HMC E-Newsletter July 1, 2010 : Celebrating Peace Edition
Check out a whole host of peace resources on our webpage,

Are you interested in helping our church be a warm, hospitable place to attend worship? We need your help! Have you ever visited a church and got the cold shoulder from everyone there? Don’t let that happen at our church! Are you outgoing, shy, reserved or gregarious? Doesn’t matter if you feel called to this important ministry!

We are looking for people interested in being our front-door greeters on Sunday mornings. And you just might be the person we need! Greeters are first-impression makers. Seventy percent of visitors are socially ill at ease when they enter a church for the first time. One pastor says that greeters either warm the people’s minds and hearts with the sense that someone is glad they came—or the greeters chill them, and the pastor has to defrost them before God can do anything with them. While that might be a little cheesy, I don’t think any of us want our visitors not feeling welcome. If you are interested, please talk with Marty!

What is the job description of an HMC Greeter?
Be present at the front door from 10:30-11AM. Greet everyone who walks in. Pass out bulletins. Special focus on visitors: introduce yourself, give them bulletin and inform them it contains the order of worship, give them welcome packet, invite them to fill out contact card, provide brief intro to our building (coffee, restrooms, sanctuary), help them find a seat as needed, if they have children intro our kids programs that happen during worship, if available introduce them to who they are sitting next too, or perhaps the pastor. For those who arrive after the start of service (all the above still applies) act as usher and help them to find appropriate seating.

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
Fellowship Time forSunday School, July 4:  During the Sunday School hour we will have a time of fellowship and share a light breakfast together instead of meeting with our regular classes. Coffee and juice will be provided.  Please come at 9:30 and bring breakfast items to share. If you have any questions, contact Lynda Voran.
►Peace Camp Fundraiser Carwash Sunday July 18th after worship. A light lunch will be available for purchase. All proceeds go to the Peace Camp Scholarship Fund.
►Community Garden Meeting Sunday July 25th, 1PM (after Fellowship Meal). If you are interested in a community garden on our church property, or support having one here, please come! Representatives from Urban Harvest will lead us in a time of learning and exploration.
Find out more at:
►Western District Conference: July 9-11! It is $130 for room and board, and HMC will cover the $50 registration cost for the first 16. The setting for the annual meeting of Western District churches, scheduled for July 9-11, is a large camp and conference center located near Dallas, Texas.  Lodging for adults will be in comfortable, motel-type rooms and with meals provided in a large dining hall.  There is a wealth of recreational opportunities suitable for all ages.  Childcare and programming through senior high make this an attractive opportunity for a mini-family vacation.  Adults will be involved in worship services, Learning Communities, session for delegate business, informal sharing and free time.  See:
►Church Mailbox: If you are new to our church and would like a church literature box, please let Marty or Roxie Voran know.

Sunday School at HMC:
Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
►ADULTS: Christian Commitment in Today’s World, with Roxie Voran.
►Preschool (age 2-4): With Teachers Rahel Koshy, Margaret Gehman, and Adrienne Graybill.
►Intermediate Youth:  with Lynda Voran.
** Children’s Church during worship in our children’s ministry room for kids 1-5. They hear a Bible story, sing, and play together.

Why Mennonite Church USA must boycott Arizona
By our own Felipe Hinojosa

“Quiero recordarle al gringo, yo no cruce la frontera, la frontera me cruzo, America nacio libre, el hombre la dividio … es un eror bien marcado, nos quitaron ocho estados, ¿quien es aqui el invasor?”
“I’d like to remind the white man, I did not cross the border, the border crossed me, America was born free, but man divided her … it is a grave injustice, they took from us eight states, who then is the invader?”
-Los Tigres del Norte
“The lyrics to the song, “Somos Mas Americanos,” by the popular Norteño band Los Tigres del Norte, highlights the complex and interconnected histories of Mexico and the United States. Within a history of war, colonialism, capitalists exploiting natural resources, railroads, immigration, and—of course—Protestant missionaries, is a deep memory of the geography that is now the Southwest, or “el México de afuera.” This was once Mexico. It was once Indigenous land. The dual colonial projects of the Spanish and Euroamericans, whether an assimilation program or a reservation system, has left a legacy and a memory of what once was and what was unjustly taken. While the colonial projects most affected Indigenous and poor Mexican communities, even wealthy Mexicanos quickly learned that money did not necessarily whiten in the Southwest. The nation moved West and defined the “American” character through uneven ideas about race; to be Indian and to be Mexican meant to be non-white, non-Christian and a problem to be subdued.”

