HMC E-Newsletter April 12 2012

Jesus has risen!… Now what?
We invite you to read the book of Acts (at least through chapter 4) before Sunday to find out!

Learning from the Margins – Reflections on Two Books
by Linda Washburn

Much preferring to write than to speak, I would like to share a few interesting things I learned from reading  two of the books from the “Resources from the Margins” guide that Marty provided for us at the beginning of Lent. 

I mostly skimmed rather than read the books, and I took them back to the library before I thought of writing this article, so what follows is not a scholarly review or summary by any means, just some random things that I discovered, that I hope may be interesting to you too. 

1.   Rodolfo Acuña’s Occupied America:  I felt honored to be reading a book that is banned for study by the Tucson School District.  The subtitle to this book is “History of Chicanos”.  First, I had to learn what is meant by ‘Chicano’.  As I understand it, Chicano is someone of Mexican origin.  As a history textbook, Acuña chronologically retells:  the lives of the indigenous peoples, the Aztecs, the invasion by Spain, the conflicts with Texas and the U.S., the Chicano movement of the 1960’s, ending with the present.

Highlights include:  A different view of the Alamo and the birth of the Republic of Texas than what is taught in our public school system!    As opposed to the heroes that Davy Crocket et al. are usually considered (“freedom-loving Texans protecting their homeland”), Acuña reminds readers that two thirds of the Texans had recently arrived from the U.S. (not Texas), and describes them as “adventurers spoiling for a fight”.

Acuña also often asserts, especially at the beginning of the book, that much of the U.S. used to be Mexico.  “Unlike other immigrants, (in the early 1900’s), most Mexicans lived in places that were once their homeland.”

One of his many observations of more recent history:  “The war on drugs gave the Border Patrol tremendous latitude in violating human rights.”  I can’t remember how he qualifies this statement, but it is something to keep in the backs of our minds as we watch the evening news.  Another of his opinions is that the growth of the Latino middle class is mostly perceived as a positive development, but this phenomenon is resulting in a growing gap between that middle class and the Latinos in poverty.  

These are only a few of the things I learned by reading Occupied America.  The book definitely offers a different perspective on history, and how it has affected the present, than what I’m used to.

2.  Harvest of Empire: A history of Latinos in America, by Juan Gonzalez.

Gonzalez divides this book into three parts:  The roots (Las Raices), the branches (Las Ramas), and the harvest (La Cosecha).  In Part 1, Gonzalez shares the history of Latinos from 1500 unitl 1950.  I learned how the English (in the northern America continent) and Spanish (in the south) subjugated the native peoples in different ways, and how those approaches continue to shape the history of the entire American continent. 

In Part II, Gonzales explores the perspectives of different peoples, such as Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Panamanians.  I learned that consolidating all of these peoples together under the umbrella of “Latino” is as impractical as grouping together French, Hungarian, and Norwegians under the heading “European”.  They all have different histories and different points of view.

I did not get to Part 3, but the introduction explains that Gonzalez explores current issues such as language and immigration. 

A couple of quotes I found interesting:

Regarding immigration of Latinos to the United States:  “If Latin America hadn’t been pillaged by U.S. capital, millions of workers would not now be coming here in such numbers to reclaim a share of that wealth.” 

Regarding the “Wild West” and “Manifest Destiny”: “The view of the frontier as a ‘democratizing element’ observes how westward expansion permitted violence to flourish against outsiders as a solution to political problems.”

This book is not as radical as Occupied America, but it was still enlightening.

I purchased a few other books too, and have reserved a couple more from the public library which haven’t come in yet.  I may share what I learn from those books too, after I read them, hopefully in the summer.

DO you have an article, poem, blog, book or movie review you’d like to include in the newsletter?
Share it! We’ll publish it.

