Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Braes Resale Shop

Dear friends of Braes Interfaith Ministries,
Fantastic news!  The Braes Resale Shop is gettting ready to open and looks terrific.  Display fixtures have been set up, merchandise is being displayed, and people are really excited and anxious to see it opened.  If you haven't visited the shop, please come on over and have a look around.  It located on the corner of West Bellfort and South Post Oak next to the Aaron's Rental.  The address is 10319 South Post Oak.  Ralph Weed, shop manager, and Jeanne Escott, assistant manager, would love to meet you.  

The Shop is currently looking for volunteers from your congregation to accept, sort, and display merchandise; man the floors when it opens; and to get it ready to open.  Attached is a volunteer schedule to be placed as a bulletin insert/newsletter/website anywhere that it can be viewed by the congregants.  The shop will notify volunteers where there is a duplication and do its best to make adjustments.
Please return this sheet to either Ralph Weed (rlweed@sbcglobal.net) or Paul Brown (paulbrown717@comcast.net).  
Thank you for your help.

Eloy E. Montez, LMSW
Executive Director
Braes Interfaith Ministries


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Congrats to Kruegers

Congratulations to Virginia and Kenneth Krueger on the birth of their first grandchild, Sean William Morton, who was born September 19 to their daughter, Karla, and her husband, Jason, in Houston at Texas Womans Hospital. Virginia reports, "He is beautiful. Of course. They are doing well"


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Outreach Vision 2008

View this powerpoint presentation about how we are reaching out into the world.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Epistle | Sept 9, 2008

The Epistle

Sept 9, 2008

Dear church members and friends of St. John's,

I hope this epistle finds you well. You are in my prayers today. Please keep me in your prayers. If you would like to talk about any of the contents of this letter or anything else that is on your mind, do not hesitate to contact me via email or phone. My church phone is 713  723  6262 and my cell phone is 281  838  5391. I like hearing your feedback. I would enjoy engaging you in a "live" conversation on these matters. If you have the time and interest, please let me hear from you.

Welcome Mary Sterner - our soon to be Director of Christian Formation

Yesterday Jon Yingst stopped by my office to say how excited he was that Mary Sterner will be starting work here as our Director of Christian Formation on September 22. Jon has worked with Mary in the youth ministry of our presbytery and he couldn't say enough good things about her. Michael Leach also worked with her in the presbytery youth ministry and he says Mary was his favorite adult to work with at the presbytery level. Mary is coming to us from First Church in Huntsville, TX, where she has served as full-time Director of Youth Ministries and Campus Ministries for the past 5 years. She has a B.A. degree in Christianity and Spanish from Houston Baptist University. During college she worked as Youth Director at First Presbyterian Church in Sugar Land. She comes highly recommended by the pastor there. She also comes highly recommended by Elder Mary Marcotte, Associate General Presbyter for Discipleship and Leadership Development. Mary will be our full-time Director of Christian Formation. She will work with all ages from infants through older adults. Mary is working toward certification as a Christian educator. Look for more about Mary as we anticipate her arrival here on September 22. Note her name change from Mary Defee to Mary Sterner due to her recent marriage.

Life Stories from St. John's

We all have a story to tell. Through our Storytelling Ministry, we are collecting and sharing stories of St. John's members from all stages of life. Our series began with the remarkable story of Marjorie Knight. We have now added Wilbert Harris. Other life stories will follow, including Felicity Bisase, Rose Muanza, and LĂ©onie TchocontĂ©. Speak to me or the church office if you would like to share your life story and we will pass the word along to the Outreach Ministry Team who are in charge of this project.

Remember in Prayer

Frances Thomas has four malignant brain tumors. Remember her and Clayton in prayer. They have moved into another apartment at Bayou Manor. Ava Parker has a broken vertebrae and will have surgery on her back. This is not her first time to have back surgery. Keep her and Dale in prayer. Evelyn McLean has been moved to Brighton Gardens. Keep her in prayer.

Sundays in September

Mr. John Pflug from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary will preach this Sunday. John will join several Austin Seminary students who will be preaching in various churches in our presbytery this Sunday as part of an outreach effort by the seminary.

This Sunday afternoon we look forward to hosting guest speaker Mary Marcotte at 4 PM in McPhail Hall. She will give an overview of "Jubilee! Luke's Gospel for the Poor" which is the PW Bible study this year.

