News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California

January 11, 2018

Scripture of the Week

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. 


There is no Godly Play on Family Sundays (Jan. 21, Feb. 18, March 15)
Godly Play Sunday School            
This Sunday we talk about Baptism.  This is very appropriate as many of our children had the opportunity to witness the baptism of two of their friends at last week's 10 a.m. service. While there are many Godly Play stories that the children love, the story of Baptism is likely everyone's favorite. We learn about baptism. We speak of baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sustainer. We speak of the water of creation. And then we reenact the sacrament. The session ends with the lighting of a candle for each child with the instruction to
"remember the day of their baptism". It is a wonderful story to tell.
It's Annual Meeting Time!
The Episcopal Church considers all of its members to be equal partners in making decisions in our parishes. One of the primary venues for discussion and planning is The Annual Parish Meeting. We will hold our annual meeting on January 28, 2018, following the 10 a.m. service.  At the gathering we will set our annual budget and elect new members to the Vestry.  Vestry members serve for three (3) year terms. We will also elect Deanery delegates who attend quarterly meetings of our regional church council. To be eligible to serve on vestry you must be a baptized, pledging member of the parish.

The nominees for Vestry are:

Paula Menconi
Paula was born in San Francisco and has remained in the Bay Area all her life. Her husband Dave and two children are also native Californians. Paula's son Chad is married to Casey and they have three children, Kyla, Eric and Jillian. Her daughter is married to Doug and they have two boys, Gavin and Kade. The entire family lives close by and get together often.  Before having children, Paula worked as a bookkeeper for Smith-Rice Derrick barge and tugboat company in San Francisco. As a working mother, Paula was employed at Advanced Scaffold as a payroll and bookkeeper, later transitioning to work for the Bishop of the Oakland Diocese in the Marriage Tribunal, where she was employed for seven years.  Paula's last paid position was at Carondelet High School in Concord, from which she retired in August after 29 years. Paula says she and Dave feel blessed to have found a home here at Grace. "The community has shown us such warmth, caring and welcomed us with open hearts. We want to give back and be part of this wonderful community. God bless!"
Connie Towey
Connie was born in Tecumseh, Michigan and baptized there in St. Peter's Episcopal Church.  She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at University of Michigan School of Nursing. Connie reports that she chose to use her nursing education as a Home Care Nurse in Detroit. After her marriage ended she returned to Tecumseh to be close to her family and raise her children. Connie continued Home Care in her home county of Lenawee and served her community as a member of the City Council for 8 years. According to Connie, "It wasn't until I was in my 40's that I realized that my mission had been and would always be providing care and love to people. Four years ago I decided to move to California. Alice was happy with my idea to move here, and Pat said he would come too. So I sold my house and we loaded the dog and a few things for travel into the car and here we are!" Connie has been a member of Grace for about two years and says she has "found opportunities here for caring and loving - from the 'Peace' to the casserole patrol, to being doorkeeper for Godly Play." She feels "it will be a blessing to serve on the Vestry, as I could serve the Lord in an added capacity."
Josh Senn
Joshua Senn is a 28 year-old parishioner who was born in Walnut Creek and grew up in the Danville/Diablo area. He's the second oldest of 7 siblings. Josh is married to Jes Heyse Senn. They have a beautiful 2 year-old daughter, Emma. Josh started coming to Grace Church in 2012 when he began dating Jes, whose family has been active members of the parish for years. (Josh's in-laws are John and Wendy Heyse.) Josh and Jess were married at Grace Church in 2015. Josh was raised Catholic but is happy to be a member of the Episcopal Church now. He enjoys church events, and is currently on the Building and Grounds Committee and co-leads the Youth Ministry with his wife, Jes. Josh has helped out at numerous church events, including helping Stan in the kitchen with the cooking and preparing of meals. Josh, writes, "I have a great set of leadership skills. I'm good at planning and organizing, I've been a leader on certain things in my life, I'm dedicated to what I do and I also enjoy doing new things. I'm hard working, strong, and willing to help those who need it."
The nominees for Deanery Representative are:
Les Marks
Les Marks is our Junior Warden. He also serves as a Eucharistic Minister and is currently a Deanery & Convention delegate.
Les was born and raised on a farm in a small Minnesota community; his high school graduating class had only 19 students.  He thanks the US Navy for bringing him to the Bay Area in 1960, and he has never left.  He was born into a Methodist family, but was introduced to many protestant religions while in the Navy, as Chaplains tended to slant their services to their ordained religious affiliation.  After the Navy, he bounced around from one church to another until coming to Grace Episcopal Church in 2008.  After deciding Grace would be his church of choice and wanting to learn more about the Episcopal religion, he embarked on a course of study at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 2013.  Taking one class per semester, he completed the Certificate of Theological Studies program, and graduated in May, 2016.  Les is asking you to support him in continuing to serve as a Deanery member and delegate to the convention.  He believes his schooling and especially his work in many facets of the life of Grace Episcopal Church, will make him a good representative for the congregation.
Pat Hambly
Pat Hambly is a member of the Vestry and has been a Deanery and Diocesan Convention Representative for approximately seven years. She also serves as a Eucharistic Minister. Pat was born in South Haven, Michigan, and is a "cradle" Episcopalian. She has two sons and six grandchildren who live in Chico and Marin County. Many of us have met Pat's grandchildren, especially Haley, who is a sophomore at Tulane University. Pat became a member of Grace in the early 80's. Pam and Claude Nave brought her to Grace when she was looking for a church home. Pat immediately felt comfortable at Grace, because it followed the liturgical tradition she was used to, had activities for her children, and was accepting and welcoming. Pat has enjoyed being a Deanery and Diocesan Convention delegate because it provides an additional perspective on the workings of the church beyond Sunday worship. She says "Grace is a very welcoming and open Christian community" and she is proud to represent the parish to the greater church.
Barbara Brooks
Barbara is running for a second term as one of Grace's Deanery and Diocesan Convention delegates. She has been a member of several parishes since toddlerhood, finally landing gratefully at Grace about 18 years ago. The majority of Barbara's time has been spent with the children at Grace in Godly Play and now in nursery care, but has had stints on Vestry, choir and, since last year, Altar Guild. She and husband Paul have two children and a cat, all of whom served as inspiration for Barbara's book, published last year, "War and Peace, or The Cat Should Sleep Where She Wants."  When not traveling, hiking, reading, watching movies, or swimming, Barbara is working on what she calls "The Novel That Would Not Die," with a deadline for this draft on April Fool's Day. She volunteered last year as a delegate because she feels it is important to have both representation in the larger church and to participate in the dialogue and democracy that is a hallmark of the Episcopal Church.  
In addition to our three Deanery Representatives, we elect one  Alternate. Parishioner  Mary Canale served in that capacity this year and is willing to continue.
Church beyond Sunday

