HMC E-Newsletter August 30, 2012  

Congregational Meeting and Provided Meal this Sunday:
Campus Development

On August 9 we shared the following with you:

When we last discussed a partial sale of property and staying at our current location, we shared that none of the parties who had expressed an interest in the property was interested in a partial sale. Over the last 6 weeks this has changed. A builder has presented us a preliminary proposal for approximately half of the property (the section of woods and land behind the Annex). The initial price they offered may allow us to fund construction costs for a new building and provide funds for remodeling the existing building. We see this as a door opening that had been closed and feel that it warrants further study. At the April 2011 congregational meeting, the congregation tasked us with determining how we could fund building the new sanctuary and whether Hillshire Village would allow us to build it.

This option, now presented to us, might provide a solution to the funding concerns and may also put us in a stronger position to be granted permission to build while still maintaining our current central location and freeway access.

Over the next several weeks we will be seeking answers to a number of questions raised by this option. Would a smaller campus be sufficient for HMC’s desire to grow? Are there others who would give us offers for a partial sale? Will the Hilshire Village council grant us an SUP knowing the partial sale will increase their tax rolls? And to understand and clarify the terms and conditions of the preliminary proposal.

As always, any sale will require congregational approval. In addition, we would not enter into a partial sale agreement without our obtaining an SUP being a condition of sale.

We invite you to join us for an informational meeting this Sunday, September 2 to dialogue with us regarding these new developments. We’ll share with you what we’ve learned and the proposals that have come in. This is not an decision-making meeting, but an informational meeting. Please put Sunday September 23 on your calendar for our next meeting where decisions will be made, and prayerfully keep this in your prayers.

Connecting More Fully at HMC:

►Jazz Concert for Peace!Are you looking for a local musical extravaganza? HMC will be the venue of the Third Annual Jazz concert featuring master pianist, Bob Henschen, Sunday, Sept. 2, at 7 Pm. Ermelinda Cuellar will again be the soloist along with some other talented youth. This is a fundraiser for the Houston Committee for Youth and Non-Military Opportunities, a group which helps students get accurate information about the realities of joining the military and alternatives that are available in jobs and education. A $10 donation is suggested, but no one will be turned away. Come out, enjoy the evening, and celebrate peace through music!

►Christian Formation Retreat: Saturday September 22, 10-4PM. What if Christ calls us to actually impact the world in which we live? What if Christ considers us to be on mission right here in Houston, where we live, work, and play? Believing this might just change everything! Deepen your sense of identity in Christ and ministry through dialogue, discernment, and prayerful times of solitude at this retreat. This is designed as a guided time for individuals to spend connecting with Jesus and what Jesus is up to in our city.  It’s been said that we must “believe the future into being” through prayer and community. Come and learn to believe Jesus’ future for you. $10 per person, everything’s provided.

Please register with Pastor Marty, retreat facilitator., or 713-835-9436
Retreat will be in Cypress at Linda W’s house.

Registration is open to the first 10 people.

►Special Morning Gathering this Sunday at 9:30AM to discern our 12 Foundational Scriptures.

Magazine Swap: Take one, leave one! Bring your used magazines to share, or grab one for yourself. Check it out by the boxes.

►PEACE CLUB The Peace Club will meet on Sat., Sept. 8 from 3:00-5:00 at the church. The group will be filming a reading written by young folks from Afghanistan and this project will be on You Tube. Preparing spaghetti for the Food Not Bombs group will also be an activity of the afternoon. Ages 6 and older are invited to participate. Contact Judy Hoffhien at for additional information. This is a project of Houston Mennonite Church and the Houston Peace and Justice Center.

►“Like” The Texas Mennonite Relief Sale on your Facebook page and you’ll get all their updates! Then click “share” so that all your followers know about it too!

Mennonite Central Committee Penny Power: Please start bringing your pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to church for Penny Power. Proceeds this year go to relief and development work in Mexico through Mennonite Central Committee.

Congregational Meetings: Sunday September 2 and 23 to dialogue regarding Campus Development.

►Annual Jazz and Peace Fundraiser Concert at HMC: Sunday Night September 2, 7PM. Imagine with me our sanctuary filled to overflowing with new faces eager for connection. Imagine an opportunity to host the exact kind of people we want to connect with. Now imagine yourself part of this fantastic event that our church hosts annually! Come to a truly great concert. And come to host a truly great group of folks!

Remember the Future. One of two sermons preached this summer about God’s Preferred Future for us.

Twelve Scriptures Project is coming along!!!
By Pastor Marty Troyer

During August we at Houston Mennonite Church have been discerning 12 Foundational Scripture texts that express our identity and call us into the future that God has for us. As of Sunday August 26 our working list of texts that we are discerning includes the following 15 texts. We continue to dialogue and pray about this list, and invite you to help us select 12 out of the following (or perhaps a yet to be  added text).

The list you see here includes Bold Italics titles that Pastor Marty has given, and can be changed. The scriptures themselves have been chosen by HMC, and are printed in NRSV (which we could also change as discerned). Check out the list so far, prayerfully think it over, ask yourself the questions at the end, and by all means, JOIN US Sunday Sep 2, 9:30AM to further think this through! This is YOUR list, so embrace its creation! Here’s a visual presentation, complete with pictures!

