HMC E-Newsletter February 25, 2010
Have you decided to read &/or listen to the New Testament yet? See Below

A Lenten Poem, submitted by Twila Wiens.
Lent is a crossing, an open
frontier, between life and
death, death and life.
Through these 40 days, we
awaken to reality, confessing
our sin, walking steadily
along the journey with
Christ toward his death.
We encounter a border, the
moment of repentance
and sacrifice.
Our hearts are ignited as
we discover hope, as we
experience the miracle of the
resurrected presence
of Jesus.
We are transformed by
Christ’s sacrifice, by his gift
of grace, and we pass from
death to new life.
This poem is from a Lent devotional sent to us by Interchange

January Financial Report:

The January 2010 Offerings were $6564.61 which is $102.61 below monthly budget.  January 2010 expenses were $9,592.54 which is $981.40 above our monthly expense budget of $8611.14. This is a great start to the new year! 

For 2010 we have committed to give 20% more than 2009, for a total of $80,000. Our 2010 budget is $103,000, for an operating deficit of $23,000.

So what does a pastor do anyway?
By Pastor Marty Troyer

“I’m surprised to see you here,” was the response to my presence at a recent luncheon for people interested in helping the children in our local school system. His surprise was due to the fact that I was a pastor of a local church. A statement which was clarified with this question, “So, what does a pastor do anyway?” The Obvious answer is that, apparently, I attend meetings and try to improve local schools! But, as you know, I do other things also. His question came out of his perception of pastors only caring about their institutions, but it sparked me to think about my own ministry. What do I do? And, perhaps more importantly, why do I do those things and not others?

First off, you should know that my job description is tied to Houston Mennonite Church’s 2008 Transformation Journey Document, specifically the 6 core values identified within it: Worship, Community, church growth, being Christians in the Anabaptist/Mennonite tradition, service, and our location.

Secondly, like the person who asked me the question, I’m aware that many of you only see me Sunday’s doing limited activities like preach, or talk to people after church.

But be assured, there is more to my week than pouring over scripture or waiting anxiously for the next hospital visit I get to make. A typical week for me includes 3-10 pastoral care connections, phoning our visitors, several dozen emails, worship and sermon preparation, teaching high school Sunday school, publishing the newsletter, editing/printing/folding the bulletin,  answering the phone, 1 newsletter article, connecting with the Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Committee as chair of the Faith-leaders committee, 1-3 church meetings, resourcing our leaders, connecting with the community, reading and continuing education, tending the website, and prepping the sanctuary for worship. I typically start my work week on Saturday evening when Malakai goes to bed and work through Thursday evenings.

But recently I realized that I have perhaps been too busy with small details and requests, and need to intentionally focus my limited energies more. After all, the above list may answer the question what I do, but it does little to explain why I do it. Nor does any of the above define who I am as a person, or who we are as a congregation.

So, who am I as pastor, and why do I do what I do? A recent book I read by Wayne Cordeiro inspired these responses. I am a Christian humbly following Jesus. Like you, I am on my own journey with God. As pastor it is of utmost importance that I continue to grow and connect with God, and that I authentically share that journey with others as encouragement and example. Cordeiro likens this to being the “spiritual center” of the congregation, and through prayer and practices to have a non-anxious, energizing presence in the church. Philip Yancey says about churches and their pastors, “I wonder how much more effective our churches would be if we made the pastor’s spiritual health – not the pastors’ efficiency – our #1 priority.” Having pastored at one church that prioritized efficiency and production over pastoral health, this statement rings true from my experience: the best gift I can give to you is a healthy self. I carry and nurture the congregation’s vision for itself. It is not my job to create or define the vision. Instead, by nurturing your vision in me, holding the vision before our leadership, and fanning the flames of vision in all of us I help to form us to be the community we together feel God calling us to be. While later I’ll speak about caring for individuals and families, here I care for us as a group, a social network or community. I help to read and interpret our context and the world around us. Many refer to being a “resident theologian,” but I like to see this as how ethics/morality/discipleship affects our worldview and our actions. Part of this is to call our congregation to serve and respond by. I am a developer of leaders and leadership. Though at times I fall into the trap of trying to do everything, you pay me too well for me just to be your employee. I see the job of pastor as equipping and encouraging everyone for ministry at home, at work, and in church. I so firmly believe that “we have everything we need as a congregation,” this I intentionally want to work to include everyone in the being ministers, care-givers, and leaders in and beyond our church. I am a partner in the journey. Though not responsible for the health of your own faith journey, I am responsible to equip you with the resources and teaching you need to be a vibrant Christian in all walks of life. Through encouragement, preaching, teaching, writings, and sharing resources I participate in ongoing faith development and holistic health. Finally, though certainly not least, I care for individuals and families. After 10 years of ministry in a congregation setting, there is nothing that could surprise me, or dissuade me from working with a person. Spiritual, relational, marital, economic, moral, internal, and job-related issues are all part of caring for who we are as individuals. Here at HMC, this happens through worship, formal counseling sessions, informal coffee breaks or lunches, phone calls, emails, cards and letters. I wonder if you’ve ever noticed the invitation that is the second to last item in each week’s E-newsletter. Check it out below.

