July 13, 2021
Little Things That Make Big Ripples
As individuals and as a church, we love to do big things that make big splashes. We have celebrated one big thing - our Freedom Festival celebration. We had lots of people and lots of excitement, and I continue to praise God daily for all of those who worked so hard to make this event happen. I am especially grateful to Charlsie Groom and her team and Ryan Pennington, Tom Wilkinson and the kitchen team for great food for the event. You cannot imagine how many hours the celebration leadership spent at the church the week before the festival. And I hope you notice our new welcome sign in the front lawn. It is truly a community effort. Thanks to Karen and Bill Wilkson for helping bring this project to fruition.
During the first week of August, we will celebrate another big event – Vacation Bible School. We again need lots of helpers to serve as crew leaders, station leaders, kitchen help, etc. Mary Ann Mueller is even coming from Florida to lead this event. We look forward to seeing children enjoying this week.
As I write this, I am preparing to spend a week with our youth on their mission trip. We will have 16 youth on this trip. Pray for all of us. I am sure it will be a great week.
We are going to confirm four of our youth in church this next Sunday, July 18th.
After August 1st, things will ease up a bit as we prepare for school to start back up. While we always get excited about big events, let us remember that little things can make big ripples. Do you remember how you could toss a small rock into a pond and watch the ripples spread across the entire pond? I think our greatest moments in ministry come in times like that – in the little things we do that have a lasting effect on people’s lives. I suspect that the card we send to a homebound person, the visit to the hospital, the call to one who is grieving the loss of a loved one, or the hug offered to one who is struggling does more to spread the love of Christ than even our most successful big event. Calling a child by name can mean more to that child than a whole week of fun-filled activity.
Big splashes are great, but I believe the kingdom of God will be ushered in by the little things that make big ripples. So, in between the big events that make a big splash, try doing one little thing each day that will make big ripples in your family, in your community, and in the world. View here
June 29, 2021
This past weekend our Board of Stewards met to study the book, Being the Church in a Post-Pandemic World by Kay Kotan. We spent three hours reflecting on key traits for a healthy, vital and culturally relevant church in the post pandemic world. We identified our strengths and also traits where we need to do some work. We discerned that we are a resilient church. We have actually continued to find new ways to reach people during the pandemic. We have made improvements to our facility and even gained new members. But we also have some hard work still to do in the areas of flexibility, innovation and spiritual growth. I am so proud of our Board for their commitment to the ministry of this church. Two thoughts have stuck with me. As a church we are so busy focusing on obstacles that we neglect opportunities for spiritual growth. So often we gaze at problems and only glance at promise. We have our gazes and glances mixed up. What we need to do is glance at obstacles and gaze at promise. We often look most intently at roof leaks, the air conditioning roblems, cost of programs, and lack of volunteers. (I think you get the picture.) And we only glance at the potential for reaching out to our community. We gaze at the lack of children and only glance at the young family next door to us. Let us, today, commit to changing that. Let us practice gazing at the potential, the promise of growth, and only glancing at problems. I think this practice just might transform our lives and transform our church. Let us celebrate the good works we are doing, but let us always be open to ways we can improve our service to Jesus Christ through this church.
On Sunday, July 11 we will receive our 2021 confirmation class into church membership. Confirmands are Iva Crump, Lucy Molina, Nathalie Molina and Madison Richardson. Also, on July 11 we will commission our youth mission team as they leave for their work in Bryan, Texas. I hope you will join us in celebrating the faith journey of these young people. View here
June 15, 2021
There are moments when I feel overwhelmed by the “burdens” some of our members are carrying. That overwhelming feeling is lifted as I watched you time after time reach out to those in need and comfort them. I am so blessed to serve a church where people really do care about each other and where those in need feel they are able to share their struggles without being judged by others. I want to share the lyrics from one of my favorite songs, “Broken and Beautiful” by Mark Schultz. I think it describes the church, which is not a building but a gathering of God’s children who need the encouragement and strength that comes through a relationship with God and each other.
There’s a businessman, there’s a widowed wife
A smiling face with a shattered life
There’s a teenage girl with a choice to make
It’s crowded here in church today
And the preacher says as the sermon ends
“Please close your eyes, bow your heads
Is there anyone in need of prayer?
