HMC E-Newsletter February 11, 2010

Call for Pitches
We at Houston Mennonite Church publish an equal opportunity Newsletter. We’d love to have your input in our newsletter. I’m not biased or anything, but I think you should consider including a piece for us to read. Suggestions include: a personal reflection on your faith journey, the death penalty, the wars we’re still fighting, immigration, parenting, creation care, updates on another issue dear to your heart, a look at Houston life and politics, a poem, a historical piece, what it feels like for you to tithe, a skill-based article (pastoral care, hospitality, teaching, etc…), your dreams for our church, a recipe from your pot-luck dish. You write it, we’ll publish it.
With all the technology and media we have today, let’s practice our Anabaptist heritage of everyone having a voice!
Special thanks to Roxie Voran, Linda Washburn, and Peggy Campbell who have included marvelous pieces lately!

Growing Pains and Training Wheels
By Pastor Marty Troyer

Several weeks ago I shared with you how I have lost quite a bit of weight over the last year. I remember how cautiously optimistic I was that I would be able to get the weight off. And I remember how shaky my strategy for pulling it off was. I didn’t set out to loose 40lbs, or fit into a certain pair of jeans. All I had was a desire to be healthy and fit, able to enjoy my body, family, and life as much as possible.

It was this desire that helped me push through all the exercise and changes in eating habits. Make no mistake about it, growth isn’t easy! But I had a lot of help, what you might call “training wheels.” I placed things in my life that enabled me to succeed in small ways, knowing that with practice I would one day be able to succeed in larger ways. These training wheels eventually came off, but I would never have gotten where I am today without them.

Likewise, in our Christian journey we all need “training wheels” to become what we were created to be.  In January we introduced you to one Faith Practice: the daily prayers. And during Lent we’re encouraging you to put on a different set of training wheels: Scripture. For 40 days, we invite you to train yourself to be more like Christ by listening to or reading through the entire New Testament. While our recent series on the Prodigal Sons allowed us the opportunity to marinate in one story, this invitation allows us to experience the breadth of our story.

I love what Brian McLaren says about training ourselves to be like Christ, or what is usually known as faith practice. He says it may not make us perfect, but “it does make currently impossible things possible. The one who tries to run a marathon can’t do it, but the one who trains eventually can… And the one who wants to be patient, kind, forgiving, courageous, just, joyful, peaceful, and resilient can never do it; the harder she tries, the more frustrated she will become. But the one who trains and exercises herself becomes what she was incapable of being before.” (McLaren, Finding our Way Again, 46-47).

But my journey over the last year has also produced some “growing pains.” As I’ve grown more healthy physically, I’ve had to adapt to a new body. The need for smaller clothes, a tighter ring, new sleeping positions, and time set aside for exercise have all been (great) consequences of my weight loss.

Our congregation is experiencing growing pains right now too. While its been several years since we said that we were a congregation that wanted to grow, we’re now actually experiencing it! Over the last year we’ve added 25-30 people to our congregation, with new visitors coming regularly. Within the last month we’ve had two Sunday’s over 72 people. This has maxed out our parking, our song books, and our sanctuary seating. We’ve dealt with the song books by adding more from our 2009 windfall. We’ve also dealt with the parking by inviting people to join me in parking in the Methodist Church parking lot and walking through our woods. Now, we’ve decided it’s time to deal with the sanctuary seating issue.

This Sunday you will walk into a slightly redesigned sanctuary, complete with more and better accessible seating. As the church council and worship team sought an arrangement that would meet our needs we had three priorities: retain our feeling of closeness and community we experienced in the “round”, retain having  Christ symbolized in the altar at our center, and add seats. Our new seating format does all three. We’ll now be in two sections instead of four, angled towards one another and facing the main wall. And we’ll have more seats.

It’s my belief that the more we practice our faith by wearing “training wheels”,  the more growth we will experience as individuals and as a congregation. This is, after all, what we said we wanted. Isn’t it? If so, join me in making the impossible possible by learning Christ this Lenten season.

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
Stewardship Sunday: February 14th. Rhoda Blough, representative from Mennonite Mutual Aid will join us next week to explore the intersection of faith and finances. Resourcing times include:
Sunday School: Making your wishes known, finances and the end of life.
Sermon: Integrating Faith and Holistic Stewardship
Available for financial counseling.
Stewardship Team Luncheon re. congregational stewardship. We will eat at a local restaurant during the meeting.
►Invite our Neighbors: Join the Outreach Team this Sunday after worship in inviting our church neighborhood to join us during Lent. Outreach will be canvassing our neighborhood, inviting people via a handout. You can also grab a couple and hand them out to your neighbors, friends, and co-workers!

