News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California 
March 26, 2020
Scripture of the Week

" Jesus began to weep . "

John 11:35

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
Holy Week and Easter in the time of Corona Virus

Hosannah! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Beloved Friends, 
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). We will continue to follow 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 and provide  a Wednesday 10 a.m. Holy Eucharist and Bible Study by Zoom Conference.   Information for participating in livestream and Zoom gatherings can be found in the boxes below. 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.  COMING SOON: A weekly short service for families with younger children.

Holy Week  and Easter Services will be as follows:
Sunday, April 5, 9 a.m. Palm Sunday, The Blessing of the Palms with Processional and the Palm Sunday Liturgy with the reading of the Passion Gospel. This will take place through the magic of technology. All you have to do is tune in to The Grace Facebook Page at 9 a.m. Trust me, you don't want to miss it!
Wednesday, April 8, 7 p.m. Tenebrae, Tune in for our livestream Tenebrae service. Professional musicians will perform this ancient and beautiful liturgy, which includes songs of lament and hope that are very appropriate for our current circumstances. This can also be found on The Grace Facebook page at the appropriate time.
Thursday, April 9, 6 p.m. Maundy Thursday Zoom Agape, followed by the (prerecorded) Stripping of the Altar. Please join us in sharing a simple meal and liturgy as well as the traditional washing of feet in the safety of your own home. Details can be found in the box below.
Thursday April 9, 7 p.m. until Friday, April 10, Noon. Gethsemane Watch, (see details in the box below). This year, because we are being asked to shelter in place, we are asking you to find a quiet space at home, in God's outdoors, your car, or wherever you like to simply be awake with Christ. You can use the time to journal, pray, sing, or meditate. If you would like to participate, simply sign up for one (or more) hour(s) of watch. You can sign up here
Friday, April 10, Good Friday Stations of the Cross, Any time, but Noon is recommended:  I will be posting a Stations of the Cross Liturgy designed to be done at home. 
7 p.m. Good Friday Liturgy, Tune in to The Grace Facebook page for our livestream of the traditional Good Friday Liturgy, culminating in the veneration of the cross.
On Saturday, April 11 at Noon, The Holy Saturday liturgy will be available for viewing on our website and The Grace Facebook page
Sunday, April 12, EASTER DAY, 9 a.m. livestream service on The Grace Facebook page with Easter Parade, Easter bonnet contest, and Easter Egg Hunt. To find out how you can be part of the festivities without leaving home, see the box below! 
I will be continue to be at the church on Wednesdays in order to conduct our Holy Eucharist service. Otherwise, I will be 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 me directly. If 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.  The Sanctuary will be open for individual prayer and for you to drop off donations for Martinez Homeless Services and CORE (see below) on Wednesdays from 9 until 3 and Sundays from 8-9 a.m. and 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.

Believing that God is with us in all things,
Rev. Deb
How to access our Livestreamed services
We are still a community! Join us for worship

In order to be part of our services as they take place (the "simulcast"), go to the Grace Church Facebook page: Grace Episcopal Church Martinez Facebook page at the appointed time. 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!
For those of you concerned about joining Facebook, John Lee has found a way to access the livestream without joining Facebook.  You can find a link showing you how here. Thank you John!
You can follow along in this week's Worship bulletin by clicking on this link: Worship Bulletin for March 29, 2020. I know it may seem strange to participate from home, but I encourage you to consider yourself at church by saying the prayers, singing along, and shouting out isolated "AMENs" during the sermon (just like normal).
The recordings of our services will also be available to view afterward and, as always, sermons will be posted on our website. 
We know this will be daunting and scary for some of you, but we will get it figured out. Live without fear!
Transferred to Zoom conferencing:
Wednesday Holy Eucharist and Bible Study
During Lent we are studying "Life Transformed: The Way of Love in Lent." During the Coronavirus concerns, Rev. Deb will be hosting our Wednesday Eucharist and Bible Study by Zoom Conference call. To join her, on Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. simply Click on this linkWe had some diffiulties with our internet this week. If you gave up trying to join us, please try again next week as we have purchased an internet booster.

The readings for the Eucharist can be found here.

