Houston Mennonite Church Newsletter April 22, 2010


On Sunday April 18th, 2010 I preached a sermon about Jesus empowering people for ministry, and to love all people.
The following list was included in as ways that we as a congregation, and more specifically, individuals within our congregation, can love any and all who walk through our doors. This list is adapted from the book Now Go Forward by J. David Eschelman. The author says, “Loving unbelievers the way Jesus did is the most overlooked key to growing a church…The command to love is the most repeated command in the NT, appearing at least 55 times.”

Practical Ways to Express Love, Or, How to feed sheep during church

  1. The most important person for a visitor to talk to in order to feel at home in a new church is you. It is not the pastor, or the greeter, but a regular attender who has no reason to connect with someone except that they genuienely want to out of a sense of love and being a good host.  J. David Eshleman says “One of the most impressive gestures we can extend to first time visitors is for people with no official position to take the initiative and welcome them.”
  2. Treat first time visitors as guests of God, not strangers.
  3. Smile at everyone and offer your hand.
  4. Look people in the eye.
  5. Take the initiative, you are our church hosts and hostesses. Don’t wait for them to initiate conversation.
  6. Learn people’s names. Try to remember then when you see them the next time.
  7. Touching can be a great way to make people feel at home.
  8. Ask questions and learn about them. It is better to express interest in them than it is to try to “sell” our church. Who, what, where questions are the best, try to avoid “why” questions.
  9. Listening is a very effective way to show love.

10.  Greet children at their level. Getting down on one knee connects you to both kids and the parents.

11.  Let children be children.

12.  Invite first timers to something, anything! Scan the bulletin to find an event that day or next week to invite them to, like Sunday School. Invite them to come back to worship next week. Or better yet (!!) invite them out to lunch!

13.  Never let new people sit alone. If you see this happen, it is better to get up, move your stuff, and go sit with them. It is fictional to assume they want to “have their space.” Eschelman says, “New people should never have to sit alone. Take initiative and go to them without delay.”

14.  Help visitors find seating that suits their families needs. You may want to scoot over, or point out a row that has the right number of seats in it. I’ve even asked members to move before in order to keep families together.

15.  Help first time visitors by being their tour guide and helping them find our resources. Visiting a new church is like a cross-cultural experience, even for those of us who have visited dozens of other churches. Help them find their way by sharing hymnbooks and Bibles, letting them know where our nursery is, that “Children’s Message” is for kids just like theirs that happens up front on the carpet, etc… You may want to introduce me to them after the service.  

16.  Invite people to fill out our visitor registration card.  Having first timers information allows us to send them a card, and for the pastor to call them to thank them for joining us. Once we have their info, I keep them on our ‘invitation and Christmas card list” for at least one year.

17.  Tell people you’re glad they are here. Compliments and encouragement go a long way!

18.  Pray for them. Keep them in your prayers, asking God to help them find a meaningful church home that will equip them to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Whether our church or another, we believe they will only grow if they have a church family.

Houston Mennonite Church, you are loving! You have a good thing going! You have the capacity to love more people, and to love more deeply. Eschelman says, “Practice making people feel special, and what you give to others will be returned to you.” Consider yourself called!

This Sunday, April 25th, Memorial Assistance Ministries whom we strongly support, is having a fundraiser meal at their facility on Blalock.
They need assistance setting up tables and chairs.

Please join pastor Marty at 2PM and set up tables for 30 minutes.

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Fellowship Meal this Sunday.

►ANNEX DEDICATION: Sunday afternoon April 25. 1PM, following the Fellowship Meal.
Offering Report: The April 11th, 2010 offering was $1,043.87, including $54.82 for Columbian Missionaries, Amanda and Galaliel Falla from our change offering.

►Care Packages for College Students.  Collecting now through April 25 for: Olivia Koshy (UT-Austin), Aaron Wilson (UMKC), Emily Voran (Trinity), Kristen Graber (Rice), Rachel Vlachos (Rice), Gabe Wilson( EMT training), Zack and Jessica Unruh (UH). Consider non-bulky options to keep postage reasonable.

We will also collect only flat paper items such as notes and cards for Amanda and Galeliel Falla, they are unable to receive care-packages any bigger than the size of a large manila envelope. So write them a card or note, and drop that by.


Anabaptist Learning SeminarApril 18, 25, May 9 & 16. Come Sunday nights and learn more about Anabaptism worldwide: beliefs, practices, and culture.

