HMC E-Newsletter Feb 9, 2012 Campus Development Edition

This Sunday: Congregational Meeting for Campus Development. After worship. A lite soup lunch will be provided. Please bring table ware and spoons (we’ll have some available also)! Comments and questions regarding our Development proposal are valued and encouraged! Please email them to Ed Wiens, reply to this email with them, or place them in the box at the back of the sanctuary.

This edition is chalk full of good stuff to read prior to our time together. Please take time to read through!

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
Are you warm at night? We’re collecting Blankets and Sleeping Bags for Houston’s homeless community. Donations will go to Food Not Bombs participants.
February 19: Ten Thousand Villages Sunday: Shop, Volunteer, Support Fair Trade.
The Ten Thousand Villages Oriental Rug Event
will take place March 7th -11th! We will feature beautiful rugs made by fairly paid adults in Pakistan. We are seeking some strong people to help load & unload rugs for the following dates & times:
Unloading-Tuesday, March 6th from 6:00 p.m. till 8:30 p.m.
Loading –  Sunday, March 11th from 6:00 p.m. till 8:30 p.m.
If you would like to help, please contact Alicia Campos at or (713) 533-1000.
►Stay Connected to Western District Conference by reading their weekly “
MEMO” here:
The Peace Pastor posted some great Stewardship links this week at:

FaithWalking Retreat: Sign up now for a 2012 FaithWalking Retreat here in Houston. It is FREE! It has nothing to do with walking whatsoever, it’s just a metaphor for the journey of faith. Retreat dates are:

  • April 13-15, 2012
  • June 8-10, 2012 (Focus on Education Sector)
  • August 24-26, 2012
  • October, 12-14, 2012

See MCC in action, go on a Learning Tour!   April 20-30 an MCC Learning Tour will travel to Honduras.  Participants will learn about Mennonite Central Committee’s work with marginalized children, at-risk youth, vulnerable river neighborhoods and the Honduran Mennonite Church.  Registration deadline is March 9 and the cost of the trip is $1500 (includes all costs except necessary immunizations).  Curious?  Call Sarah Bunn or Maynard Knepp with questions at 316-283-2720 or email

As of February, 2012

On June 15, 2008, Houston Mennonite Church voted and accepted the following: “We will stay at our current location and develop the grounds and facilities to enable HMC to carry out its vision and mission”. 

On May 30, 2009, HMC Council appointed five people to the CDT.  The Campus Development Taskforce was asked to develop and implement long range plans for HMC facilities and grounds.  They were to gather information on different options, compile and dissect information and report back to the Church Council.  The hope was that with careful planning and development of our campus, we could better plan for our future and anticipated growth. 

In August of 2009, HMC Council made the decision to purchase our current Annex from Monarch School.  Hilshire Village granted a Specific Use Permit for 5 years.  This expires on May 19 of 2014. Our feeling based on experience with Hilshire Village is that they will deny future permits to retain the Annex. If that is true, we’ll take a significant step back in 2014 in facilities and available space.   Loss of the annex would be a loss of 2 Sunday School classrooms, 2 rooms for Sewers & Doers, storage for the Relief Sale, and our connection to two tenants.

June 13, 2010 was the first Congregational Meeting where CDT shared the need to expand our parking area as well as consideration of expanding facilities.  Options were presented that involved remodeling and expanding our existing building.  The possibility of constructing a new church building was also discussed.  A non-binding vote was taken, approximately 80% favored building a new church on our present property. Three directives were given to CDT:

  • ·  Hire an architect.
  • ·  Develop a plan for more parking.  
  • ·  Develop a site plan.  

The major portion of the April 3, 2011 meeting was focused on sharing ideas relating to a new church building.  The cost of a new building was difficult to project without having some definite plans.  It was noted that we will need to finance a major portion of the project, if not all.  Two directives to CDT came from the meeting.

*    Determine if Hilshire Village will grant a Specific Use Permit to allow us to build.
    If the above is granted, determine project funding.


After considerable preparation work, and with plans drawn up by Urban Architects,  in June 2011 we applied for a Specific Use Permit for a new structure on our property. Hilshire Village unanimously voted to deny our permit, offering no reasons.  Without permission from Hilshire Village, we can neither remodel existing structures nor build new.

After the rejection from Hilshire Village, we worked hard to learn what options remain for our growth. If we are to pursue the stated goal of “development” “to enable HMC to carry out its vision and mission” three options began to become clear. We presented these to the congregation at an October 30, 2011 meeting.  They were as follows:

1.      Remain at 1231 Wirt Road and engage in two difficult campaigns: a public campaign to change the Village decision, and a campaign to finance a building we do not think we can afford.