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
Yes, Houston Mennonite Church is now on Facebook! Please Like us and spread the word that this page exists. Pictures from Easter Sunday, links, friends, oh my! So much to see, so much to do.
Care Packages for Young Adults: Send a little care to our young adults and college students this spring by bringing notes, Bible verses, cards and gift cards (anything that will fit in a large community envelope)
Did you miss last week’s sermons? You can find them at:, sermon tab.
Unexpected News: Reading the Bible Through Third World Eyes discussion group Sunday’s at 9:30AM all welcome.
►Celebration Send-off for Sylvia Klauser. Sunday, April 15, 3-6 pm OPEN HOUSE – GOOD BYE and take something with you PARTY. See attachment for list of items she’s selling and/or getting rid of pre-move.
Ten Thousand Villages Sunday is now April 29 (Note date change). Volunteer, shop, support fair trade! Hell and Back Again, An Academy Award nominated documentary about the personal, family and societal costs of war. Wednesday, April 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Rice Cinema Entrance # 8 University Blvd. at Stockton.

Potluck Fellowship Meal is April 22.

►Women’s Retreat: April 27-29 at the Blackwood Educational Land Institute near Waller, TX. Please see Gloria Wilson, Denise Duff, or Lynda Voran for more information. 
Looking for an outreach and networking opportunity with like-minded folks? Mark your calendars for the ANNUAL PEACE POTLUCK now! Thanks to Ken Jones and Jane Collins, we have the place and time all set: Emerson Unitarian Universalist, 900 Bering Drive, Houston, Texas, 77057. For years, HMC has seen ourselves as having one key “target audience” in Houston: the peace community.            If that’s still something we value, this event is a safe, friendly, (essential, necessary but not sufficient) event for us all to attend.   

 Jesus is risen… Now what?

Does the resurrection matter for daily life? What does it mean that Jesus – executed now risen – is present with us today? Join us next Sunday as we enter the book of Acts for inspiration on walking in the resurrection! Paul says in Romans, “the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you! Consider yourselves dead to sin, able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus!” More than a historical fact, the resurrection of Christ empowers each of us to live the abundant life God intends. In preparation, we invite you to read the book of Acts this week. May peace and joy arise in you!

BEST PRACTICES for Urban [Mennonite] Congregations

March 22-24 I was blessed to participate in an urban ministry consultation in San Antonio with other urban leaders in Mennonite church USA. The denomination convened us to help clarify the task of urban Mennonite ministry and life. Scattered from coast to coast, and coming from at least 4 ethnicities, we attempted to identify the 10 best practices for urban congregations. We asked ourselves, “What practices set healthy urban churches apart from unhealthy or declining churches?” “What could you not remove from a healthy church, or else it would cease being healthy?” “What practices would any urban church need to adopt in order to become healthy?”

We used The Purposeful Plan as our starting place, and identified 10 Essential Components to a healthy congregation. I want to introduce you to these best practices, and invite you to pray over them for Houston Mennonite Church.

  1. Successful Urban Churches Know their Identity and Primary Mission
  1. Successful Urban Churches have a Vision
    1. Every church must have a vision of its own with regards to its community
  2. Successful Urban Churches have a Missional Spirituality
    1. Reliance on the Holy Spirit
    2. Relevant word within your context (word must fit the needs of the people
  3. Successful Urban Churches focus on Discipleship (Christian Formation for new believers) with missional living as the end result.
  4. Successful Urban Churches develop diverse Christian Community
    1. Facilitating intercultural community
    2. Demonstrate show the new/diverse Christian community within MCUSA at the national level and the local level within each congregation—IMC–example: ‘good Mennonite names’
  5. Successful Urban Churches understand Holistic witness in their respective context.
    1. Relationship between evangelism and social ministry.
    2. Community relationships to understand peace, justice, and violence within our own contexts
    3. Every member is encouraged to have, disciple for, and trained in ministry for Holistic witness.
  6. Successful Urban Churches have sound Stewardship practices and knowledge (Financial, Practical, Church Management)
    1. Sustainable congregations have strong Financial Knowledge/Savvy

