ANNUAL REPORT 2016
Dear Members & Friends of Heritage,
Below is the annual report of our church as written by your 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, Lynne Lower, Clerk
In 2016, the Session of Heritage Presbyterian Church met for twelve stated meetings and six called meetings. Three 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 2017 congregation members of the Nominating Committee.
At the end of 2016, active church membership totaled 77 members, including two affiliate members. This represents a net loss of four members from last year. Nine members were placed on inactive status, and one, an affiliate member, was removed from the roles. Six people joined the church during the year. On December 31, 2016, our church membership consisted of the following:
Over 65: 43
During 2016, no weddings or baptisms were performed at the church’s worship center. However, Rev. Plunkett did officiate at a family wedding in Georgia.
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
One of the primary efforts of this committee is the education of all its members – young and old. It is our intentional primary focus to transmit Biblical principles through study of God’s word. Our program uses as its primary thrust our pastor’s sermons on Sunday. In addition, our church currently sponsors two adult Sunday School classes most weeks. One is named “Saints Under Construction.” This class tackles the prescribed lectionary readings each week. Participants seek to examine the historical context, a possible common theme, and the current significance of each passage. A second class has been studying “hard sayings of Jesus” in the Gospels. During the summer, both classes merge for a different study, led by the pastor. This past summer we studied “The Bible In 90 Days.” Our committee sponsors a women’s Bible study which meets at the church office on Tuesday mornings from 10:30 to noon. This class is currently taught by Mrs. Kay Cronk. In 2016, we began a study of Isaiah, got overwhelmed with historical information, and moved on to Matthew. The study is made up of church members and neighborhood friends of our church. We serve as prayer warriors and a strong support system for each other.
As our congregation gained children attending worship, we added activities for them during worship. Pastor seeks to involve them during his children’s sermons and with special opportunities to serve and learn. During a recent churchwide breakfast, the youngsters enjoyed a crafting opportunity. This Advent, our committee provided families with a devotional booklet to enhance their seasonal study and worship.
Our committee employs Elizabeth Curiel as our childcare worker for our nursery.
All of us look forward to the time when we have our own church building which will additional space to provide classes and learning opportunities for the whole family. Until then, we enjoy the location provided us by Heritage Lodge in Towne Lake.
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S WORD
Elder Marguerite Lapetina
“All nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.” Psalm 86: 9-10
We experienced another blessed year of worship in 2016 – our fourth year at the Heritage Lodge in Town Lake. Highlights of our year follow:
Overview of Worship:
- Our first blessing of the year arrived in the form of our new Interim Music Director, Nancy Kissinger. After the first month or so, she agreed to become our permanent music director. We have had a blessed year of music under her direction.
- We continued to work with our wonderful pianist, Leticia Lima, who is currently completing her PhD in Concert Piano at the University of Houston. We were also blessed to have Debby Wylie and Lelah Loftin fill in on piano when Leticia was unavailable.
- Worship services were held each Sunday at the Heritage Lodge. Additional services were held there on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Christmas Eve. We celebrated Communion of the first Sunday of each month, Maundy Thursday and Christmas Eve. Communion was also made available to members of our congregation unable to attend worship.
- Our Young Music Ministers program has continued to enhance our worship so much. This year we had five singers joining our choir, with one of them returning for a second year. This program is funded for the third year in a row by a Vision Initiative Grant from the Presbytery.
- Pastor Mark led our worship services 50 times, including Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Christmas Eve. We had our pulpit filled by other preachers on six Sundays during the year.
Special Services and Observances
- We participated in two services with St. Cuthbert’s Episcopal church on Good Friday: Stations of the Cross in Goforth Park and the evening service where Mark assisted their pastor, Rev. Bruce Bonner.
- Pentecost was a special service recognizing our departing Young Music Ministers and seven graduating seniors with Bibles and gifts.
- Fourth of July was celebrated with a special service, including a solo by Jessica Colmenares, our first YMM for the fall.
- The Hope of Nations Presbyterian Church joined us for worship in August. These new friends make up a congregation of new Christians from predominately Muslim countries who are often persecuted for their faith. It was a blessed time of sharing.
- Youth Sunday was celebrated on October 23. There was a special performance by our children who served as liturgists for the day. Katie Redd, a former student of Mark’s, was our guest speaker. We supported Katie’s mission endeavors over the summer so she shared her experiences with us.