2.      Remain at 1231 Wirt Road and sell roughly half our property to a housing developer. Although a partial sale of the property would help with the financing, current estimates showed a partial sale would not finance the entirety of a new structure. Of all the real estate and housing builders we’ve spoken to, none have shown interest in a partial purchase.  Even if we are able to find a buyer for a partial sale, it would still require us to go back to Hilshire Village, who denied us in the first round, to issue a permit.

3.      Sell the entirety of our property and transition to a location in Houston discerned to align well with our mission and identity. Without soliciting any bids or information, we continue to have numerous buyers show strong interest, in buying the entire property. Depending on the established value of our property, this should allow us to transition into a temporary home, purchase land and build a new building, or purchase an existing and usable building.   The developers who were interested in the property ran into difficulties with Hilshire Village, based on lot sizes allowed and how many homes they could build on 3.9 acres. Hillshire Village will currently permit to build homes  with bigger lots of 8000 sq ft.  But, developers want to build more homes on smaller lot, therefore, higher value for the property.  All our Buyer contacts have been skittish with us until we ascertain from Hilshire Village if they can build on smaller lots.   Thus we do not know the value of our property. Without stated intention to sell our property, we will be unable to determine the value of our property, a key element in helping HMC make a decision about staying or leaving. Officially marketing our property for sale, and retaining a (sales representative) professional to represent us, appears the only way of furthering the process of finding out what our property is worth.

When asked to prioritize top three options in an informal poll taken at the October 30 meeting, HMC said:

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


Several members have stated that a fourth option, the option to stay in our current facilities, is desirable. This brings us to discerning the proposal we presented on January 22 and will be discussing further on Sunday:


1.       To authorize CDT to sell the property contingent upon the negotiations arriving at a price agreeable to the congregation.

2.      To authorize CDT to expend CDT funds,  to hire a seller’s representative (real estate broker / lawyer)
to work on our behalf in the negotiation with the buyers and city to ensure the best price is offered to HMC. At the time an offer would be received, the congregation would be asked for a yea/nay vote on the acceptance of the offer.


This proposal is limited to the pursuit of sale of property, it does not authorize sale of property. The goal of such a proposal is to establish the value of our property through the best practices available. This may include various contacts with real estate agents, consultants or lawyers to help us understand how best to sell the property.  Approaching Hilshire Village and determining property value requires significant time and cost for a potential buyer or developer.  Therefore, potential buyers are not willing to make that investment in time and effort unless they know that HMC is able and prepared to sell the property for the right price.   

As a congregation, if we discern this is God’s best regarding our future location, mission and identity, what happens after Sunday? What follows is the Campus Development Taskforce’s understanding of next steps, action steps may become clarified or modified on Sunday.

1.      We are aware of growing desire for a parallel discernment process regarding the Mission and Identity of Houston Mennonite Church. A conversation such as this gets at the core of who we are, and is directly related to our location and campus. Our location will shape our identity, and our identity needs to shape our location. Thus, should the proposal pass, it is our recommendation that we as a faith family catalyze energy into simultaneously discerning our location, as well as our mission and identity.

2.      Campus Development will engage in best practices to ascertain the value of 1231 Wirt Road by, among other things, publicizing our intent to sell.  Our goal will be to attain the highest value and the value established for our property must be equal or greater to the cost associated with the Transition Phase below.

3.      Houston Mennonite Church would be asked for a yea/nay vote on acceptance of any offers to sell.

4.      We would enter into a “Transition Phase” that includes at least 3 steps:

a.       Secure Temporary Facilities for our ministries. We have looked into this and feel there are many options available.
      Purchase of property for our new campus. We have researched this and feel there are many options available, with new options coming online regularly.
       Building of our new campus.

5.      An alternative Transition would be the purchase of an existing campus which may or may not need remodeling. This possibility would allow for the potential of little to no needed Temporary Facility.

We celebrate the vibrancy of our faith and believe together we have a bright future as a family of faith.

Agenda, Goals and Process for the Meeting Sunday

Goals: Discerning God’s best regarding future location of HMC. Clear presentation of proposal, provide maximum information on what brought us here, open and honest dialogue regarding the proposal, everyone is heard in responding to the presentation, faithful decision made that reflects the authentic (unbiased, openly shared rather than votes to avoid conflict, etc…) and faithful will of the people.