Ultimately why I do what I do is because I long to be faithful to myself, to my God, and to my context. Because of this I commit to working deeply and smartly, not doing whatever I feel like or what comes across my desk; but is planned, intentional, thoughtful, and corporately discerned with church leadership. I commit to a ministry that is present, not concerned with my agenda, but rather making myself available to you and open to receive what comes our way. Most importantly I am committed to you and to your family, to our church and to its vision. I am deeply honored to be your pastor, and thankful for your encouragement, prayers and support. I trust you know you are loved! 

Connecting More Fully at HMC:   
►Chili Fundraiser for International Missions: This 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. Speakers will be Frances Chavez, Judy Hoffhien and Kristi Long, who will each present a missions project to potentially support. The meal is provided and will be a fundraiser.
►THIS Sunday Gilberto Flores, the Texas-based Conference Pastor for Western District Conference will be with us for worship and will deliver the morning message. This will be Gilberto’s first visit with us on a Sunday morning since coming to WDC. For more on our regional conference please see Houston Mennonite Church is a member of the largest Anabaptist denomination in the US, called Mennonite Church USA. MCUSA has 25-30 regional conferences within it. Our regional body is WDC, which covers the area of Kansas, Nebraska and Texas (with one congregation in Nebraska). MCUSA was formed in 2002 when two Mennonite denominations merged. If you are interested in more info about the denomination please see the MCUSA webpage at:

►PEACE FESTIVAL Where: Live Oak Friends Meeting, 1318 W. 26th St When: Saturday, March 6th • 1:00PM – 8:00PMWhat: A day of celebration and networking with local and national organizations working to improve our community.
►Ten Thousand Villages Sunday: Ten Thousand Villages is 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!


MISSIONARY Names: Gamaliel and  Amanda Falla
Location: Barranquilla, COLOMBIA
Term Start Date: 12/23/1996
Home Congregations: Iglesia Menonita Encuentro de Renovacion, Miami, FL

Amanda and Gamaliel began working in Barranquilla, Colombia, in 2002 to develop a new congregation and consolidate the emerging Caribbean Coast region of the Colombian Mennonite Church. Their current role has a strong focus on leadership training and support for the growing congregation in Barranquilla in developing holistic ministries and new church plants around the city. They also support regional church initiatives in cities like Riohacha, Sahagún, Sincelejo and Montería.
Along with Ecuador and Venezuela, Colombia emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830. It is a country of significant natural resources, and has a diverse culture reflecting the indigenous Indian, Spanish and African origins of its people. One of the continent’s most populous nations, Colombia is endowed with substantial oil reserves and is a major producer of gold, silver, emeralds, platinum and coal. The country has been ravaged by a decades-long violent conflict, involving guerrilla insurgencies, drug cartels and gross violations of human rights. Colombia has the world’s highest kidnap rate, which together with the political violence has made Colombia one of the most violent countries in the world.