- The children of our church have participated each week in Pastor Mark’s children’s sermons. Several of them have also sung at special times during the year such as Palm Sunday, Youth Sunday, and during the choir’s concert on December 11th.
- Each fifth Sunday in a month was a “Stump the Choir” Sunday, at which members of the congregation call out their choices for our hymns. If the choir isn’t “stumped” then we sing it!
- Our Advent season was celebrated with special readings from congregational members each week. The choir and YMM’s presented Christmas Treasures, songs and scriptures, for our second Sunday service. We had a very sweet Christmas Eve service with communion and candle lighting outside.
The Work of Worship
- We had several new additions to our ushers and committee members: Sally Luker, Sue Small, Angeline Martin, Carol Beverlin, Chris and Mary Rigoulot. Our entire congregation continues to joyfully help at the end of services in gathering hymnals and Bibles and returning them to carts and returning everything to its place in the Lodge.
- Our congregation continued the tradition of purchasing lilies a 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.
- The choir took its annual sabbatical in July. Leticia provided beautiful piano music for us and led our hymns for the month. The choir had a retreat in October to prepare our Christmas presentation.
- Pastor Mark provided three special sermon series throughout the year: “Nine Tables” – Lent through Easter, “The Great Ends of the Church” – Fall, “The Signs of the Season” – Advent.
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S PEOPLE
FELLOWSHIP & HOSPITALITY COMMITTEE
Elder Jodie Smith
“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 and hospitality are not just something that we try to fit into our Christian life after we get everything else together; fellowship and hospitality are important. 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.
- 10th— a farewell reception for our interim choir director was held where she received roses and cake and ice cream were served.
- 17th— a continental breakfast was provided for a member and his family in recognition of his work for the church. Over the past year, he filled the pulpit for pastor’s vacation and study leave when the pastor was not available. The family moved to another state where he accepted a pastoral position.
- 14th–breakfast treats for Valentine’s Day
- 20th—the committee had a New Members’ dinner at a committee member’s home. The Pastor, Elders, Deacons, and God’s People committee members prepared and served Italian food and dessert.
- 6th—a member of the congregation paid for Pizza to be served after church and the committee set up and served.
- 20th—on Palm Sunday, the congregation received a cross yard sign with “He is Risen” to be displayed in their yards through Easter Sunday.
- 27th—our annual Easter Pancake and Sausage Breakfast was held.
- 8th—in honor of Mother’s Day, breakfast treats were served and a small gift was given to the mothers.
- 15th—this was “Senior Recognition Day” for all high school and college graduates who attend our church including the Young Musician Ministers. We served cake and punch and the pastor gave each one a graduation gift.
- 29th—in recognition of Memorial Day, an American flag was displayed in the centerpiece of each table.
- 19th—in honor of Father’s Day a small gift was given and breakfast treats were provided.
- 26th—a baby shower luncheon was held for our accompanist, Leticia Lima, and her husband, Victor.
- 3rd—flags were placed in the centerpiece of table in honor of Independence Day, July 4.
- 10th—the annual potluck “Christmas in July” luncheon was held after the service as a kick off for our Christmas Jar mission project. The committee provided the brisket, turkey, drinks, and the congregation brought their favorite Christmas dish to share with others.
- 29th—a continental breakfast was provided in recognition of our visitors from the Houston Hope of the Nations church.
- 4th— a lunch of Sloppy Joes, chips, and homemade ice cream was given as a celebration of our annual “End of Summer Bash.”
- 23rd—in recognition of our youth who participated in Youth Sunday, cookies and punch were served.
- 30th—the congregation presented the pastor with a gift, and ice cream and all the trimmings were provided for a “Sunday for Sundaes” in honor of Pastor Appreciation month.
- 4th—our annual Advent potluck breakfast prior to church service was held with people bringing their favorite breakfast food.
- 10th—the ladies of Heritage met for the annual Christmas luncheon at the French Quarter restaurant for fellowship and gift exchange.
- 18th-Several members of the church went Christmas caroling at two of the senior centers in the neighborhood, Avanti Assistant Living Center and Sundance Memory Care. Afterwards, there was dinner and fellowship at a committee member’s home.
Every Sunday the committee has coffee, tea, and water available and occasionally breakfast treats prior to church service.
Thanks to all who have served on this committee. With everyone’s help, we provided many hours of great fellowship while serving our Lord.
