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together November | December 2012

Westbury United Methodist Church

November | December 2012 together /


November | December 2012


on the cover

The assembling of fellow believers in the sanctuary brings opportunity to live into our core values as a church. Read about worship and welcome on page 6.



06 A  genuine welcome

Anticipating new visitors in worship this Christmas, let us grow in our core values and the gift of hospitality



04 C  hristmas makeover

May this be the year we center ourselves on the reason for the season

10 E ternal gifts

What lasting spiritual legacy have your loved ones left for you?


14 O  ur offerings

The precious gift of Christ moves us to a faithful response

03 Introducing the issue 12 Westbury cares 13 BI  M Service of Thanksgiving

What Sweeter

Coffee With the Pastors Family ADVENTure Night PrimeTimers schedule

Ebony Opera Guild concert

16 M  issions & Me for 4th and 5th graders

we’re Listening.

Send your suggestions, corrections and comments to Kelsey Johnson, Director of Communications, at or write to Westbury UMC at 5200 Willowbend Blvd. Houston, TX 77096.

2 / together November | December 2012




15 T he Gift worship series


Contributors Henry and Lydia Ansah,

Ben Ball, Anaya Bonds, Zelma Branch, Toi Goffney, Brenda Hallmark, Tola Hope, DeAndre Johnson, Jana Kincannon, Romonica Malone-Wardley, Pam Meyers, Don Miller, Holly Musemeche, Cindy Parker, Amanda Reid, Elena Reid, Jackie Rundstein, Hannah Terry, Roger Thompson, Lisa Lockhart Walker, Beth Walmus, Tommy Williams, and Sarah Winkel

Editor & Designer Kelsey Johnson

Assistant editors


Cindy Parker and Martha Upton


Kelsey Johnson. Stock images from and Westbury United Methodist Church 5200 Willowbend Blvd. Houston, TX 77096 (713) 723-0175

statement of purpose To create a collaborative publication spotlighting stories of ministry, mission and transformation at Westbury UMC, to be published and distributed every other month.

together R

elationship. Connecting with God and with other people is one of our deepest human needs. To love and be loved, to know and be known, to understand and to be understood, to be in relationship with another is life-giving. But so many are alone.

In his landmark book, Bowling Alone, sociologist Robert Putnam describes American society’s solo journey using the example of bowling leagues. Whereas many people used to be involved in teams and would meet together for friendly competition and enjoy the friendships made, bowling alleys are reporting that now they see more people bowling alone than in groups. It is simply one illustration that as a society we are more densely populated than ever before but people are lonely. We have more sources of connecting with another through social media and other avenues but we are ever more isolated. What is a real and life-giving relationship?

The Advent/Christmas season is about relationship. God’s very self is a relational being—Father, Son and Holy Spirit, interrelated are those three expressions of the Divine. It is relationship that God desired and still desires and so He becomes flesh. The Son, the Word that was present at the beginning of creation, is birthed into the world to a teenage mother and a wary father. Mary and Joseph’s faithful relationship to God and each other became a gift that the whole world would soon receive: a Savior born for people of every culture. Jesus’ birth, a gift of grace, His life in relationship with His disciples and others showed us what life together can really be. God’s gift to us in Jesus transforms our lives. Those who have committed to a life-long relationship with Jesus Christ are now joyfully accountable to his teachings. We are invited into a community to live out this life, and we are transformed. The gift of relationship with God in Jesus Christ is all of this and much more. Westbury UMC’s core values help us. When I first arrived two years ago and began to listen to what you loved most about life at Westbury you universally named these: multicultural inclusiveness, grace, accountability, transformation and community. You will read in this issue (see page 6) how we are learning to be ones who put inclusive, gracious, transforming, accountable, communal relationships first. We do this in worship, study, prayer, service, in every relationship with friend and stranger alike. We do so because in Christ, God has done this with us. In Christ we have been offered a life-giving relationship that is all of these things. It is the greatest gift we’ve been given. Whether it’s around the Thanksgiving table in November or in the Advent/Christmas season, we give thanks to God for the gift of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God.” – I John 4:7 (MSG)

