HMC E-Newsletter July 14, 2011

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Sewers and Doers: This Saturday at HMC.
Relief Sale on Facebook:  Spread the word!  The Texas Mennonite Sale and Auction has a Facebook page!  You’ll find it by searching for Texas Mennonite Sale and Auction. Become a Fan and recieve updates and photos as we continue to prepare for the sale this fall. 
►Annual Church Pool Party!! Sunday, July 31 – 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm – annual pool party. Hamburgers, hot dogs, and drinks will be provided.  Please bring a salad or side dish, and a bathing suit.  Everyone is invited!
►Sunday School for All ages: 9:30AM Adult Sunday School Class: God and America: Inside the tumultuous 400-year history of the intersection of religion and public life in America. Please watch episode 5 (56 minutes) online at: our class discussion this Sunday. Those unable to
watch will be able to engage conversation, but you’re encouraged to watch ahead. 
►LAST CALL: Houston Astros Faith and Family Night: Saturday July 16. Want to see a baseball game with some friends? Like Christian Music concerts? Join us for a great night in July. Game time is 6:05PM, Houston Astros vs Pittsburgh Pirates. Concert following is The David Crowder Band. We’ll purchase group tickets in the $10 range. Please RSVP to Pastor Marty by TODAY.
July 29-30 – WDC Annual Assembly, Bethel College, North Newton, KS. Make plans now to attend! Something New!  Persons attending the WDC annual assembly July 29-30 at Bethel College and Bethel College Mennonite Church, will register for one of ten “Learning Tracks” of three hours in length, designed to be resourcing events for pastors and lay leaders.  A variety of toipcs will include Immigration issues, Tur-around church, Anabaptism, Church planting, Spirituality, Adventure course, Holistic service, Welcoming children, and Potluck.  Here’s the kicker – Anyone (non-assembly-goers) can attend a Learning Track – for only $20 – it’s a great opportunity to get some quality resourcing.

Are you yearning to hear some wonderful music?  If so, the group, Traveler, will be giving a benefit concert for the Houston Peace Camp this Saturday, July 16, at 7:00.    The venue is the First Unitarian Church, 5200 Fannin in the Museum District.  Folk, rock, blues,some familiar and original music will be part of their repertoire.  To hear a preview, go to   There will also be a silent auction, including some items from Ten Thousand Villages.  Proceeds from this event will go for scholarships. 

Spirituality for peacemakers like us
By Marty Troyer

It’s hard to be different. “Dork,” “geek,” and “loser” are the schoolyard terms meant to reign in those who are different. Clothes, gadgets, language, skin color, religion, sexuality all make it hard to be unique. Our culture gives lip service to being unique and authentic, but only tends to enforce sameness.

But it’s even harder to be hated as different. Take for instance the recent story of a Christian gay man receiving death threats from another attendee at a Brethren denominational gathering. Can you imagine clinging to God in prayer through this scenario? This can’t be easy. Or imagine how you would feel as the minority religion in a country and told over and again you are not worthy, you are not loved, you need to leave, and you are hated for who you are. MCUSA’s recent decision to host the 2013 Convention in Phoenix has left many of our Hispanic brothers and sisters feeling marginalized and unheard. How would it feel to worship in a community you weren’t sure wanted you present?

I’m fascinated by the spirituality of these people, people our culture calls ‘the damned.” How do they survive? How do the oppressed embrace the truth that “God loves you” when everyone screams “God hates you and so do I!”? Do they survive in spite of, or because of their faith? How does spirituality for the dominant differ from spirituality for the different?

I’m living into this question in three ways right now.

First, a growing awareness that Jesus was oppressed and ministered to the oppressed. Howard Thurman, speaking within the black church context, says in Jesus and the Disinherited,  “The basic fact is that Christianity as it was born in the mind of this Jewish teacher and thinker appears as a technique of survival for the oppressed.” This view is echoed everywhere Christians find themselves oppressed (such as in the birth of Latin American Liberation Theology). As someone who lives within dominant culture (white, male, educated, wealthy, Christian) this has been a deeply powerful new insight.

