Dear HMC, Here is this week’s E-Newsletter below and attached.
HMC E-Newsletter May 13, 2010
Prayer for Church Council Retreat
This Saturday HMC Church Council and Pastor Marty are gathering from 11:00-4:30 for a time of prayer, discussion, evaluation of our Transformation Journey and future visioning. We invite you to pray for our time together: for wisdom, freedom from fear, new energy, and trust in God and each other. Here is a prayer that we’ll be praying while in the meeting.

Sometimes we pray carelessly for transformation.
But at this moment we pray differently.
We suspect how uncomfortable, how painful, how pricey, our transformations might be.
Will you knock over one of the pillars that holds up the house of our belief?
Will you slip in uninvited, and snatch away the security blanket that no longer comforts us?
Will you back us into some corner and with a determined glean in your eye, inform us that what we thought was just and right is in fact not?
Will you put a belt around our waist and take us where we do not want to go?
What price will we pay for transformation? What does prayer cost?
Yet, it in wisdom you choose to transform us, however reluctant we may be, however much we may kick and scream and claw, then we do ask for life.
We ask for your life- life that shepherds us beyond our hopes, beyond our fears, beyond the final frontier of death itself. If you push us into a world of alternate possibility, then please hold our hand and go with us.
So transform us, not because we deserve it, but because you love us, and the world. AMEN.
Ministry to Medical Pilgrims
By Roxie Voran
The first I ever heard of Houston Mennonite Church was in the late 1960s. A young man in my home congregation in Kansas was forced to drop out during his freshman year in college after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. His younger brother was a close childhood friend of mine. Their family traveled to Houston where there was a hospital that was in the forefront of cancer research and treatment. My friend’s brother returned home having received treatment with an experimental drug and a grim prognosis. The rest of the family returned talking less about the hospital and their brother/son’s disease than about the hospitality and support extended to them by members of a small Mennonite church. I never imagined that 12 years later I would visit my friend’s brother when he came back to M.D. Anderson after the cancer returned.

It’s a story that has been repeated, with variations, countless times. Because of the world class medical facilities in Houston, many people come here for treatment of serious illnesses. Those with a connection to the Mennonite Church have often reached out to our congregation for assistance and support.

Each of these people has experienced their time in Houston differently. Some have gone home cured and some with their disease in remission. Others have returned to their home with the news that there would be no cure. A few have died here, and at least one went home and took his own life. What has been consistent are the opportunities that we have had to minister in meaningful ways. These folks have come to Houston facing serious, often life-threatening illness, which has forced them to re-evaluate their lives and their faith as never before. In addition, they have found themselves in a strange place, often experiencing the intense paradoxical loneliness that comes from feeling utterly alone amid the masses.

In that context, the importance of any support we offer or any friendship we extend is magnified. Time and again we’ve heard how meaningful even simple acts have been. Sharing a meal, offering a ride, or simply engaging in pleasant, caring conversation can be so very important to someone whose world seems to be crashing down around them.

For many years, this has been a meaningful avenue of service for those of us at HMC, and we can expect that more such opportunities will present themselves in the future. This is not a ministry that we chose during a strategic planning session, but is a result of being willing to serve in the place where God has called us.

This is the4th in a series of stories that define who and why we are, all written by Roxie Voran. You can find them at
Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Financial Giving: We celebrate giving our financial resources as part of our relationship with God. Care to join us? A great starting question is: What percentage of income do you feel God is calling you to give? As each person answers that for themselves, we join together in making all things new. The May 2nd, 2010 offering was $1,963.00.
►Lunches for the homeless: Sack lunches for the homeless are available in the back. Please take several, keep them handy in your car and when people ask for help or money, hand them a lunch out your car window! A twist on the classic “meals on wheels.”

►Ten Thousand Villages: Supporting Fair Trade through TTV is an expression of our care for the world around us as a congregation. Consider volunteering and shopping at the store in Rice Village. This Sunday is our Sunday to run the store, but you can volunteer anytime!

►Fellowship Meal & Graduate Recognition: Sunday May 30th. Nick Gehman (HS), Rebecca Voran (HS), Liza Koshy (JR High), Emily Thierstein (5th), Rosa Betencourt (5th), Zach and Jessica Unruh (Grad school). We will have a fellowship meal and cake following the service. Please bring finger foods such as sandwiches, relish tray, chips, fruit, etc. Dessert (cake) is provided.
►You won’t want to miss Western District Conference Annual Retreat: Friday July 9-Sunday July 11. Put this on your calendar now! This is an amazing Christian resourcing, recreational, and relational event. Cost is incredibly low at $130 per person, for 2 nights and 5 meals. Location is Waxahatchie Texas, just South of Dallas. A 4 hour drive from Houston. Plan now to attend with your church family. Church leadership would love to see 20 or more HMCers attend. There will be a high school youth component which will include a service project.
A timely heresy; Or, Greatness versus family : A reflection on Being time-warped
By Marty Troyer
I read somewhere that Australians and Europeans think we Americans are nuts. Nuts about our work schedules, time schedules, the way we rush around all day long like the world depends on our high blood pressure. India apparently sees us the same way. And what of the famous Latin siesta? Everybody takes them, and no reports are in of death due to a lower stress or Gross National Product. Come to think of it, the Protestant work ethic is a decidedly American phenomenon. If you look at the earth’s population, we over-hurried Americans are just a small slice of the whole. Nobody else does what we do! Nobody else kills themselves trying to achieve, or cram their calendars. Does anybody else justify turning backs on family for the sake of retirement?

