Dear Members and Friends of Heritage,
Below is the annual report of our church as written by your 2017 Session elders. Please read it carefully – and give thanks – for all the excellent work that was done with your help and by our church. Let us know of any suggestions or comments you might have to help us improve. Thank you for supporting our church!
Yours in Christ’s joyful service!
Rev. Mark Plunkett, Pastor
REPORT OF CLERK TO THE SESSION: Sue Crawford, Clerk
In 2017, the Session of Heritage Presbyterian Church met for twelve stated meetings and three called meetings. Two congregational meetings were held for the following purposes:
- to approve Rev. Mark Plunkett’s terms of call and to receive the annual report of the Session committees,
- to elect new church officers and 2018 congregation members of the Nominating Committee.
A “town hall” style meeting was held in March to discuss the situation regarding construction of our new church home, and the new “Shovel Fund” fundraiser that was begun that day.
At the end of 2017, active church membership totaled 75 members. This represents a net loss of two members from 2016. Two members passed into the loving arms of our Savior. On December 31, 2017, our church membership consisted of the following:
SEX Female: 50 Male: 25
Over 65: 40
During 2017, no weddings or baptisms were performed at the church’s worship center. However, Rev. Plunkett did baptize the daughter of two old friends at a special worship service in November that was held at Spring Branch Presbyterian Church. He also officiated at three weddings, including the one in Austin for his own daughter, Megan Plunkett Gino.
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S WORD: WORSHIP COMMITTEE
Elder Marguerite Lapetina
“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Make; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” Psalm 95:6-9
We experienced another blessed year of worship in 2017 – our fifth year at the Heritage Lodge in Town Lake. Highlights of our year follow:
Nancy Kissinger and Leticia Lima have done a wonderful job along with our choir and Young Music Ministers in leading music for our services this year. We also enjoyed several guest musicians. Mark has continued our fifth Sunday tradition of trying to “Stump the Choir.” Leticia provided our music during July as the choir had its usual summer sabbatical.
Our relationship with Sundance Memory Center has grown tremendously this year. We began by holding our Officers retreat there in January, we held our Sunday service there in February, and we held our Stations of the Cross service there on Good Friday. They invited us to begin an informal “Worship Time” with them which started in July at 8:30 before Sunday School.
We had the special blessing of hosting New Hope PC on the Sunday they were displaced by Hurricane Harvey. We continue to support them with prayer and friendship as they rebuild.
The Young Music Ministers program, funded for the fourth year by a Vision Initiative Grant from the Presbytery, has continued to enhance our worship so much. We had four singers joining our choir for the Spring semester and three for the Fall. We also funded six guest musicians.
We had 56 worship services this year including Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Christmas Eve. We had guest speakers on six Sundays during the year; Rev. Deborah Cooper, Charlotte Kibler, Rev. Amy Klinkowsky, Rev. Rose Niles, Rev. Kristen Galle (who “swapped pulpits” with Pastor Mark), and Cuquis Robledo, who spoke at our annual Youth Sunday. So, 50 of our services were led by our wonderful pastor, Rev. Mark Plunkett.
Our congregation continued the tradition of purchasing lilies for Easter and poinsettias for Christmas in memory or honor of their families. We continue to purchase these flowers from the Brookwood, a faith-based community for functionally disabled adults in Brookshire.
Memorable services throughout the year were:
- Stations of the Cross at Sundance, which was greatly enhanced as each station had a canvas cross painted several of our ladies
- Fourth of July service, with patriotic hymns
- World Communion Sunday on October 1st
- Special remembrances for our troops on Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day Sundays
- Trinity Sunday with three liturgists representing the Holy Trinity
- Youth Sunday
- Friends and Family Sunday and Pancake Breakfast to begin Advent
- Our Choir Cantata – Night of the Father’s Love
- Our traditional Candlelight Christmas Eve evening service.
Through “brainstorming” efforts, we have implemented a few changes to our worship services such as: corporate prayer time before Sunday school, Sunday school for our children after the Children sermon at least twice a month, utilizing some of our younger congregation to lead in worship as liturgists, an acolyte program, the idea of developing a “three deep” mentality in our elder program, casual Sundays during the summer, and more use of graphics and videos.
