HMC E-Newsletter December 1, 2011

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Today (December 1) is WORLD AIDS DAY. Here are stories and stats, and local groups that are actively responding to this crisis while celebrating those with the courage to persevere:
►Congregational Meal and Meeting Today after Worship.
A good meal will be provided, a good meeting’s up to you. On the agenda: 2012 Budget, a Campus Development update (see below), and several Council proposals for discussion.
► Christmas Banquet: Sunday December 11th 5:30PM.
Celebrate faith with our biggest even of the year! Main dish provided, please bring a side to share. This is a fantastic time to show off your sense of humor, your talent in song, drama, or art. If you have something to contribute to the program, please talk with Linda Washburn! ►December 18, 6-8PM: Christmas in the Park: Spring Valley Village Park (1025 Campbell, 1 block North of Katy Freeway). Come live the Christmas Story! Live Re-enactment and Nativity, FREE Camel Rides and petting zoo, music, entertainment, refreshments.  Sponsored by 15+ local churches and ministries, including HMC.
HMC will be hosting the refreshments. Please sign up Sunday to help host refreshments for this great outreach and ecumenical event. (We need 12 volunteers and 20 dozen cookies. You can email me also).
Ten Thousand Villages Sunday is December 18. Volunteer, shop, support fair trade!
Christmas is coming to HMC: We’re collecting blankets, sleeping bags, coats and other winter clothing for the homeless for the next 6 weeks. Please place donated items in the blue box or see Judy Hoffhien. This is a great time to clean out closets and share with others. These will be given out after the sharing of meals by the Food Not Bombs group.
Consider Mennonite Central Committee Christmas Giving
Share the joy of Christmas with others around the world.  Begin a new tradition by selecting a gift from MCC.  Simple gifts make a big difference.
The gift of water helps to bring a valuable, life-giving resource closer to the people who need it most.  The gift of livestock does more than provide an animal.  It gives families and communities the power to improve their own lives. Explore all the MCC gift options and discover more ways to share the joy at or make checks payable to MCC and send them to MCC Central States PO Box 235 North Newton, KS 67117.
The Peace Club will gather on Dec. 10  and 17 from 3:00-5:00 at the Mennonite Church, 1231 Wirt Rd.  The group will be learning about Human Rights Day and  various  holiday customs of different ethnic groups.  Bring any items such as a dreidel, menorah, wreath, etc. to  share.  There will also be preparation of vegetarian casseroles for the Food Not Bombs nights downtown.  We  hope to practice the Afghan reading project with Lee Loe, so the You Tube presentation can be finalized.  Please E mail me if you can participate (, so I can plan accordingly.  This is a project of the Houston Peace and Justice Center, the Decade of NonViolence and the Houston Mennonite Church.

Campus Development Taskforce Report:
Please read prior to Sunday’s Congregational meeting

The following are minutes from our October 30, 2011 Congregational meeting for Campus Development. This was a significant meeting in form and content, allowing us to hear with fresh ears what each other (and God) are saying. Thank you all for joining so deeply. And for those unable to attend, through these minutes and an update during this Sunday’s congregational meeting, we hope you know your voice is appreciated as well! Please find attached to this email a copy of the PowerPoint Presentation from that meeting. Please bring a copy of this to Sunday’s meeting for further discussion. Thanks!

  1. CDT – Congregational Meeting Oct. 30, 2011
  2.  Welcome
  3. Prayer
  4. Define discernment
  5. Agenda for meeting
  6. History – Brief review of the June 2008 decision to pursue development of the HMC campus. Overview of work to date and the questions the congregation asked us to answer at the last congregational meeting when we presented the proposed site development plan. That is, (1) will Hilshire Village council approve our plans to build a worship space on the campus and(2) how would we fund the building project. When we presented our plans to H.V. council, they rejected our application for a special use permit needed to proceed with building.
  7. Overview of 3 options for how we could proceed.

8-11. Details of Option A — pursue the original building plan with addition of worship space at 1231 Wirt Rd. — pros, cons and necessary next steps to continue on this path. Specifically, need to fight the HV councils ruling (with aid of either hired legal team or ACLU) to obtain the necessary permits to proceed with building and need to raise 1.1 – 1.3 million dollars to fund the project.