I remember clearly when my reputation took a dive. I remember it, because it happens to coincide with getting my life together for the first time in a long time. And for the most part, that meant being Australian in the midst of time-crunched America. Two years into my first ministry, I assumed a 70 hour work week was a pastor’s natural habitat. It never occurred to me (has it to you?) this was anything but good for my soul, and good for my ministry. In fact, I was taught more equals more! A widely held virus known as the Protestant work ethic infiltrated and distorted my vision of reality. This is the same virus that controls our PDA’s and family calendar, the same virus that sends us scrambling from morning till hoped-for early retirement, and the same virus that judged me not on the quality of work I put in, but on the quantity of work above and beyond expectation. The judgment was unfair, but real. I was perceived to be less a man after I got my hours under 50 (I was being paid for 40) than I was scatter-brained at 65. Didn’t matter that I finally felt in control. Didn’t matter that my quality control meters went off the charts! Didn’t matter that real ministry started happening. Or that I began having a healthy social life. Or that others were being included in ministry more. Or even that in living a less hectic schedule, I now had more time for God. None of that mattered to those demanding time, time, time.
For places like seminaries, churches, and businesses (and darn it to all if schools aren’t catching on!) a 40 hour work week isn’t just bad for business, it’s heresy!

I couldn’t care less if its heresy or not, what really stops me short, is knowing that greatness generally only comes to those on the rat race. I’ve always fancied myself as being a real leader when I grow up, maybe even have a bit of a legacy . I use to say I’d love to see my face on a bobble-head, that’s when I’d know I had arrived! Or at least give me a by-line. Now all of a sudden, I’ve got a family. That changes everything. Every possible calendar event available to help me take that next step towards genuine leadership or notoriety, is a step away from family. Every career-furthering decision is a (necessary?) decision against family, albeit in the short term. I don’t doubt that most successful men and woman, if not all, have as their highest desire the security of their families. Perhaps they say to themselves, “I know I’m gone a lot, and that I work many hours. But I’m providing for them long term.” Is the “but” designed to be some magical incantation that eradicates the missing relationship? Or maybe it’s more practical, “In my career the company prospers on the backs of the new guys. I don’t have a choice! But one day it will get better.” But isn’t not having a choice our choice?

The real heresies are the myths we live by
I’m becoming ever more suspicious to say that long term is more valuable than short term. Show me where this has worked? Find me a 20something young adult glad dad traded genuine relationship for college tuition. Or better yet, find me an incredibly successful church man who is known for his incredible love of his family. Billy Graham? Nope. James Dobson? Nope. Isn’t our society and youth culture in particular a screaming testament to the terrible myth of long-term payoff? By then, for far too many families, it’s too late. Everybody has to choose which is more important: family, or personal career.

I think I’m all fired up about this these days as our family is growing. I’ve been married for eight years. During those years of ministry, I’ve experienced nothing but pressure to put ministry first, and have caved too many times. And I guess when it really comes down to it, it’s not that I even feel I have to choose between family and career. If it was, I’d choose family (leave saving the world to others less aware of their own God-complex). But it’s not. It’s more a choice about priorities, and who will get my greatest energies. But it’s also a choice about health. How can I stay healthy so I’m happy and healthy in both areas of life? I’ve got to believe that good pastors and business people don’t have to equal overworked pastors and business people. And just because that’s heresy in the US, doesn’t mean it’s not right for you and I.
New Conference Pastor Announced:
The Western District Executive Board is pleased to announce that Clarence E. Rempel, Newton, Kan., has accepted the position of conference minister for Western District Conference, beginning July 1. Since last year he has served as associate conference minister alongside the current conference minister, Dorothy Nickel Friesen, who is retiring. Clarence will be commissioned July 11 at the Western District Conference assembly in Texas. Thank God for the dedicated work of the Search Committee and all who were involved in the discernment process, and pray for Clarence and his family as he moves into this new role.
Free Bread at Church:
Need bread? Wonder why we always have bread sitting out on Sunday mornings?
Every week, loaves of locally made bread are dropped off at Houston Mennonite Church from Stone Mill Bakery. These loaves are free to the taking! Grab one on Sunday and share it with a neighbor, eat it for Sunday dinner, or give it to someone you know. Often cinnamon rolls and muffins accompany the bread.
Here’s how it works: The loaves are donated to local non-profits directly from Stone Mill Bakery. The bread is day old bread, deliverd on Wednesday’s to HMC. On Wednesday I put them in the freezer, and on Sunday mornings I pull them out again for you to take home.
Now you know.
“Kindness” will be the theme of the 11th Annual Houston Peace Camp, which is sponsored by the Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom. It will be held at the beautiful Cameron Retreat Center, 2403 Holcombe Blvd. from July 19-23 and July 26-30. Kindergarten through Fifth Grade children are invited to participate. Each week will be a different curriculum so youth can attend one week or both weeks. Interesting activitiess such as yoga, drumming, special arts and crafts, puppets and gardening will be a part of the program. There will also be lessons on constructive ways to deal with anger, bullying, and resolving conflicts. A different peacemaker will be studied each day. There will be co-operative games rather than a focus on competition. The cost of the camp ,is $125 and some scholarships are available. If you would like to volunteer or make a donation , please contact Judy Hoffhien , Additional information can be obtained at