Oh, Jesus wants to meet you here”
‘Cause we all fall short
And we all have sinned
But when you let God’s Grace break in
It’s beautiful, beautiful
Come as you are
Surrender your heart
Broken & beautiful
Well, he’d never been to church before
But he came today as a last resort
His world was crashing in
And he was suffocating in his sin
But tears rolled down as hope rushed in
He closed his eyes, raised his hands
Worshiping the God who can
Bring him back to life again
And it’s beautiful, beautiful
Come as you are
Surrender your heart
Broken & beautiful
There is someone today who needs the comfort or help you can offer. May we continue to be a church where people find a place to surrender their hearts and find healing and grace. View here
June 1, 2021
Summer is right around the corner (oh wait, it is already here), and many people are already anticipating summer vacations. Unfortunately, the church, along with school and work, often gets forgotten during “summer vacation.” However, the church does not shut down during the summer. We still use the same amount of electricity and water and air conditioning whether we have many or few here during the summer. More importantly, some of our biggest outreach efforts, like the Freedom Festival, Vacation Bible School and the youth mission trip, take place in the summer. To provide ministry during the summer, here is what you can do to help. By all means, enjoy your vacations. We all need time away. But remember to keep your financial commitment to the church up to date, just as you do your household bills. And remember ministry doesn’t happen without volunteers. So plan to give some time this summer to help with our Summer ministry. Programs and dates are: Youth fellowship, Sunday from 4-6 p.m. (folks needed to provide meals,) Sunday School, starting June 6 at 9:15 a.m.; youth mission trip, July 11-17, Vacation Bible School, August 2-6, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. We also need ushers every Sunday morning. There are many ways you can support these ministries, so please call the church office, and we will pass your name on to the appropriate people. There is great joy in serving Christ through his church. Discover it for yourself this summer. View here
May 18, 2021
THE FACE OF THE LIVING GOD
It has been good to see so many of you returning to in person worship. I am so grateful for the technology that has enabled us to worship even during the time we were apart, but there is nothing like seeing you in the pews. With the new CDC announcement, we will begin “mask optional” gatherings on Pentecost Sunday, May 23. If you have been fully vaccinated or have had covid and have covid antibodies, you can worship with your mask off if you choose. We will continue to use every other pew. It will be great to see your whole face again. We will have a wonderful celebration Sunday so it would be a great time for you to join us in person.
The hardest thing for me during the past year has been the time when we could not meet together in person. I have missed seeing the face of the living God in you. Christ has so often been made known to me in the sharing of life together. I share with you some of my encounters with the living Christ over the years. View here
May 4, 2021
Most of us could never have imagined the change that took place in our lives, our churches and our world in March 2020. Our world essentially shut down for a time and our lives moved from in person encounters to virtual encounters in our personal lives, our businesses and our churches. During that time I have heard people comment, “I can’t wait to get back to normal.” We are now living in liminal times, the time between the “covid” season restrictions coming to an end and the post-covid season beginning. The reality is we will probably not return to the “normal” we knew pre-covid. Some of the innovations we developed during covid times will continue to unfold in our future. What an opportunity we have to continue to do something new. Do you realize how seldom we have this opportunity to let go of things that were not working that well and unleashing new and exciting ministry? The past month has felt like an awakening. People are returning to in-person worship. New people are joining our church family and that is great news. Our Board of Stewards will be reading “Being the Church in a Post-Pandemic World” together. This will a time of assessing and revisioning where we go from here. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our church.