To read the entire article by Felipe Hinojosa and Jugo Saucedo, first published on June 28th vie The Mennonite’s T-Mail, go to:

Come to worship this Sunday and celebrate:  
GOD’s STORY-my story!!!   
If you have not received a GOD’S STORY-my story journal, please pick one up this Sunday. Here is this week’s journal entry: Week 5: A personal dialogue with the Bible: (See below for one example of what this might look like).
The most meaningful scriptures in my life have been:
 A Bible character I have connected with meaningfully is:

One helpful exercise for people can be what Marjorie Thompson suggests, “to write a dialogue with a person from scripture.  The following example imagines Jesus as a conversation partner, the writer is identifying with Simon Peter after the miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11)

ME: Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful person!
JESUS: Don’t be afraid, from now on you will be catching people.
ME: No, you don’t understand, Lord. You are holy, pure. I’m just a common person with a lot of weaknesses. I don’t belong with you.
JESUS: Remember, you didn’t choose me, I chose you.
ME: But why, Lord? I’m not worthy of you!
JESUS: Did I say you had to be worthy? I only ask you to follow me in trust.”

Choose any text and character & write your own dialogue, and see what you learn, what you feel, what you’re called to! Be imaginative, be creative, and let the dialogue take off wherever it needs to go!

A Peace Dialogue with the author of 1 Peter
By pastor Marty Troyer (written in my GOD’S STORY-my story journal this week). The following is what happens when I imagine sitting down with Jesus’ friend Peter, who struggled with violent tendencies and accepting outsiders into his community, two issues we see overly prevalent in our world today.

Marty: How’s my faith going? Thanks for asking Peter. I gotta tell you, it’s tough down here in Texas. Everyone here claims to be Christian. There’s a church on every corner, & most of them are bigger than my hometown. It’s hard to follow Jesus when everyone claims to love him, then lives however they want.
Peter: Yea but Marty the real question isn’t if you love Jesus or not. It’s do you trust him? Do you believe that Jesus’ way of living is the best way of living your life? Do you believe the world he is creating is the best world imaginable? Do you believe him enough to “be obedient to Jesus Christ (1:2) which you were “chosen by God and sanctified by the Spirit for (1:2)”? One specific example would be, do you believe that God’s kingdom will come through violence or nonviolence? In other words, do you trust the path of peace?
Do you trust that nonviolence is better than violence? If you do, “The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:9).”
Marty: I think I do. But in the real world it seems a lot more complex than just “trusting Jesus.” The world is messy, and violence is everywhere. What’s it mean to trust Jesus when state executions happen two in a week, our President fights terror with unmanned army drones, and we militarize our borders against “illegals”?
Peter: Well, you might remember Marty that once upon a time I too believed that violence could solve problems. When they arrested Jesus, I pulled out my knife and stabbed a guy, thinking the only way to protect him was to kill.
Marty: Yea, but it didn’t work! And Jesus totally shot you down for it!
Peter: I know! You’re right, it didn’t work. But that was I all I knew, I thought I was doing what was best. It wasn’t until later that I realized I had to choose: Jesus’ way of love and making peace or accepted cultures’ way of violence. Scripture says, “the grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God will last forever (1:24-25).” We all have to choose to follow God’s ways or our own.
Marty: But it’s not just the culture that celebrates violence and war, it’s the church too!
Peter: I know! That grieves the heart of God so deeply. But that’s exactly what I meant when I said, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone…They stumble because they do not listen to God’s word (2:7,8).” There are so many people who were just like me before I was converted: they claim to believe in Jesus but never realize that more than anything else believing in Jesus means we need to believe Jesus. Marty you can’t be like that! “For you are a chosen people, you are a kingdom of priests (2:9).” Being a Christian in Houston or anywhere else means you believe Jesus. You have to trust his wisdom is better than the worlds! That’s what I meant earlier when I said you have to trust him.
Marty: Ok, so back to my real life examples. What does it mean to trust Jesus in the face of war and terrorism?
Peter: “Don’t repay evil for evil…Turn away from evil and do good. Work hard at living in peace with others (3:9,11).” Trusting Jesus means you think this is indeed the best strategy, and so you practice that same behavior. It means not celebrating war on national holidays. It means not fighting terror with terror. It means forgiving our enemies is the best thing for society, not executing them. It means that one 4-star General in Afghanistan over another is not the answer.
Marty: To so many people that just sounds silly. They think we’re supposed to trust Jesus with our afterlife only…our hearts. I hear you saying we need to trust him in a different way than that. Are you saying that if we pray, Jesus will keep our country safe?
Peter: Not at all! That sounds very naïve, don’t you think? I’m saying that Jesus strategy for overcoming evil is a better strategy than violence. Violence just creates more violence and hate. “You have to worship Christ as Lord of your life (3:15),” which means doing what Jesus did: seek the peace and welfare of everyone, don’t follow the law of retribution, create communities of care and support, fight injustice, make sure everyone is in right relationship together, turn swords into plowshares, etc…. It’s as simple (and as complex) as that!
Marty: And you’re saying that this “strategy” can actually work? That nonviolence and peace building are viable options on the international scale?
Peter: Absolutely! If it was good enough for Jesus, why in the world would it not be good enough for you? Marty, “if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it (3:15).” Peace works! It may not always work, but violence never ever works. It always creates more problems than it creates. But peace can and does change lives and communities. It’s not some post-utopian picture of life after the second coming, it’s what we’re supposed to be working for here and now! Jesus isn’t going to “save us” in some magic way, we’re supposed to work with him to create the kind of world where peace is the norm, not the exception.
Marty: Speaking of violence not working, Jesus told you at one point “those who live by the sword die by the sword.” Was he talking about the justification for capital punishment or the fallacy of believing the myth of redemptive violence?
Peter: Peace was a big deal for Jesus. He taught about making peace a lot, forgiving our enemies (which he did from the cross!), building community, nonviolence as the only workable response in the face of evil. So yea, I would say he was thinking about how ineffective violence really is at accomplishing anything positive in the world. But he was also thinking about how degrading violence is to the human soul, both to those who inflict and receive it. Let’s be very clear about something here Marty, violence can cause a lot of suffering for people on all sides of the conflict. Jesus himself suffered as a victim of violence (3:18), but just like Jesus anyone and everyone can be “made alive in the spirit (3:18), because “he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (1:3-4).” Violence enslaves us, but peace sets us free. Your friend Doug Ensminger has learned a lot about the incredible pain suffered by those who return from war. Peace isn’t just good news from a policy standpoint, but also from an emotional-psychological standpoint. So are you bold enough to share this Christian hope with others? Or are you content with being “the quiet in the land” and keeping it to yourself?
Marty: I’m not sure it matters either way. Most of my non-Mennonite friends just laugh at me when I talk about peace. They think it’s silly or naïve. And my congregation in Houston isn’t exactly the largest church in Texas!
Peter: “Be happy if you are insulted for being a Christian (4:14)!” You might not always be understood, but neither was Jesus. If they had understood what he was doing, they never would have killed him, would they? Of course not! But the world needs to hear this message of peace, now as much as ever. We need people willing to celebrate peace, and to talk about it during their lunch break at work. It’s too important not to. And too central to what it means to be Christian to leave behind.
Marty: Ok Peter, I have to ask one more question. When did you finally get it? I mean, clearly you never did while Jesus was actually here!
Peter: You’re right, I didn’t. It took me awhile. I “got it” when I began to see evidence of Jesus’ new kingdom breaking out all around me. I got it when enemies began to be reconciled, and when people with no business of being together lived together in harmony. I got it when God’s Divine Yes of Shalom overwhelmed me and captivated my attention so much that the ways of the world seemed dull and lifeless. Most of all, I got it when I realized, “give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you (5:7).” Peace isn’t about taking matters into your own hands, its about putting our lives and our efforts in God’s hands. Peace, more than anything, is trusting God.