12-15. Details of Option B — pursue original building plan with a partial sale of property. – pros, cons and action steps. The partial sale of property would provide much of the funding needed for the building project, but would also reduce the amount of greenspace and future development possibilities for the property. In addition, we still would need to convince HV council to approve our building plans.

16-21. Details of Option C — the sale of HMC property and relocation outside of Hilshire Village. Review of where current attendees live, presentation of several candidate sites in Spring Branch to show some of
the possibilities.

22. Next we broke into 5 small groups to further discuss each option in turn and present a summary of the discussion back to the entire group.

23. Option A Dialogue
Table 1 response – Not a lot of positives, fighting is wasteful, would be better to use energy elsewhere. What will be the next fight with HV if we get approval for the SUP? What about the cost – both legal and building
Table 2 – Hilshire Village’s decision is not right. There is a considerable cost for this option both legal and building cost.
Table 3 – the cost of fighting seems too high. Some don’t want to associate with the ACLU.
Table 4 – H.V. was wrong. We need more room. Financing of this option is a concern. If we bring in the ACLU to assist with the legal side, we may loose control of the process.
Table 5 – Possible damage to the church’s reputation through actions / associations with the ACLU. Concern over financing the building project.

24. Option B Dialogue —
Table 1 – Doesn’t solve all of the problems — we still have to deal with H.V. The plan would offset the cost of the construction of the new building, but there is still a concern about the operating & maintenance costs. 1.6 acres seems limiting.
Table 2 – Positive about the financial aid to the project. But a negative is that we don’t know if it will work out. We don’t know if or when it will work and eventually it may still lead to a dead end if we cannot convince H.V to approve our plans.
Table 3 – Some at the table liked the option / some did not.
Table 4 – Did not like the reduction in green space.
Table 5 – a big uncertainty is that we don’t know if H.V. would work with us on this proposal.

25. Option C. Dialogue —
Table 1 — Generally favorable, gives us more options, provides a source of funding, we could design the property and have a green building design. Design could leave the possibility for future expansion. Feel positive about a move, don’t have strong roots to the current land. A move is energizing, it is an opportunity to dream bigger. Where would we go? Access and driving times are important. Safety is an issue. Can work with community. Can me missional.
Table 2 – Gives us control over our destine. Access to freeways is important. Requires creativity. This is the most complex of the 3 options — there are pros and cons to this complexity. Provides an opportunity for ministry.
Table 3 – Could provide for new neighborhood ministries. Where to build — what about exploring outside of Spring Branch.
Table 4 – Positive feeling about option. Need to consider the “cost” of driving — both time and resources. Safety is an issue especially for weekly meetings. Opportunity to allow mission to shape us.
Table 5 – Optimistic about a move. Provides missional opportunities. Could consider a move outside of spring branch.
— presented the possibility of trying to pair with another organization when moving. E.g. should we see if there is a synergy with Monarch school for development of an auditorium that could function as our
worship space. What limitations would come from this? We would need some additional “full-time” HMC space in addition to the auditorium.
26. Open Question/ Answer
1. Should we also consider waiting / delaying as an option. Perhaps we should not rush forward but pause.
2. How long is the process
3. A move would potentially require a transitional space while the new
facility is under construction.
4. What about looking at existing churches that are for sale. — would consider it, but need to be careful that the building is in good repair and maintainable or it may cause more problems than it solves.
5. Are the western district conference grants that could help with cost. Or possibility of donated labor.
6. Mission — is this our driving force going forward?

27. What are our preferences — this is not a binding vote, but a ranking of our feelings at this time after discussing these options.

28. Summary of rankings

Option First Priority Second Priority Third Priority
Option A: Stay and Build 3 1 17
Option B: Stay and Build with Partial Sale 1 17 1
Option C: Sell and Relocate 18 3 2

29. Moving forward — takes time, will continue the process at the next
2 regular congregational meetings on Dec 5 and Jan 15.

Reading While Living in a Hinge in History
By Jim Herrington (our speaker this Sunday) found at

In my last post I asserted that we are living in a hinge of history. As one of only six or seven generations to ever do so, it can be very challenging to find your way forward. In other hinges in history, the Church resisted the deep changes that came from paradigm shifts. We’ve actually murdered some of those who attempted to give voice to a new paradigm.