                                                              i.      Church management

                                                            ii.      Practical living and education on how to manage personal finances

    1. Primary Leadership in congregation must understand how to manage money and function and operate ministry from a ministry perspective
    2. Holistic Leadership Development before they are put into leadership positions

                                                              i.      Have criteria not just for theology, but also credit references and personal management check

  1. Successful Urban Churches Develop Leaders
    1. Mentoring/benchmarks
    2. Theological Education  & Practical Life Skills Education
    3. Entrepreneurship
    4. Management of ministry
  2. Successful Urban Churches work at Undoing Racism
    1. Make it a priority to create relationships
    2. Understand differences
    3. Create an educated community that can accept conversations
  3. Successful Urban Churches develop strong Partnerships (church to church)
    1. Create strong partnerships (not just with Mennonites) – Don’t wait on the system
    2. Connect Congregations
    3. Community partnerships


Building up the Body of Christ: Links to Form Faith.

Here are links to the two sermons I preached for us last week, and a reflection on Good Friday.

  1. Maundy Thursday Sermon: “Surely Not I?”
  2. Good Friday Reflection on Exposing Violence:
  3. Easter Sermon, “Roll the Stones Away!
  4. Seek Justice, Pray and Act for Peace in Columbia: A great article updating us on Columbia, the country where are missionaries live and minister, Gamaliel and Amanda Falla.

Order of Worship for April 15, 2012: Easter 2
April 15:  Speaker – Marty; Worship Leader – Byron; song Leader – Nick; Pianist – Margaret. Sylvia’s good-bye.  Scriptures:  Acts 4:32-35.  Theme: Community. 

Words of welcome and introduction of new worship theme:

Jesus is risen… Now what?
Does the resurrection matter for daily life? What does it mean that Jesus – executed now risen – is present with us today? Join us next Sunday as we enter the book of Acts for inspiration on walking in the resurrection! Paul says in Romans, “the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you! Consider yourselves dead to sin, able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus!” More than a historical fact, the resurrection of Christ empowers each of us to live the abundant life God intends.

Here in this place (HWB 6)
Scripture Reading Acts 4:23-31

Intro to acts 4:23-31 (disciples arrested, released, then pray about being a community the authorities are “against (vs26,27). Then they profess, not quietness and removal, but to speak boldly for God. Read text: Acts 4:23-31

Song Jesus calls us SJ #3
Corporate Prayer SJ 121 (light the candle on the altar as a sign that Christ, once executed, is present with us)
Scripture Reading: Read the disciples response to the threat from authorities and call from God: Acts 4:32-35
Sharing Time: What do you bring to Build up the Body of Christ, and how can we build you up?
Children’s Message                             
Read the Bulletin Insert, which we’re asking everyone to memorize Romans 6:1-11
Message                                   The church’s response to threat is… the church.       
Commitment to Ministry 755 HWB
Song of Ministry          Christ has arisen (HWB 267, vss 1,4-6) 
Offering and Prayer                                                                            
Connecting More Fully                                                                                   
Sending Text                           Psalm 133                               
*Sending Song Blessed be the tie (HWB 421)
*Commissioning          Houston Mennonite Church, the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you! Consider yourselves dead to sin, free and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus! Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. AMEN

Thank you to the following for sharing your gifts!.

Christian Formation Options at HMC:
Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
Unexpected News: Read the Bible through Third World Eyes, by Robert McAffee Brown as our guide.
►Junior High/High School Youth:  with Lynda and Roxie Voran, in the Annex.
** Children’s Church:  During worship in our children’s ministry room for kids aged 1-5. They learn a Bible story, sing, and play together.

Pastoral Care                                                    
Do you want a person to talk with about something in your life? Got a question or insight into faith or scripture you want to kick around? Have you been sitting on a great idea for the church? Need prayer? Want to get to know your pastor better? As your pastor, I’m available to meet with you at the office or at a time and spot that works better for you. Just let me know when and where! Monday’s through Thursdays, and weekends by appointment. Marty Troyer, church office (713)464-4865,, also available on Facebook.

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