Rev. Tommy Williams Senior Pastor November | December 2012 together /




Recapturing Christmas takes intentionality. And to know how to start is often easier when we know what changes our friends are making.


ur intentions are good. We make an effort to keep the holiday season simple, stress-free and spiritual. Yet, year after year, our calendars end up cluttered and the whole experience of Christmas falls short of our expectations. So, maybe it’s finally time for a makeover.

traditions by lisa Lockhart Walker

I am unable to recall a time on a Christmas Eve that our family has not gathered at my parents’ home with the kids, many grandchildren and close friends, having eggnog, hot chocolate and singing carols, giving meaning to Christmas, I believe, for us all. At home and not unfamiliar to most, on Christmas morning we pause and reflect to give thanks, before ripping into the gifts, acknowledging that it is because HE lives, that we are allowed to enjoy the pleasures of the season. Truly, the seasonal traditions at Westbury have become a part of what we do and enjoy especially in celebration of the birth of Christ. Year round, however, is when the true meaning of Christmas and traditions begin, in my mind. The simple act of sharing family devotionals, enacting a parable and simply being on purpose about God’s teachings at home have become a part of that tradition.

How will this Christmas

be different?

[1] Worship Fully [2] Spend Less [3] Give More

Once mentally burdened by the thought of the responsibility of that task, I’ve concluded that even in our meek, busy household of three very active school-aged children, two fulltime working parents, that it is possible to live in a pattern of tradition. The from tradition of giving, kindness, honor, love and respect. Instilling the tradition of patterning a daily life in the mindset of our children, of who He wants us to be and what each our responsibility is towards that vein was once a seemingly insurmountable task. I have come to embrace that the gesture of a tradition surely does not have to be grand. When remiss, as we live in imperfection, it’s those around us that have a way of reminding us of what really matters… it is at that time I am able to reflect and remain encouraged.

[4] Love All

Gifts by Romonica Malone-Wardley


“We can easily go into Santa overload and forget to connect our children to the excitement of Jesus’ coming. In our home, we try to really keep Jesus at the center of our celebration and tell the story with anticipation and wonder.” –R. DeAndre Johnson

Giving thoughtful Christmas gifts to family and friends is part of how we celebrate the birth of our Savior. These gifts remind us of the priceless gift of an eternal and transformed life through God’s son, Jesus Christ. When we shop conscientiously, not only can our gifts be used to warm the hearts of those we love but they can improve the lives of determined farmers and artisans all over the world. Here are a few of my favorites for fair-trade gifts:


What to buy? Authentic décor, handmade dishware and baskets, jewelry, scarves and bags. Where to Buy? Online only at


Poinsettias will decorate the Sanctuary for Christmas. The plants,

sold for $10 each, will be available to take home after worship on Sunday, December 16, or can be shared with a homebound member at your request. Pick up an order form in the church office, and place your order no later than Monday, December 10, 2012.

“On Christmas my family has some fun traditions. One of them is that my sister Amanda and I only get three presents each from Mom and Dad, the same way baby Jesus got three presents from the wise men. Another tradition is that we sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus.” –Elena Reid, 5th grader


“I always love the candlelight service on Christmas Eve. It’s something that I try not to miss for the world because I just love that time. Both of my brothers usually come and it’s a big deal.” –Holly Musemeche

Equal Exchange

What to buy? Organic coffee, tea, chocolate, nuts, sugar and snacks from farmers all over the world, including the U.S. (Westbury UMC’s Café brews their great coffee!) Where to Buy? Select stores and online at www.equalexchange. coop/umcor

The Community Cloth

What to buy? Handmade, indigenous arts and crafts like woven bags, knitted scarves, embroidered linens, clothing and more. Where to Buy? Locally at the The Methodist Hospital Gift Shop (6565 Fannin St), One Green Street (3423 White Oak Dr), or Brazos Bookstore (2421 Bissonnet St)

Ten Thousand Villages

What to buy? Unique, handmade gifts including baskets, jewelry, crafts and ornaments from international artisans. Where to Buy? Locally in Rice Village (2424 Rice Blvd) or online at www.

