News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California
November 29, 2018 
Scripture of the Week

"To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
my God, I put my trust in you; 
let me not be humiliated,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
Let none who look to you be put to shame; 
let the treacherous be disappointed in their schemes.
Show me your ways, O  Lord
and teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long. "    
Psalm 25:1-4
"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, but children and youth share in the ministry of the church year-round, serving as acolytes, readers, and oblation bearers. 
This Sunday in Godly Play:  The Story of the Prophet Isaiah
Advent is here. We are telling the stories of Advent that will help the children anticipate the mystery of
Christmas. Our session on this Sunday will begin with changing the color of our Godly Play calendar from green to purple. We will remind the children of the changing seasons in the Church year and suggest that they look for the change of colors when they join the adults in the sanctuary.

We begin our Advent lessons with the story of the Prophet Isaiah. The complete story includes 12 different prophesies. We will choose from among these based on the ages of the children who join us for the day, but one prophesy will most certainly be told- that of the Messiah to
come. The children will be shown a candle and told that "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light," the bright light and warmth that will be brought by the child who will be born at Christmas. They will also hear that the someone who is coming has been chosen by God. This is the first step in our preparation for the mystery of Christmas.
Thank You, Thank You!!!

A big THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to the  "Spirit of Giving" Drive. Your incredibly enthusiastic response to this year's drive allowed us to provide Christmas gifts to 35 individuals spanning 12 families who live in the supportive communities of the Contra Costa Interfaith Housing. In addition, your generosity has provided each family with Safeway gift cards ($25 per family member). 

AND ... Many thanks to everyone who made our First Annual Grace Thanksgiving Day Dinner a tremendous success. 40 people enjoyed community and were well-fed!

Meetings, meetings, meetings!!

Outreach Committee Sunday at 9 a.m.
  Meet at the conference table in the Education Wing

St. Christopher's Guild at 9 a.m. 
Very short meeting to ensure everything is in on track for luncheon.
Meet in the Parish Hall  
Youth Group Sunday afternoon from 2 to 4 p.m.
Coffee Hour Hosts needed!
We are desperately in need of hosts for our post-10 a.m. service Coffee Hour. This is an essential part of being a welcoming parish.  If you can, please sign-up  for December on the sheet posted on the bulletin board in the Parish Hall. We do not have anyone signed up for THIS Sunday.  If you can help, please contact The Parish Office. Beginning in January, we will try out a new system using an all-parish rotation. All parishioners who agree will be sorted into Coffee Hour Teams. Coordinator Christina Reich will then assign a team to each Sunday. Details to follow! Many thanks.
St. Christopher's Guild
Annual Holiday Luncheon 
Tuesday, December 4  
Doors open at 11:00 a.m.
Meal served at 12noon 
Join us for a festive, fun-filled Benefit Luncheon. Proceeds and donations will be used to support various programs in the Martinez area. Come early to browse and buy at the Country Kitchen and White Elephant tables, where there will be a variety of gift-worthy items, candy and baked goods for sale. Tickets $15. Call Jo-Ann Lee at (925) 933-6809, or see Susan Bremmer after church on Sunday. 
Attention "Country Kitchen" Bakers!
Baked goods can be dropped off at church on Sunday between or after services, or on Monday, December 3, at 1:30 p.m., or on Tuesday, December 4 before 11:00 a.m. Your items should be ready to display for sale.  If you need items picked up, please call Jo-Ann Lee (925-933-6809) to make arrangements.
Seeking White Elephants
Pam Nave and the elves are looking for items to stock the White Elephant table for the December 4th Holiday Luncheon. Nice, new, or gently used gift or seasonal (Christmas) items preferred. If you have any such gems you'd be willing to donate, please bring them to church on Sunday, or on Monday between 1-4pm.  
Happy Holidays!

All women of Grace Church are welcome to a Festive Holiday Gathering at Susan Bremmer's house on Saturday, December 8, 3-6pm. Susan will provide beverages and is asking that attendees bring an appetizer to share. Holiday garb is encouraged! Please RSVP to Susan at (925) 348-6309 (call or text).  Her address is 2152 Monterey Ave., Martinez.   
And if you need a BABYSITTER...