In this current hinge, the resistance is still there from many in the institutionalized church but the nature of the information age has made it possible for us all to learn at a much more rapid pace. Often learning in a new paradigm comes from the business world. In this hinge of history that is still true, but in this one it has also come from the educational community, from other world religions, and much more rapidly than before it has come from the Church itself.

Recently, a friend and pastor in the city asked me to send him a bibliography of the books that had impacted me most profoundly as I sought to live faithfully and effectively in this hinge of history. In answering that question, I want to state, what is for me, the obvious. No book has impacted my life like the Bible. What may not be so obvious is that I’m reading the Bible differently as a result of reading some of the text listed below. In addition to the Bible, the following is an annotated list of the top ten books that have influenced my view of the world and what it means for me to live faithfully and effectively in it today. They are listed here – not in the order of their impact but – in the order that I read them. [Note: I’ve only listed the 3 books that have had an influence on me to conserve space. To read the rest of the list check out Jim’s blog.]

The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God by Dallas Willard
This book altered my “listening” to Scripture and set me on a very different path than the one that would have been predictable, given my past. Willard first put me onto the recognition that our disciple-making efforts had devolved to a place where our focus was on making good church members rather than disciples of Jesus. Though there is some over lap between church members and disciples of Jesus, there are, in my mind, some stark, fundamental differences. And in my view, this is the fundamental issue that we must courageously tell the truth about before anything else will change. Willard framed two questions that have driven my life over the last twenty years. What is a disciple? How do you make one? In my estimation, the church is generally really fuzzy in its thinking about both of these questions.

The Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America by Darrel Guder, George Hunsberger, Alan Roxburgh, and Craig Van Gelder.

These guys built on the work of missional theologians Lesslie Newbigin and David Bosch and applied their work to the North American context. Recently Craig Van Gelder and Dwight Zscheile have written a very helpful follow up entitled The Missional Church in Perspective: Mapping Trends and Shaping The Conversation. They examine the impact of The Missional Church since it was first written twelve (12) years ago. All of these writers helped me to rethink my theology. In my seminary training, I was taught that mission is a sub-category in the overall course on systematic theology which results in missions being one part of the local congregational life. From this way of thinking I inherited the view that today we call the attractional model of church. The Missional Church turned that world upside down for me, and I was faced with a life shaping dilemma. Do I try to help local congregations change from the attractional model to a missional model? Mike Bonem, James Furr, and I wrote a book entitledLeading Congregational Change: A Practical Guide for the Transformation Journey that attempts to help congregations with the profound challenges of making this kind of change. I went through a long season where I despaired that local congregations would ever be able to make the deep changes required to embrace missional living. More recently, I have growing hope. For instance, I’m working with Trisha Taylor and 30 congregations from The Reformed Church in American through Western Theological Seminary in an effort called The Ridder Initiative. There is amazing life and vitality in these congregations as they engage the change required to go from an attractional model to a missional model that is making me very, very hopeful. At the heart of the content of their work is the sum total of the learning reflected in this reading list.

Post Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World by Stuart Murray (author of Naked Anabaptist).

Asserting that Christendom is dead and that we are simply presiding over its burial, Murray tracks the changes that took place in the church when Constantine moved it from the margins to the center of the Empire in the Edict of Milan (313 AD). He asserts that in Christendom the Church was in many ways co-opted by the state resulting in many practices and in the development of systems and structures that look more like the Empire than like the Kingdom of God. However, rather than mourning the death of Christendom, Murray celebrates it as an opportunity to renew the Church in an era that looks much more like the first century than any time sense then. His work gives historical context to Willard’s assertion that we had quit making disciples and started making church members.

Last Week’s Sermon: Looking for God in the Unexpected
For some of us the holidays bring an intense feeling that there’s nothing new under the sun. Stores and malls put up the same décor as always, perhaps a little earlier. Black Friday brings the same crazed shoppers, miraculous discounts, and of course shopping injuries. We become frantically busy with parties, preparations, and year end…. Perhaps, all we need is to look somewhere else, where God is already working. Read the entire sermon here:

 Christian Formation Options at HMC:
Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
►Preschool: (ages 3-5): Adrienne Graybill
Living More with Less book study
►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.

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

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