In order to keep things simple, we ask that you view the video for each session (SESSION 5, Rest)  prior to our virtual gathering. These can be found at this link:   The Way of Love in Lent.
 Connected Congregation

During this difficult time, it is extremely important that we remain in touch with one another. In order to ensure that our parishioners receive important messages and, perhaps more crucially, simply check-in with one another, we have developed the Connected Congregation check-in system. This is a communication tree that allows us to quickly and easily contact one another. It also allows individuals who need help during this crisis and people who are willing/able to provide such help to connect with one another.

The system is based on "afffinity groups" (folks who know one another through similar ministries). The idea is for people to be in touch with one another on a regular (bimonthly) basis. A Vestry, Staff member, or ministry leader will be responsible for regular contact with one "branch" of our Grace family tree. They will then request that you be in touch with one another.

You can find the list here. Please participate; we want to know how everyone is doing!
 An important message from your Treasurer
We will only be together as a "virtual community" in the coming weeks.  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:

February Report

Income Year to Date       $26,427.09
Expenses Year to Date    $23,706.51
Excess                                   $2720.58
  1. Pledge income is $4000 under budget (bad)
  2. Expenses are $8000 under budget (good) due to
    1. Diocesan billing is behind (about $4500)
    2. The Treasurer unintentionally pre-paid a portion of the pension in 2019 (about $2700)

 A generous gift!

Rev. Deb received a notice this week that The Episcopal Impact Fund is providing a $1,000 in discretionary funding to each congregation in the Diocese of California for use during this difficult time. The  Episcopal Impact Fund is the outreach arm of the Diocese of California. Its board has created a Rapid Response Fund available for church and community programs to help them meet the current need. In our case, part of the money we receive will be spent to upgrade our Zoom and simulcast capabilities, which we are using extensively to stay in touch during the shelter in place mandate. Grace supports  EIF by purchasing tables to their annual fundraiser, The Night of Life.  To learn more about Episcopal Impact Fund and its work and/or to donate, visit We are most grateful for this extremely generous gift! 
Helping your city and county during the Corona Virus shelter in place

Several of our folks have generously inquired about volunteering to help high risk individuals during the mandated shelter in place. 

If you are a parishioner of Grace and need help yourself, please call the church (925-228-6574) and we will make sure you get what you need. 

In terms of helping the greater, community, I contacted City Council member (and parishioner) Noralea Gipner to inquire how Grace might assist the community during this time. Because of the stringent distancing rules, most groups assisting those in need prefer financial contributions to offers to help at this time. 

Noralea asks that if you would like to help individuals who are high risk as a result of homelessness, you can support the maintenance of the new porta potties, " If any of you are in a situation where you can help with the maintenance of the Porta potties please just write a check to homeless action coalition. Mail it to 2221 Castro St., Martinez."

Contra Costa County Health Services is now accepting donations of " eye protection, such as goggles and face shields, antibacterial and disinfecting wipes, typically alcohol or bleac h based (unopened). No baby wipes, N-95 and surgical masks (in unopened containers/boxes), medical gowns: and disposable gowns."

Donation centers will be open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at: 
  • West County: 151 Linus Pauling Drive, Hercules 
  • Central County: 1750 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill Library
  • East County: 4545 Delta Fair Blvd., Antioch 
We received the following response from Loaves and Fishes , a group with which many of our fo lks have volunteered over the years:

" In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Loaves and Fishes will NOT be accepting new volunteers. We have disabled our new volunteer program (VolunteerHub) until it is safe to resume o perations as usual.  If you have volunteered with us in the past and would be able to assist us in the distribution of to-go containers to our guests at any of our dining rooms OR chopping veggies, etc in the Central Kitchen, please email the Operations and Volunteer Manager, Karen Olson, at . She will then contact you if/when there is an available shift. Please do not call the office with questions in regards to volunteering; simply email Karen and she will answer any questions within 24 hours.  THANK YOU! Stay safe and healthy during these unprecedented times."

Monument Crisis Center will hold emergency food distribution open to all in need during the following dates and times:
Monday March 30th 9am-12pm
Tuesday March 31st 9am-12pm
Friday April 3rd 9am-12pm

They are in need of perishable and non-perishable food items. You can donate during the above times. To donate without leaving home, text MCC to 41-444. Thank you!  Please feel free to share this information with anyone in need.