The Youth of Grace are hosting a Parents' Night Out at Grace on Saturday, December 8, 4-8 pm. The Youth will welcome children of all ages to the Education Building at Grace. They will feed and entertain them and even get them ready for bed while you enjoy shopping, dinner, or the activity of your choice. Please email Jess Senn if you are interested.   
Advent at Grace
Christmas is coming, but in the church we will first celebrate a season of preparation for the birth of the Christ child. We welcome you to join us each Sunday in Advent, beginning Sunday, December 2, to hear and respond to the story of the coming Christ in word, song, and action. Our time of preparation includes both contemplative and celebratory activities, including:

Healing prayer at Sunday services each week;
"Advent Women," a seasonal Bible study exploring the role of women in scripture, following our weekly Wednesday, 10 a.m. Holy Eucharist service;
Opportunities to help those in need during the holidays, such as participating in the Contra Costa Interfaith Housing "Spirit of Giving" program;
Our festive Holiday Luncheon and Country Kitchen on Tuesday, December 4, beginning at 11:00 a.m.
In addition, we encourage you to prepare for the Christmas season outside of church by participating in one of these Advent activities:
Celebrate Advent Using Your Camera Phones - Join Episcopal and Anglican churches around the world in celebrating Advent through prayer, meditation, and by contributing to a global Advent calendar on Instagram.
Advent Words - This Advent, our Jesuit brothers invite you to join them in looking clearly and honestly at our lives and taking action. Subscribe to Advent Words and every day a new gift will arrive, offering you a moment of solace and reflection on the true meaning of Advent and the coming Christmas season.
Make a  Reverse Advent Calendar or an Advent Wreath with your family!
We will conclude our Advent season on Sunday, December 23 with a 10 a.m. Choral Eucharist and The Decorating of the Christmas Tree.  Following the 10 a.m. service, children will be asked to help put ornaments on the Grace Christmas Tree in the Narthex while enjoying hot chocolate and treats!   
Invite friends!
Help sought for victims of fires
Our dear friends in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, our neighboring diocese based in Sacramento, continue to reel from the impact of the fire in Paradise and surrounding areas. Please consider donating to a disaster relief fund for that diocese. Your donation will go directly to assist victims in the first stage of the disaster and later during long term recovery.

To donate online to disaster relief, go to:

Diocese of Northern California donate

Want to send a check?
Please make checks out to EDNC put "Disaster Relief" in the memo line. Mail checks to:  

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California 
350 University Avenue, Suite 280 
Sacramento, CA 95825 
Meet our new Facility Use Manager
Dru Grissom
Dru has graciously volunteered to oversee Facility Use duties, handling the scheduling and paperwork for outside user groups as well as helping with scheduling of church activities and events. If you see her, thank her for her service!
Bible Study for Everyone!

On Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. at Grace we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, followed by Bible Study. 
During the season of Advent (beginning Wednesday, December 12), we will be studying Advent Women,  by Lyn Fraser. "Not always virtuous, the women of Advent are endlessly creative, wondrously adventuresome, necessarily defiant, occasionally manipulative, and absolutely faithful to God. Read their stories and celebrate these women including Elizabeth and Mary without whom there would be no Advent or Christmas. There will be no Eucharist and Bible Study on Wednesday, December 5.

Then, for Epiphany we will join  partners from across the Episcopal Church, to participate in the Good Book Club, a church-wide Bible reading initiative. The Good Book Club will focus on Paul's Letter to the Romans, with participants reading a section of scripture each day during the Epiphany season, starting on January 9, 2019.
The Good Book Club kicked off during Lent and Easter of 2018, with tens of thousands of Episcopalians, including members of Grace, reading the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Survey results from participants showed a hunger and desire to continue the initiative and provide more opportunities for people to read and discuss scripture together. Romans was the first choice of participants for the next Good Book Club.
Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry supports and encourages individuals and congregations to join the Good Book Club as a way to engage in "Learn," one of the seven Way of Love practices for a Jesus-centered life.  
Worship, welcome, and noise 
Many thanks to everyone who has taken to heart our request to be aware the volume of noise in the sanctuary. Folks seem to be working hard to respect the sanctuary as a sacred space and remember that the passing of the peace is a sacred part of our liturgy, rather than a "time-out" from it. Special thanks to the Godly Play leaders and our wonderful children who are entering the church as quiet as adorable mice. 
Upcoming Faithful Forums at Grace

