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

"'T his is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,' declares the Lord.
'I will put my law in their minds 
    and write it on their hearts. 
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.  
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
    or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,'
declares the Lord.
'For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.'"

Jeremiah 31:33-34
At Grace, Christian education for children ( Sunday  School) is called "Godly Play" and is held during the first part of the  10 a.m.  service after which children join their families for Holy Communion. 
On the 3rd Sunday of the month we have Family Sunday and the children participate in the entire 10 a.m. service. 


This coming Sunday is Family Sunday!  
Godly Play Sunday School   
This week is Family Sunday. All children are welcome to join us in the Sanctuary for the entire service.

Here is a beautiful story from Godly Play Coordinator Marj Leeds about our wonderful children of Grace:

As one educated in a very traditional "old school" fashion I have found being a story teller for Godly Play to be somewhat of a challenge.  How do I know the children are learning anything? We do not have flash cards, or tests, or even little pop quizzes. A few weeks ago my question was answered and it became obvious that those little minds really are sponges.  We had just told the story of the first two "faces of Easter". These were the face of Jesus as a baby in the arms of Mary and Joseph and the face of a 12 year old Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem. After we told the story the children were invited to "wonder if there is something in the room that goes with this story?".  This invitation to find items was part of the Godly Play script, but it made me a little nervous that this would not end well. And then it happened. The light went on in those little minds. A 3 ½ year old immediately went to the spot where the baby doll we use for baptism is stored and moved that to the story board. Another child got the model of Jerusalem and placed it next to the card representing the story of Jesus at the temple.  And yet another child placed the model of the temple next to the card. It clicked and the connections were made in their minds. It was a better result than any pop quiz I could develop. Thanks be to God.
St. Patrick's Dinner
THIS Saturday, March 17
It's almost here!

This annual fundraising event has been guaranteed fun, fellowship and fabulous food for over 40 years!  

Social Hour begins at 5:30 pm, Dinner will be served at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $20 ($5 for children 12 and under). Dinner includes corned beef brisket, potatoes, cabbage and carrots, beer bread, soda bread, and dessert. Rounding out the evening will be live entertainment - dancers from the Dillon Magh Adhair Academy - and a raffle with many wonderful prizes. Pass the word to friends and family!

You are encouraged -- but not required -- to make reservations in advance by calling or emailing the church office.
Church Office Phone:  (925) 228-6574
Church Office Email:
Faith-full Forums     
Once a month since June we have opened our doors to a variety of fascinating speakers and invited 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.
This Sunday,
March 18 we will welcome
Kathleen Piraino, Executive Director of
The Episcopal Impact Fund, which s upports organizations that address the root causes of poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area, both financially and through mentorship and guidance. Rev. Deb is an EIF Board member and in 2017 Grace sponsored a table at the EIF Night of Light event.  Please come and hear more about their wonderful work!
Dr. Donn Morgan will be here on April 15 to discuss his book, Fighting with the Bible: why scripture divides us and how it can bring us together.
Donn Morgan is Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Always a student and teacher of the Bible, he also held administrative positions at CDSP (academic dean, president). He has been deeply involved in theological education in The Episcopal Church and the Graduate Theological Union, as well as teaching in Asia and England. We are lucky to host him!
St. Christopher's Guild  
St. Christopher's Guild welcomes all women to join us the *last Sunday of the month between services at 9 a.m. for fellowship and event planning meetings in the Parish Hall. Our events foster community building and the funds we raise are distributed throughout the community to groups serving those less fortunate than ourselves.
*The March meeting will be this Sunday, March 18, to adjust for Palm Sunday on March 25.

Dates are set for three fundraisers this year:

Spring Luncheon Fundraiser: "Layette Shower," Saturday, June 2, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. benefitting the Layette Program at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (the county hospital.)  

Hawaiian themed party, Saturday, August 18, 4-9 p.m.  

Christmas Luncheon, Tuesday, December 4, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.   