November | December 2012 together /



compiled by Kelsey Johnson and Hannah Terry

A genuine welcome Newcomers often worship in higher numbers throughout the christmas season. AS We anticipate our celebrations together, westbury umc wants to offer the gifts of hospitality and Christian love to everyone—member and visitor alike!


erhaps it’s the longing for something more. The nostalgia from holidays gone by with familiar carols and candlelight. The invitation of friend or family. The determination to do things differently in the upcoming new year. Whatever motivates visitors to cross the threshold of our church and come to worship, especially during the Christmas season, we want to be fully ready to greet and offer grace to them. Drawing from how we define the identity of Westbury UMC through our core values, we asked current members what these values mean to them, all within the context of worship.

The Value of Community Measure of Grace Through receiving the bread and cup, we not only experience God’s grace, but share in a community-building act of worship. Pictured here holding the cup is Rev. John Thornburg, who led worship on World Communion Sunday, and Johari Byaale and her daughters, who are originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and who faithfully worship at Westbury UMC.

Tola Hope and her husband, Chinedu, joined the church this summer. Her older son, Kristophe, attends confirmation classes and youth activities, and her younger son, Kene, was recently baptized here. “Community definitely resonates with me,” says Tola. “Community is an extension of family, usually because of being in close proximity to others. And just like individuals in a family can be quite different, a community can encompass what appears to be very diverse set of people.” As a new member of the community here at Westbury UMC, Tola appreciates worshiping in a welcoming, friendly environment. She points to the interactions before, during and after worship as being particularly community-forming, “whether it’s shaking a mother’s hand during the greeting and talking briefly about how our children are doing, chatting with a new church-goer who is asking questions about the church, singing a new song with the whole congregation or talking with a church friend before or after service.” For Tola, one of the ways Westbury lives out the value of community is through the depth of the pastoral staff’s connection with the congregation. “Our pastors feel comfortable sharing a bit about their family lives and even their struggles. This confirms for me that they are part of the church, not above the church, which is the strongest sense of community I feel here all the time!”

6 / together November | December 2012

Just like individuals in a family can be quite different, a community can encompass what appears to be a very diverse set of people. –Tola Hope

It’s the fellowship of other Christians that reminds folks like Don Miller of God’s grace. “Having recently been in the hospital for a long stay, I had time to really experience Westbury UMC’s value of grace in action,” Don shares.

“We often talk about God’s gift of grace,” Toi says. “Grace is that undeserved favor and love that God gives so freely to us.” “For years I was constantly amazed by the love, and welcoming spirit of the Westbury congregation. I was quite excited with the church’s vision statement, “To be a church for all people…with more than enough love to go around,” as this embraced the very culture I was taught.”

“I witnessed grace firsthand through our I witnessed church famgrace firsthand ily’s genuine through our concern not To Toi, the vision only for me but church family’s statement urges genuine concern. for [my wife] us on in providing –Don Miller Louise, as well. a loving environThanks be to ment for all people God for the to continue to grow in the pastors, staff, church and grace of Christ. family members’ visits, prayers, cards, flowers, The Value of reading materials, and even Accountability assisting in feeding me durAs a part of a grace-filled ing a very difficult time.” community, what does it While Don was hospitalized, he made a point of passing God’s grace on to the hospital doctors, nurses, physical therapists and the room cleaning staff. “I got better acquainted with each employee’s shift and I started thanking them for their part in carrying out the Lord’s work each day.” Just as Don sees grace in the loving care he received from the Westbury family, Toi Goffney also credits expressions of love as moving her on to know God’s grace.

mean to be accountable in worship? “It’s about meeting with God and joining all together,” says Brenda Hallmark, who believes that accountability begins with a deep sense of connectedness. “It’s about God’s connection with each person and each person’s connection with one another.” “Accountability [means] that I enter [worship and life in community] with my heart in the right place… my body, my mind, and my

Grace is that undeserved favor and love that God gives so freely to us. –Toi Goffney


What are the core of Westbury UMC?