April 18th: Anabaptist beginnings in Europe & beyond.
April 25th: The spread of Mennonites to the “New World.”
May 9th: Global Mennonites today: Asia, Africa, and beyond
May 16th: Global Mennonite theology.

Sunday afternoon April 25. 1PM, following the Fellowship Meal.
►Woman’s Retreat: Friday April 30-Sunday May 2. $20 per person. Relax, eat good food, enjoy good fellowship, do arts and crafts in prep for the Relief Sale. Register fast as space is limited. Women from other Texas Mennonite congregations will be present.
►You won’t want to miss Western District Conference Annual Retreat: Friday July 9-Sunday July 11. Put this on your calendar now! This is an amazing Christian resourcing, recreational, and relational event. Cost is incredibly low at $130 per person, for 2 nights and 5 meals. Location is Waxahatchie Texas, just South of Dallas. A 4 hour drive from Houston. Plan now to attend with your church family. Church leadership would love to see 20 or more HMCers attend. There will be a high school youth component which will include a service project.

 MAM to Host Taste of Spring Branch


Savor the flavors at the first Taste of Spring Branch hosted by Memorial Assistance Ministries (MAM) Sunday, April 25th.  Restaurants in the Spring Branch area will offer a sampling of their specialties from 4 to 6 p.m. at MAM located at 1625 Blalock Road, Houston, one block north of Long Point.

Restaurants slated to participate include: Blue Planet Café, Old Towne Kolaches, Chocolate Pizzazz, Ashland House Restaurant, Russo’s New York Pizzeria, Polonia and Silver Eagle Distributors, plus others.  Beginning April 1, tickets for $20 each can be purchased at MAM or on MAM’s website, www.helpherehelpnow.org.  Tickets purchased on the day of the event will be $25.    “This is a great opportunity for friends to try new places in town,” said Martha Macris, Executive Director at MAM, “and discover some hidden treasures in the area all right here at MAM.” 

All ticket proceeds will benefit MAM Emergency Assistance Programs.  MAM serves the Spring Branch area in a variety of ways, including rent assistance to prevent homelessness, utility help to avoid cut off or restore service and limited medical and prescription assistance.  MAM also works closely with Spring Branch ISD with uniforms for school and eyeglasses.  Recently, MAM has expanded their Employment Services program to provide computer classes, job coaching with mock interviews and partnerships with area businesses. MAM also offers GED classes and day and evening English as a Second Language classes.  MAM is a section 501© (3) non-profit organization.  For more information call 713 574-7540.


Due to health issues, Dorothy Nickel Friesen, WDC Conference Minister, will be on a reduced work load until April 27 and will have exploratory surgery on the 29th of April.  A definitive diagnosis will not be known until after surgery.  Dorothy will be on medical leave through the month of May.  Remember Dorothy during this time and also Richard and the family.  Clarence Rempel, half-time Associate Conference Minister, will move immediately to full-time in order to cover Conference Minister responsibilities during Dorothy’s absence.

God’s love has no borders

What do my prayers for Houston look like? Last week I asked this tempting question for you to ponder. This week, I answer in one way by saying we would be a people and a place where no borders, boundaries, or walls separate us one from another: not ethnicity, race, status, orientation or income. Specifically I’m enamored with the passage Deuteronomy 10:19 which reminds me of our strong Mennonite heritage of being a pilgrim people, “You also shall love the stranger/immigrant, for you were strangers/immigrants in Egypt…”

Ervin Stutzman, Mennonite Church USA Executive Director speaks on his commitment to caring for immigrants and encourages us to also care: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyG4JKesRY4 A powerful video, I encourage you to check this message out from our fearless Menno leader. As immigration reform has been shoved aside by other national concerns, immigrants wonder who still cares. Join a growing group of people in Houston who are saying, “We do!” Saturday May 1, 2010 at 4PM is a “Grand March: For Our Dignity and Rights.” Location: the walk will begin at the corner of Bellaire and Renwick.

These and other resources, including more information can be found at: http://peace.mennolink.org/immigrationprayervigils2010.html

This march is being brought to you by The Coalition in Defense of Community, and co-sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee, as well as over a dozen other local organizations.

Marty and Malakai Troyer will be in attendance and would love to walk alongside you!

