HMC E-Newsletter July 20, 2012

Jim E. Prayer Request

Jim went into the Memorial City Memorial Hermann Hospital on Tuesday afternoon with a case of pancreitus and is scheduled to be released on Friday noon. He requests our prayers and is deeply appreciative to know his church family loves him. Thanks to all of you who visited! (Nick and Gerald (several times), Gloria, Kristi, and Kathryn/Dave).


Connecting More Fully at HMC:

Memorize the Books of the Bible: We encourage you to memorize the 66 books in the Bible. Grab your bookmark at the back!

►Kroger Donation Program: Did you know Kroger’s donate’s a portion of all your purchases back to our congregation? Sign up for this great program, details in the back. Or see Lynda.

►Potluck Fellowship Meal and Congregational Meeting: TODAY! Join us after our meal for a dialogue regarding HMC mission and identity. We’d love to learn more with and from you!

The Washburn family would like to invite everyone at HMC to a pool party after church on Sunday, July 29 (12:30 – 4:00).  Please bring salad, snacks, drinks, and / or dessert.  Hamburgers and hot dogs will be provided.  Maps will be in your mailboxes today and also available on Sunday, July 29.

► HMC Women’s Luncheon Saturday, August 4, 2012, at Brookwood Cafe in Brookshire, 11:00 am.                                                                                   ►PEACE CAMP AT HMC: August 6-10 from 9 AM-3 PM. Ages 5-12 are invited to participate. The theme will be “Courage.” for information or contact Judy Hoffhien.

Forming Christ in Us: Resources for Christian Discipleship

Here are some of the best Mennonite resources for daily discipleship and news. I’d love to have everyone in our church with at least one of these resources in their home. Consider subscribing today! If you want to test drive a copy, check the back table under your lit-box.

  • The Mennoniteis our denominational monthly magazine. The best reporting from our denomination (Mennonite Church USA), plus news, editorials, culturewatch, resources, spiritual articles and encouragement. A great way to keep connected. Read and listen to podcasts online at: subscribe to it online.
  • Mennonite World Review, this is “An Independent news source serving Mennonites and Global Anabaptists.” A bi-weekly newspaper that connects quite a few distinct Mennonite groups (including our denomination). It’s excellent, complete with news, columns, editorials, bible studies, college updates, devotionals, etc…
  • Rejoice Devotional Guide: Nurture your soul through the quarterly devotional magazine, Rejoice! Each day’s entry features a Bible reading, a short inspirational message, and a prayer of response. The magazine also includes inspirational stories and poems, and daily prayer requests representing Mennonite mission workers, schools, and church agencies. To begin an annual subscription for yourself, your church, or as a gift for someone else, please call 1-800-245-7894 Anabaptist, in the style of “Our Daily Bread.” Check it out online (also available for download):

Sexual Abuse and the Church
By Marty Troyer

I’d like to believe we’ll learn something about ourselves from Penn State University, who has spent the last 14 years (recent reports suggest the scandal goes back to the 70’s) choosing to protect its image rather than children. This is the nature of systems and organizations: protect yourself at all costs. And the church is (no matter how much we want to ignore this fact) a system and organization.

Few things are worse than the sexual abuse of children. One clinical social worker at Texas Children’s says, “sexual abuse usually does not injure the body, but it devastates the soul.” While many of us would like to believe this kind of thing only happens “out there” and not in our churches, it does.

The shocking Penn State stories of sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky and his neutral henchmen reminds us of the vigilance needed in protecting our children in all settings, especially churches. If you think a sex abuse scandal looks bad for a secular university football program, it’s even more devastating for a church.

In her book, by Jeanette Harder called Let the Children Come: Preparing Faith Communities to End Child Abuse and Neglect, Jeanette Harder asks us to see ourselves in Penn State’s shoes, and do the hard work of learning from those – like ourselves – who want to protect their self image. Harder asks,

  • Are children safe at your church?
  • What precautions have you taken to ensure they won’t be abused?
  • Do you know how to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect?
  • What should you do if you suspect a child in your church or neighborhood is being abused or neglected?

