News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California 
April 16, 2020
Scripture of the Week

" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 
and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,  who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice,  even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials,  so that the genuineness of your faith- being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. "
1 Peter 1:3-7
The Great 50 Days - stay in touch online
 
Easter is not over. Easter has just begun! Easter lasts 50 days (ten days longer than Lent!). If you missed any of our Holy Week or Easter services and "extras," please go to  the Grace Church Facebook page and view them. The Easter Parade and Easter Egg Hunt have been posted separately from the Easter service itself so you can watch any individual portion of the festivities you may have missed. 

During the pandemic shelter-in-place, we will continue to livestream a 9 a.m. Sunday service on our Facebook page Click on this link  at the appointed time. There should be a message saying the service will begin shortly.  If not, scroll down until you see "Posts." At the appointed time, a window will appear saying we are live. You will then be live with us!
You do not have to join Facebook to watch our livestream services. If you receive a prompt asking if you would like to join Facebook, simply click "no." Or you can follow the information on  this link showing you how to bypass joining Facebook.

The bulletin for Sunday's service can be found here

Grace Episcopal Church Martinez continues worship and community online through at least May 10, 2020
 
Since Sunday March 22, in compliance with recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Contra Costa County Health Services (CCHS), and the bishop of our Diocese of California, we at Grace have been gathering and worshipping together "virtually" rather than in-person. While this has been difficult for many of us (including your extroverted Rector), our community of Christ has opened its collective heart to sharing our liturgy online with one another (and hundreds of others on social media.)  
On Wednesday, April 1, in response to the more stringent guidelines issued by Contra Costa (and other counties), Bishop Marc issued further restrictions for Diocese of California congregations. We will be following Bishop Marc's instructions to suspend " all public, in-person worship services... gatherings, including funerals, memorial services, weddings and non-emergency baptisms...and all... in-person activities" until at least May 10 as requested. 
We will continue to livestream a 9 a.m. Sunday morning service of Holy Eucharist but we will no longer provide Eucharist to participants. 
Please remember that there is  an audio file of our most recent Evensong Service , along with the program for it, on both our website  here  and our Facebook page, as well as content for our children,  including weekly Godly Play lessons.
We have added a lay-led Morning Prayer service at 10 a.m.
The Vestry and many of our ministry groups continue to meet regularly through the use of zoom technology. Minutes of the Vestry meetings and important updates are always posted on the Grace website.  You can find all of the recent sermons by clicking on the "Sermons 2020" tab.

 
Pastoral Care during the Pandemic
Bishop Marc Andrus, in conjunction with state and county precautions and believing that this is the best pastoral response to the coronavirus pandemic, is not allowing diocesan clergy to perform "hands-on" pastoral care. Unfortunately, this means that Rev. Deb cannot perform baptisms, funerals, or last rites in person. The bishop is asking that baptisms and funerals be postponed until after the shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted and that sick "visits" and last rites be performed on-line or by telephone.  
Rev. Deb is available by phone and email. If you are ill, need pastoral care, or any kind of practical help such as food or rides, please contact her directlyIf you call the church number (925-228-6574) and press the button for the Rector, there is an option to mark your message "urgent." Please do so if you need to.   
We are fortunate enough to have funds available for our parishioners in need. The Episcopal Impact Fund has provided $1,000 in discretionary funding to each congregation in the Diocese of California for use during this difficult time. Rev. Deb has also received several generous donations to her Rector's Discretionary Fund.  This money is for use in providing direct services to people. If you need help with food, rent, or medical expenses, please do not be shy! Let Rev. Deb know. Your request and the assistance you receive will be confidential.
If you are able to and would like to help your fellow parishioners financially, please send checks to "Rector's Discretionary Fund, Grace Episcopal Church." T o learn more about Episcopal Impact Fund and its work and/or to donate, visit  episcopalimpact.org
  How to help and be helped during the coronavirus shelter-in-place

It is crucial that we support one another during this difficult time.

If you are a parishioner of Grace and need help CALL THE CHURCH OFFICE (925-228-6574) and leave a message. If your need is urgent, please mark your message as urgent.

If you would like to and are able to help others, here are some suggestions:

1)      Join our sisters and brothers at Resurrection Church in Pleasant Hill in their Pandemic Partners-Pleasant Hill Regional Initiative. Following the example of First Presbyterian Church in Oregon, they have launched a Facebook group to serve as a hub where people in the community can come together to get their needs met. You can find it here on Facebook. People in Martinez and the surrounding area can join the group. Once you have joined, if you need help, ask. If you can offer help, do so. This can include running errands for immediate needs, picking up groceries, helping people learn how to use technology to stay connected to loved ones. Anyone who lives in the area may join the group, but people are responsible for their own health and safety. Grace Episcopal Church is NOT training folks for or directing this effort. If you do participate, we encourage you to continue practicing all of the good safety and social distance measures recommended by Contra Costa Health Services. You may invite friends to join!