Process: We’ve chosen a process over our last several meetings intended to maximize discussion, listening, multi-voiced decision-making, collaboration, speaking, awareness of group feelings. It’s our goal to empower participation of everyone present, including those less comfortable sharing before a large group. Thus we’ll again go through the cycle of Presentation, Table Group Discussion, Sharing with Large Group, and Large Group Discussion. The use of such a cycle, rather than large group discussion only, allows for more discussion, for minority opinions to be freely shared, and for everyone to be heard. One adjustment for Sunday will be that we’ll ask that table groups report in, but encourage individuals to respond as well. Our meeting Sunday will have three such Cycles (see agenda).

We’ll also again, as we’ve done numerous times in the past, utilize a non-binding information-gathering poll to understand where people are to guide discussion. Roughly ½ way through our meeting, we’ll take this informal poll, allowing us to understand where we are in our group process, and to ascertain if we are ready and prepared to move on to a formal, binding decision-making vote.

Finally, as Mennonites in various settings practice, we want to bathe our meeting in prayer, and thus to a deeper extent than in previous meetings, we’ll embrace the model of “worshipful work.” This means that at any point in our gathering we are open to pausing for prayer, or to sing, or simply meditate. And that at intentional times throughout we’ll pray through song. It’s our hope this will open us to trust and obey God to our fullest capacity.

Proxy Vote: If you are unable to attend and would like to cast a proxy vote you are welcome to do so. Please email or call Ed Wiens to cast your proxy vote. We will share your yea or nay vote anonymously with the meeting participants as part of the Non-Binding information-gathering Poll. Thank you!



1.       Opening Prayer (Praise to the Lord, Will you let me be your servant)

2.       Share Goals & Process, and ask for response, approval

3.       Cycle 1: Here we provide information necessary to help us understand why we are where we are.

a.        Presentation: Background: What brings us here

b.       Table Groups Discussion: Is this the story as you understand it today? Do you feel this is accurate? Are there gaps in your/our understanding? Are you comfortable with the story as presented?

c.        Feedback to larger group (as tables, individuals).

d.       Large group Discussion.

4.       Cycle 2: Here we present the proposal as clearly and unbiased as possible, & provide information necessary to make a faithful decision.

a.        Presentation: The Proposal Itself.

b.       Table Groups Discussion: Do you understand the reason why CDT feels they need this approval? Is your group clear this is for the purpose of gathering necessary information? How do you feel about this proposal? Do you understand what this is and is not authorized in this proposal? Will approval of this proposal allow HMC to move forward in understanding our call/mission?

c.        Feedback to larger group (as tables, individuals).

d.       Large Group Discussion.

5.       Informal Poll: Non-binding information-gathering poll to understand where people are to guide discussion

a.        Praying through song (while votes are tallied): Doxology, Jesus help us live in peace

6.       Cycle 3: Here we want to identify 2 things. First, the information gap between a no and a yes vote. Second, the feeling and leaning of the group.

a.        Presentation: Report on the vote

b.       Table Group Discussion: What does this Poll mean? What does this not mean? In order for us to move forward, what action steps must we engage in first? Do you feel you are able to make a faithful decision today on this proposal? What constitutes a passing motion on this (simplemajority 51%, supermajority 67%, higher percentage such as 75%, consensus )?

c.        Feedback to larger group (as tables, individuals).

d.       Discussion, Amending proposal, identifying necessary action steps.

7.       Receive Motion for a vote.

8.       VOTE: Binding, decision-making VOTE.

9.       Final Statements: Where to from here.

10.    Closing Prayer: Great is thy faithfulness


 Each Sunday in our series on leadership and Building up the Body of Christ we have concluded our worship by laying hands on each other and commissioning each other for ministry and faithful service. Why? Because we believe that every Christian has a ministry and a calling. Ministry is not reserved for “specialists” or limited to certain areas of life (the sacred, for instance). Instead, our Anabaptist Christian faith calls us all build up the body of Christ as ministers. We as the worship team hope you’ve picked this up, and feel empowered to live for Christ!

Order of Worship for February 12, 2012
*Call to Worship (inside bulletin)
*Opening Prayer                                                      
*Songs of Praise          Here in this place  HWB #6 Be thou my vision HWB #545|


Children’s Message
Sharing Joys and Concerns
Living into the Future

Song of Response How clear is our vocation Lord  HWB #541

Connecting More Fully                                                       
*Sending Song God the Spirit HWB #632

Thank you to the following for sharing your gifts! Worship Leader: Brad Myers; Speaker: Pastor Marty Troyer; Song Leader: Jim Emmert; Scripture Reader: Margaret Gehman; Children’s Message: Marty Troyer; Pianist: Pam Stephens; Children’s Church: Maribel Hinojosa

Christian Formation Options at HMC:
Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
►Adults: Worship 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.

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