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S WORD: CHRISTIAN EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Elder Ruth Kerr
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Teaching and learning are the primary goals of our committee. We are charged with providing educational opportunities for all God’s children. In our current facilities we sponsor two adult Sunday School classes each week. One meets in the Lodge library and is taught by Jim Lower. Last year these students studied the New Testament books of Acts and Romans, examining the issues surrounding the early Christian church. The other class, “Saints Under Construction”, studied the common lectionary. It meets in the Lodge living room and is taught by Ruth Kerr. Each Sunday, four prescribed lessons are read and discussed with attention given to a common theme. Students found study of these lessons usually gave them a preview into the passages chosen by the pastor for his sermon during worship. This weekly sermon by our pastor Rev. Mark Plunkett is our primary source of biblical education each week.
Beginning in September, our committee began a time of study for children on the second and fourth Sundays during part of worship. Katie McMillen serves as teacher for this ungraded group of boys and girls. As our numbers grow and as space allows this program will grow and will require additional teachers. Confidently, we press on towards a time when our building will provide space for a growing number of classes for all ages.
Our committee oversees a nursery staffed by Elizabeth Curiel. They meet in the arts and crafts room at the Heritage Lodge during Sunday services.
Every Tuesday morning, a ladies Bible study meets in the church office. It is taught by Mrs. Kay Cronk from St. Thomas Presbyterian Church. Currently we are studying the gospel of Matthew. The group serves as an opportunity to learn as well as pray for local and worldwide concerns. This serves as a very nurturing support group for the attendees.
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S PEOPLE: FELLOWSHIP & HOSPITALITY COMMITTEE
Elder Angeline Martin
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10
Fellowship will challenge us, encourage us, help us stay accountable, and it is showing obedience to God and his word.
Hospitality is an action of love shown to those we love and those we do not love. It is contagious and warms the hearts of those it touches. God calls us to it and He deserves our all.
Below are the various activities that our committee led in 2017:
- Survey was sent out requesting feedback for 2017 interests for Fellowship activities.
- Brown’s Baby Shower – Cake, punch and decorations provided following worship
- Valentines treats were provided for worship on February 12th.
- Survey results were reviewed. Lots of interest in painting, bunco, attending baseball games and learning to crochet. Plan to schedule these activities during the year.
- New Member Dinner – March 25th @ McDonalds home
- Wedding Shower for JD and Savanah Mack – March 26th following worship. Cake, punch and decorations were provided.
- Painting Party – April 1st @ Painting with a Twist in Cypress. Crosses were painted and displayed during worship on Easter Sunday and used during Stations of the Cross service on Good Friday.
- Palm Sunday Pancake Breakfast – April 9th Pancakes, sausage and juice were provided.
- Mother’s Day, May 14 – A small gift was given to all the HPC mothers following worship. Jodie purchased books to give to all the ladies and men on their special day: 45 for the women, 25 for the men. Committee members brought treats both days.
- Father’s Day, June 18 – A small gift was given to all the HPC fathers following worship.
- Learn to crochet – June 20th @ Martin’s house
- Christmas in July Pot luck – July 30th following worship. Christmas jars were provided and decorated by God’s People. Juice, paper products and decorations were provided.
- Bunco – July 13th @ McDonalds Trophies were donated by Katie McMillen and the Martins decorated 4 travelling trophies for the Bunco group.
August – no activities
- End of Summer Luncheon – September 10th – CANCELLED due to Hurricane Harvey
- Bunco – September 21 @ Darlene Unruh’s home (8 in attendance) Trophies awarded.
- Youth Sunday – October 22. Committee members brought cookies/treats and Jodie made punch.
- Advent Painting party – November 11 @ Rustic Brush. (10 in attendance) Nativity scenes were painted on pallets, which were displayed during 1st Sunday of Advent service.
- Bunco – November 9th @ Ruth Kerr’s home. (10 in attendance) Trophies awarded.
- Advent Potluck Breakfast – December 3. The committee provided coffee and juice, and the congregation was asked to bring their favorite breakfast items. This was also the day when we collected any Christmas jars people wanted to go to the Deacons’ Fund or to families at Postma.
- Ladies Holiday Luncheon – December 9th, 11:00 am @ French Quarter (20 in attendance) A “white elephant” style gift exchange occurred.