Pursuing shalom for all:

Connecting the injustices of immigration and human trafficking


Joanna Shenk 

ELKHART, Ind.How are you planning to honor International Workers Day on May 1? If you are unaware of this holiday, celebrated by many worldwide, an explanation follows as to why we as Mennonite Church USA need to honor and stand in solidarity with workers around the globe on this day.

Most importantly our biblical faith compels us to work for justice. The prophet Jeremiah, along with many other prophets and judges, pronounces woe on those who build their houses on unrighteousness and injustice… those “who make neighbors work for nothing and do not give them their wages.” (22:13)

Jesus also spoke often of liberation for those in literal bondage. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” (Luke 4:18)

As a body of Christians, committed to the way of Jesus, Mennonite Church USA passed a resolution on immigration in 2003. It stated, “We reject our country’s mistreatment of immigrants, repent of our silence, and commit ourselves to act with and on behalf of our immigrant brothers and sisters, regardless of their legal status.”

Six years later, in 2009, Mennonite Church USA passed a resolution on human trafficking in which we committed ourselves “to join with other Christian denominations in a united voice against the evil of human trafficking.”

These resolutions and the biblical text share a call to advocate for people who are oppressed. In connection to International Workers Day, this means we are to be in solidarity with immigrant workers in the United States and beyond. 

As we in Mennonite Church USA seek the healing of the world, we must acknowledge our own complicity with the oppressive systems that create harsh immigration laws and at the same time allow human trafficking to continue. The way we spend our money directly affects people around the world and in this country. 

Workers are affected as their local economies are destroyed by global corporations. According to one recent immigrant within Mennonite Church USA, “We used to work the land and now there is no market for our food, or we do not produce enough to live off of it.” 

In the MCC Listening report on immigration (2007) some long-time immigrants stated that new immigrants are after wealth, “adventure,” and “good weather.” Immigrants, they said, desired an American lifestyle. New immigrants were more apt to describe their relocation as an attempt to escape dire poverty and hopelessness. “Hunger doesn’t permit us to stay behind,” said one new immigrant.

According to the immigration resources at the Third Way Café, “When international agribusiness buys the land people have been farming to support their families, they need to find other opportunities to survive. Some of the people facing these kinds of economic pressures travel to the U.S. where they often take low-paying, menial jobs.”

Hence, we must recognize that many recent immigrants are forced to migrate in order to find work. And this is where the lines between modern slavery and immigration blur.
The MCC U.S. guide to globalization and immigration helps make these connections. “Vulnerable to low wages and exploitative conditions, migrants pick vegetables, sew shirts, clean houses and assemble machines. They are often invisible to those who profit from their labor: corporations unaccountable to particular communities, but rather to anonymous shareholders and to consumers clamoring for lower prices.”

Because modern slavery is invisible to most of us or because we’ve been conditioned to blame the undocumented victims, we can only estimate the number of children, women and men involved. Worldwide, the estimate is 12-30 million and in the United States, between 45,000 and 50,000, with hundreds of thousands more at risk.

Likely you’ve eaten chocolate from Cote D’Ivoire where thousands of young children harvest our sweets without pay. Coffee has perhaps the highest rate of slave production. In Central America, Africa and the Caribbean, slaves still cultivate and harvest sugar.

The back-breaking labor-intensive harvesting of strawberries in Germany, Japan, Mexico and Louisiana is sometimes done by undocumented workers in horrendous conditions.

Miami, Portland, Ore., Las Vegas and Toledo are the four U.S. cities with the highest number of arrests, investigations and rescue of domestic child-sex victims. Mennonite Church USA has congregations in each of these cities. Now is the time for Christians to unite in a modern abolitionist movement and stand in solidarity with exploited workers.

One way to do this visibly is to join with other Mennonites, May 1, for a prayer vigil on immigration. The purpose of the vigil is to strengthen relationships between cultural groups and pray for change in our hearts toward people different from us.

The vigil also seeks to raise consciousness and understanding of the realities faced by immigrants in the United States. According to MCC’s Listening Report, legal aid and advocacy to change immigration law were the most named needs among recent immigrants.As a denomination with many diverse groups, may we learn to celebrate and lament in solidarity. For those of us who come from older immigrants groups who sometimes forget our own immigrant history, may we acknowledge our complicity in the oppression of others when we have not advocated for justice. For those of us who are more recent immigrants, may we be strengthened to know we are not alone in the struggle for justice.