2)      Continue to donate to the CORE Homeless Outreach and  Martinez Homeless Action Coalition. They are still active during the crisis. The narthex at Grace is open for donations on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. You can donate financially to the new porta potties and housing for at-risk homeless individuals by sending a check to The Homeless Action Coalition at 2221 Castro Street in Martinez.

3)      Contra Costa Health Services is accepting donations of eye protection, such as goggles and face shields; antibacterial and disinfecting wipes, typically alcohol or bleach-based (unopened and please no baby wipes); unused N-95 and surgical masks; waterproof gowns; coveralls and sleeved aprons; and hand-sewn cloth masks. The next donation dates and sites are:

Tuesday, April 21- Thursday April 23 from 10 am to 2 pm at the Orinda Library (26 Orinda Way, Orinda and the Ygnacio Valley Library (2661 Oak Grove Rd. Walnut Creek)
Tuesday April 28-Thursday, April 30 from 10 am to 2 pm at the Antioch Community Center (4703 Lone Tree Way, Antioch) and Summit Center (2530 Arnold Drive, Martinez
Tuesday, May 5-Thursday May 7 from 10 am to 2 pm at Summit Center.

4)             Loaves and Fishes is not taking new volunteers but continues to provide food to homeless individuals. They are asking for financial donations. To donate, go to  this link.

5)      Monument Crisis Center continues to hold emergency food distribution hours open to all in need. The next dates and times are  Monday, April 20 and Tuesday, April 21, from 9 am to 12 pm. They are in desperate need of perishable and non-perishable food items. You can donate during the above times at the crisis center at 1990 Market Street in Concord. If you cannot get to Concord, you may also drop off donations at our sister church, St. Stephen's Orinda (66 St. Stephen's Drive) at ANY time. To donate without leaving home, text MCC to 41-444.

6)      Rev. Deb continues to accept donations to the Rector's Discretionary Fund (RDF). She is currently using this money to keep our Deacon's Pantry full, financially assist the above organizations, and support any rent-unstable parishioners. You may donate through the "donate" button on our website, but we ask that you send an email to  Treasurer Marj Leeds to indicate that the money you donated is for the RDF.
Transferred to Zoom conferencing:
Wednesday morning service and Bible Study
 
Grace will celebrate the season of Easter with a new round of the Good Book Club. Through the Season of Pentecost, we will be studying the Gospel of Matthew alongside Episcopalians from all over the world. You can find the curriculum, the text, and additional information at The Good Book Club website.

During the Coronavirus concerns, Rev. Deb will be hosting our Wednesday Service and Bible Study by Zoom Conference call. To join her, on Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. simply Click on this link
 
The bulletin (with the readings) for the service can be found here. This will be a Morning Prayer service.  

 
A New Worship Opportunity at Grace: Cancelled for April 17. Resumes April 24.
 
At the request of parishioners, we have added a  Friday Morning Prayer service.  This will take place weekly on Fridays at 10 a.m. by Zoom.  You can join the service by clicking on  this Zoom link. The order of service will be set by the regular participants from week to week.

Worship does not only happen on Sundays

The stay-in-place restrictions related to the coronavirus can serve as an opportunity to deepen your faith practices at home.

We encourage all of our families to take part in our online offerings, including twice-weekly Morning Prayer, Bible Study, Sunday worship, and Godly Play at home for children. You can also s et up a home altar and worship together: View this link

You can also  take this free course called "Prayer and Worship in our Homes."

Check out  this article from the Episcopal Cafe for more!

 
Grace's children's education model is Godly Play, which is a Montessori-based Christian Education curriculum for elementary-aged children. The goal of the program is to teach children the art of using religious language -- parable, sacred story, silence, and liturgical action -- to help children interpret the spiritual aspects of their daily lives. Children experience the word of God through the elements of prayer, song, The Word, and response.  
 
During the Shelter-in-Place precautions while we are simulcasting our Sunday morning 9 a.m. service, we will be offering our Godly Play lessons (and a bonus art project) online. These can be found on our  Facebook page 
 An important message from your Treasurer

We are currently only together as a "virtual" community.  However, our parish expenses will continue as per normal.  I urge you to remember this as you consider your commitment to financially support the mission of Grace Episcopal Church.  You may decide to mail a check (130 Muir Station Road, Martinez, CA  94553) or commit to "catch up" when we are together again . You may also pay your pledge online by going to this link or contact Treasurer  Marj Leeds for more information.