Second, a growing call to focus more of my own pastoral energies on marginalized communities. In an earlier post I talked about certain groups our world ostracizes, marginalizes, and demonizes, what I called The Community of the Damned. But I’ve not been equipped with a spirituality that can sustain minorities, the poor, victims of abuse, or those ostracized because of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religion. Like Bart Compolo says in his latest blog, “Being poor is hard work,” and I want to know and experience a spirituality that will sustain the lives of those who are poor.

Third, My own experience blogging as The Peace Pastor has reminded me again that our faith tradition is clearly “different” and can make it hard for Anabaptists and Mennonites like us to want to publicly proclaim the good news of Peace. Here’s some of what I’ve received for proclaiming the Christian faith from an Anabaptist perspective (and, it’s always my assumption that many of you at HMC experience these statements as being directed at you as well as me):

  • Helen says  “you don’t deserve the privilege of living in this country.”
  • El Machete says, “you are a yellow bellied coward who hides behind his religion.”
    • Pdh42 says, “you (IMO) know nothing about the Bible with all of your communist social justice garbage that you preach.”
    • True believer called me a “silly people” and my blog a “waste of space.”
    • Carpenter says that pursuing peace is “unrealistic and even dangerous.”

In other words, we’re dorks, geeks, and losers! This experience has demanded a refurbished spirituality that I am still growing into, and that I’m still trying to discern how to lead you into as well. Is your faith shaken when someone calls us “silly people” or does your spirituality sustain you through those remarks? Thankfully, I’m reminded Jesus’ original disciples didn’t get this overnight, so there’s still room for our growth. Many of us Mennonites grew up with a peace stance but aren’t familiar with how to be a peace presence in a city like Houston. My prayers are to help us be a Christian peace presence in Houston, with the appropriate spirituality to sustain us in that cause. Core pieces of an oppressed spirituality seem to be fixation on the person and humanity of Jesus, deep longing prayer, genuine community, honesty about systems and power, an assertion that the world is not as it should be, and a vision of the world as God intends for it to be.

Our denominational vision is, God calls us to be followers of Jesus Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit to grow as a community of grace, joy and peace, so that God’s healing and hope flow through us to the world. What kind of people do we need to be for God to flow through us? What spirituality will empower us to proclaim the whole gospel of Jesus in a context which marginalizes Jesus, justice, and holistic faith? For this reason, small intentional Christian communities like HMC are essential in developing people who can live the life of Jesus in our world. Likewise, introduction to a “missional” or just spirituality will be essential for overcoming our blocks to following Jesus and sustaining the call to live a life as a minority Christian in the US.  

How has your spirituality sustained you? How have you witnessed spirituality give life to communities who are marginalized, victimized, or oppressed? What are the songs, texts, stories and rituals that energize you to be faithful to God in a world that is not? How has your faith given you ‘thick skin’? Do you feel your spirituality is up to the challenge of being “missional” in Houston? Or are you in need of a jumpstart in your relationship with Jesus?

I’d love to hear from you!


Links you can use:

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

ORDER OF WORSHIP, July 17, 2011, Citizens on the Hill
* Songs of Praise and Celebration                                                                                                      
O Lord, our Lord HWB #112
As the deer pants for the water

Scripture  Reading                   Matthew 5:27-37                                                                                 
Children’s Time                                                                                                                                  
Sermon & Response                    How Jesus saves ‘Biblical Marriage’                                                    

Affirmation of Faith                           I love you Lord   
Sharing & Prayer

Connecting more Fully
*Sending Scripture                   John 13:34-35                                                                                      
* Sending Prayer/Commissioning                                                                                           

Houston Mennonite – God’s light resides in you!   
We are walking in the light of God – we are dwelling, we are dancing.  We will not fear our own capacity for goodness;       We will not hide the daily miracles of God’s grace;  We will not be afraid to expose our own beauty and delight in God’s bountiful creation.
Teach us to embrace your light, dear Jesus, because your light is life for all humanity. Teach us to appreciate and celebrate every small act of kindness, of generosity, of hope, and of love.
It is true: a city on a hill cannot be hidden, and neither will we hide ourselves from you. Help us to share your light with all we meet as we shelter ourselves in your Holy Spirit.
Go in peace, then, to love and serve the Lord –

* Song of Sending        Blest are they SJ #94

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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