Find more information on the May 1 prayer vigil at the Peace and Justice Resource Network website: http://peace.mennolink.org/immigrationprayervigils2010.html

Joanna Shenk is Associate for Interchurch Relations and Communications in Executive Leadership.

TO:  WDC Churches  

Click this link to see an article on the WDC Vision 2012 camping ministry:  http://www.themennonite.org/public_press_releases/Vision_2012_supports_Western_District_Conference_camping_ministry

Nancy Funk, Administrative Assistant (wdc@mennowdc.org)
Western District Conference
2517 North Main, PO Box 306
North Newton KS  67117
316-283-6300; FAX:  316-283-0620

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Come Together- Rise Up
Mark your calendars now for July 9-11, when persons from all congregations will gather at Lakeview Camp and Conference Center near Waxahachie (Dallas), Texas, for Western District Conference’s annual conference session and fellowship opportunity.  A Program Committee is putting the finishing touches on planning details, promising an inspirational and educational experience.  Programs and activities will also be included for children:  infants through senior high.  More details to follow in coming weeks.

Budget and debt counseling 

Are you living paycheck to paycheck, trapped in a cycle of debt? Or, are you considering bankruptcy? Maybe you feel in control of your money now, but have financial questions you’d like answered. Budget and debt counseling, a free service sponsored by MMA, can answer your questions and help you take real, positive, steps toward financial stability – and freedom. For more info Check out http://www.cccs.org/ and/or call 888-577-2227, be sure to tell them you are Mennonite, and that MMA sent you!

Order of Worship Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Do you know of someone who would benefit from hearing that there are things in life worth holding on to other than stuff, and that it might be time to let go of something? Consider inviting them to church. Here’s one way that might feel more comfortable to you and them: Tell them something your faith helped you to let go of, and tell them about our church Lenten theme. Let them know where and when we meet. Tell them to check us out online for themselves, so they know what they are getting into before they come. Try it, it might be just what they need!

* Call to Worship                                                         
Leader:  With God as shepherd of our lives, we have no wants.
People:           Being with God is like feasting in green pastures, drinking in still waters. God you alone restore our souls and transform us!
Leader:            Please Lord, lead us in right paths, so that others know your name and embrace your gospel.
People:           Even when that path goes through dark valleys, we will not fear, for you are our leader, and you are with us.
Leader: We trust you to lead us into deeper relationships       
              within the church & the surrounding world, with               friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
People: We trust you to lead us into deeper                                    relationships with our enemies, and into deeper               commitment and discipleship to Jesus Christ.                This is what we want. This is what we believe.
ALL:   Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the            days of our lives, and we will live in the house of         the Lord our whole life long. AMEN
Leader: With God in front of us, and goodness and mercy behind us, we invite you into our time of worship.
* Opening Prayer
* Opening Songs                                                                                
        Jesus Christ is waiting                                                   
 SJ #30
        The peace of the earth be with you                                     SJ #77
Scripture Reading              Acts 9:36-43                         NT Pg 128
Children’s Time (Children 1-5 dismissed for Children’s Church)   
Sharing joys and concerns
Prayer  Feel free to light a candle-prayer
Scripture Reading            John 10:22-30                        NT Pg 104
•Community Dialogue
Song of Response          New earth, heavens new              HWB #299
Offering & Prayer       
Welcoming of Visitors and Announcements              
* Blessing Song           They will know we are Christians               PPT
* Blessing                                                                                                                             

Community Dialogue: We believe that everyone is gifted and has a voice, and value your voice in our worship. “Community dialogue” is your chance to testify to God’s presence in our world, respond to the text or sermon, or share your perspective or experience with us. Consider adding your voice for our formation by sharing verbally during this time, or by writing on the enclosed index card your completion of the sentence, “This I believe…” These will be read aloud.

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, cell:(713)835-9436, church office (713)464-4865, hmcpastor1@sbcglobal.net, also available on facebook.

Additional Information

HMC E-Newsletter is compiled by Houston Mennonite Church pastor Marty Troyer.

All are invited and encouraged to share articles, personal updates, stories, announcements, pictures, etc… to include in the weekly updates!

Know of others who would like to receive HMC E-Newsletter e-mails from Houston Mennonite?  Have them send name and e-mail to Marty at hmcpastor1@sbcglobal.net. 

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