Pentecost Sunday is May 23 and it will be an exciting next step for our “coming back to life.” The chancel choir will be singing for the first time in over a year. It may be a good Sunday for you to return as well. What better time than a day that is considered to be the birthday of the church. In a way it will be a re-birth for the post-pandemic church. Hope to see you then, if not before. View here
April 20, 2021
I can’t recall where I heard this story, but it made such an impact on me that I have shared it twice before. The last time I shared it was six years ago, and I think it is time for all of us to hear it and reflect on its meaning for the church again. It is a modern parable of heaven and hell. The description of hell is given. A table is spread with a sumptuous meal. Yet around the table sits a group of sad, dejected, and angry people. They are starving. They sit at a table of plenty but can eat nothing. The problem: they can hold a fork, but their elbows will not bend, so there they sit, forever, with plenty of food before them but unable to eat. Their famished bodies wither away. Next is the image of heaven. It also is a table running over with delicious food. Around the table, however, sit happy and healthy people, laughing and loving one another. Oddly enough, their elbows will not bend either. So how do they solve the dilemma? They feed one another. It seems to me this is also a parable of our faith journey together. Jesus desires for us the fullness of life. He provides for us a fellowship where we can learn and grow. He sits before us a table with everything we need to live and thrive, but sometimes we are like those with elbows that will not bend. If we are to grow as the body of Christ, we need to help each other so we can feast on that which God has set before us. A family of faith working together, serving each other within our church and in our neighboring community, and glorifying God – that is the church at its best. May it be so with us.
April 6, 2021
What a difference a year makes! Last year our Holy Week worship services were livestream only with only our worship leaders in the sanctuary. It was so wonderful to have so many back in the sanctuary this year for worship. We waved our palm branches on Palm Sunday, experienced a foot washing and Holy Communion on Holy Thursday and welcomed the most people on Easter morning that we have had in worship since we had to shut down a year ago for Covid. Thanks to our Youth for leading a wonderful service at 8 a.m. and to Philip’s Joy and the Bell Choir for truly uplifting music at 10:30 a.m. One member expressed Sunday that they had to go to the back lot to find a parking place. Hopefully this is a sign that we are beginning to return to pre—covid times. My soul was so filled with joy that I was singing praise to God for the rest of the day. And this Monday morning, my heart is still filled with joy and with great appreciation and thanksgiving for everyone who made Easter morning and indeed all of Lent such a wonderful and sacred time. May the joy of Easter fill us with hope and keep us praising God in the weeks and months to come. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! View here
March 23, 2021
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Easter is a day to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. What a joy it will be this year to celebrate “in person.” Finally, after a year of Covid restrictions, the church is beginning to open up more and more.
As we enter into a deeper and more personal relationship with Christ, the power of Easter comes alive in our lives, and now, especially, we realize that it is so much more than a big celebration on one Sunday of the year.
The power of Easter grows in us as we respond to God’s love through ministry to others. For many, Christ will be known through us and through our gifts of love. Our special Easter offering is typically directed toward ministries that address the needs of persons in our community and beyond. This year our Easter offering will be directed to the Houston Food Bank, which has helped so many during the pandemic and throughout the year and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which is the first in and last out in natural disasters throughout the world.
I know many of you have taken a big financial “hit” due to the virus, but if you are able to give a little extra at Easter, it can make a big difference. Mark your check “Easter Offering” or put it in the envelope enclosed in this newsletter, send it or bring it to the church, and your contribution will used to spread the love of Jesus Christ throughout a hurting world. You can also make a contribution online at www.spumchou.org/donation or text to donate at 281.666.2810. Enclosed in the Campanile is a plan for Holy Week this year. We hope you find it helpful and will join us as often as possible. Remember to keep your eyes on Jesus. He is faithful – always has been and always will be. View here
March 9, 2021
About seven years ago, I attended a seminar with Dr. Elaine Heath, who was at that time a professor at Perkins School of Theology. She said some things that caught my attention then and still ring true today about the mission of the church.
• The mission of God is shalom.
• The church’s mission is to go to “hell,” the gated community in a person’s life that locks out God’sshalom, and break down the gates because that is where Jesus goes.
• The question for us to ask as a church is:
- What is your neighborhood hell?
- What would it take to go there with Jesus?
• Missional wisdom means evangelism is never exploitive, violent or manipulative
- We are to be “sent out” people who become good news for our neighbors. If we accept this idea of mission evangelism, there are two questions we must ask ourselves:
• What must we give up to become people of missional wisdom?
• What must we take up to become people of missional wisdom?
