To all of our praying partners:
I (Pat) am in Australia and about to fly up to PNG. I will be going to the island province of New Ireland again. I will be working with the Feni language group this time. We will be checking Romans, Ephesians, 2 Peter, 1 John and Luke. Lots to do. The Feni people live on an island off the coast of New Ireland. Travel to New Ireland by water is treacherous so we would all appreciate your prayers for their safety. It is not unusual for their small boats to capsize or break down at sea, resulting in loss of life. Pray that we will be able to complete the consultant check of all of these books in three weeks. And as always, pray for health for the participants and their families back home. Thanks you so much for standing behind us with your prayers! I will try to keep you all updated if/when I have internet access.
In His Love,
Pat & Mel
Wycliffe Bible Translators
Dear Hyde Park Family,
It’s hard to explain to you what the play Duck Hunter Shoots Angel is about without giving away all the fun. The title alone should be enough to suggest that if you watch the production at The Portico on April 27-28, you will walk away thinking you’ve never quite seen anything like it. That’s assuming you are still able to think straight after laughing so hard.
It’s a story by Mitch Albom about two cheerfully clueless Alabama duck hunters who think they’ve shot an angel and the sensationalist tabloid newspaper chasing the story. What results is a chuckle-inducing culture clash, along lines of race, geography, religion, sibling rivalries and tawdry journalism. It will show you how to laugh at the many ways our stereotypes inhibit us from learning about ourselves and each other. And it will remind us that some of our most important lessons come from the most surprising places.
Oh, and I should mention that I’m in the play.
My character is “Lester,” the gruff, go-getting editor of the tabloid publication willing to do anything to spin out a good story in order to increase his audience, even if it means stretching the truth.
I would like to think I was not typecast for the role.
I hope you’ll consider watching the production. It’s a staged reading, meaning actors perform with scripts in hand but with full blocking, costumes and a minimalist set. The performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28. Tickets are $30, limited to 99 seats each night, and can be purchased through this link.
It may feel like a far cry from the kind of conventional ministries churches like ours offer. However, a key part of The Portico’s mission is to be a conduit through which the arts can speak to social issues. Not only does the content of the play spark insights about the human condition and our relationships with each other, a portion of the proceeds will also support Metropolitan Ministries. We are honored to work with Stageworks Theatre and their talented cast and crew to offer this wonderful event.
So join us for a time of laughter, with a whole lot of heart!
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
P.S. If you have any difficulty with the link, please contact Andrea Graham, the Stageworks producer for this production, at firstname.lastname@example.org (phone 813.784.6832) and she will assist you.
Dear Hyde Park Family,
This Sunday, we have the honor of welcoming back Jim and Martha Harnish to Hyde Park. Jim was the senior pastor of this church from 1992-2014, the longest serving pastor in this church’s history. Under his leadership, the church experienced dramatic revitalization and growth, whose fruit endures to this day.
He is also the author of the new book Make a Difference: Following Your Passion and Finding Your Place to Serve, which is the basis of our new four-week worship series. Jim will be preaching at all three Sanctuary services, and participating in the confirmation of forty-two students professing their faith in Jesus. Join us live or online for these special services!
In anticipation of Jim’s return, I thought I’d share some of the most valuable pieces of guidance I have received from the seventeen years I have known him as a colleague, mentor, and friend:
Excellence and Joy
Jim raised the expectation that every ministry of this church needed to be done with excellence, because God deserves our very best. But he always reminded us not to take ourselves too seriously. Excellence was always to be buoyed and tempered with joy, born out of the grace and forgiveness God gives us for our mistakes. It’s a balance we still try to strike today.
Movements, not Monuments
When I first interviewed to be his associate pastor in the spring of 2000, Jim gave me a tour of the campus. The Wesley Center had just been completed, the Ministry Offices were being built, and Knox Hall was just beginning its renovation. As he walked me through all the changes, he said, “We’re not into building monuments around here. We are into creating movements. We recognize that these buildings, as beautiful as they are, are merely the tools to accomplish our mission.” It is a guiding principle I have not since forgotten.
The Vital Center
Jim often told me stories from the early days of his tenure, when he had to remind the congregation that its primary calling as Methodists is to be centered in the love of God and others. And rather than getting pulled to the theological and ideological extremes, the strength of the Methodist movement has always been in its vital center. He once reminded me of the difference between the words middle and center. To be in the “middle” suggests being on the fence – mushy and wishy-washy. But to be in the “center” is to claim a firm anchor of conviction, holding fast to our core. In our deeply polarized times, I’ve come to appreciate that guidance even more.
I have often said that as much as I have appreciated our mission and vision statements, it is the six core values that I believe best describes what is unique about the character of Hyde Park United Methodist. I can remember the ways Jim would talk about being Christ-Centered (“The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.”) and Biblically-Rooted (“I don’t want to hear that any other church has ‘out-Bibled’ Hyde Park.”) But living into the values of being Warm-Hearted and Open-Minded has been one of our deepest strengths and greatest attractions to the culture. I now say that being warm-hearted means being open to a diversity of people, and being open-minded as being open to a diversity of perspectives. And throughout my years of ministry with Jim, we’ve heard countless people say, “This is the church I’ve been looking for all my life; I just didn’t know it.”
