HMC E-Newsletter June 23, 2011
Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Fellowship Meal/Potluck Sunday THIS Sunday. Bring some good food, stay for the good people.
►Penny Power: Please remember to bring your coins to church this Sunday, June 26. The money we collect this year will be given to MCC Global Family to support children and youth in 5 Brethren in Christ schools in Zambia with school fees, uniforms and textbooks. Each month we will collect money on our fellowship meal Sundays. Below is an update on the program.
BIC Schools – Zambia
Changes are in the air! MCC Representatives Eric and Kathy Fast travelled to Southern Province to visit five BIC Schools in three days to discuss shifts in funding priorities for the Schools with the Global Family funds.
There is an increasing desire by the headmasters to see improvement in the overall marks or results of their students. Earlier conversations tended to dwell on the need for more classrooms, housing for teachers and new toilet facilities. To see a complete report, go to http://globalfamily.mcc.org/programs/zambia/bic-schools/2011-05-03
►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 2, “A New Eden” (56 minutes) online at: http://www.pbs.org/godinamerica/for our class discussion this Sunday. Those unable to watch will be able to engage conversation, but you’re encouraged to watch ahead. All welcome!
►July 4-9 – MC USA Convention, Pittsburgh, PA. All are encouraged to check it out! For more info, and to register, visit: http://www.mennoniteusa.org/Home/Convention/
►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. www.mennowdc.org
From the Community Life Team (Roxie Voran, Gloria Wilson, Twila Wiens)
Marty Troyer will be completing his initial three-year term as our pastor in November of this year. Accordingly, the Congregational Life Team (Gloria Wilson, Twila Wiens, Roxie Voran) will be leading a pastoral review during the summer. Some of you will be receiving invitations to attend one of several Focus Group meetings that will be held in July. Please make every effort to attend. There will also be an open Focus Group meeting on Tuesday evening, July 26 at which everyone is welcome. Please remember the review process in your prayers that it may help us to grow together as God’s people. If you have any questions, feel free to contact any CLT member.
Intimidation, social pressure, and being yourself
By Marty Troyer
Have you ever melted in someone else’s presence, unable to express yourself, your thoughts or experience authentically? Have you allowed someone to intimidate you based on their expertise, personality, wealth or beauty? Have you spent time with someone, but felt restrained from being yourself like Paul who said, “I do not understand my own actions; for I do not do what I want”?
Last week I was invited to coffee by a fellow blogger, who turned out to be a very powerful political-religious leader in Houston. Responding to a post at The Peace Pastor, he was interested in further dialogue on a particular topic. While the meeting was enjoyable enough, I found myself melting in his presence, unable to be authentic in his presence or to express my own thoughts with the integrity I’m committed to. Even though I know what I think on this issue! I wrote about it publicly, have studied the issue, and felt confident in my own thoughts going in (though I had no illusions I knew “the answer”). So why melt?
This phenomenon isn’t peculiar to me, or to times I’ve sat with high-powered religious leaders. Doctors have this effect on people all the time with their coded medical speak and lack of time (not to mention the often revealing bodily position you find yourself in at the doctors!). Salespersons (the pricier the item, the higher the intimidation), bankers, and experts have this effect on us too. As do those with more “social capital” such as the wealthy and beautiful among us. The core way we experience this is in the tension of a dominant-minority relationship. Racism, sexism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant policies, homophobia, all can intimidate minorities into hiding in the closet or denying their true selves. This is not just true of minorities in this context, but generally of all people when we experience ourselves as being in the minority.
I believe we typically feel our souls shrivel anytime we experience marginalization or an imbalance of power. A power imbalance signals unworthiness, awakens fear of repercussions, or at best places us in the position of learner/receiver, rather than giver. Dignity is only possible among equals in a mutual-reciprocal relationship, where both parties are valuable. Anything less is intimidation and a misuse of power.
The balance of power over our coffee tipped strongly in his favor: wealth, age, dress, life experience, dominant culture and expertise all worked strongly against me. He’s an internationally known expert and leader in a field he’s dedicated his entire life to. I’m a Christian committed to be a pastor and family man above all, who writes on the side. Overwhelming American public and Christian opinion is in his favor. Is there any wonder I didn’t find the ability to share my opinions as strongly as he shared his? To be sure, nothing came out of my mouth I regret, said with poor taste, or would take back. It’s what didn’t come out of my mouth I would change. And I write this as a western white man with a high level of education! Imagine how marginalized I would have felt as a young Hispanic female?
But is not the longing of every human heart to be free, unrestrained by class, race or gender? Integrity, authenticity, self-differentiation, dignity, honesty: these are seminal concepts in human development, essential for human flourishing. So even as I write this, I am fully aware that the marginalization I experienced that day pales in comparison to the marginalization experienced by some of you, and by many in the Houston community. As I shared in my sermon June 19, there is a Community of the Damned who is currently being blessed by God, who invites us also to bless transform them into the Community of the Blessed.
It’s also important to note that the qualities mentioned above are essential for the transformation of a faith community on the fringe of dominant culture. For we too long to be free to be who God has called us to be, even if sharing God’s love makes us odd. So stand firm in your faith and in whom God has created you to be. You are God’s image-bearers, worthy of being treated with utmost respect and dignity. Don’t melt in anyone’s presence! Instead, be yourself. That’s all you’ve ever needed to be.
Grace to you and peace:
May you always know that you are loved,
May you always love God,
Love yourself, and
Love everyone you meet!
The Peace Pastor:
In this week’s blog posts, you’ll find a summary of last week’s sermon (also posted on our webpage) which functions as an intro to our summer worship series on being Citizens on the Hill. You’ll also find a post or two on the death penalty.
You can find the blogs at: http://blog.chron.com/thepeacepastor/
You can subscribe to the blog or RSS it for instant updates. As always, your prayers are appreciated for this endeavor!
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 Citizens on the Hill, June 23, 2011
Welcome Isaiah 9:1-3,6-7
Prayer * Songs of Praise and Celebration
Here in this place HWB #6, vs 1,2,4
You are the salt of the earth HWB #226
Scripture Reading Matthew 5:13-16,3-12
Sermon & Response Citizens on the Hill
Affirmation of Faith Change my heart oh God
Offering Light of the World from the musical Godspell
*Sending Scripture Colossians 3:17
* Sending Prayer/Commissioning
* Song of Sending Lord you give the great commission SJ #63
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, email@example.com, also available on Facebook.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.