News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California
September 27, 2018 
Scripture of the Week

"Are any among you suffering? They should pray.  Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective."
 James 5:13-16
"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 WEEK: This season we are sharing stories of the people of the Hebrew Scriptures. On Sunday we will hear the story of Samuel. The story of Samuel connects worship in God's tent (the tabernacle complex) and worship in God's temple. 
 
The children are told the story of God calling Samuel, and then about Samuel's prophesies. We then learn that the people asked Samuel to ask God for a king.  We end with the story with Samuel, guided by God, finding David and anointing him to be king after Saul.

Children are always welcome to participate in all services at Grace. There is a children's area near the piano at the rear of the sanctuary with toys, books, and coloring materials for children who do not enjoy sitting in the pews.  There is Nursery Care for babies and young toddlers in the education building.
Last call for youth event!
Nightwatch is a diocesan event.  This fall, Nightwatch will be an overnight sleepover at  Resurrection in Pleasant Hill . Join youth from around the Diocese and Northern California for fellowship and fun. There will be facilitated community building, active and contemplative activities, art, music, and prayer. Nightwatch can also be a time for youth ministers to spend casual time together. We hope to see you and your youth there!
When: TOMORROW,  Friday, Sept 28, 6 p.m. to Saturday, Sept 29, 10 a.m.
Where:  Resurrection399 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill
Cost: $10 (there is ample scholarship available). All youth must be accompanied by a designated Adult Leader. Let Jessie Senn immediately know if you are interested!
Bible Study for Everyone!
On Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. at Grace we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, followed by Bible Study. We are currently studying  the letters of Paul, which constitute about two-thirds of the New Testament. We are using Church  of England bishop and theologian N.T. Wright's series, "Paul for Everyone." On Wednesday, October 3we will look at Galatians 4:12-20.  We will consider the questions, "What is Paul saying about the role of the flesh in understanding the Gospel?" "What does it mean to be 'zealous'?" and "Where does true understanding come from?" All are welcome!
Stewardship season begins THIS Sunday
No one likes to talk about money, but the truth is that we cannot provide the programs and services we enjoy here at Grace without it.  On Sunday, September 30, we will kick off a season of education and conversation about what it means to share our time, talent and treasure with this community of Christ. To mark the beginning of Stewardship season, we will return to Eucharistic Prayer B from the BCP. That will last until Advent, when we will begin using a more penitential rite as befits the season.
Next St. Christopher's Guild meeting THIS Sunday,  September 30, at 9am
All women of Grace are members of St. Christopher's Guild. Rev. Deb will be joining us. On the agenda is planning for the December 4 Christmas Luncheon, an annual fundraising event that draws a good crowd not just from our church family but from the wider Martinez community (and beyond!). More than just a luncheon, there are the ever-popular Gift Boutique and Country Kitchen, where guests can purchase ready-made gifts and goodies for holiday giving and entertaining. Putting this event together takes many hands and hearts, and there is a variety of tasks to share for all ability levels. Please come join the conversation! 
Blessing of the Animals for the Feast of St. Francis - October 7
On Sunday, October 7, we will celebrate the Feast of St. Francis with the Blessing of the Animals. Rev. Deb will bless animals at both services. All well-behaved and potty-trained animals are welcome to attend the service of their choice and be blessed.  
  Outreach Committee meeting October 7
The Outreach Committee meets the first Sunday of the month, between the 8 and 10 o'clock services. We discuss ongoing projects such as Loaves & Fishes, CORE Homeless outreach donation drive, and seasonal drives, such as the Spirit of Giving program through Contra Costa Interfaith Housing. All are welcome! The next meeting will be October 7, at 9 a.m. at the conference table in the Education Wing.
OKTOBERFEST!
Saturday, October 13, 2018
It's that time of year for another fabulous Oktoberfest dinner! Dust off the Dirndl, shake out the Lederhosen, and work up an appetite! This year we will have a ten-piece "oom-pah" band that will serenade us with German music and accompany "The Chicken Dance!"  Reserve your tickets NOW! $24 per person. Email or call the church office - (925) 228-6574 - or see Amy Eudy on Sundays.    
Memorial Service for Buck Cobb  
There will be a memorial service for parishioner Buck Cobb on Sunday, October 14 at 2 p.m. in the sanctuary.  The service will be followed by a reception in the Parish Hall.  If you would like to contribute to the reception, please let Marj Leeds 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.  Arthur will be teaching a "Learn or Improve your music abilities" class before choir each week, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Please join this amazing ministry!
Why do we have to CHANGE?!
Very few people say they really enjoy change, and most of us would prefer to keep things status quo - especially if we are feeling comfortable with them. Church folks are particularly notorious for asking, "Why do we have to change?" and Rev. Deb has been hearing a lot of that question lately. The answer is long and complicated and she is always happy to talk to you in person about it, but here are a few things to consider:

1) The Episcopal Church, like its mother Church of England, has always made decisions based on three things: Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. We have a long and beautiful tradition, based on scripture, and we respect and honor it, but we also know (reason) that times change and some of the things we do need to change with the times in order to remain relevant to us. The Episcopal Church strives to make changes that bring us closer to God and one another and to help us grow spiritually and in numbers.