Also, in the interest of transparency, we will be posting a short monthly financial summary in Grace Notes following each Vestry meeting. If you have questions, check in with Marj or a member of the Vestry.  Here's this month's:

March Report
Income Year to Date        $39,920.96
Expenses Year to Date    $46,468.28
Deficit                                    $6,548.02
Comments
  1. Pledge income is $5000 under budget (bad)
  2. Expenses are $3000 under budget (good) due to the Treasurer unintentionally prepaying a portion of the pension in 2019 (about $2700)
Martinez Clothing Exchange
(aka Homeless Showers)
Updated Needs (PLEASE CONTINUE TO GIVE DURING THIS CRISIS) 

In light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, operations of the regular Friday showers have been suspended.

We will still be providing assistance to our unhoused community members by distributing items every Friday at Loaves & Fishes.


**AT THIS TIME NO CLOTHING IS BEING REQUESTED.**

As eateries and grocery stores have restricted hours and limitations have been placed on options for the distribution of warm meals, we are asking you to help fill the gaps of vital food to our unhoused community members.

Please consider donating the following non-perishable items:
- Bottled Water
- Canned goods: items like soup or canned pasta preferably 
- Instant Coffee
- Nutritious, prepackaged snacks items 


REMINDER: 
Only requested items   should be dropped off at donation locations. This is strictly a volunteer-run effort and when unwanted and unneeded items are donated it creates additional work for volunteers who have to sort, organize and find alternative destinations for unrequested items. We are limited on storage space as well so please HELP US as we work TOGETHER to help our community.
WHERE DO I DONATE?
Items LISTED ABOVE can be dropped off on the porch of 2221 Castro Street (Green House)
*Please consider neatly folding and sorting items prior to donation.*

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF THIS VITAL EFFORT!


  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. PLEASE DO NOT STOP GIVING DURING THE CORONA VIRUS CRISIS. NEEDS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER. YOU CAN DROP OFF AT THE CHURCH ON SUNDAYS BETWEEN 8 AND 10 a.m. WE WILL BE SURE THINGS ARE DELIVERED.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.
Introducing Monthly Buildings and Grounds Work Parties!
There is never a shortage of things that need to get done at Grace and, thankfully, there is also never a shortage of people who want to help out.  In order to make best use of this gift, Junior Warden Josh Senn has announced that we will be holding monthly work parties on our property.  Josh will be here on the last Saturday of every month at 9 a.m.  with a to-do list that you can spend a couple of hourse helping with . Barring complications from Corona Virus precautions, the first of these will be on May 23. Thank you in advance for your help!
Faithful Forums 2020
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 a.m.) 

Faithful Forums will resume when the corona virus crisis has passed. We hope to reschedule any cancelled sessions. Currently, f uture dates and topics include:

May 17:  John Cumming, President of the Board of the San Francisco Night Ministry will talk about this important ministry to people who live on the streets in San Francisco. 
June 21: The Rev. Will McGarvey will introduce the work of The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County. 
Upper Lot Discernment Update

At our most recent Vestry meeting, Grace's leadership heard a very exciting proposal related to the  discernment process which will help us discover God's plan for our upper lot.  Discernment involves not just thinking about what we might do, but actively praying and discussing our options in community. You might want to ask one of your vestry members about it. Everyone is invited to submit any and all ideas for use of the upper lot.  You can submit your ideas to: upperlot@gracechurchmtz.org
Update on 150th anniversary!

Did you know that our church is the second oldest in the county, and that it turns 150 years old this July?  To celebrate this momentous occasion our Planning Committee needs your suggestions and your financial support. There is now a 150th Anniversary Fund. To donate, please contact our Treasurer,  Marj Leeds. Please let us know your ideas via email at  Gracemtz150@gmail.com, or speak with co-chairs John Vander Kamp or Melissa Rodrigue-Kennedy.
The Amazing Grace Youth Choir in on hiatus!

Rehearsals will resume on Sundays at noon (following our 10 a.m. service and coffee hour) after the corona virus crisis.    Young people ages 7-17 are invited to join in learning to read, appreciate and perform music in a low-stress environment. To enroll, contact Music Director Arthur Omura by calling the parish office (925) 228-6574, after the greeting, select Option 4. 
Make a joyful noise! 

When we resume regular services, please consider being  part of the joyful liturgy at Grace by lending your voice to the choir. Choir rehearsals at Grace are Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. You don't need experience or even the ability to read music. Please join this amazing ministry!  
 
For more information contact Music Director Arthur Omura by calling the parish office (925) 228-6574, after the greeting, select Option 4.   
Yoga at Grace on hiatus

Yoga is cancelled for now. Once the corona virus restrictions end, please join Certified Yoga Instructor Noah Yuzna on Tuesdays at 6:15 for a class which is suitable for all ages and ability levels. The class is free with all proceeds divided between Noah and the Church. 
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.
 
 
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