (707) 373-3927.
Energetic folks needed!

We continue to work on organizing our various ministries at Grace. There are several areas where we are in need of help:
We are working on a standing Fundraising Committee. Traditionally, the Vestry has spearheaded fundraising events,  but are now busy with administrative and liaison duties. If you have a passion for or experience with organizing events which raise funds, please consider heading up a Grace Fundraising Committee. If you are interested, please contact Rev Deb.
The Hospitality Committee is off to a great start and would love more members. Specifically, we are looking for parishioners willing to serve as Mentors to new folks to help them get oriented to Grace.  If you are interested, please talk to Christina Reich
We continue to need more folks to help in liturgical roles, including Eucharistic Ministers who assist the priest during the Holy Eucharist; Eucharistic Visitors, who bring Eucharist to folks unable to attend services; members of the Altar Guild, who help prepare the church for worship; Choir members, who sing during the 10 a.m. service; and Acolytes, young people between the ages of 10 and 18 who assist with the liturgy. Please consider thoughtfully and prayerfully what you can do for the good of the church. Contact Rev. Deb ( and she will direct you to the right person!
How to Pray (reprise)

On Tuesday, August 27, at 10 a.m. in the Parish Hall, all are welcome to a second showing of a ChurchNext online group course, How to Pray, with Christopher Martin. "... In this class Christopher will not only tell us why people who pray are happier, less anxious, and generally more content with their lives, but how we might get there." Topics covered: What is Prayer? Varieties of Prayer; What Does Prayer Do? Benefits of Prayer. Allow an hour for the viewing of the four 5-minute video lectures and the conversation we will have between each one. Contact the Parish Office for more information.
Summer music at Grace
Our wonderful choir is on summer break.
Their absence provides a hole in our 10 a.m. worship - and an opportunity for closet musicians to make themselves known. If you sing or play an instrument and are willing to share your talents for even ONE SUNDAY during the summer months, we would be most grateful. This gives folks a chance who might be shy or think they are too busy to join the choir full-time to share their talents.  Please contact  Music Director Arthur Omura if you are interested!
29th Annual Oktoberfest
at Grace Church!

Save the Date
Saturday, October 19, 2019
5pm Social Hour ~ 6pm Dinner

German food, music, entertainment, and raffle. Contact Stephanie Zichichi  if you would like to help. More information to follow!
Bible Study for Everyone!

Each Wednesday at 10 a.m. we offer Holy Eucharist followed by Bible Study in our Chapel.
During the first half of the Season after Pentecost, we are using Kevin A. Wilson's book, "Conversations with Scripture: the Law." "Scripture contains many laws about which Christians are perplexed. If the Bible contains laws, shouldn't those laws be followed? What does the law that prohibits reaping a harvest to the very edges of your field mean in modern times? Kevin Wilson offers fresh insights into the meaning of the Law for today." The book is available on Amazon and Barnes and NobleHowever, as always, you do not need to purchase the book to take part.
Be part of the online directory
If you have not received an email from the Parish Office and would like to be part of the Grace online directory, please let  Parish Administrator Jennifer Sabroe know.
All age Education program: Faithful Forums

Grace offers monthly educational forums on broad-ranging topics like The Dead Sea Scrolls, Episcopal Polity, Recycling, and Emergency Preparedness for congregations. These take place in the Parish Hall following our 10 a.m. service (approximately 11:30). 
There is no Faithful Forum in July. Here's a peek at coming attractions beginning in August:  
August 18, "Winter Nights" Shelter program for homeless families (sponsored by Outreach)
September 15, What is a Justice Ministry? with members of the Social Justice Committee of the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, San Francisco
October 20, Open Forum with The Rev. Canon Abbott Bailey, Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of California
November 17, Sustaining Earth, Our Island Home conversation with the Environmental Ministry of the Diocese of California
Don't forget to check the Coffee Hour Sign-Up Sheet
The sign-up sheet has been filled through August. It is posted on the bulletin board in the Parish Hall. Please check it to be sure you know your assigned Sunday. Questions:  Email Coffee Hour Coordinator Tina Reich or leave a note on the sign-up clipboard. Please remember that if you can't do your assigned date, you are asked to make arrangements for a substitute.   
Flower and Candle Dedications

We are blessed by having fresh flowers on our altar each week. These are paid for by parishiners who wish to dedicate flowers (or candles) in thanksgiving or memory of loved ones. There are many open dates available on the flower and candle dedication calendar, located in the Narthex. When signing up for a date on the chart, please be sure to also write your name on the corresponding date in the flower dedication notebook (located on the little table below the chart). Suggested donation $35. The candle dedication notebook on the table under the bulletin board. Suggested donation $5.
Yoga at Grace!
We welcome certified Yoga Instructor Noah Yuzna every  Tuesday evening at 6:15 p.m. to conduct a 60-minute yoga class.  All levels are welcome and modifications are available for folks with limited mobility.  Classes are open to the community and there is no set cost.  Participants are invited to contribute what they can for each class.  
The Way of Love: with Bishop Michael Curry

The Way of Love is a podcast from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.  This episodic podcast offers more ways to engage with the Way of Love, Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life, The Episcopal Church's intentional commitment to a set of practices as a way to follow Jesus. Audiences can listen to stories of people from around the Church as they put the Way of Love practices of Turn, Learn, Pray, Worship, Bless, Go, Rest, into action. You can find episodes  here.

The Diocese of California will hold a
Beloved Community Training Day in the East Bay this fall at St. Paul's, Oakland on Saturday, September 21. 

The day will include required training sessions for Eucharistic Visitors, Eucharistic Ministers, and Whole & Healthy Church Training, along with an array of workshops for lay leaders in all areas of ministry.

Registration will open in mid-summer.

When: Saturday, September 21
Where: St. Paul's, Oakland, 114 Montecito Avenue
Contact: Amy Cook, Working Group Head for Faith Formation,

  C.O.R.E. Homeless Outreach donations
C.O.R.E stands for Coordinated Outreach Referral and Engagement. It is a program of the Housing and Homeless Services Division of Contra Costa County Health Services. Grace provides the C.O.R.E. team with needed items to distribute to individuals suffering from homelessness. This is an ongoing project, so we are requesting:
  • Hygiene items including (but not limited to) soap, shampoo, oral care, shower wipes, shaving supplies, feminine hygiene items
  • Incontinence products (e.g. "Depend") (men's and women's) all sizes
  • Sleeping bags
  • Blankets (moving blankets are inexpensive and durable)
  • Backpacks - ideally large capacity, durability is less important as they are frequently lost or stolen after a few weeks/months
  • Healthy food - preferable non-perishable items that don't require cooking, a can opener, or good teeth. Pull-top cans are good.
  • Bottles of water
  • Socks
  • Sunscreen
  • Pet food (in particular, wet food in pull-top cans). Other pet goodies would be appreciated too!
We also encourage parishioners to consider developing the habit of thinking of our homeless neighbors when shopping (i.e. picking up an extra item or two) and traveling (bringing home the hotel soaps/shampoo). Please leave donations in the Narthex.

Grace Episcopal Church Martinez is on Amazon Smile. If you are shopping at Amazon, simply go to the Grace Martinez Amazon Smile link and we will receive a portion of their sale to you.  Spread the word!

Do you have an announcement?
If you have a parish-related announcement for the bulletin or Grace Notes - meeting reminders, upcoming events, special requests, etc. - please email the text of your announcement to the Parish Office by end of day on Tuesday. Thank you! 

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Serving the community of Martinez
and Contra Costa County since 1868.

Our Mission:
Working together to welcome,
support, and serve all God's people.