2) There has been a great deal of research on church size. These data tell us that when a church changes in size, we need to change the way it is structured, or it will cease to grow or even shrink in size.  Grace has long been a Pastoral-sized church (50 to 150 members) operating like a Family-sized (fewer than 50) one.  Since her arrival, Rev. Deb has been making changes that will help us to function as the size we are now AND be prepared to grow further.

3) Part of the changes we are making is to organize ourselves into one united congregation working together for common goals. In order to do that, the Vestry has adopted the SWEEPS model. The SWEEPS acronym identifies the ministries of the church: Service (Outreach), Worship, Education, Evangelism, Parish Life, Pastoral Care, and Stewardship (which includes Buildings and Grounds). All of our ministries fall under one of these headings and each "letter" now has a chairperson so that it's easy for new folks to get involved in activities at Grace and for Rev. Deb to keep track of all of the wonderful work (and fun) going on here.

Change is necessary for the best possible reason: Grace is a g rowing, vital, parish! Neither Rev. Deb nor the Vestry wish to "take away" any of the good ministries currently happening at Grace - only to better organize them and make them more accessible to all.  Do not be afraid! "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." 
Jeremiah 29:11
Book Group
Read any good books lately? Want to participate in a book discussion group? Like to eat out? Come drop in on the Grace Book Group! We'd love to see you!
When: 3rd Wednesday of the month, at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Smooth Season restaurant at Muir Station
Shopping Center. 
 
Our next get-together is October 17, when we will discuss "Educated: A Memoir" by Tara Westover. For more information call/text Jennifer Sabroe at (925) 383-8386 or  Email Jennifer.
Pastoral Care news
We are so grateful for seeing many new faces at Grace lately, and we want to make sure all of our parishioners are supported and taken care of.  In order to help Rev. Deb do this, we are forming a Pastoral Care Committee, which will be chaired by Leslie Kolesa.  The Pastoral Care Committee will assist with coordinating home visits, food delivery, and regular check-ins with those in need.  If you are interested in being part of this effort, please let Leslie Kolesa know.  

And speaking of casseroles: many thanks to everyone who brought casseroles to the church to restock our pantry. We like to have food on hand for those who need it.  Now that the freezer is full, we need folks willing to deliver them to those who have requested them.  If you can do this, please let the office know. Call (925) 228-6574 or Email info@gracechurchmtz.org
A message from ERD:
Responding to Hurricane Florence

Episcopal Relief & Development is working with partners to provide critical support for the most vulnerable communities affected by Hurricane Florence.

On Friday, September 14, Hurricane Florence made landfall. More than 35 inches of rain fell in parts of North Carolina. Major flooding continues throughout the Carolinas and southern Virginia. In North Carolina, local officials believe tens of thousands of homes have been damaged so far, with weeks of challenges on the horizon.

We are responding in a variety of ways. For example, our partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina, the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina and the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, to provide emergency assistance to migrant and seasonal farmworkers including water, food, cleaning supplies, hygiene kits, clothing and transportation to safe locations in two counties in eastern North Carolina.

"The waters are still rising and assessments are limited due to safety concerns," continued Mears. "We will continue working together with church partners to serve and care for affected communities in the weeks and months ahead."

To make a donation, please fill out the coupon (flyers will be available on  on the tables in the Narthex and Parish Hall) and mail it in with your check or credit card information. You can also contribute online to our Hurricane Relief Fund at https://support.episcopalrelief.org/hurricane-relief.

Please continue to pray for those impacted by Hurricane Florence. Donations to the Hurricane Relief Fund will help Episcopal Relief & Development respond to this crisis.
Upcoming Baptisms
Grace follows the Episcopal Church practice of administering Holy Baptism on or near the Great Vigil of Easter, the Feast of Pentecost, All Saint's Day and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the First Sunday after the Epiphany). The next opportunity for Baptism is November 4, All Saint's Day.  If you or your child would like to be baptized, please let Rev. Deb know and fill out the form found at this Baptism Intake Form link, so you can begin preparations.
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 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!
  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).

Parishioners are invited to make donations of items by leaving them in the bin in the Narthex (labeled "C.O.R.E. Outreach"). The items will be blessed by Rev. Deb, and handed off to members of the C.O.R.E. team who distribute while doing their mobile outreach work in the local community.
Kitchen Klutter
 
An assortment of cooking implements and supplies has accumulated in the kitchen over the past month or so. These are all items that probably belong to a number of wonderful helpers. If this rings a bell for you, please retrieve your items next time you're at church. 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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