Also, consider donating to the Martinez Senior Center and please keep donations for the Martinez Clothing Exchange and CORE coming to the church, which is open on Wednesday and Sunday mornings! (See below).
Martinez Clothing Exchange
(aka Homeless Showers)

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.

The below items are DESPERATELY NEEDED. Temperatures have dropped and without showers, we are placing a strong emphasis on personal hygiene items.

Men's & Women's Jackets and Sweatshirts suitable for the outdoors
Unisex warm hats

Hand Sanitizer
Baby wipes/personal wipes

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.
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.*


  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 AND ON WEDNESDAYS. 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.

Maundy Thursday Zoom Agape 

Many thanks to  The Rev. Dr. David Gortner, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Coeur d'Alene, ID  (for the Diocese of Spokane) for sharing this service with us.

When Jesus shared Passover with his disciples, it was in the home tradition and setting of the Passover meal. The washing of feet, the sharing of bread and wine, and the new commandment to love one another all happened in a home, in a room where Jesus drew his friends together as host, teacher, friend, and master who was there to serve them all.
Maundy Thursday may be considered, at its heart, a homely affair. During this extraordinary time that requires us to practice social distancing in order to help protect everyone from the rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, we are being taken back to our households as our base-point. But we have the blessing in this technological age of joining others in fellowship even when we are alone in our households. We can join now with each other on this holy night, as we pray, sing, and hear the Word of God while we eat together, each in our own homes but joined in fellowship.

Because we are one family through Christ even when physically separated, this year the community of Grace will join together through the technology of the internet to remember the Last Supper of Jesus. Each family is asked to prepare a simple meal in their own home and to meet together on a Zoom conference to share this meal and liturgy. 

The link for preparing and participating in the service can be found  here

Here is the link for joining  The Maundy Thursday Family Agape Dinner and Liturgy on Thursday, April 9 at 6 p.m.

Gethsemane Watch  

Now taking place in homes all over Contra Costa and Alameda counties!  Jesus spent the last night of his life with his friends, eating and drinking together in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked them to stay awake with him, but one by one they all fell asleep, leaving him alone and despairing.  
In an attempt to do better, and in some small way to make up what was lacking in the first disciples, we choose as a community to stay awake with Jesus in the hours between Maundy Thursday (following the stripping of the altar) and the first service of Good Friday.  
The goal is to have someone awake with Christ every hour. Many people tell us that they enjoy spending quiet time alone (or nearly alone). This year, because we are being asked to shelter in place, we are asking you to find a quiet space at home, in God's outdoors, your car or wherever you like to simply be awake with Christ. You can use the time to journal, pray, sing, or meditate. If you would like to participate, simply sign up for one (or more) hour(s) of watch. You can sign up here

Announcing the First Annual Grace Virtual EASTER PARADE and Egg Hunt

We are all sad not to be enjoying a traditional raucus Easter procession in our beloved Sanctuary this year. Nonetheless, we ARE going to see one another.

We are asking everyone to send us a photo of themselves in their Easter finery. You can put on the outfit you planned to wear this year, or share one of your particularly stunning outfits from years past. There will be a prize for the best Easter bonnet! Please send these photos
 to The Grace Church Office before Good Friday so that you can be part of our wonderful online procession!

Following the service, stay tuned to watch The Great Grace Egg Hunt. The Easter Bunny and her helper will appear on the lawn of Grace to hunt down the Easter eggs hidden by dastardly youth! The Bunny will be looking out for the children of Grace to make sure there are Easter baskets waiting for them when they return to Grace. 
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 April 25. 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:

April 26:  Martinez Vice-Mayor Noralea Gipner and Martinez Police Community Service Officer Rodney Brinser will talk about efforts in Martinez to alleviate homelessness.
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:
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, 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. 
Flower and Candle Dedications
We are blessed by having fresh flowers on our altar each week. These are paid for by parishioners who wish to dedicate flowers (or candles) in thanksgiving or memory of loved ones. There are 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.
Coffee Hour
The Coffee Hour schedule is posted in the Parish Hall. Thank you to all those who signed up to host and for your generosity in making coffee hour welcoming to newcomers and enjoyable for us all. If you are new to Grace and have questions about coffee hour, give Tina a call at 925-266-0567 or email her at
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.