Please Join Us at the Annual
Houston Peace and Justice Potluck

Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 6pm

Dominican Center
6501 Almeda Rd.
Houston, TX 77021

There will be face painting, arts and crafts, stories and books for children

Tabling opportunities

Exciting entertainment, including African Drumming and folktales by Baba Fana & Co., South American Dancing and story telling by Karla Aguilar & Co.

Come and network with other Peace and Justice Groups

Vegetarian and Ethnic foods greatly appreciated

For more information visit us at or 832-288-4099

Agencies, Texas churches brace for hurricanes
SAN ANTONIO — Mennonite congregations in Texas want to be better prepared for the next major hurricane than they’ve been in the past.
Rise Up and Come Together
Mark your calendars now for July 9-11, when persons from all congregations will gather at Lakeview Camp and Conference Center near Waxahachie (Dallas), Texas, for Western District Conference’s annual conference session and fellowship opportunity. A Program Committee is putting the finishing touches on planning details, promising an inspirational and educational experience. Programs and activities will also be included for children: infants through senior high. More details to follow in coming weeks. Z
Theme “RISE UP AND COME TOGETHER” “LEVÁNTENSE Y JÚNTENSE” In Ezekiel 37, there are graphic images to instruct the people of God. The dry bones came together with the breath of God. The two sticks are joined together to show God’s power to bring unity. How does WDC experience God’s action? What are the ways our congregations will
come to new life? Experience this text in worship, prayer, conversation, fellowship, learning communities.
We will welcome our new WDC Conference Minister and install new officers and leaders in the final worship celebration.
Want to receive quality news about church and faith in your email?
Consider subscribing to the following FREE E-News services:
• Mennonite Church USA News:
• The Mennonite magazine sends T-Mail, a weekly E-zine: Go to and look for the “TMail Sign-up” button on the home page.
• Sojourners sends out weekly Sojo-mail:

Budget and debt counseling
Are you living paycheck to paycheck, trapped in a cycle of debt? Or, are you considering bankruptcy? Maybe you feel in control of your money now, but have financial questions you’d like answered. Budget and debt counseling, a free service sponsored by MMA, can answer your questions and help you take real, positive, steps toward financial stability – and freedom. For more info Check out and/or call 888-577-2227, be sure to tell them you are Mennonite, and that MMA sent you!
Order of Worship Sunday, May 16th 2010
Do you know of someone who would benefit from hearing that there are things in life worth holding on to other than stuff, and that it might be time to let go of something? Consider inviting them to church. Here’s one way that might feel more comfortable to you and them: Tell them something your faith helped you to let go of, and tell them about our church Lenten theme. Let them know where and when we meet. Tell them to check us out online for themselves, so they know what they are getting into before they come. Try it, it might be just what they need!
* Call to Worship
As Paul and Silas were bold in prayer and praise,
So the Spirit also leads us into new boldness.
God draws our attention to those in distress.
Filling us with audacity and compassion.
In the face of difficulty,
| Jesus grants us the courage to walk a new path.
* Opening Prayer
* Opening Songs
How can we be silent SJ #61
You are my hiding place PPT
Scripture Reading John 17:20-26 NT Pg 111
Children’s Time (Children 1-5 dismissed for Children’s Church)
Sharing joys and concerns
Prayer Feel free to light a candle-prayer
Scripture Reading Acts 16:16-34 NT Pg 136
Message Imagine a girl
•Community Dialogue
Song of Response Don’t be afraid SJ #105
Offering & Prayer
Welcoming of Visitors and Announcements
* Blessing Song New Earth, Heavens New HWB #299
* Blessing
* Please stand if comfortable when indicated by asterisk.
SJ- Sing the Journey (Green spiral-bound) HWB- Hymnal Worship Book (Blue hardback).

• Community Dialogue: We believe that everyone is gifted and has a voice, and value your voice in our worship. “Community dialogue” is your chance to testify to God’s presence in our world, respond to the text or sermon, or share your perspective or experience with us. Consider adding your voice this morning!
Thank you to the following for sharing your gifts!
Worship Leader: Rachel & Than Vlachos; Song Leader: Linda Ensminger; Accompaniment: Linda Washburn; Scripture Reader: Kristi Long; Children’s Message: Jane McNair; Children’s Church: Maribel Hinojosa; Speaker: Pastor Marty Troyer; Sound: Nick Gehman.
Next Week: Speaker: Pastor Marty Troyer; Children’s Message:; Children’s Church:; Song leader:. Scripture: Acts 2:1-21
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.
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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s