The Colombia Mennonite Church (IMCOL) developed from the work of General Conference Mennonite church missionaries who arrived in Colombia in 1945. IMCOL is blessed with leadership that moves ahead with hope despite the upheavals and violence in the nation. The national church ministries include mission and evangelism, leadership training, a seminary, a home for the elderly, a peace and justice center, a relief/development agency, a school and a retreat center. IMCOL is a leader in inter-church peace efforts within the country.

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.
►Wednesday Nights: The Journey A mid-week small group gathering to share life, prayer, and reflect on Lenten scripture texts. 7PM Wednesdays at Houston Mennonite Church. 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
►Maunday Thursday: Thursday April 1, 6:30-8PM.
►Good Friday: Friday April 2, 7PM Tennebrae Service of Shadows.
►Easter: Sunday April 4. 

Lenten Practices

You are encouraged to either pick up or let go of something this Lenten season, as a spiritual symbol of your walk with God. Check out the worship tab of our website for suggestions, or consider joining us for this collective practice:
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


Mennonites Receiving National & Local Attention as College Decides to Start Playing the National Anthem

Perhaps you’ve heard about Goshen College’s recent decision to begin playing the national anthem prior to sporting events on their campus. This will mark the first time in the school’s 116 year history they have done so. Here is an interesting article from the Associated Press that gives you a secular media’s perspective on this decision. An excerpt of this article was printed in the Sunday February 21st edition of the Houston Chronicle.

What do you think of the college’s decision?

Afghanistan: War is Hell

Are you still outraged by the war, civilian death toll, and the increase in support for terrorists that our presence in Afghanistan is causing? Or have you, like so many who originally opposed the war in Iraq, tired, indifferent, or just plain tuned out? Check out this great article by Ryan Beiler, web-editor for Sojourners.

FORMING FAITH: Teaching and Praying with our Kids

Here is an exceptional article about forming faith in our young people by Elsie Remple. If you are a SS teacher, parent or grandparent, or friend of a child I encourage you to read this!

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!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.

►ADULT Class: BOOK STUDY: Time Warped: First Century Time Stewardship for 21st Century Living. 9:30AM.



Housing Needed
Relatives of former member Linda Kandel will be spending 11 weeks in Houston starting June 7 and are looking for temporary housing. A studio apt or even a room and bath would be o.k. Linda says this about her niece and the husband: Justin is doing a human resources internship with Shell Oil  on Fannin. He is a grad student at University of IL. Kirsten would be interested in finding something to do , work or volunteer. Justin and Kirsten are very neat young people. He is outgoing with lots of energy, she is creative and more shy. They are liberal Apostolic Christian, which is my background, and very interested in peace and justice.  They are looking into missions and have visited Sierra Leone for a possible place. Justin and Kirsten plan to join us for worship this summer when they can.

If anyone in the congregation has or knows of anything available please contact Linda Kandel or Pastor Marty. 

Order of Worship February 28,

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                 
* Opening Songs                                                            
        Longing for Light                                                                 
SJ #54
        My hope is built                                                       HWB #343

Scripture Reading                     Philippians 3:17-4:1                     NT Pg 198
Children’s Time (Children 1-5 dismissed for Children’s Church)
Sharing joys and concerns, Prayer                                           
* Affirmation of Faith                                              HWB #711
Scripture Reading            Luke 13:31-35                              NT Pg 77
Message                          The Journey of a Prophet        


Prayer of Confession/Silence
Song of Response             Our darkness                                    SJ #101       
Offering & Prayer

Welcoming of Visitors and Announcements                      
* Benediction Song          Blessed assurance                           HWB #332
* 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: Gloria Wilson; Song Leader: Jim Emmert; Scripture Reader: Mike Schmidt; Children’s Message: Marty Troyer;  Message: Gilberto Flores; Accompanist: Margaret Gehman; Sound: Jim Emmert and Nick Gehman.  NEXT WEEK: Children’s Message: Judy Hoffhien; Song Leader:; Scripture: Roxie Voran; Children’s Church: Linda Ensminger

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.

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 Linda Ensminger for her piece below! Stay tuned next week for more offerings from each other!!


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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