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S PEOPLE: MISSION & OUTREACH COMMITTEE
Elder Ann Peterson
“You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy.” Psalm 65:11-12
Just as God shares his abundance with the world, so he calls on us to share joyfully with those in need. Although Heritage is modest in size, we are Mighty in Mission! It has been a pleasure over the past several years to see how our congregation has grown in faith as expressed through our various mission efforts. Across all our programs, giving has risen steadily as our family of faith has challenged themselves to nudge our giving totals higher each year, and to thereby reach more people in the name of Christ.
Specific mission efforts and other benevolences for 2017 included:
- Monthly collections for Free the Captives and our Deacons’ Fund
- Three PCUSA Special Offerings: One Great Hour of Sharing (at Easter), Peace and Global Witness (October), and the Christmas Joy Gift
- Financial support for the Presbytery of New Covenant
- Food and clothing for our neighbors through Souper Bowl of Caring (February), SPAM and Jam for CAM (June), and Undies for Everyone (October)
- Showing our appreciation to the staff at Postma Elementary School—mostly through gifts of food
- Donuts and juice for the staff at Woodard Elementary as they faced a
“second start” to the school year after Hurricane Harvey
- Monetary support for more than 50 families at Postma and Woodard whose homes were flooded by Harvey
- Holiday cheer for our college students through our Deacons’ Cookie Drive
- Sharing the love of Christ with families in need at Postma and others through our Christmas Jars.
Our family of faith gave joyously to mission efforts during 2017, resulting in gifts that provided approximately $13,700 in benevolences to various organizations and individuals, plus “gifts in kind” of food and clothing providing more than 2,200 meals and other items to those in need. [NOTE: this represents a growth in overall gifts of almost $5000 since 2012.]
As Pastor Mark is fond of noting, no matter the amount we give, the most important thing is that we are helping our brothers and sisters. As Christ teaches us, “Whatever you do to the least of my friends, you do to me.”
With that in mind, we have provided food to the hungry, clothing to those who have little, and—especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey—shelter to those without a home.
Outreach is our communication with the members and friends of the church and efforts to reach the wider community. Initiatives for 2017 included:
- Use of Facebook and heritagepresbyterian.org website to promote church activities
- Christmas banners on our property and at The Heritage Lodge to promote seasonal worship services
- Continuing signage on our property at Greenhouse and West Roads with our address and worship times.
- Membership in the Cypress-Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, intended to build relationships with the local business community and with other area churches, thus expanding our contacts and marketing outreach.
Funding for our outreach efforts was provided by a Vision Initiative Grant from the Presbytery of New Covenant.
Special thanks for the loving work of our God’s People committee, who helped plan and carry out our Mission & Outreach efforts.
And from the entire committee, thank you to the Heritage family for your gracious support of our efforts in sharing Christ’s love in the Cypress area and beyond.
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S PEOPLE: DEACONS
“Deacons must hold fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them first be tested; then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons; for those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” 1st Timothy 3: 8-13
Heritage is one of a very few small churches that still has a Board of Deacons. Each Deacon is assigned a “shepherd group” of church folks to look after. Our Deacons care for the individuals in our congregation by visiting or calling when they are sick, bringing meals during times of need, and talking with or listening to the individual concerns of our church. They manage our Deacons’ Fund, which is a benevolence that benefits others by assisting with rent/mortgage payments, food, prescriptions, medical insurance bills, and even gasoline; in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the Deacons’ Fund was used extensively to assist victims of the hurricane’s devastating effects. The Deacons’ Fund is supported each month on the third Sunday of the month with a special collection.
During the past three years, our Deacons have organized a cookie drive that provides tasty treats for our high school and college students. These treats are collected on Cookie Sunday, which is immediately following the Thanksgiving holidays. Then they are sorted, bagged, boxed, labeled, and mailed to the students to use during their preparation times for their final exams and projects. We have received delightful feedback about how the treats were shared and greatly appreciated by the students. In many cases, our students reported that their friends remarked, “Your church does this? How cool is that!” We believe it not only reminds the young people of our church that we have not forgotten them, but it also serves as a way for us to spread the Good News to the Kingdom!