You may not know it, but Grace has a mid-week Eucharist service at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays in the Chapel, which is followed by Bible study. We are currently reading "Welcome to the Bible," which "describes the Bible and its literature, offers a perspective on its theological and religious meanings over time, and makes some suggestions about how to read and study it. Our hope is to make the Bible more accessible and intelligible to people who are exploring a deeper relationship with God in Jesus Christ." You don't need the book to participate, but if you would like a copy you can get it  here.
Break(fast)ing News! Men's Group Breakfasts return and welcome all genders!
The first Men's Group breakfast of 2018 will be on Saturday, January 20 at 8:30 am in the Parish Hall. We will be discussing the year's activities as well as enjoying good food and company. Please bring a dish to share and a friend if you like. If you have any questions please contact Don Dyer at 925-334-2494.
How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?
Change?! We don't want to change! Episcopalians have a reputation for not being willing to change, but studies show that change is good for us, both as individuals and as an institution. At Grace, we try to maintain a balance between continuing and treasuring our liturgical traditions and growing and maturing as Christians by experiencing new worship patterns. The Episcopal Church follows a liturgical calendar, which has different seasons. (Ask the children of Grace about this; they follow the church calendar in their Godly Play lessons). Our primary worship resource is always the Book of Common Prayer (1979), but we also use other church-approved supplemental resources. Reverend Deb, with the counsel of the Worship and Liturgy Committee, changes the liturgy seasonally. The most obvious sign of a liturgical season change is the color of the altar hangings and vestments. This Sunday, the 10 a.m. service will learn a new "Fraction Anthem," and beginning on January 14, both services shift into the "season after the Epiphany." That change brings with it a new color, a new version of the Prayers of the People, and a new Eucharistic Prayer.  Rev. Deb and the committee are delighted to receive both positive and negative feedback about our liturgical planning, so see if you can identify the seasonal changes and let us know what you think!
Helping our homeless sisters and brothers
Martinez has a large number of homeless folks, some of whom make their way to Grace. While we know it is our Christian duty to help those in need, many people are unsure about the best way to do this. That's why we will begin stocking Kindness Kits for homeless people who visit our campus. These small backpacks will contain a bottle of water, space blanket, granola bar, socks, and a grocery store gift card (to start with) and be available for distribution to those in need. Deacon Walter will be spearheading this project. If you would like to contribute, please let  Deacon Walter know and thank you in advance!
Gathering of the party people
The Parish Life Committee will have their first meeting this Sunday, January 14, following the 10 am service. We will talk about the Annual Calendar of Events and begin planning the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner, Sunday Breakfasts during Lent, and the St. Patrick's Day fundraiser. If you would like to be involved, grab a cup of coffee and a snack and join us in the Administration Building or contact Stan Applegate at 925-957-0315. See you then!
Talented landscapers sought

Grace has a wonderful and faithful Buildings and Grounds Committee, which makes sure that the parish property is in good repair, as well as a talented group of gardeners who take amazing care of our campus plantings. Recently, we removed the old deck and several trees from behind the Parish Hall. As a result, that area could use some sprucing up.  Since this a project that will require all kinds of outdoor talents, we have decided to form a  Landscape Committee to look at options for developing this area.  If you are interested, please let Rev. Deb know.

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.
Upcoming Forums  
On Sunday, January 21, 2018, we will welcome Gloria Bertolozzi, Volunteer and Outreach Manager of Contra Costa Interfaith Housing, which provides permanent, affordable housing and vital support services to homeless and at-risk families and individuals in Contra Costa County. We participated in the CCIH Spirit of Giving program recently and look forward to getting to know them better.

Looking forward, please reserve April 15, when 
Dr. Donn Morgan will be here 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!

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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.