Bishop Michael Rinehart


December 2010

Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each ot her; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated. —MLK

2010 Census info in

U.S. Population at 308.8M, up 9% from 2000.

Louisiana population up slightly from the 2000 census (1.4% to 4.533M). Texas population up 20.6% to 25M (growing twice as fast as the nation). This means 4 new congressional districts and hence 4 more seats in the House for TX. (New York and Ohio each lost two seats.)

This growth has given Houston a robust economy. And who do we have to thank? Immigrants. Latinos have accounted for most of the growth. So which is it? Is immigration the problem or the solution? Studies continue to show the crime rate among immigrants much lower than native-born citizens, as much as 5 times lower. They also show that undocumented workers are paying into Social Security, which they will never collect. They are paying property tax, Federal income tax and sales tax. Immigrants are floating Houston. Could we maybe cut them some slack, these hard-working visitors fleeing poverty, crime, violence and political persecution? Perhaps a little kindness to the stranger as Jesus taught?

I’ve not yet seen population by city. New Orleans will be interesting, having lost 300,000 after Katrina in 2005 and 2006, then rebuilding aggressively the last four years. Houston population has looked like the chart below, not including the burbs. This puts Houston close to bumping Chicago as the third-largest city in the U.S.

2009 2000 1990
Houston Population 2,257,926 1,953,631 1,630,553

Chicago is estimated to be 2,851,268 in ’09. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2009 Population Estimates, Census 2000, 1990 Census

Jan 3 deadline

Gulf Coast Colleagues,

The deadline for the hotel discount at Theological Conference is close; January 3. Register now:

Victims of New Orleans fire were sheltering in a death trap: An editorial

Editorial page staff, The Times-Picayune


Posted: 12/29/2010 6:24 AM

The fire that killed eight young peoplewho were squatting in an abandoned 9th Ward building early Tuesday morning shows that blight and homelessness are ills that can turn deadly.

Two people who survived the fire said that the occupants of the warehouse-like structure at 2827 Prieur St. were burning trash in a large barrel to stay warm during the overnight cold.

The survivors escaped narrowly from the blaze, which burned two-thirds of the structure down to the slab. The rest of the occupants perished, and authorities were struggling Tuesday to identify them.

The large death toll makes this blaze the most deadly in New Orleans since the Upstairs Lounge fire that killed 32 people in 1973.

Teresa Reiger, pastor of St. Luke’s Assembly of God on Franklin Avenue, said that the building’s occupants had eaten meals and taken showers at the church. She described them as people who were drawn to New Orleans’ music and vitality.

Their deaths are all the more tragic because they were avoidable. Homeless shelters provide a warm, safe place to sleep. When forecasts call for temperatures or a wind chill factor of 38 degrees or below, the city activates its freeze plan, which allows shelters to house more people than usual. The plan also provides transportation to shelters through the Multi-Service Center for the Homeless, Emergency Medical Services and the New Orleans Police Department.

During cold weather, UNITY of Greater New Orleans scours areas where they know homeless people stay to offer them the alternative of going to a shelter. That group is especially alert for elderly and disabled homeless people.

The victims of Tuesday’s fire were young. They might not have thought they needed to go to a homeless shelter, despite the below-freezing temperature and lack of utilities.

Not every homeless person is willing or able to seek out a shelter, and even proactive efforts like those of UNITY won’t find everyone.

An empty house or building, on the other hand, is easy to find in a city where so much blighted and abandoned property exists. Sadly, such an alternative can become a death trap on a cold winter night.

Organ Vespers, Sunday, January 2 at 6:00 p.m.

Organ Vespers: Pavel Kohout
Sunday, January 2 • 6:00 p.m.

Pavel Kohout (Prague, Czech Republic) will play works by Bach, Buxtehude, Pachelbel, and 18th century Czech composer Joseph Seger. The Vespers will be held at Christ the King Lutheran Church, located at 2353 Rice Boulevard

. A reception honoring the artist will follow the program at the Czech Center Museum Houston, 4920 San Jacinto

in the Brno Gallery. There is no admission charge to either event; a free-will offering will be accepted.

harpsichord Kohout is regarded as one of the most brilliant representatives of the new generation of European organists. He was the winner of both the First Prize and the J. S. Bach Prize at one of the world’s largest international organ competitions held in Tokyo in 2000, and has won a number of other awards, including First Prize at international competitions in Ljubljana in 1998 and Vilnius in 1999. He graduated from the Prague Conservatory and Academy of Performing Arts in Prague under the guidance of Jaroslav Tuma. In 1999, he continued his studies in historical organ techniques at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with the renowned early music specialist, Jacques van Oortmerssen. Pavel Kohout has performed with ensembles and orchestras throughout Europe, Russia, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. He has also performed for international music festivals in Prague, Berlin, Frankfurt, Moscow, Haarlem, Zaragoza, Lisbon, Monaco, Jerusalem, Sapporo, Tokyo, Sydney, and Auckland.