Once a month during the program year we open our doors to a variety of fascinating speakers and invite anyone who is interested to come and see. Through them, we have had the opportunity to learn about everything from the Dead Sea Scrolls to teenage cell phone use! Please come and invite friends to any and all of these presentations. Click here for the flyer 
Looking forward to December 9, The Reverend Dr. Paula Nesbitt will be here to present on "Engaging the Feminine Face of God." The Bible offers rich imagery of God as Lord and Father. Less often do we encounter the biblical imagery of God that evokes feminine traits. Both masculine and feminine qualities are necessary in order to understand the full esse
nce of God and the radical equality of all humanity that God has intended through our creation. This session will explore some of the feminine biblical images and theological understandings of God found in both Jewish and Christian traditions, and their meaning for our church today. The Rev. Dr. Paula Nesbitt, has taught gender and religion in both seminary and university settings for two decades. Her publications on this topic include "Feminization of the Clergy in America" and numerous book chapters and articles. She currently serves on the International Anglican Women's Network Steering Group charged with developing a biblical and theological curriculum on gender justice for the Anglican Communion.
On January 13, 2019, we will welcome representatives from Republic Services, who will address "Stewardship of Creation" in terms of Grace's recycling policies. 
February 17, 2019 will bring  The Very Rev. Dr. Malcolm Young, Dean of Grace Cathedral, to Grace to discuss Theology and Nature, specifically the influence of 19th century author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau on religious thought about the natural world.
Invitation to be part of the counsels of the church
The Episcopal Church is structured as a representational democracy. It considers all of its members to be equal partners in making decisions in our church government. One of the primary venues for discussion and planning is The Annual Parish Meeting. We will hold our annual meeting on January 27, 2019.  At this gathering we will set our annual budget and elect new members to the Vestry and Deanery/Diocesan Convention Representatives.  Vestry members serve for three (3) year terms. Deanery members officially occupy one year terms. If you are interested in serving, please contact one of the members of the Nominating Committee: Lynda Dyer, Pat Hambly, or Ron Luttringer. To be eligible to serve on vestry you must be a baptized, pledging member of the parish who attends church regularly.
Yoga at Grace on Tuesdays 
Every Tuesday 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 will be 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.  Invite your friends!
Tech nerds wanted!
We are in need of individuals who are savvy about and enjoy technology to help us with our sound system at Grace. Specifially, we are looking for folks willing to come in early for the 10 a.m. service and set microphones, check levels, and record the sermon. If you are willing, please let Rev Deb know.
History buffs needed!
We recently received a letter from the Martinez Historical Society letting us know that the next new display at their museum will go up on January 1, 2019 and will be titled, "AMEN!" It will feature information, photographs, history, and artifacts from any and all houses of worship in Martinez who choose to participate. They are interested in photos, objects for worship, and anything else we would like to share with them. If you are interested in spearheading this effort, or simply have ideas and or articles to contribute, please let Rev Deb  or Dick Evans know.
Join the choir!
Now that we have a fabulous new Music Director and a fancy chamber organ in the Sanctuary, it's time for anyone who has been hiding their vocal light under a bushel to step forward and sing a new song unto the Lord! 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!
  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 will be providing 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:
  • 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
  • Hygiene items including (but not limited to) soap, shampoo, oral care, shower wipes, shaving supplies, feminine hygiene items
  • 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).

During Advent, C.O.R.E. donations may be left under the Christmas tree in the Narthex.
Cleaning Schedule Change for December
Due to a few Monday conflicts next month (one of which is Christmas Eve) the cleaning crew will be coming in on Fridays for the month of December. We appreciate your patience and cooperation in observing the people-free zone in the parish hall, kitchen, education wing, and all restrooms (including the ones off the narthex) on cleaning days. If you need to access, please check with Jennifer or Rev. Deb in advance. Thank you for understanding!



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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.