A: Community, grace, accountability, multicultural inclusiveness and transformation

The Value of Grace

heart—my whole self—and let myself be open to God speaking from whatever source. Worship isn’t just about me and how it makes me feel, and honestly whether or not I’m comfortable. Worship is about God. It’s about me worshipping him and making myself wholly present to God.” Brenda recalls a profound experience of accountability at Westbury UMC. “The first Sunday school class we visited, one of the couples invited us over for coffee and cake in the afternoon—it was Alta and Marvin Hamilton.” It was natural for Brenda, that accountability in worship would flow into worshippers’ homes—in the practice and gift of hospitality. “Home hospitality— there’s such beauty in that.” It’s also important to truly relate to visitors in worship. “We need to be aware of who’s around us and not be

so into ourselves. Many of us we forget what it’s like to be new––how it feels to not be very sure that you belong or are welcomed.” Brenda recalls the friendly smiles and warm welcome she and Joe received when they were new to Westbury. Yet she laments that after awhile, the friendliness and welcome fell away—it seemed superficial. She believes we need “faithfulness in pursuing relationships.” What would it look like to genuinely get to know somebody and allow ourselves to be available in this busy world with a lot of things calling us? For our growth in accountability, Brenda reminds us to imitate Jesus and truly see each other. “Remember, Jesus was a people person. He invited himself into people’s homes. ‘I’d like to spend time with you. I want to get November | December 2012 together /


to know you— you’re interesting to me. I want to be available. I care.’ I think that’s part of our call. That we genuinely see each other.”

inclusivess was during Pentecost when several church members simultaneously read scripture in their native languages.

The Value of Multicultural Inclusiveness

And within the worshipping life of Westbury, really every Sunday brings an opportunity to glimpse God’s kingdom.

With the spiritual unity of a congregation who prays and sings together, Westbury UMC also appreciates its multicultural identity.

It means so much to have people asking where you’ve been—for them to notice. It’s a blessing to know that you count. That you matter as a part of the body.

“I love the feeling that our congregation, in some small way, mirrors the entire body of Christ world–Brenda Hallmark wide,” says Beth Walmus.

“We have witnessed the increasing cultural diversity of the congregation,” share longtime church members, Henry and Lydia Ansah.

“We see inclusiveness of those different cultures being often demonstrated in the various worship service formats and the incorporation of non-English songs and verses of songs on a routine basis.”

“When we were members of churches in less diverse cities, I remember how special World Communion Sunday always was to me because I would feel supernaturally connected to all the other Christians around the world. But I feel that way every Sunday at Westbury!”

For Henry and Lydia, perhaps the most vivid example of this multicultural

For this reason and more, the Walmus family chose Westbury as their church

We have witnessed the increasing cultural diversity of the congregation. –Lydia and Henry Ansah 8 / together November | December 2012

Growing in cultural sensitivity

When we look around the assembly in worship, it’s easy to assume that since we look diverse, we must have mastered cross-cultural relationships. This is an area we can all grow in as we show the broad love of God to each of our fellow worshippers.

 Take care with your language. Many of us unintentionally injure each other with ill-chosen words. Whether it’s an offensive label or unholy conversation, let us commit to “taming the tongue.” Just as James 3:9 points out, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.”

 Let me see your eyes. If you meet someone who is still learning English and you need to speak through an interpreter, continue to make eye contact with and address that person. It honors his or her dignity. As much as possible, follow this general rule of respectful communication with everyone—even a child, an elderly person who seems to be hard of hearing, or someone who appears to have a disability.

Welcoming tips Circle of 10: Greet anyone, member or guest, who comes within 10 feet of you. Rule of Three: Resist talking to other members for the first three minutes after the service. Talk only to those you don’t know. It takes guests about three minutes to exit the church after worship, so let’s make sure someone has made contact with them before they leave. Don’t know what to say to a guest? Here are a few conversation starters: 1. Offer a friendly handshake and say, “Hello. My name is _____________, and you are… ?” 2. Wait for a response and repeat the person’s name so you make sure that you get it right and so you can more easily remember it. 3. If you think you know the face but can’t recall the name, try this approach: “Hello, I’m _____________. I believe I’ve seen you here before but I don’t know that we’ve had the opportunity to meet. What is your name?” 4. Don’t be embarrassed if you’re greeting a member and don’t know that person’s name—or be offended if someone doesn’t remember yours. We need to offer grace to one another, just as we would to new people. © 2010 United Methodist Communications

I love the feeling that our congregation, in some small way, mirrors the entire body of Christ worldwide. –Beth Walmus

home three years ago. “As a cultural anthropology major who has lived and worked overseas, this core value of multicultural inclusiveness is extremely important to me.” Westbury fosters this value by making room at the table for all of God’s children and respecting the differences that truly make us the body of Christ.