►Ash Wednesday: This Wednesday evening, Feb17th, 7PM at HMC.
Join us as we begin our Lenten Journey with Jesus to the cross. This will be a solemn worship with anointing of ashes.
Sewers and Doers We will be meeting on this Saturday, February 20, at 9:30a.m. at the Annex.  Please join us

►Ten Thousand Villages Sunday: Next Sunday, February 21st is “Mennonite Sunday” at Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade store in Rice Village, 2424 Rice Blvd Ste A. Consider shopping or volunteering at TTV as an expression of your faith. We do!
►Chili Fundraiser for International Missions: Sunday February 28th after worship. Join us as we discern who to partner with more deeply as an expression of our desire to support missions overseas.

New Offering Bag: The Stewardship Team affirmed that we receive our offerings with a visual symbol that reminds us of our commitments, and expresses our faith. The new Laotian offering bag was purchased from Ten Thousand Villages, a Fair Trade store in Rice Village. It allows for a safer & less cluttered reception of our morning offerings. 

Lent 2010:Holding On- Letting Go

What is Lent, anyway? 

Lent is a 40 day season of preparation prior to Easter, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. The Lenten season allows us to begin “our spiritual life all over again refreshed and reoriented…Lent calls each of us to renew our ongoing commitment to the implications of the Resurrection in our own lives, here and now. This demands both the healing of the soul and the honing of the soul, both penance and faith, both a purging of what is superfluous in our lives and the heightening, the intensifying, of what is meaningful (Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year).” 

Lenten Schedule

►Learning Christ by reading and/or listening to the New Testament. Mp3 copies of the NT are available the next several Sundays in English and Spanish, children’s and adult.
►Ash Wednesday: Wednesday February 17th, 7PM at HMC.
►Wednesday Nights: The Journey (see below). Beginning February 24th.
►Maunday Thursday: Thursday April 1, 6:30-8PM.
►Good Friday: Friday April 2, 7PM Tennebrae Service of Shadows.
►Easter: Sunday April 4. 

Lenten Activities

Read and/or listen to the New Testament. We invite you to “work out” your faith this Lenten season by listening to or reading the entire New Testament through the 40 days of Lent. Mp3 copies of the NT will be available the next several Sundays, for those who want to listen. Bible Reading guides will be available for those who want to read (also below). Of course, you can do a bit of both. The January 10th sermon talked about “making the impossible possible” by training ourselves to practice what we want to become. Make sure to pick up your copy of the NT on CD this Sunday: available in English, Spanish, adult and children’s.

To download free copies of the New Testament in various translations, languages, and drama or non-drama formats, check out:

To purchase a $29 listening device called a “Bible Stick” see

Day 1 – Matt. 1-7
Day 2 – Matt. 8-12
Day 3 – Matt. 13-18
Day 4 – Matt. 19-24
Day 5 – Matt. 25-28
Day 6 – Mark 1-6
Day 7 – Mark 7-11
Day 8 – Mark 12-16
Day 9 – Luke 1-4
Day 10 – Luke 5-9
Day 11 – Luke 10-13
Day 12 – Luke 14-19
Day 13 – Luke 20-24
Day 14 – John 1-5
Day 15 – John 6-9
Day 16 – John 10-14
Day 17 – John 15-19
Day 18 – John 20-Acts 4
Day 19 – Acts 5-9
Day 20 – Acts 10-15
Day 21 – Acts 16-20
Day 22 – Acts 21-26
Day 23 – Acts 27-Rom. 4
Day 24 – Rom. 5-10
Day 25 – Rom. 11-I Cor. 1
Day 26 – I Cor. 2-9
Day 27 – I Cor. 10-15
Day 28 – I Cor. 16-II Cor. 9
Day 29 – II Cor. 10-Gal. 4
Day 30 – Gal. 5-Phil. 1
Day 31 – Phil. 2-I Thes. 2
Day 32 – I Thes. 3-I Tim. 5
Day 33 – I Tim. 6-Heb. 1
Day 34 – Heb. 2-10
Day 35 – Heb. 11-James 5
Day 36 – I Pet. 1-I John 1
Day 37 – I John 2-Jude
Day 38 – Rev. 1-7
Day 39 – Rev. 8-15
Day 40 – Rev. 16-22


The Journey: A mid-week service of sharing life, prayer, and reflecting on Lenten scripture texts. 7PM Wednesdays at Houston Mennonite Church, beginning February 24th. Pack your Bible and perhaps a journal. Travel companions provided. Why stumble alone when you can walk together? Come share the Journey! Come to me, all who are weary and in need of rest.’ Jesus.

Typist Needed:

If you are interested in helping type out the Lenten liturgies that we use in our bulletins, please let pastor Marty know and he will get you copies of what needs to be typed. We’re talking 400 words a week, with some formatting. Liturgy: calls to worship, benediction, etc…
The ideal candidate will receive rewards beyond what this world can provide.