Easter Lily Dedications
Every Easter at Grace, the altar is adorned with beautiful lily plants. If you would like to dedicate an Easter lily, please email or call the church office (925-228-6574), indicating: "In loving memory of ___; In thanksgiving for ___; or, In celebration of ___." Suggested donation $10.  Or you may fill out a slip (located on the table in the Narthex) and put it in the offering plate on Sunday. 
End of Life Planning Packets available Sunday
The Grace Worship and Liturgy Committee would like to encourage all of Grace's parishioners to complete their advanced healthcare directive, will or trust, financial planning, funeral arrangements, final instructions and memorial gift planning. Death and dying can be difficult issues to discuss, but it is a great blessing to our loved ones when we plan ahead for our own eventual death. This is especially true for families whose members are of different faiths (or no faith). To that end, we have developed resources about funerals in the Episcopal Church, advance directives, and memorial gifts to the church. These packets are now available in the Narthex and on  our website. It is our hope that each parishioner will complete a planning packet and provide a copy of it to the church office. Please consider participating. 
Lent at Grace

Here is the Grace Lenten schedule of activities:
During Lent, we begin our liturgy with The Penitential Order, which includes recitation of the Ten Commandments and Confession of Sin. The Penitential Order is often used as an entrance rite during Lent  to emphasize the penitential aspect of Eucharist during this solemn season.  


Sundays during Lent
8 a.m. Holy Eucharist II
9 a.m. Pancake breakfast
10 a.m. Choral Eucharist

Wednesdays during Lent:
10 a.m. Holy Eucharist followed by Lenten Bible Study: The Good Book Club

March 25, Palm Sunday
8 a.m. Holy Eucharist II
9 a.m. Corned Beef Hash Breakfast
10 a.m. Choral Eucharist

March 29, Maundy Thursday, 6 p.m. in the Parish Hall, Soup supper, Foot Washing, followed by Stripping of the Altar;
Overnight Vigil in the Sanctuary following the service (hourly shifts by sign-up)

March 30, Good Friday:
12 p.m. - Stations of the Cross
7 p.m. - Good Friday Liturgy

March 31, Holy Saturday
10 a.m. Holy Saturday Liturgy
8 p.m. Easter Vigil with the Exsultet and The Lighting of the Paschal Candle

April 1, Happy Easter!
8 a.m. Holy Eucharist II
10 a.m. Choral Eucharist and Egg Hunt

Maundy Thursday Overnight Vigil
"Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, 'So, could you not stay awake with me one hour'"?
Each year we hear the story of Jesus praying alone in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before his arrest as his disciples sleep nearby. Their inability to stand vigil with their beloved rabbi is one of the saddest parts of the crucifixion narrative. For this reason, we seek to symbolically stay awake with Jesus on the evening of Maundy Thursday. This year at Grace, we will be trying out an overnight vigil. Beginning at the end of the Maundy Thursday service and continuing until the noon service on Good Friday, we will try to have someone in the sanctuary at all times.  Volunteers are invited to sign up for one hour (or more) shifts and to use that time to pray, sing, or meditate as we contemplate the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.  If this seems like too much, there will also be an opportunity to support this vigil at home by committing to stay awake and pray during each time frame.  Please look for the sign-up sheet in the Parish Hall.
Stations of the Cross
It is customary on Good Friday to symbolically walk Jesus's path to crucifixion by participating in the Stations of the Cross.  In years past, Grace has used temporary photographs to represent the stations. But now, thanks to the enthusiastic impetus of Lynda Dyer and many generous donations from parishioners, we have installed permanent stations!   
Stations of the Cross Liturgy 
12noon, Friday, March 30 
D uring Lent we are joining  Episcopalians around the world in reading the Gospel according to Luke during Lent and the Book of Acts during Eastertide in 2018. As part of  The Good Book Club,  o ur Wednesday Bible study will be dedicated to delving deeply into Luke's Gospel. You are welcome to join the conversation on Wednesday mornings in the Chapel, following our 10 a.m. Holy Eucharist. 