Deacons bring a ministry of caring to the God’s people, and we praise God for their good work!
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S HOUSE: NEW CHURCH HOME TASK FORCE
Elder JC Kissinger, Chair
“……and all the people responded with a great shout when they praised the Lord because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.” Ezra 3:11
2017 began with hope and expectations for forward movement in our efforts to build a new church home for Heritage PC. We received a bid from Caldwell Companies for new construction. We applied for a loan from the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program (PILP) and received an offer for a mortgage loan of $1.1 million. We took this offer to the Presbytery’s Finance Committee for consideration; however, new stipulations were included in the loan agreement requiring our local Presbytery to not only sign-off on the loan but also guarantee it as well. With cash availability being tenuous at the present time for our Presbytery and the guarantor requirement included in the offer, the Finance Committee denied their approval.
We decided to regroup and had our “Shovel Fund” fundraiser (for promised funds once a shovel hits the ground). This was done in conjunction with a concerted effort by the Task Force and Caldwell to rework the construction costs wherever possible so as to bring the cost within our reach. Those revisions were turned in to Harris County for review just prior to Hurricane Harvey hitting Houston; this greatly slowed the approval process.
In the meantime, Towne Lake called and asked us to get our property mowed because it was badly overgrown. We also had a burned-out truck removed from the property, which was done for us at no cost. We found a gentleman who has now cut our grass twice, exposing various types of trash and debris. This necessitated several church workdays to remove the trash and clear the property for future mowing.
In late December, we finally received notice that the revisions submitted to Harris County had been approved and were awaiting signatures. We have since been told that the revisions and permits are ready to be picked up when we are ready. We submitted these new drawings to Caldwell again, and they requested a meeting with us on Wednesday, January 24th. The Task Force will then meet to consider this latest offer, and we will proceed from there. If we accept this offer, we will still need to apply to PILP for a lesser amount, and then reapply with the Finance Committee for new consideration. With our current cash condition and some vital rewording in the loan agreement that meets with the Finance Committee’s approval, we seem to be in better negotiating condition than ever before!
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S HOUSE: RESOURCE & MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
Elder Carol Beverlin
“…to be shepherds of the flock that god gave you and to take care of it willingly, as God wants you to, and not unwillingly. Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve. Do not try to rule over those who have been put in your care but be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the glorious crown which will never lose its brightness.” 1st Peter 5:2-4
Our committee includes church treasurer, Jim Lower, and chair Carol Beverlin. Our goal is to record and deposit the gifts and offerings received by HPC, and to control the expenditures required to operate the various aspect of church life. Our office administrator, Tanya Avery, handles the weekly bank deposits and prepares the numerous payments for goods and services. All of our disbursements require the signature of one of three designated elders, and our monthly bank statements are reconciled to our accounting system by another elder.
During 2017, we continued receiving and securing the funds pledged through our Capital Campaign for the construction of our new church home. By the end of 2017, we received all but $30,000 of the pledges made during that original campaign; we also began a campaign titled the “Shovel Fund” which asked for pledges that would given within one calendar year of “the first construction shovel hitting the ground.” The Shovel Fund raised an additional $90,000 in pledges to date, but as promised – we will not be collecting those pledges until we have actually begun construction.
Highlights from this past year include:
- Collection of over $161,000 in pledges and offerings for the use of our church activities.
- Payment of $166,655 in church expenses and charitable contributions. The resulting deficit of approximately $4020 was significantly less than the $33,000 deficit we anticipated in our budget.
- In November, the Session met to create the 2018 budget which will allow the church to continue operations within the limits of our anticipated revenue. As in the past, no building campaign funds will be used to pay operating costs.
In 2018, we anticipate continuing worship services at Heritage of Towne Lake lodge, while hoping we will continue to proceed with building plans for our new church home; this will include making an application for a construction loan to build Phase One of our permanent worship center.
2018 CHURCH BUDGET
ESTIMATED TOTAL INCOME: $145,800
Christian Education: $2,400.00
Fellowship & Hospitality: $3,200.00
Mission & Outreach: $14,780.00
Resource & Management/Property $149,157.90
TOTAL EXPENSES: $176,687.90
PREDICTED SHORTFALL: ($30,887.90)