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S PEOPLE
MISSION & OUTREACH COMMITTEE
Elder Ann Peterson
“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” 2nd Corinthians 9:11
Mission is how we share the love of Christ in the world, and is one of our most important callings as Christians. Our family of faith gave joyously to mission efforts during 2016, resulting in donations that provided approximately $10,500 in monetary assistance to various organizations and individuals through Heritage—plus “gifts in kind” of food and clothing (detailed below) providing more than 3,200 meals and other items to those in need.
Mission efforts for 2016 included:
- On the first Sunday of the month we collected donations for Free the Captives, a Houston organization that combats human trafficking. Our collections for the year totaled almost $2000.
- In February we participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring, collecting 574 cans and boxes of soup and other food items representing close to 1,200 individual meals. This total represents a nearly 60% increase over 2015. All of these items were gratefully received by our local food bank, Cypress Assistance Ministries (CAM).
- God’s People committee members in April provided cookies for a weekend retreat for Kairos, a Christian faith-based ministry that addresses the spiritual needs of incarcerated individuals and their families.
- In May our congregation donated 469 pairs of underwear for Undies for Everyone, which provides undies for kids for “bathroom emergencies” at school and to those who otherwise may have little or none of this basic essential. Our friends at Postma decided to join us in this effort, providing 779 pairs. Our combined total was almost 1,250 pairs.
- We tweaked our summer “Peanut Butter & Jam for CAM” this year and renamed it “SPAM & Jam for CAM,” to better meet CAM’s current needs. We provided 320 items, for a total of more than 2,500 servings. This represented enough to provide a basic lunch for more than 45 children every day from June 27, when we took our donation to CAM, until the first day of school. Postma students and staff also joined in this collection, providing 184 items representing close to 1,750 basic meals—the equivalent of a sandwich lunch every day, all summer, for 21 children.
- In November our members and friends joyfully provided dozens of homemade cookies for 18 high school and college students, which our deacons lovingly boxed and mailed. Responses from our students were unfailingly enthusiastic.
- In early December we provided magazines and greeting cards for distribution at the International Seafarers’ Centers through an effort organized by Presbytery. Pastor Mark reported that contributions from our church seemed to constitute the majority of donations.
- We continued our Christmas Jar effort for the third year in 2016, kicking things off with a “Christmas in July” launch celebration. Participants gave their jar anonymously to a recipient of their choosing, with some opting to give theirs to a child or staff member at Postma Elementary or to a friend in need at Heritage.
- The Deacons’ Fund, which is funded through a standing offering on the third Sunday of each month and occasionally through special offerings, offers support to those in need of assistance with household and medical expenses or other special needs. Heritage is unusual as a small church in having Deacons, and our members and friends support the Deacons’ Fund generously, providing a total of approximately $4,800 in 2016.
- Heritage provided just over $1,400 in support of our local presbytery, the Presbytery of the New Covenant, and PCUSA. Support for PCUSA was provided through our “Per Capita,” an annual gift that is voluntary but customary, with the amount based on our membership size. The remainder was provided as a gift through our operating fund. Both gifts provide support for operating needs.
Heritage became a Partner in Education in 2013 with Postma Elementary, across West Road from the church property. Through this program, we provide support in many ways: by collecting “Box Tops for Education,” serving as Bus Buddies on the first three days of school, mentoring, and providing appreciation gifts throughout the year, including in 2016:
- A Candy Buffet on Valentine’s Day
- Cupcakes during Teacher Appreciation week in the spring
- Welcome-back donuts and juice at the first staff meeting of the new school year, plus individual Hershey bars reflecting the school’s annual theme
- A Thanksgiving Pie Day
- Support for eight Postma families who needed assistance during the holiday season with Christmas Jars and Walmart gift cards through our Deacon’s Fund
Heritage supported three annual mission offerings sponsored by Presbytery during 2016:
- At Easter we collected just over $540 for One Great Hour of Sharing, an ecumenical effort that provides assistance for disaster victims, refugees, and developmental aid.
- In October, members and friends gave almost $740 toward the Peacemaking Offering, which promotes peace throughout the world. Individual churches are encouraged to use 25% of this offering to support a local peacemaking organization. We used a theme of “think outside the box” and gave our 25% to help with recovery efforts from recent flooding in Louisiana.