Far too often, we think of evangelism as finding creative ways to attract people to our church. If we are to grow our church into an authentic Christian community, we must pay attention to where God is already at work in our community and find ways to “do life together.” I challenge each of you to spend some time reflecting on the questions posed above in bold print. I would love to hear your feedback. I believe God is at work in our community and is calling us to work with Him. View here
February 23, 2021
A friend of mine, Rev. Kip Gilts suggests a different path for this Lenten Journey. He speaks of “being called on a treasure hunt - a daily treasure hunt. There are 8 treasures for which I will be on the lookout every day during Lent. These treasures are found in Philippians 4:8, ‘Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things…and the God of peace will be with you.’ I will get up every morning looking for something that is true, something that is honorable, something that is just, something that is pure, something that is pleasing, something that is excellent, something that is worthy of praise. When I discover each of these treasures I will write them on a little piece of paper. At the end of the day I will place those eight treasures on the table and think of them, reflect on them, give thanks for them, and place them in my Lenten Treasure Chest. I share this with you for two reasons: 1) Personal accountability: once it’s out there I’m committed; 2) Invitation: perhaps you could use such a treasure chest in your life. If so, come on and join me on a Lenten Treasure Hunt.” I love this idea and will be adopting this practice during Lent. I invite you to join me. View here
February 2, 2021
Lent is just around the corner. The season begins with Ash Wednesday on February 17. This season is a call to turn from the ways of the world and return to God. Such change is always difficult. Of course, we aim for perfection, and that is admirable. At the same time, we know, as does God, that our human imperfections make that goal a real challenge for us.
Thus, the goal of Lent is not to make a plan for change and follow it to the letter. Rather, the goal is to make a change that sinks deeply into life, drawing us closer to self, others and God. Such change requires a move from head to heart.
This change – this turning towards God – becomes imbedded in our heart - the place from which we make all of our best decisions. This is the shift in direction we hope for this Lent. Our failures to reach our goal, though disappointing, can actually help us achieve the goal, for we gain something by losing our way: the drive to find our way back. The practice of returning to God takes root and begins to grow in our hearts. The result is a life that is being transformed day by day into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Remember, we are here to help each other on this amazing journey of faith. Let us begin it together on February 17 at 7 p.m., either “in person” or online, as we receive the cross of ashes, a sign of our willingness to be transformed by Christ. Due to Covid-19, the ashes will be placed on a square of material and distributed during the service, or you can come by the church and get your ashes from 12 p.m.—1 p.m. on Ash Wednesday. It is a tough journey we take. Don’t try it alone. View here
January 19, 2021
On January 12, our Board of Stewards met and adopted goals for 2021. They are lofty goals, but things we believe need to happen for us to remain vital as a church and to prepare us to welcome our community “back to church” once we can begin to live in a “post covid” reality. I invite you to look over these goals, which are on page two of this Campanile, and think about specific ways you can help. We welcome any ideas you may have to offer.
I also want to share with you some of the improvements we continue to make to our facilities even during this pandemic. We have a new roof on our education building. Repairs have been made to the heat in the education building and the sanctuary. Joe Little initiated a group called “the fixers” who have been tackling repairs they can handle. They meet every Wednesday morning and invite all interested persons to join them. The facility team hosts monthly work days to clean up around the campus. Thanks to all who have helped keep our church looking good through this difficult time. View here
I called my sister on the first day of 2021 to wish her a Happy New Year. When I asked how they were spending the day, she said they were making resolutions. The new year is our chance to close out the books on 2020 and start fresh in 2021. What about you? How will you use this opportunity? What is that you hope to do or stop doing or change this year?
I challenge each of us to reflect on the promises we made when we joined this church. Let us evaluate how well we have kept those promises and what improvements we might make in 2021. Take a moment to reflect on the ways God has blessed your life. Think of the ways your church family has supported you in difficult times or the ways they have shared in your joy. Can you imagine living through the last year without the support of your church?
