HMC E-Newsletter May 10, 2012 Undoing Racism Edition

The following is one of the 7 Core Convictions of Mennonite Church USA:

Undoing Racism and Advancing Intercultural Transformation
Racism, antipathy and alienation between different cultural groups stand in the way of Christ’s kingdom of love, justice and peace. As missional communities we will seek to dismantle individual and systemic racism in our church, develop intercultural competence, heal racial divisions, and value all the gifts of God’s diverse people. We envision people of many nations, tribes, people and languages as participants in the kingdom of God. Acts 10, Galatians 3:25‐29, Ephesians 2:15, Revelation 7:9

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Prayer with your church family! Here’s an Easter Prayer Practice (with a scripture to memorize) on our church worship tab! Here: When you’ve memorized the text, let Marty know and we’ll have you recite it in worship!

Music Recital 3PM Sunday at HMC! For students who learn from George R., friend of HMC and co-gardener with Jim E.
Ten Thousand Villages Sunday is May 20: Shop and support fair trade!

Our next potluck will be Sunday, May 27

1st Annual Kickball Game: Calling all HMCers for a game of Kickball! Please come to the church on May 26 at 2pm to play kickball together. Bring bug spray, running shoes, some hydration and a sense of humor! We look forward to seeing you there.

Save the date: Neighborhood BBQ, June 3

Houston Mennonite Church is now on Facebook! Pictures from Easter Sunday, links, friends, oh my! So much to see, so much to do.

Did you miss last week’s sermons? You can find them at:, sermon tab.

Backpacks and blankets needed for area homeless. Please drop them off at HMC. Will be distributed through our connections with Food not Bombs.
Faith eXploration Baptism Class on Sunday!! A catechism class for those interested or exploring baptism and/or your faith in a deeper way continues Sunday. We’ll meet in the Annex youth room.

SACK LUNCHES are available at church to be given to hungry folks. Grab a couple, carry them in your car to give out, and bless the hungry in a much better way than giving cash.

►Yes, Houston Mennonite Church is now on Facebook! Please Like us and spread the word that this page exists. Pictures from Easter Sunday, links, friends, oh my! So much to see, so much to do.
Unexpected News: Reading the Bible Through Third World Eyes discussion group Sunday’s at 9:30AM all welcome.

Undoing Racism in Houston: My Apologies
By Marty Troyer

Hannah and I recently each heard Houston Christians being overtly racist. She was very bold, directly confronting the racist comment while others in the room sat quietly. She nearly left her Christian gathering in protest except for her commitment to build bridges.

I on the other hand completely melted, allowing the comments to go unchallenged. Desmond Tutu’s quote to the right puts me squarely on the side of the racism our denomination says we must undo. Shudder the thought. My act of moral quietness has caused me no small amount of anxiety and soul-searching. It’s not acceptable for someone committed to the shalom/transformation of our entire city, not just my family. Why didn’t I say “No!”? What do I need to do/know today so that I’ll be able to say ‘No’ tomorrow?

Tutu’s quote is correct regarding race. After all, we have it on good authority that “you will know [Christians] by their fruit.” And Christianity’s fruit, in regards to race, is rotten. Which is why it’s imperative a missional church such as Houston Mennonite repent, undoing racism and advancing intercultural transformation. As our Core MCUSA Conviction rightly says, “Racism, antipathy and alienation between different cultural groups stand in the way of Christ’s kingdom of love, justice and peace.”

I believe that the church alone in Houston has the power to undo racism and advance intercultural transformation. But if we in the church are going to lead the way in undoing racism, we need to understand this social evil.
So what does racism look like today in Houston?

The Center for the Healing of Racism equips people to see racism in our hearts, homes, and institutions here in Houston. They say:

1. Racism, as a disease woven into the moral and spiritual fiber of American society, obscures the possibility of establishing the reality of the oneness [of all humankind].

2. Racism violates the dignity of humankind, retards the unfolding of the potentialities of its victims, corrupts its perpetrators, and blights human progress.

3. The patterns of thinking and behaving that constitute racism have been learned and can be unlearned.

4. Racism is marked by an imbalance in economic, political, and social power in favor of some , ethnic, and cultural groups at the expense of others.

But that’s pretty broad, and true of any US location. Does racism also have a decidedly Houston flavor, much as we like to think of ourselves in other matters?