As the Church on the Sermon on the Mount, may we indeed be “For World Peace.

The Peace Church as worship of God
By J. Denny Weaver
“The most profound reason of all to be a peace church is because the God revealed in the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a nonviolent God. This is the God that we should worship at the center of our life as a peace church. If we confess the God of Jesus Christ, a peace church is the only church we can be.”

This is from J. Denny Weaver, and was published in the July 1, 2010 edition of The Mennonite. To read the entire excellent article see:


Welcome & Announcements 
* Gathering Psalm                         
Psalm 46
* Opening Prayer
* Opening Songs        

Come and See                                                                       HWB #20      
I love to tell the story                                                           
HWB #398     

Ancient Story of a Person of God: Isaiah 2:1-5                                        OT Pg 631
Children’s Time (Children 1-5 dismissed for Children’s Church at the conclusion)
Peace Focus and Prayer
Peace Song                              If the war goes on                                                SJ #66
Offering Prayer
Scripture Reading                       John 17:15-21                                        
NT pg 111
Modern Story of a Person of God: Nathaniel Vlachos                        
Prayer of Response
Sharing stories, joys and concerns      
Prayer for the People (
Feel free to light a candle-prayer during this time)
* Blessing Song                       Make me a channel of your peace              SJ # 56
* Blessing                                         

Thank you to the following for sharing your gifts!                        
Worship Leader: Pastor Marty Troyer; Story Teller: Nathaniel Vlachos; Song Leaders: Rebecca and Roxie Voran; Scripture Reader: Olivia Koshy; Children’s Message: Marty Troyer; Children’s Church: Hannah Troyer.

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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