The Value of Transformation Cindy Parker, a committed young adult in the church, describes the value of transformation as meaningful and life-altering. “I often feel the Spirit through the music. When you look around and see your brothers and sisters rejoicing and praising God in such an outward expres-

never the same At left, Desiree Liggan kneels at the altar to pause for prayer. As a worshipping body, we recognize that time for confession and surrender to God helps us to live accountable and transformed lives within this community of faith.

sion, you begin to feel worship in a new way.” For Cindy, one of the most transforming parts of worship is found in the ritual of communion. “To see everyone going up to the altar as individuals and taking and eating of the communion elements, it can be a true transformation and a sense of oneness as the body of Christ. Especially at Westbury when you are kneeling next to someone who may be of a different race or culture, yet,

in that moment, you are together as one through the sacrament.” Transformation isn’t always an easy process. It can expose some of our weak areas as we “move on to perfection” (Hebrews 6). Cindy acknowledges that vulnerability is a large part of transformation and growth in the Christian life.

You look around and see your brothers and sisters rejoicing and praising God. –Cindy Parker

“Letting down your guard and allowing yourself the opportunity to welcome in the Holy Spirit can be a very vulnerable place but a whole place, as well.”

November | December 2012 together /


compiled by Martha Upton and Kelsey Johnson

What do you treasure about the life and witness of saints who have gone home to glory? here are some of your stories and photos as we remember the people of faith who have impacted our spiritual heritage.


is the season for meals shared with family and friends. With as much joy as this brings us, in our gatherings we often have a chair at the table left empty by a cherished one who has passed away. It can make the holidays a bittersweet time as we linger over memories of years past and experience again an aching grief for the company of those closest to our hearts. In these times, we are comforted in the remembrance of their lives and how our own lives have been enriched by many who once were a part of Westbury UMC. Several of our members share thoughts about the eternal gifts that they hold dear because of their departed loved one’s life and witness.

Faith in God enabled him to live triumphantly Leo Rundstein, Jr., born in Denver, CO, and raised in Ponca City, OK, came to Houston in 1947 to attend Rice Institute after serving two years in the U.S. Army. From 1952, when he was baptized at First Methodist Church in Houston, until his death nearly 50 years later, Leo learned and grew and worked at becoming a better Christian. A faithful and active member of Westbury UMC, he served as Sunday school teacher, church treasurer, board member, construction supervisor, and—above all—choir member.

Leo Rundstein Jr 1927–2003

In his profession as a registered architect and structural engineer, Leo had the opportunity to participate in many Houston landmarks, including the NASA complex, the Domed Stadium, and the Galleria complex.

Leo is survived by his family: Jackie, his wife of 50 years, and his three children and six grandchildren. Our conversations toward the end of his life always recalled the gratitude we had that our children had grown into such fine adults and had such loving relations with each other and with us. Leo believed that he was a fortunate man. His faith in God enabled him to live triumphantly despite his serious health problems. He modeled the Christian man for his children and for all the people with whom he lived, worked, played, and worshipped. – Jackie Rundstein

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I can hear his voice singing ‘Stille Nacht’ As we approach All Saints’ Day (remembering loved ones and others who no longer are among us on earth) and the Advent season (preparing our hearts and minds to remember Jesus Christ’s birth), I am recalling my dear husband, Kermit, and the wonderful impact he had on my life. Our life together was an amazing adventure in many ways and certainly never boring. Kermit enjoyed singing, although he’d never had any formal training. He had a rich bass voice, which he enjoyed using. He was always busy, and his motto must have been, “A man works from sun to sun,” which he did with vigor. I must say that I 1914–2005 never heard him finish that statement, and he was most gracious with his compliments on my cooking.