Limited free parking is available on the lot west of Christ the King Church. Ample parking is available for $1.00 (credit card only) across the street at Rice University’s stadium parking lot on the southeast corner of Rice & Greenbriar.

Houston EndowmentKUHF
Houston Arts Alliance

The Bach Society is funded in part by grants from the
City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.

From our missionary in the Central African Rebublic

Christmas in Yaoundé (where I live for most of the year) is pretty much the same as Christmas in any big city: about two or three weeks before the twenty-fifth, everyone goes nuts. The roads become so trafficked and immobile, that they are barely short of impassible and anyone trying to navigate them is definitely ludicrous. The stores, big and small, are packed to the brim and overflowing. Everyone everywhere is grabbing presents off shelves and then waiting in mile-long lines to pay for them. Outside, there are loudspeakers playing Christmas music over, and over, and over, and over again, while the cars on the blocked-up roads are adding their own accompaniment of “honk-honks” and “beep-beeps.” In fact, besides the weather, Christmastime in Yaoundé may very well be almost identical to Christmastime in any large city in the western world (though probably on a smaller scale).

On the other hand, about 600 kilometers away, through the rainforest and across an international border, lies the village of Baboua. People there are celebrating a very different Holiday Season. There aren’t any large shopping centers for people to be packed in like sardines; in fact, there aren’t any shopping centers, period. The simple dusty road is just as devoid of traffic as it always is: a car or truck passes every hour or somaybe. Yet the same Christmas spirit is displayed throughout town. No matter where you go, you can hear the calls of “Bonne Fête,” “Joyeux Noël” and “Bonne Année,” which are akin to the North American calls of “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year.” People are wrapping up their presents to give to special family members and friends. It always amazes me how much people still rejoice in their meager surroundings. Even though most families will not have any Christmas decorations up and certainly not a Christmas tree, people still go around wishing each other “Merry Christmas,” singing African Christmas songs, and sharing their small Christmas meals.

Meanwhile, at our house on the American Station, there is a very different sort of Christmas going on. As soon as I get home on break, I open up the dusty Christmas boxes and my mom and I turn on the Christmas music (much to the dismay of my dad). The whole interior of the house is soon decorated and transformed with tinsel, Christmas lights, stockings, and the small, artificial Christmas tree. On Christmas Day, my dad makes up an absolutely scrumptious dinner, and we invite other missionaries over to celebrate with us. And as the adults converse on and on (as adults are wont to do), I sit and listen, reflecting on the Christmas Season.

When you really think about it, nearly everyone on earth celebrates the Holiday Season in one way or another. Whether they are Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, or anything ranging to completely non-religious, Christmastime affects them somehow. One might stop and wonder (as everyone does in those cheesy Christmas movies we are forced to watch every year) what is the true meaning of all this cheerfulness and joviality?

Long ago, on a Christmas Day that most likely did not occur on December twenty-fifth, a tiny new-born babe tightly wrapped in rags lay in an itchy manger. His parents looked down at him with joyful tears in their eyes, praises on their lips, and wonder in their hearts. The tiny, unfocused eyes of the newborn looked back up, and he smiled a beautiful, toothless grin at his mother and father. From the heavens above, starlight shone down, and the angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

Christa Troester

Baboua, Central African Republic

Photo: Hand-painted Christmas card by an anonymous Central African artist

Christa Troester attends Eighth Grade at Rain Forest International School in Yaounde, Cameroon. Her parents, Joe and Deborah are ELCA missionaries in Baboua, the Central African Republic. Joe serves as technical advisor for PASE, which provides clean drinking water and promotes good hygiene and sanitation to villagers. Pastor Deborah teaches at the Theological School in Baboua.

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