This coming week we will dive into the controversial topic of whether or not God has favorites - and what that has to do with earthly wealth.  The text will be  Luke 6:19-31.  Please join us. The readings can be found in your Bible or online at
Serving others through Grace
Grace Episcopal Church has a long tradition of reaching out to our community and helping those in need. With our recent growth in members, we have the opportunity to do even more good work. Last week our new Outreach Committee got together to talk about what Grace is already doing to assist our neighbors and what else we might do.  One of the new projects is the creation of Kindness Kits for our homeless friends. These bags will be filled with items to assist with basic needs like food, water, hygiene products and a list of local service agencies. They will be available to parishioners who would like to have them in their cars to give to folks they encounter who are in need, as well as to volunteers who wish to distribute them at our local encampment where homeless individuals live. If you are interested in assisting with this ministry, please let  Deacon Walter know.
A Different Way to Observe Lent
If you are struggling to figure out what to "give up" for Lent, take on something different instead!  "Lent Madness," the brainchild of two Episcopal priests, is a fun and informative way to make sure that you remember that we are living in the church's primary season of penitence and preparation.  Lent Madness combines the excitement of a sporting event with the opportunity to connect with some of the Christian saints who came before us.  Here's some information taken from the Lent Madness website at
"The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and  people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move in the area of saintly kitsch...
[Lent Madness has] inspired thousands of people along the way by forming an online community of people who are passionate about taking their faith but not themselves too seriously. Articles and spots about Lent Madness have appeared in the Washington Post, NPR, Huffington Post, FOXNews, NBC, USAToday, and even Sports Illustrated.
As Lent Madness continues to grow and evolve, what won't change is the essence of Lent Madness: allowing people to get to know some amazing people who have come before us in the faith and reminding one another that there's no reason for a dreary Lenten discipline. If this helps people connect with the risen Christ during this season of penitence and renewal, and have a bit of fun in the process, then it continues to be worthwhile."
The bracket poster is posted in the Parish Hall and is updated daily! If this sounds like something you'd like to do as a Lenten observance, sign-up at to receive daily emails. The email will provide the information/bios for the two contestants of the day, and you can cast your vote. The only thing you need to provide in order to sign up is your email address.  
Healing prayer
We have recently begun offering Healing Prayer during both our 8 and 10 a.m. services. If you wish to have someone pray with you for yourself or others, you may go to the prie dieu (kneeler) at the right rear corner of the sanctuary after receiving communion. This is a ministry of the people of Grace to one another -no clergy required!  We are looking for more volunteers for this important ministry, so if you are willing to pray with others, please let Rev. Deb know. No experience is necessary; we will train you!
Confirmation at Grace
Confirmation is the sacramental rite in which individuals "express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop" (BCP, p. 860). Through Confirmation, those who were baptized at an early age are invited to make a mature public affirmation of their faith, recommit themselves to the responsibilities of their baptism, and receive laying on of hands by a bishop (BCP, p. 412). Individuals who were baptized into other denominations and wish to affirm their commitment to the Episcopal Church may be received by a bishop. Bishop Marc will be visiting and performing confirmations at Grace in July. We will  be preparing individuals for Confirmation using the Discovery Series: A Christian Journey, which is a ten-week educational program for confirmation preparation. Those classes will begin on April 22. If you are interested in being confirmed, please let   Rev. Deb know.
Music Director update
We are looking for the right person to serve as Grace's Music Director. We have had a good response to our advertising and the Music Director Search Committee, consisting of Barbara Brooks, Bob Burman, and Marj Leeds, currently interviewing candidates. This coming Sunday  Richard Thomas will be our guest Music Director again.  Many thanks.

An easy way to contribute to Grace


Grace Episcopal Church Martinez is now 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!

Share the Good News

Want to let others know about the great things happening at Grace Episcopal Church? Click on the link below to forward this E-Newsletter to family and friends! 

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

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