The "Moses Still Speaks" sermon series will begin on September 21.

The Inquirer's Class begins this Sunday, Sept 14, in my office at 9 AM. Coffee and donuts will be served. This class is for anyone who wants to learn more about the Presbyterian Church and who is considering joining St. John's.

September 28 is going to be a big day in the life of this congregation!

*September 28 we will have a reception marking the first Sunday of the beginning of the ministry of our new Director of Christian Formation, Mary Sterner. I know you will join me in welcoming her into our church family during the reception in her honor that day.

*September 28 is the worship service during which several new members will join the church.

*September 28 after worship we will celebrate with a Visioning Presentation Brunch that will be well worth your time and participation. We are developing a vision for 2009 and we need your help!

Outing Satan

    On their way to get married, a young couple are involved in a fatal car accident. The couple find themselves sitting outside the Pearly Gates waiting for St. Peter to process them into Heaven.
    While waiting, they begin to wonder: Could they possibly get married in Heaven? When St. Peter shows up, they asked him. St. Peter says, "I don't know. This is the first time anyone has asked. Let me go find out," and he leaves.
    The couple sat and waited for an answer . . . for a couple of months. While they waited, they discussed that IF they were allowed to get married in Heaven, SHOULD they get married, what with the eternal aspect of it all. "What if it doesn't work?" they wondered, "Are we stuck together FOREVER?"
    After yet another month, St. Peter finally returns, looking somewhat bedraggled. "Yes," he informs the couple, "you CAN get married in Heaven."
    "Great!" said the couple, "But we were just wondering, what if things don't work out? Could we also get a divorce in Heaven?"
    St. Peter, red-faced with anger, slams his clipboard onto the ground. 
    "What's wrong?" asked the frightened couple.
    "OH, COME ON!!" St. Peter shouts, "It took me three months to find a pastor up here! Do you have ANY idea how long it'll take me to find a lawyer!
   That joke reminds me of the movie The Devil's Advocate starring Al Pacino, whose portrayal of Satan disguised as an attorney is scary.

   Another powerful movie on this subject is Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. This disturbing movie was Stanley Kubrick's last film and is a frightening portrayal of life among the upper crust of the high, high occult elite. This is not a movie for anyone under 21 years and is not for anyone who is feint hearted. The portrayal of the Satanic ritual in this movie is highly accurate since Kubrick was all too familiar with such activities from his own personal life. This movie provides a glimpse behind the curtain into the world of the small but powerful elite who run this world in which we live. They have a different religion than us "common folks" but according to Jesus they are not to be feared. 

    I wonder if many of the so-called "serial killers" we read about in the press are in reality fall guys for active Satanic cults. Plenty of evidence to make this case is provided in the book Programmed to Kill: The Politics of Serial Murder by David McGowan. We need to wake up to the reality of evil in the world if we intend to be mature Christians. 

     Last Sunday's sermon, "Disappearing Act," was a discussion of the reality of Satan and Satanism. Someone remarked to me on the way out the door after the service, "I don't know anyone who doesn't believe in Satan." To which I responded, "I don't many pastors who DO believe in Satan." I sometimes wonder if we mainline pastors have been so trapped in the web of political correctness that we have been marginalized to the point of insignificance. As C.S. Lewis demonstrates in The Screwtape Letters, Satan's best line of defense is to remain undetected. To quote from the review of that book by Patricia Klein on amazon.com:

"The most brilliant feature of The Screwtape Letters may be likening hell to a bureaucracy in which 'everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.' We all understand bureaucracies, be it the Department of Motor Vehicles, the IRS, or one of our own making. So we each understand the temptations that slowly lure us into hell. If you've never read Lewis, The Screwtape Letters is a great place to start. And if you know Lewis, but haven't read this, you've missed one of his core writings."

    Here is the text from last Sunday's sermon:

"Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, 
and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 
Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, 
it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 
For where two or three are gathered in my name, 
I am there among them."
Matthew 18:18-20

Let us pray:

Loving God, we join in prayer with your Son, Jesus Christ, 

and pray that You will deliver us from evil. 

We bind Satan from working in our city, community, church and our personal lives. 

We thank you that in Jesus' name we are free to love and serve God

in this good world that you have created and which your love maintains. Amen.