These questions are basic to our care for all our children. I’d add to that two more: are you willing to sacrifice your reputation for the health and safety of the children in your care? Will you demonize those involved in the Penn State scandal, or be courageous enough to evaluate how and why systems protect themselves?

It’s deeply important that Houston Mennonite Church, from top to bottom and for everyone in between, embrace prevention standards at all times and places on our church property and activities. This includes training for all our volunteers who work directly with children, sexual abuse prevention policies and procedures, background checks for all workers, and a growing awareness from all of us on certain core values. But even more is needed. Harder busts certain myths that are still prevalent in our culture, including:

Myth #3: “Children are more often abused by strangers than they are by people they know (pg 21).”
Myth #8: “Abused children will usually discuss the abuse in an effort to stop it (pg 23).”
Myth #10: “It is the government’s responsibility to respond to child abuse and neglect (pg 25).”

Notice how in the Sandusky case, the children he abused were all close to him personally, being trapped by gifts, time, and attention. And notice too how long it was between abuse and reporting!

Education and transparency are central components for faith communities to battle this problem. She says that we need to:

Once and for all shake the notion that sexual abuse occurs at the hands of strangers who jump out from behind bushes and attack our children with brutal force. Sadly, that does happen, but not nearly as often as it does at the hands of parents, stepparents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, coaches, and youth ministers – family and friends whom the child knows and loves. Physical force is rarely necessary as the offender entices and deceives the child.

This story is sadly repeated in churches in our city. No one is immune. But neither is it inevitable. Faith communities who are pro-active as a social system go a long way in ending childhood abuse in our communities.

One simple rule for all of us at Houston Mennonite Church is the “two adult” rule, ensuring a child is never alone with an adult on our property or in our programs. Never be alone with a child in any of the rooms of our church, drive in a car alone with children, or allow anyone else to do the same.

We’ve worked hard as a church to put proper policies in place to prevent sexual abuse, do background checks on all our workers, and provide annual training for those in face-to-face ministry with our children. But we all need to know about our policy, and to be vigilant whenever children are present, and to be primarily committed to the health and safety of our children above all else.

In a previous post, Kids and Evil, I looked broadly at how and when to talk to young children about evil, bad people, strangers, sexual abuse, etc…. It’s been easy over the last 8 months to demonize Jerry Sandusky, Joe Paterno and the Penn State powers. I for one have had my fair share of angry rants.

It’s easy to demonize these guys as monsters for their horrific crimes. It’s harder to learn from them, and take the necessary steps to ensure we don’t follow their path of cover-up. Please, take the road less traveled. Learn from them, and that includes caring for the most vulnerable among us, especially our children.

GOD’S STORY (YOU ARE HERE) July 22, 2012



Call to Worship                       HWB  #710

Opening Prayer

Songs of Praise and Celebration
        Here in this place   HWB #6
Built on the rock  
HWB #309

Offering and Offertory


Scripture                      Psalm 139:1-14 & Deuteronomy 26:5-10a

Children’s Time



Response Song                        Jesus Christ is waiting  SJ #30
Sharing & Prayer


Connecting More Fully

Sending Scripture                    Acts 1:8

Song of Sending           When the church of Jesus shuts the outer   (see insert)



Here’s a Summer Series Summary

Act 1: Creation: It is very good!
Act 2: The Fall: Something has gone terribly wrong.
Act 3: God’s Solution, Part 1: Israel
Act 4: God’s Solution, Part 2: Jesus
Act 5: The age of the Church

Scene 1: The New Testament Church
Scene 2: Church History
Scene 3: Houston, TX, 2012
Scene 4: Future History

Epilogue: Remember the Future


Christian Formation Options at HMC:
Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
Immigration: See above.
►Junior High/High School Youth:  Faith Exploration with Pastor Marty. 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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