Kermit Winkel

One of the things that always comes to mind around this time of year is Kermit singing “Stille Nacht” (Silent Night) in German. His father was of German descent and Kermit enjoyed using that language. When I remember the richness of his tone and the heartfelt way he sang that beloved Christmas carol, I am flooded with memories of the many times he sang it for family gatherings and in the Christmas Eve services at church. Many have more beautiful voices and much better vocal technique. However, I don’t think I could find anyone who sang “Stille Nacht” with more sincerity. It gave Kermit great joy use his voice and sing “to the glory of God.” As he worked in his shop, doing the things that brought him great pride and happiness, he would sing or hum. As we approach the seasons of remembering the “saints,” and preparing our hearts for celebrating God’s greatest gift, I remember my loved ones, especially Kermit. And when I’m very quiet, I can hear his rich bass voice singing in German, “Stille Nacht.” – Sarah Winkel

From my arms to God’s God granted me the privilege of caring for my mother, Mrs. Lucendia White, for the last ten-and-a-half years. When she first came to live with me and my husband, Ron, in 2002, my prayer was that God would grant me good health and the wherewithal to provide my mother with the best possible care 1925–2012 until she drew her last breath. Little did I know that God would literally give me that opportunity. As Mother’s time grew near and her breathing became shallow, I crawled into bed with her and sang hymns to her. One particular hymn that I sang over and over was “No Never Alone.” Her eyes were open, and I wanted her to know that I was there and she was not alone. She drew her last breath just before 2:00 am on Tuesday morning, September 18, 2012. What a blessing it was for me to be with her. One of my friends put it like this: “She went from your arms to God’s.” Thank you to the Westbury UMC family for the cards, calls, food, and kind words. We are grateful.

Lucendia White

– Zelma White Branch

Prayer for the Saints and Faithful Departed O God of both the living and the dead, we praise your holy name for all your servants who have faithfully lived and died. We thank you for the sacred ties that bind us to those unseen who encompass us as a cloud of witnesses. We pray that, encouraged by their example and strengthened by their fellowship, we may be diligent followers and that nothing will be able to separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. The United Methodist Book of Worship ©1992 November | December 2012 together /



We thank God each day for life lessons


It is hard to believe that it has been six years since you have passed away. We, your family, still miss and love you dearly. Since the time of your passing, we have come together as one to grow and develop from the many teachings you imparted to us during your lifetime. The grace of God gifted you with the unique ability to have foresight in planning ahead and preparing the way for our future. Through your love of God and blessings from above, we have matured in wisdom and patience that has allowed us to move forward with your smile and vision in our hearts.

In Memory

of Lucendia White from Mary Lou McCants

Finnell Watson 1952–2006

As we continue on with our lives, we will always keep you very dear to our hearts and thank God each day for the many life lessons you challenged us with through your fine example as husband and father. May we use the teachings of your heart from God to better the lives of others.

– Pam (Watson) Meyers, Stephanie and Elliott Watson

All Saints’ Sunday on November 11 On Sunday, November 11, in worship we will celebrate the lives of loved ones who have joined the great company of heaven. The Sanctuary Choir and Agape Youth Choir, together with orchestra, will present Mass in G by Franz Schubert and “Cantique de Jean Racine” by Gabriel Fauré as a part of our celebration. The Children’s Choir will also join in the celebration by singing “Rejoice in the Lord” by Jane Lindner. You are invited to submit the names of those whom you will be remembering to the church office to be printed in the order of worship that Sunday. The deadline for names is Monday, November 5.