Perhaps our rotten fruit is acceptance of Human Trafficking, where 80% of victims are female with a disproportionately high number women of color. Or maybe it’s in our ongoing quietness that this is one of our gravest social sins here in Houston.

Perhaps our racism is disproportionate targeting of people of color for drug arrests, convictions, or incarceration. Read Michelle Alexander’s challenging book, The New Jim Crow, to learn more.  Or how race plays a decisive role in determining whether someone lives or dies in a Huntsville execution chamber (the #’s are shockingly imbalanced). Harris County has sentenced more people to Death Row (289) than any county in Texas, which has killed more people than any other state in the US, which has itself killed more people than any Western Country.

Or our xenophobia and mistrust of those we assume are “illegal aliens.” Or the shocking under-representation of Latino/a’s on Houston City Council. Or how we distance ourselves from certain parks or swimming pools because there are “too many” Muslims, or Hispanics, or Blacks present. Or through our charter and private schools, which segregate children and greatly reduce the health of our schoolchildren and of the church’s witness. Or churches citing worship style as more important than the New Testament vision for intercultural transformation. Or refusal to learn from people of color about theology, ministry, politics, poverty or even what racism itself is. Or touting colorblindness as the solution to racism (In a recent Houston lecture, Love Sechrest said, ‘Colorblindness inhibits God’s preferred means of ministry.”). Or failure to acknowledge the privilege white people knowingly or unknowingly have.

This is to say nothing of the beating Chad Holley received at the hands of Houston Police officers last year, none of whom have been convicted at this point. Or David Williams, denied access to his own [upscale] Houston neighborhood due to the color of his skin. Or the race riots of 1917 (Freedman’s Town); or 1978 (Moody Park) after 2 HPD murdered Jose Campos Torres and dumped his body in Buffalo Bayou. No, these we can explain as “bad apples” and isolated incidents.

But then there’s my story, a couple well respected Houston citizens spouting racist remarks for all to hear. And then there’s me, doing nothing in the face of hate.

Missional church, let’s do what we need to today so we are equipped to address racism tomorrow. Let’s“dismantle individual and systemic racism in our church, develop intercultural competence, heal racial divisions, and value all the gifts of God’s diverse people.”

Houston Mennonite, I apologize for protecting my own reputation and neglecting your wholeness and healing. Please forgive me my silence! Working together, we can get it right.

On Sunday I’ll be sharing a pro-active Christ-centered response with steps to Intercultural Transformation.

Building up the Body of Christ: Links to Form Faith.

  1. Raising Color-Aware Children: I found this to be very helpful in thinking about the most healthy way to talk about issues of race and ethnicity with Malakai.
  2. By Their Strange Fruit: An amazing Christian blog with a great array of resources. You might consider starting with her piece called, “Racial Justice: Why Should Christians Care”
  3. Houston’s Center for the Healing of Racism
  4. Pastor Marty has written numerous pieces over the last year as he’s journeyed towards undoing racism in his own life: Check out the “Racism” category at or click here: All Peace Pastor posts on Racism

Jesus is risen… now what?
Worship May 13, 2012

Does the resurrection matter for daily life? What does it mean that Jesus – executed now risen – is present with us today? Join us next Sunday as we enter the book of Acts for inspiration on walking in the resurrection! Paul says in Romans, “the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you! Consider yourselves dead to sin, able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus!” More than a historical fact, the resurrection of Christ empowers each of us to live the abundant life God intends.

Check out the Prayer Practice on our church worship tab! Here:



*Opening Prayer

*Opening Songs

Here in this place  HWB #6

All people that on earth  HWB #42

*Scripture                                Deuteronomy 10:17-22

Great is thy faithfulness HWB #327

Meditation and Offering  HWB #698

   How are you called to join God’s mission by giving your time, talents and treasure?


Children’s Message                  Jesus love the little children


What do you bring to build up the Body of Christ, and how can we build you up?

Prayer                          Please feel free to light a candle prayer at this time

Scripture Reading                    Acts 10:44-48  

Message                       Advancing Intercultural Transformation



Song of Confession and Ministry

Slowly turning, ever turning  SJ #23

Commitment to Ministry  SJ #135


Connecting More Fully

Sending text                             John 15:12-17

*Sending Song

For we are strangers no more  HWB #322



Christian Formation Options at HMC:
Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
Unexpected News: Read the Bible through Third World Eyes, by Robert McAffee Brown as our guide.
►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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