You and your friends are invited to join us for our Sunday School programs for people of all ages. 9:30AM each and every Sunday!

►ADULT Class: BOOK STUDY: Time Warped: First Century Time Stewardship for 21st Century Living. This book study will begin Sunday morning February 7th, 9:30AM.
This book is on time-but not time management. You don’t need another organizational tool or trick. What you’ll study in these pages is our society’s inclination toward busyness-and what that means to the Christian seeking God and wholeness. Each chapter ends with discussion questions that will help you identify areas where you may need to do some repair work.
►Preschool (age 2-4): With Teacher Beth Wiebe.
►Grades 3-5:
With Teacher Linda Ensminger.
►Junior Youth (Grades 6-8):
With Teachers Alan Wilson, Kristi Long.
►High School: With Teachers Lynda and Roxie Voran, Marty Troyer.

** Children’s Church happens during worship in our children’s ministry room for kids 1-5. They hear a Bible story, sing, and play together.

Bethamy and Daniel Combs new address:
The Combs, scheduled to move from Houston back to Indiana this week, have provided their new address. I encourage you to jot it down in your church directory now, or you’ll never remember where to find it!
Daniel and Bethamy Combs
527 W. Kickapoo St.
Hartford City, IN 47348

Last Week’s Sermon:
God’s Love Transforms

Through the grace of Christ, we are learning what it means to be transformed into the kind of people who natural love others, without condition and without regret.

But it all starts when we open ourselves to God’s love for us. Henri Nouwen says, “The closer I come to home the clearer becomes the realization that there is a call beyond the call to return. It is the call to become the Father who welcomes home and calls for celebration. Having reclaimed my sonship, I now have to claim fatherhood.”

Interested in reading the entire copy of last week’s sermon, or know of someone who might be? Click here or visit our webpage at: You can find all the sermons and articles from this sermon series on our webpage.


Order of Worship February 7, 2010 GOD’s LOVE IS TRANSFORMING

Do you know of someone who would benefit from hearing about God’s welcoming love for them? Consider inviting them to church. Here’s one way that might feel more comfortable to you and them: Tell them how you felt to hear about it last week, and let them know you care for them. 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                             Psalm 24                                            HWB # 815
* Opening Songs                                                                      
        What is this place                                                                 
HWB #1
        Praise God from whom all blessings flow                                      HWB #118
Scripture Reading                       Deuteronomy 26:5b-10                     OT Pg 180
Children’s Time (Children 1-5 dismissed for Children’s Church)
Sharing joys and concerns, Prayer          
Preparation Song                       Longing for Light                           SJ#54      
Scripture Reading                     Matthew 6:25-34                            NT Pg 6
Song of Response             Praise, I will praise                                 HWB #76       
Offering & Prayer
Learning Christ: Faith Comes by Hearing Presentation
Welcoming of Visitors and Announcements                  
* Benediction Song                   Take my life                       HWB # 389
* Benediction                                                                      

* Please stand if comfortable when indicated by asterisk.
SJ- Sing the Journey (Green) HWB- Hymnal Worship Book (Blue).   

Thank you to the following for sharing your gifts!          
Worship Leader: Kristi Long; Song Leader: Linda Ensminger; Scripture Reader: Jessica Unruh; Children’s Message: Rhoda Blough; Children’s Church: Lynda and Rebecca Voran;  Message: Rhoda Blough and Pastor Marty Troyer; Accompanist: Linda Washburn; Sound: Jim Emmert and Nick Gehman.  NEXT WEEK: Children’s Message: Margaret Gehman; Song Leader: Linda Ensminger; Pianist: Linda Washburn; Children’s Church: Elizabeth Melendez and Gloria Wilson.

Looking for a Trustee: Peggy Campbell

My friend George O’Malley received some inheritance money a couple of years ago.  George decided to make a small start on a fund for college (or what other needs three of the children might have upon reaching adulthood).  He set up, with Bank of America, a Fund for Minors account of $500. each for Jose Pena, Rosa Betancourt, and Maria Pena. 

George would very much like to have someone else in the church take over the role of adult signer for the accounts.  One factor is that, knowing himself to be bipolar, he would like to protect against any future temptation to access the fund himself.  Another factor is that George’s health is compromised.  If he died before they reached 18, there would be legal hassles in their accessing the money.  A final factor is that he would prefer someone present here in Houston to be responsible for it.  He is planning to move to Round Rock when I go. 

The duties of this responsibility are minimal — receive the statements from Bank of America.  If you choose, the job could be turned over to someone else at a later date.  Unfortunately, there can be only one adult signer for the accounts.  Please contact me or Pastor Marty if you want to consider this.  Thanks so much for your prayerful consideration of this need.

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,, 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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