We still have challenges ahead, but because of the faithfulness of so many, we know we do not face those challenges alone. As you are making your resolutions for 2021, let one of them be to keep your promise to support your church with your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. View here
December 22, 2020
I love it when Facebook memories pop up. They usually feature my grandchildren and remind me of their younger selves. This week pictures popped up of Piper at our live nativities in years past and I was again in awe of her love for Jesus. She loves pictures of Him. She loves the baby in the manger. She loves the stories about Him. When she was younger, she was so enamored with the baby Jesus that He rarely stayed in the manger. More often He was in her back pack going to school with her or in her toolbox going to work with her or in her Doc McStuffins medical cart making emergency calls with her. Every chance she got at our live nativity in the memory that popped us yesterday, she had the baby out of the manger holding him. It was very sweet then and still is. She does not yet get the spiritual significance of her action. Hopefully, what she lives out in her childhood play will be the foundation of a lifetime of loving Jesus. But even now, she is teaching me. I began to wonder how my days would be different if I literally took Jesus with me everywhere I went. Maybe we should all try taking him from the manger of our nativities each morning and let him influence everything we do and guide our interactions with everyone we meet. My guess is our eyes would be opened to the needs of others and that we would think more before we act. Could the key to the peace and joy and hope and love we desire really be that simple? It is a start. I hope to see you at our Christmas Eve service at 6 p.m. (either in person or virtually.) View here
December 8, 2020
It is hard to believe that there could be someone who doesn’t know anything about Christmas, but imagine with me that you run into such a person just before Christmas. They see all the lights, the shopping, the singing and they wonder, “What is this all about?” What would you tell them? Where do you begin? Would you talk about the decorated Christmas tree? Would you tell them of the tradition of exchanging gifts? Maybe you want to tell them about the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of the Christ Child. Again the question, “Where do I begin?” One way to express the meaning of Christmas is to share that Christmas is the celebration of light coming into the world. There are the multi-colored lights that illuminate houses, the candles that burn in the windows. There are the lights that twinkle in people’s eyes during the season – especially in the eyes of children. The Christmas story in the Bible is full of events that are filled with light – the appearance of angels to the shepherds, the bright star that leads the wise men, and of course, the birth of Jesus, who came to light a world filled with darkness. Christmas also reminds us that there is a light that shines in all of us. Jesus would grow up and later teach us, “You are the light of the world….Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16.) Where do we begin in sharing the true meaning of Christmas? We begin by letting the light of Christ shine through us. View here
November 24, 2020
We begin the Advent season this Sunday, November 29. Things will be different as we continue to find ways to keep our congregants safe during this pandemic, but we have planned a wonderful season of celebration. I hope you will join us in person or online as we hear God’s message of hope, peace, joy and love as it comes to us through the music, the spoken word and the fellowship of believers. This season will have the opportunity to touch the lives of many folks who “check out” church during the Christmas season. Let us welcome them with open hearts and share with them the love of Christ. May the sharing of our lives give them hope. Let’s keep on praying and keep on believing and keep our eyes open to the miracles of God in our midst. I hope to “see” you at some time during the Advent season.
November 10, 2020
Reflecting on these times reminds me that the church is a living organism made up of people with differing skills and opinions and ideas. When we are all working toward the same goal it is great fun and beautiful to watch. Our goal at St. Philip’s United Methodist Church is to “Grow God’s children and share God’s love by seeking, serving and caring for all.” Let’s make sure we are paddling in the same direction and that we are never riding with the brake on. To do that each of us must at all times keep that goal in front of us, assess our own actions in light of it, and work together so we are all moving forward. Sometimes that means we take the lead. At other times we must follow another’s lead. There may be many ways to reach the goal, and covid-19 has changed how we go about it, but we will never get there if we are just going in circles and we will tire out before reaching the goal if we must travel with the brakes on. View here
October 27, 2020
Thanks to all who have helped with our worship set up in October. This Sunday, November 1, we will worship in the sanctuary. We will continue to need help maintaining CDC protocol. So, if you can serve at a check in table or serve as an usher, please let us know. We will celebrate All Saints Sunday on November 1st and we will be remembering those who have transferred to the church eternal in the past year. I hope you will join us as we remember these saints. Lastly, you should have received an estimate of giving card by now. If not, please call the office, and we will send you one. View here
September 29, 2020
It was great to “see” some of you in worship on Sunday. It was a beautiful day to be outside and I look forward to being outside again next Sunday. Remember, if you plan to attend in person, please email us at email@example.com or call the office at 713.666.2175. Hope to see you next Sunday “in person” or “online.”