May the Peace of Christ that passes all understanding
remain with you both now and always,
Pastor Jon Burnham


"Life Stories from St. John's" presents Wilbert Harris

We all have a story to tell. Through our Storytelling Ministry, we are collecting and sharing stories of St. John's members from all stages of life. Our series began with the remarkable story of Marjorie Knight. More life stories will follow. Now, we hear from Wilbert Harris.

Wilbert Harris, a veteran of the Korean War, has led a life of strong conviction, shaped by his experience in the military. Wilbert recently joined St. John’s as a member after first attending for several years with his granddaughter Tatiana. Wilbert was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, and came to Houston at the age of four. At the age of 19, he was drafted into the Army and served on the frontlines in Korea. Wilbert grew up expecting to serve in the military, as did all his friends. Military service was a rite of passage into manhood. Wilbert’s days in Korea were spent digging foxholes and his nights were spent sleeping and then guarding his team, listening for the enemy, often in solitary two-hour shifts. After dinner, he wrote letters home by candlelight. Letters from home were the most important thing a soldier could receive – even more important than care packages! Wilbert enjoyed his service and time in Korea, but being on the frontlines and seeing death daily could be difficult. When he returned to the States, no one knew about post-traumatic stress syndrome, and Wilbert, like the other veterans, was expected to get on with his life and not complain. Wilbert grew up in those two years in the Army. He learned how precious life is and vowed not to waste his life. When he was discharged from the Army, Wilbert went to college and graduated in less than three years with a history degree. As a result of his service, Wilbert is also the proud recipient of two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.

Listen to Wilbert's story.


Friday, September 5, 2008

Special Guests on September 21:

Reverend Boateng from Bethel Presbyterian Church will participate in our worship liturgy and the Beth choir will sing the offertory. We look forward to worshiping with these friends in Christ.

St. John's Schedule

Sunday, September 7 Rally Day
9:00 am Church School
10:30 am Worship Service
4:30 pm Centering Prayer, Pastor's Office
5:00 pm PYF Planning Meeting7:00 pm Brownie Troop 21151, Woodbadge Course
Monday, September 8
9:45 am Growing Stronger Together
6:30 pm Walking Together
6:30-8:00 pm Trafton, McPhail Hall7
:00 - 8:30 pm Scout Troop 688
7:00 pm Bell Choir
Tuesday, September 9
9:30 am Presbyterian Women's Activity Day
1:30 pm Staff Meeting
6:30 pm “Stay Strong Stay Young” followed by St. John's “Walking Together”
7:30 pm Venture Crew 688
7:30 pm Outreach Ministry Team Meeting
7:30 pm Book Group
Wednesday, September 10
9:45 am “Growing Stronger Together”
6:00 pm Wonder Team Sandwich Makers
6:30 pm St. John's “Walking Together”
30 pm Chancel Choir
Thursday, September 11
9:30 am Community Bible Study
5:30 pm Girl Scout Troop 21151
6:30 pm “Stay Strong Stay Young” followed by St. John's “Walking Together”
7:30 pm Congregational Life, Property, Support and Worship Ministry Mtgs.
Saturday, September 13
8:00 am Women’s Bible Small Group
8:00 am St. John's BreakfastSunday
September 14 – Beacon deadline
9:00 am Church School; Inquirer's Class, Pastor's Office
10:30 am Worship Service
11:45 am Christian Formation Ministry Meeting
3:30 pm Presbyterian Women's program. McPhail Hall, Speaker Mary Marcotte
4:30 pm Centering Prayer, Pastor's Office
5:00 pm Presbyterian Youth Fellowship (PYF)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Advent Conspiracy

The story of Christ's birth is a subversive story of an upside-down kingdom. It's a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love that is still changing the world to this day. So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists. And when it's all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling that we somehow missed its purpose.

Is this what we really want out of Christmas?

What if Christmas became a world-changing event again by turning our focus back to the birth of Christ? What could happen to your family if this focus was celebrated in loud, bold and totally unexpected ways? What if you could actually trade your season of stress for a season celebration and unbelievable memories with your friends and family? What if all of this could save a life at the same time? It can.