Westbury connections Helen Ball joined Westbury UMC in 1959, becoming its 1,000th member, and immediately became involved in the music program as a choir member. Not long after, she became Westbury’s organist and served for over 12 years. Helen also left her imprint on the Westbury community through her 14 years of teaching 4th grade at Anderson Elementary School. She is survived by her husband, two daughters, and five grandchildren.

of Tom Strait from Marjorie Duval, Shantel Geeslin (on behalf of the Fiscal Management Division at the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts), Dr. Norbert Ohlendorf, and anonymous

In Honor

of Nina Crawley and Marjorie Duvall from anonymous


Dean Baldwin Nichols (10/01/12) Parents: Neil and Shel Nichols. Grandparents: Bobby and Sevie Sue Dean


Helen Jean Ball 1927 –2007

Jan Ball came with her family to Houston and 1951 –2002 Westbury Methodist in 1959. She graduated from Kolter Elementary, Johnston Junior High, and Westbury High. A bright student and an accomplished dancer, she received BA and MA degrees from Sam Houston State.

Jan Ball Redd

She married her high school sweetheart, Tom Redd, at Westbury Methodist on June 23, 1973; the wedding reception was held in the old Fellowship Hall. Jan and Tom shared 29 ½ years of marriage before her death parted them. She is survived by her husband, two children, her father, and her two sisters. – Ben Ball

Charlene Chatfield (08/27/12) Lucendia White (09/18/12) Norma Larks (09/20/12) Lorraine Sindelar, mother of Linda Tollefson (10/01/12) Pat Hale, brother-in-law of Betty Phelps (10/03/12) Tom Strait (10/15/12)


Kenechukwu Amankwe, son of Chinedu Amankwe and Tola Hope (09/09/12)

New Members

Rachel Hodge (09/23/12) Kwabena Agyei and Angelina Kwarting with sons, Kwabena and Kofi (09/23/12) David and Darrin Fisher with daughter, Brittni (10/28/12)

Braes Interfaith Service of Thanksgiving On Sunday, November 18, at 4:00 pm, Willow Meadows Baptist Church will host the annual Braes Interfaith Ministries Service of Thanksgiving. Worship will be led by members of the participating BIM congregations, including Willow Meadows Baptist, Grace Episcopal, Congregation Beth Israel, Bethany UMC, Salem Lutheran, St. John’s Presbyterian, Southwest Central Church of Christ, Westbury Baptist and Westbury UMC. The music will be offered by the combined choirs of the participating churches, as well as a special combined youth chorus. The Rev. Gena Davis of Grace Episcopal Church will be preaching. With cooperative community outreach programs, Braes Interfaith Ministries has been serving the needs of people in southwest Houston for over 25 years.


with thePastors Are you new to Westbury UMC? Following worship on Sunday, November 11, or Sunday, December 9, you are invited to gather in our Café for coffee, snacks and an opportunity for you to learn more about Westbury UMC!

Family ADVENTure Night Sunday, December 2, 5:00–7:00 pm Bring the whole family to ADVENTure Night. Make a decoration for your Christmas tree, play Wii games, eat popcorn and drink hot cocoa! Don’t miss this chance for your family to begin (or continue) a Westbury UMC CHRISTmas tradition.

PrimeTimers Senior adults (50+) will meet on Monday, Nov. 19, with harpist, Mary Jane Sinclair, performing in the Parlor. On Monday, Dec. 17, entertainment will be provided in Humphrey Hall by the Westbury Day School singers and Santa Claus, followed by the Parker Elementary Strings. PrimeTimers meet for a business meeting at 11:00 am, potluck lunch at 11:30 am and entertainment at noon. Please bring a dish to share for the lunch. Membership dues are just $5/year.

November | December 2012 together /


Our offerings by tommy Williams


he gift of Jesus Christ stirs the human heart to response. How can I give back and bless others— responding faithfully to God in ways that show my gratitude for this gift of the Savior? We worship, we serve, we give… As we approach the Advent/Christmas season and close the year 2012, I hope you will join me in praying about your financial giving in response to God’s greatest gift. This year has seen the beginning of new ministries like our Fondren Apartment Ministry. And it has seen the continuation of countless other ministries that are making followers of Jesus Christ who transform the community and the world through God’s love. That is our mission as a church. There are several ways we can respond to God and be a part of this mission today. First, we stop to give thanks for what was and what is. We give thanks for the sacred work done together among every age and background of people. We give thanks for the generosity many of you showed through the apartment ministry I mentioned. Through the gifts of many, God provided $40,000 toward this ministry outside of the budget. We praise God for another $30,000 that is pledged for next year, outside the budget, through the generous support of individuals and the local annual conference of the United Methodist Church. That’s just one significant celebration among many that is cause for giving thanks. Overall general giving for the year 2012, not including designated gifts totals just over $607,000. We praise God for those gifts! Largely because of some facility needs that we didn’t wholly anticipate, our expenses have totaled almost $656,000. Will you pray about giving over and above your regular giving during this closing time of the year? This will also help us to complete our commitment to support cooperative missions around the community and world through the United Methodist Church. We know these as apportionments. It is our commitment to pay $81,000. We have paid just over $43,000 to date.