- In December, we gave close to $670 to the Christmas Joy Offering, which provides financial assistance to current and retired church workers and their families. It also helps fund Presbyterian-related historically minority colleges and schools.
Our 2016 total of $1,944 for these three offerings reflects a roughly 42% increase over our average total for the past three years, and a 130% increase over 2012.
Outreach is our communication with the members and friends of the church and efforts to reach the wider community. Initiatives for 2016 included:
- Community and congregational mailers promoting Holy Week and Easter. Outreach was to approximately 1,500 homes, and was funded by our fourth consecutive Vision Initiative Grant from the Presbytery of New Covenant.
- Advertisements in October, November, and December in the Cy-Fair edition of the “Community Impact” newspaper. Ads have been 1/8 page and full-color, and reached an estimated 121,000 each month. These ads also were funded by our fourth Vision Initiative Grant.
- New signage on our property at Greenhouse and West Roads with our address and worship times. With Greenhouse now open to Fry Road, this should increase our visibility to all who drive by.
- Temporary banners at The Heritage Lodge and on our property announcing our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. Funding for the banners and new property signage was provided by anonymous donors.
Thank you so much to the joyful and tireless efforts of our Ministry Team for God’s People, who helped plan and carry out our Mission & Outreach efforts. And from the entire committee, thank you to the Heritage family for your enthusiastic support of our efforts in sharing Christ’s love with our neighbors in the Cypress area, in the U.S., and across the globe.
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S PEOPLE
“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. The Deacons’ Fund is supported each month on the third Sunday of the month with a special collection.
During the past two 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!
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S HOUSE
PROPERTY & NEW CHURCH HOME TASK FORCE
Elder JC Kissinger, Chair
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Psalm 127: 1
As has become very predictable, I was not the least bit surprised that 2016 was as interesting and unpredictable as the previous three.
We finished a bid process that got us close to our needs building-wise as is possible, but with the deletions and changes that we could live with, we still could not handle the final cost at $1.5 million.
After much prayer and not a few phone conversations, we discovered that a new source that we had not expected came calling. Through some unexpected avenues, we were made aware of the existence of Caldwell Construction Company. Our friend, Fred Caldwell, put his construction team at our disposal to try and find a solution to our dilemma. After some meetings, conversations, and hard work on the part of their staff, we received a final, rock-bottom bid, of $1.42 million. After agreeing to accept this bid, we turned the financial aspects of the problem over to friends with Caldwell, Presbytery, and the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Corporation to see what solution they could find to allow us to begin construction on our new church home.
As the final negotiations began very close to the holiday season, and the major people were unavailable to meet, we are presently waiting to hear the proposal after the start of the new year.
MINISTRY TEAM FOR GOD’S HOUSE
RESOURCE & MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
Elder Jim Lower
“And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25: 20-21
Our committee includes church treasurer Steve Vetters, chair Jim Lower and member Jim Crawford.
Our goal is to record and deposit the gifts and offerings received by HPC, and to control the expenditures required to operate the various aspects of church life. Our office administrator, Tanya Avery handles the weekly bank deposits and prepares the numerous payments for goods and services under the direction of our pastor, Reverend Mark Plunkett. 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 2016, we continued receiving and securing the funds pledged through our Capital Campaign for the construction of our new church home. By the end of the year, we received 91% of the pledges made during the campaign. The remaining pledges are due in 2017.
Highlights from this past year include:
- Collection of over $147,000 in pledges and offerings for the use of our church activities.
- Payment of $162,000 in church expenses and charitable contributions. The resulting deficit of approximately $15,000 was less than the $34,000 deficit we anticipated in our budget.
- In April and May we transferred our campaign funds to Capital One Bank and our reserve funds to Mercantile Bank. Each institution provided HPC a money market account earning greater interest than we were receiving from Prospect (Tradition) Bank. This action was done with the approval of Session.
- In October we conducted a pledge campaign for 2017. We were gratified with the results which totaled 27% more than our last drive for 2015.
- A financial review of 2015 was done in November by an independent accountant. Various transactions were inspected and no irregularities were uncovered.
- In November, we participated with the Session members in creating a budget for 2017 which will allow the church to continue operations within the limits of our anticipated revenue plus $30,000 in reserve funds. As in the past, no building campaign funds will be used to pay operating costs.
In 2017, we anticipate continuing worship services at Heritage of Towne Lake lodge. We hope we will make application for a construction loan to build phase one of our permanent worship center.