Fall Christian Education Opportunities— Sunday, September 14

Inquirer’s Class— Pastor’s Office: Pastor Jon Burnham will teach an Inquirer’s Class for three Sunday mornings in his office from 9:00 - 9:45 am on September 14, 21 and 28. Those who take the class may join the church on September 28.

Godly Play, Children’s Church— Building One: Preschool through 1st grade experience Bible lessons taught in a Montessori approach that actively engages their hearts and their minds.

Workshops Rotation Sunday School Class— Room 209: The 1st through the 5th grade class is a state-of-the-art Sunday School class because our teachers have state-of-the-art hearts. Friends are always welcome.

Middle and High School— Room 207 & 210: Join the teaching team of Mary Gaber and David Rainwater (High School) and Murray Smith and Jennifer Durand (Middle School) as they explore the Presbyterian faith.

The Bible Study for Everyone Class — Room 203: The class study will be Tom Wright’s book, John for Everyone. The class is discussion with members sharing as facilitators. Books are available for purchase in the church office. Call Suzette Harrel (713-666-6218) if you have any questions or need more information.

Lectionary Study Class— Room 205: Do you want to understand the Lectionary readings each Sunday? Come explore the passages of the Bible. Facilitated by Elaine DeSouza.

Rally Day - September 7

St. John’s begins the fall schedule with Rally Day on Sunday, September 7. Please gather in McPhail Hall at 9 am for a continental breakfast and information about the line up of fall educational opportunities for Christian growth. Learning about Christ is a lifelong pursuit. It doesn’t end when we grow up. If we are to love God with our minds as well as our hearts, our souls and our strength, we should keep learning at all ages!

Focus 2008: October 4— Registration Deadline, September 15

The annual Presbytery Leadership Event will be hosted at Northwoods Presbyterian Church, 3320 FM 1960, in Houston. Nationally known preacher and author, Dr. Tom Long, will be the keynote speaker and will address themes raised in his book Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian.
Dr. Long will be joined by a distinguished faculty of workshop leaders, including Jack Haberer, editor of Presbyterian Outlook and Joan Gray, past moderator of the PC(USA). Twenty-two workshops will be offered on topics of prayer, worship, theology, practical ministry and more. Breakfast, snacks and lunch are provided.
Brochures with the registration form can be picked up from the coffee table in Building II. The deadline to hand in your registration form to St. John’s office is Monday, September 15. Christian Formation will pay all early registration fees. If you miss the September 15 deadline, mail your registration form with your payment to Focus, 1110 Lovett Boulevard, Houston , TX 77006-3824.

Special Invitation - Sunday, September 14

St. John’s Congregation is invited to hear Mary Marcotte, Associate General Presbyter, on Sunday, September 14. A light afternoon tea will be served at 3:30 pm and Mary will begin her presentation at 4 pm. She will explore the upcoming Presbyterian Women’s Bible Study, Luke’s Gospel for the Poor.Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to learn about Luke. This special program replaces the Presbyterian Women’s Septembers Association and Circle meetings.

Looking Ahead

Have you marked these dates in your calendar?

Vision Presentation Brunch (September 28)
Blood Drive (October 5)
Peacemaking Offering (October 5)
Stewardship Sunday (October 26)
Veteran's Day Pot-luck (November 8)
Harvest Sunday (November 23)
Living Gift Market (November 16)


Newsletter Articles Needed

Please deliver all Beacon articles for the September/ October 2008 issue to stjohns@stjohnspresby.org, Room 208 or the church office. The last chance to be part of this issue is September 14, at 12 Noon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Marjorie Knight

Marjorie in her SPARS uniform.

Marjorie Knight, a member of St. John’s since 1961, has lived a life filled with adventure and service. At the age of 22, Marjorie took part of her lunch hour one day to visit a recruiting office for the Coast Guard’s Women Reserves (known as SPARS). Wanting an adventure, she signed up, and soon found herself on a five-day train ride to New York City with other recruits. After training in New York and Florida, Marjorie returned to her native California and served her country as a “storekeeper” for SPARS, processing vouchers and attending to other military details. Marjorie learned the important life lesson of learning to get along with others by living in a barracks with 11 other women and one bathroom! With her good humor and infectious laugh, Marjorie has continued to live out her passion for people and for service in her role as a volunteer with the Methodist service corps where she visits 30-35 out-of-town patients each week.