This Saturday, our pumpkins arrive at 8 a.m.—all 1500 bulk pumpkins and numerous boxes of specialty pumpkins. If you are able to pick up a pumpkin, please come and help us unload.
Not only is October the month of pumpkins, it is also Stewardship season. This year, our theme is “What if…?” What if this year can be extraordinary in terms of our outreach and discipleship? The Covid-19 shutdowns have been difficult, but they have also given us a chance to try new things—new things that can open up new possibilities. It is much easier when I remember that all I have is a gift from God and my giving is my grateful response to God. I guess the question I ask myself as I make my commitment for 2021 is not how much can I afford to give, but does my gift reflect my gratitude for what God has done in my life? How do I know if I am giving enough? Joy is still the best indicator for me. View here
July 21, 2020
Even though we are not having “in person” gatherings yet, the work of the church continues. Thanks to our musicians, worship leaders and technical support people who have worked so hard and used their incredible talents to ensure our online worship is high quality and inspirational. Thanks to Joe Little and helpers who have been cleaning the cross and painting flashing to protect from rust and enhance the appearance of our roof areas. Thanks to Mike White who has painted all the poles supporting the walkway roof and has kept our grounds mowed and looking good. Thanks to Isaias Molina who fixed water leaks and got our prayer garden fountain running again. Thanks to Barbara Kile who was seen pulling weeds around the sanctuary. Thanks to Bill Wilkson for volunteering to teach a Bible Study online. Thanks to Gary and Joyce Wright who get the Campanile ready to mail. We truly have an incredible congregation who truly love this church. View here
June 24, 2020
I have to say, I never imagined myself living in a world such as the one in which we all now live. Never would I have thought schools would be shut down throughout the world, or people all over the world would be wearing masks and working from home. Racism is raising its ugly head and people seem out of control. Things are happening that don’t make any sense to me. Sometimes I feel like I am living in some science fiction movie or a horror film. This past weekend I visited the cemetery where my parents and grandparents are buried, and I found myself wondering out loud what they would think of all this. I think it is “getting to” all of us. I struggle with how to respond to all of this. It is depressing and I find myself longing for a “Word from the Lord.” View here
June 9, 2020
While we did not open the sanctuary fully on June 7, we have begun to invite people to be trained to serve when we do open. On June 7, we had 8 persons come to learn the new protocol for in-person worship. This next week, we will include 10 more. It is our hope these persons we serve as greeters, ushers and screeners when we open fully. These persons are invited based on their readiness to return as indicated on our survey. You can complete the survey by clicking on the link on the homepage of our website. View here
May 27, 2020
We have tentatively set June 7 as the first Sunday to welcome folks back to our sanctuary. We would like input from our congregation on your readiness to return to in-person worship. You can complete a survey by clicking on the link on the homepage of our website: www.spumchou.org. It will help us a lot moving forward if you let us know your thoughts. We will be closely watching covid-19 statistics for our area and our target date might have to change, so watch for emails sharing up to date news. View here
May 12, 2020
Our last Campanile was sent out two months ago. We just have not had anything to report. Covid-19 has pretty much shut everything down. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for this isolation to be over. I am grateful we have the ability to worship online, but I miss seeing you on Sunday mornings. I just wanted to give you an update on some things that have been happening so you know we have not just been idle. View here
We are in uncharted territory these days. COVID-19 has caused us to re-think everything we do. Every cancellation has a ripple effect on our community life. How do we remain faithful and responsible? The decisions we must make are not easy. It goes against everything within me to cancel church activities. At the same time, it seems irresponsible of us to ignore attempts to flatten the curve of the spread of this virus. View here
The 40 days of Lent can be one of the most powerful and awesome times in the Christian year. Imagine a congregation of believers united for a season of spiritual enrichment. Practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting strengthen a believer’s spiritual walk. What if we would give up our lunchtime, and substitute it for a time of prayer, meditation or study. Further, what if we would place the funds we would have normally spent on lunch in a weekly offering? This will serve as a symbolic sacrificial gift, as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for us.