The Gospel of God
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. John 3:16

The Gospel of God in Empire (Or, Redemption from Empire)
A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labour on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.’ You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 26:5-10a

The Gospel of God is Peace, Or: The Peaceable Kingdom  (OR, Peace: God’s Plan for the World)
They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more…The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.  Isaiah 2:4,11:6-9

Blessed, to be a blessing
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. 1 Peter 2:9-11

Jesus’ Agenda
Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘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, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ Luke 4:17-19

What does God require?
‘With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before God with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’ He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:6-8

Seeking the Peace of Houston
Seek the shalom/welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its shalom/welfare you will find your welfare… For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes. Jeremiah 29:7,11-13.

Jesus Commissions Us for Holistic Ministry
And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ Matthew 28:18-20

Being Transformed by God
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

Becoming Like Jesus
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2:1-11

Unlimited Love
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ Matt 22:37-40

On a Journey with God
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. Psalm 23

On a Journey with Jesus
Then he said to them all, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? Luke 9:23-25

Light for the Journey
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path…. I am the light of the world…You are the light of the world. Isaiah 9:2, Psalm 119:105, John 8:12, Matthew 5:14

Sermon on Mount Matthew 5-7
We’ll need to discern how we want to depict this, our longest and most universally desired text (111 verses long). Options might include: write it out word for word or choose 1 small portion to symbolically function for the whole or visually depict it with a picture, word, or collage?

Here are some smaller portions that have already been suggested:

  • Beattitudes, Matt 5:3-12: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
  • Lord’s Prayer, Matt 6:9-13: Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
  • Ask, Seek, Knock, Matt 7:7-11:  ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
  • Citizens on the Mount, Matt 5:14-16, in the summer of 2011 we preached through the Sermon on the Mount and used this title and verse:  ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden.No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
  • Built on Solid Rock, Matt 7:24-27:  ‘Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’

Questions for Dialogue and Prayerful Discernment:

  1. Do these express who we are and who we long to be?
  2. Do they pull us toward the future God wants for us?
  3. If rediscovered, will they bring transformation to individuals and our congregation?
  4. Are they a meaningful and challenging expression to our Context?
  5. Are they a meaningful and challenging expression of our Mission?
  6. Are they a meaningful and challenging expression of our Values?
  7. In particular, we recently had opportunity to answer the question, “Who do we long to become?” and loudly said we long to become more like Jesus, a diverse and welcoming community, a close relationship community, a distinctly Christian peace presence, and a church who embraces mission in Houston.
  8. Do these texts express and lead us into these values? Do these texts express and lead us toward our Transformation Journey values: being an Anabaptist community, a worshipping community, a nurturing community, a growing community, a serving community?
  9. Do these texts SWOT? Do they express our Strengths? Respond to our Weaknesses? Take advantage of our current Opportunities? Honestly address our external Threats?
  10. Do these warm your heart and inspire your faith?
  11. What other questions would be helpful for us to discern our list of 12 Scriptures?

PLEASE consider joining us Sunday at 9:30 for open dialogue on choosing 12 Foundational Stones from God’s word. Here’s a visual presentation, complete with pictures!

Thank you Letters to HMC (From Pam Stephens Family)

To the congregation of HMC:

Thank you for all your love, kindness, and compassion that you showed my sister Pam Stephens. I know that Pam’s affiliation with all of you brought her faith alive and brought her comfort as she left this world. Special thanks for praying and singing hymns with us shortly before Pam passed away. I know she heard all and was comforted by your presence. Thanks also for the kind, compassionate support given to her family.  You made a very hard time easier. Bless you all and thank you for your generosity.

With love, Jerri and Justin

Dear HMC:

It is with great appreciation and thanks to you and your people for the kindness, love and comfort you have shown my Pam during her illness and passing.

Love is of God, and when you believe in Him, you are like Him.

Rita Stephens (Pam’s Mom)

Order of Worship for September 2 (did I just type September already???), 2012


Opening Prayer

*Songs of Praise and Celebration

Here in this place HWB #6
Joyful, joyful we adore Thee  HWB #71

Offering and Offertory


Scripture             Genesis 1:26-31 and Exodus 24:14-15

Children’s Time

Sharing & Prayer

Sermon                            Claiming Responsibility for Stewardship of the Land


Response Song    Put peace into each other’s hands SJ #87


Sending Scripture                    Colossians 3:17


Connecting more fully

*Song of Sending               Praise God from Whom HWB #119B


Missionary Falla’s Update

Dear Supporters of Amanda and Gamaliel Falla,

Thank you for inviting continued prayer for Fallas.  We want to update you so that you can focus your prayers specifically.

  • Gamaliel will return to Colombia September 4-22 to tend to some details relating to their ministry and home in Armenia. He will help with a regional pastors gathering in Barranquilla and attend some meetings of the Colombia Mennonite Church.  Please pray for strength and stamina, safe travel, and meaningful ministry.
  • Amanda’s blood clot in her heart (secondary to one of the IV’s) has gone away without further intervention. We thank God for relief from this concern.
  • Amanda continues the intensive regimen of chemotherapy and dialysis.
  • Tests show that the chemotherapy is having its intended result.  Thank God for this improvement in test “numbers.”
  • Fallas remain concerned about whether kidney damage will be permanent or will improve.  Please pray for improvement.
  • Family support remains strong with three children in the Chicago area and visits from Illinois supporting congregations and Mission Network staff.  Cards of encouragement may be sent to them c/o David Falla, 1624 Country Lakes Drive, Unit # 203, Naperville, Illinois 60563

Thanks for your faithful support and encouragement of the Lord’s servants and our brother and sister.

Lefuarn Harvey

Church Relations Partnership Coordinator

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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