One More Person
Jim always understood that our primary reason for existence as a church was to reach out to those on the outside who needed to experience God’s love. On Pentecost Sunday, May 29, 1994, when he was preaching about the church’s new mission and vision, he offered these words:
According to the New Testament, the point is not whether I prefer being a part of a small church or a large church. The point is not whether this congregation will continue to be a medium-sized church or become a large church. The only point about which the New Testament seems to care is this: is there someone in the city of Tampa who is waiting to experience the love of God through us? Is there someone for whom God’s love can be made real because of the witness of this church? If there’s one more person in Tampa who needs to experience the love of God in Jesus Christ, then this church is not yet big enough.
We are all grateful for that reminder, and for Jim’s leadership among us. Join us this Sunday to thank him personally.
Grace and peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
Accomplished January-March 2018
3.7 Million Pounds Gleaned from the Fields
2.1 Million Pounds Shipped in the Potato & Produce Project
A total of 5.8 Million Pounds Collected and Distributed
17.4 Million Servings of Fresh Produce Provided
654 Events Held and 4,950 Volunteers Engaged
News And Events
Feeding Hungry People — That’s Why We’re Here
On average, SoSA donors and volunteers, with the support of farmers, provide food for almost 235 thousand people every week.
In Ohio, George Jensen is Known as “Tater” — There’s a Reason for That
Jensen has gleaned with the Society of St. Andrew for about 20 years. He thinks (at age 80) this might be his last year of leading the gleaning effort in Ohio. Meantime, he’s gearing up for the 2018 growing season, providing this encouragement: “We want to give the producers a reminder since it’s getting close to planting time. We pray for bountiful harvests; so bountiful that we would appreciate the leftovers to help feed the hungry of this country,” Thanks for years of great work, George.
Greenhouse Gleaning in Georgia
How do you glean in Georgia in March? Why not go to a greenhouse? Sam “The Gourdmaster” White is director of The Village Community Garden in Sylvester, Georgia. He also volunteers with SoSA. He and our Georgia office coordinated with food educators on “Ancestor’s Day” to collect greens and vegetables to create healthy and delicious salads.
Florida Gleaning Season Continues
Larry Rood is our gleaning coordinator in North Florida. He says “It’s a lot of work, but I do it because I’m passionate about helping those in need and keeping food from going to waste. Recently the Anastasia Island Community Journal ran a nice story about churches and schools gleaning with SoSA.
Chicago Area Potato Drop
Located in the nearby town of Burr Ridge, the Zoroastrian Center of Chicago knew there were many feeding agencies helping to feed the poorest people in and around the Windy City. They worked with SoSA for a potato drop that supplied plenty of potatoes to the Illinois Food Bank, Loaves and Fishes, the Interfaith Food Pantry, and several local food pantries. Zoroastrians believe in “good thoughts, good words, and good deeds” — a SoSA potato drop is a great way to participate in all three!
We’ve all heard the word greed. And even though we don’t want to admit it, we’ve all probably experienced it in our own lives. You’re happy with your phone until the newest model comes out, and then you have to have it. You like the car you drive until your best friend gets a new one and suddenly you’re obsessed with getting a new car too. You have plenty of clothes in your closet, but as soon as you get some cash you want to buy more.
No matter what it is for you, you’ve probably experienced that “I’ve gotta have it” feeling. But let me ask you this: once you have whatever “it” is, does that feeling go away? We all know the answer is no. Even if it’s not right away, eventually that feeling creeps back in and leaves you unsatisfied with what you have. In other words, greed makes you miserable. And nobody wants to be miserable.
So what do we do to stop the miserable feeling of greed from spreading in our lives? Take a look at what Paul has to say:
You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NLT).
Jesus knew that greed would spread in our lives and make us miserable. And rather than leaving us alone in that, He gave us the antidote: generosity. Generosity has the power to slow and stifle greed in our lives. And when you answer the call of greed with generosity, you’ll find yourself better than when it began. In fact, Jesus is saying you’ll not only be happier, but you’ll also be blessed. Generosity is so powerful that it will not just bless others—you will be blessed as well! So ask yourself: can I trust what Jesus says about this? And, what would it look like for you to put your trust into action.
Just a few hours a day for one week can be life-changing for you and for the kids you serve! Everyone changes when they learn about Jesus and share his love! Volunteers needed include adults and youth, rising seventh grade and above.
Volunteer opportunities include:
- Crew Leader and Assistant Crew Leader
- Station Leaders and helpers (KidVid – Movie and Snacks, Games, Imagination Station – hands-on activities, Bible)
- Snacks and Volunteer Hospitality
Can’t volunteer the week of VBS? You can still be part of the fun and help make this year’s VBS a success! Volunteer with our Decorations or Construction team. Both of these teams work ‘behind the scenes,’ with the work done before VBS begins. Much can be done at night, on the weekends and even from your own home! The Construction team builds the set in the Sanctuary and the Decorations team decorates the main common areas of VBS around Hyde Park’s campus.
Got questions? Contact the Children’s Ministries office at 813.253.5388 or email email@example.com