The gift of Jesus Christ in this and all seasons moves us to response.

Lastly, join me in prayer even now about how you will commit to support God’s mission in the new year 2013 through Westbury United Methodist Church. God has done some beautiful work through this church over the years. In the coming months, we’ll be preparing to discern together about a capital initiative. Our prayer will be around how we can give thanks for the gift of this facility and reinvest in it for the future of God’s mission. We have been given so much, friends. The gift of Jesus Christ in this and all seasons moves us to response. How might God’s gift inspire you today?

Immediate repairs Numerous plumbing and A/C emergencies put the church over its budget by about $50,000 for 2012.

14 / together November | December 2012

Short-term loan Approved by the Church Council in October 2012 for $100,000, the loan will cover urgent repairs, address accessibility issues (like restriping handicap parking spaces and updating signage), and enable the hiring of architectural professionals for facility improvements.

Worship and discipleship Our congregation’s vitality and depth of discipleship are reflected in worshipping an average of 309, with Sunday school attendance at 200 (Jan-Sept 2012). Small group participation (e.g., Disciple I and short-term book and Bible studies) has grown 25% from 2011 up to 250 in 2012.

Advent* Sunday, December 2 @ 10:45 am The Gift Is Near Sunday, December 9 @ 10:45 am Preparing for the Gift (handbells in worship) Sunday, December 16 @ 10:45 am Expecting the Gift Sunday, December 23 @ 10:45 am The Joy of the Gift (youth band in worship)


Monday, December 24 @ 5:00 pm Christmas Eve (candlelight lessons and carols with communion; family-friendly) Monday, December 24 @ 8:00 pm Christmas Eve (candlelight lessons and carols with communion; combined choirs and special music) Sunday, December 30 @ 10:45 am Because of the Gift *Children’s Choir will sing each Sunday in Advent


What Sweeter Music


Sunday, December 9 @ 4:00 pm Westbury UMC presents the Houston Ebony Opera Guild in concert for an evening of Christmas carols from the African diaspora and beyond. The performance will include classic selections from African-American spirituals, European carols and new works from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Haiti and South Africa. A holiday reception will follow in Humphrey Hall. This concert is free and open to the public. November | December 2012 together /


Missions & Me

by jana kincannon

M&M campers get a “first Taste” of working unselfishly for other people.


&M (Missions & Me)—it’s a way fun mission experience at Westbury UMC for 4th and 5th graders. This program is modeled after the mission projects of UM ARMY for high school students, which has consistently produced life-changing experiences for its participants since 1979. Campers will arrive at 9:00 am on Thursday, December 27, and will go home at 6:00 pm on Friday, December 28. In between fun games, mission work will be done inside the church building. The kids will tackle minor repairs, cleaning, organizing and more. Many campers are sure to look forward to going off campus for a “mystery trip” on Thursday night. The campers will also take part in hands-on worship on Thursday night and then “present” the same worship for their parents to experience when they arrive for pick-up on Friday. The fee is $35, which covers four meals, snacks and Thursday night’s off-site entertainment. Please contact Jana Kincannon at for further information or to register your camper.

what’s your favorite part about M&M?

“The mystery trip!” –Anaya Bonds and Amanda Reid

United Methodist Church


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Main Office: 713-723-0175 United Methodist Church


5200 Willowbend Blvd. Houston, Texas 77096-5298

United Methodist Church

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Nov/Dec 2012 Together Magazine  

A collaborative publication spotlighting stories of ministry, mission and transformation at Westbury UMC, to be published and distributed ev...

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