Midweek Message: “The Last Place We Want God”

Midweek Message: “The Last Place We Want God”

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Years ago, I read a hilarious book by Esquire columnist A.J. Jacobs called The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. Jacobs, a self-avowed agnostic, sought to spend a whole year following every command in the Bible – more than seven hundred total, by his count.

Doing so impacted every aspect of his life, often with comical results. Like when he “stoned” an adulterer in a public park with a handful of pebbles (Leviticus 20:27). Or when he carried a folding chair everywhere to avoid sitting on chairs used by women who had just had their period (Leviticus 15:20). Or when he stopped wearing T-shirts and jeans because they were made of “mixed fibers” (Leviticus 19:19). Despite the hilarity, Jacobs’ efforts were both earnest and respectful, sharing several poignant experiences throughout the book.

One such occasion was his decision to start tithing. After researching numerous charitable organizations, he went online to make the first of several contributions that would, over the course of the year, add up to ten percent of his salary. After sending money to his first agency through the internet, he wrote:

“When the confirmation e-mails ping in, I feel good. There’s a haunting line from the film Chariots of Fire. It’s spoken by Eric Liddell, the most religious runner, the one who carries a Bible with him during his sprint.” He says: ‘When I run, I feel His pleasure.’ And as I gave away money, I think I might have felt God’s pleasure. I know: I’m agnostic. But still – I feel His pleasure. It’s a warm ember that starts at the back of my neck and spreads through my skull. I feel like I am doing something I should have been doing all my life.”

To share any more of Jacobs’ story would spoil the book for those interested in reading it. Suffice it to say, it led me to think about what it would mean for us to take the Bible just as seriously, particularly in the area of financial stewardship.

This past week, you may have received your financial stewardship packet for 2019 in the mail. It contained:

  • a letter from me, which includes this year’s pledge card
  • an informative “annual report” brochure that celebrates all we have accomplished together this year
  • a form you can fill out if you choose the convenient option of Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT)
  • a return envelope for you to send your pledge card by Sunday, Nov. 18.
  • If you didn’t receive a packet, you can securely fill out a pledge electronically on our website.

Once again, we remind you that every pledge makes a huge difference in enabling us to make the best fiscal decisions for our church’s ministries in the upcoming year. If you have never filled out a pledge, we encourage you to do so for the first time. If you have turned in a pledge card in years past, thank you! We invite you pray about increasing your pledge for next year. And if you are not tithing 10% of your income, we encourage you to take a step in that direction.

As my friend Scott Smith, pastor of First UMC Ormond Beach, likes to tell his congregation, “You can’t have God first in your heart but not in your wallet. Everybody wants God in the heart, with their kids, in the schools, and in our nation, but the last place we want God is in our wallets.”

And if an agnostic like A.J. Jacobs could discover the joy of tithing to God, you can, too!

Grace and Peace,


We continue to offer our prayers and concern for those suffering in the wake of devastating Hurricane Michael. We are joining with United Methodists across Florida in responding to Bishop Carter’s call for financial support for the people in the panhandle. Click here to contribute to the Bishop’s Challenge. Some remarkable donors at First UMC Ormond Beach have extended a challenge to the Conference, offering to match $500,000 of our contributions. Your support will go directly to people in need along the Florida Gulf coast. Please make your check payable to Hyde Park United Methodist and designated “Hurricane Relief.”

Family Christmas Service Casting

Family Christmas Service Casting

Calling all aspiring stars! Do you have a big personality? Like to be in the spotlight?

We’ve got the perfect role for you! We are currently casting Family Christmas Service Characters.

The Family Christmas Service cast is comprised of 20-25 non-speaking characters who dress in costume and help tell the story of Jesus’s birth in pantomime.

Who: All children 4 years old  – 5th grade who are not in Angel Choir or Celebration Choir.

What: Act out (pantomime) what is being spoken by youth narrators.

When: Dec. 23 with rehearsals on Wednesdays and Sundays starting Dec 2. Dress rehearsal is on Dec. 22.

Does this sound like the perfect part for your child? 

Sign up here.

Open Arms Needs List

In addition to the food and other services provided on Sunday mornings, our Open Arms Ministry needs the following items to care for our guests:

  • Plastic take out/deli containers
  • Plastic grocery bags
  • Razors
  • Readers
  • Men’s underwear
  • Women’s underwear
  • Men’s socks
  • Women’s socks
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Men’s and women’s clothing, casual shoes, belts and hats/caps
  • Wallets
  • Sleeping bags/blankets
  • Towels/wash clothes
  • Used pillows
  • Books (paperbacks preferred)/magazines

Please drop off any donations in the lobby of Ministry Offices. A large bin is in the Lobby for this purpose.

Redemption of Scrooge

Redemption of Scrooge

Does Christmastime have you feeling more like “Bah! Humbug!” than “Merry and Bright?” Sign up now!

Advent is traditionally a time of joyful anticipation for the birth of Christ, but between the financial stresses, never-ending to-do lists and family conflicts that it can stir up, we find ourselves feeling like a Scrooge.  But, just as Ebeneezer Scrooge finds redemption in the classic story, A Christmas Carol, God can redeem us from our weariness this Christmas season, too.

Join us for our Advent study titled, “The Redemption of Scrooge.”  Each week, the study will explore a different aspect of Charles Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol, and how it can challenge us to grow in our own lives.

We have five opportunities for you to engage in the study:

  • Online beginning Nov. 25 (through a private Facebook group)
  • 6:45 p.m. Sundays beginning Nov. 25 in the 3rd floor conference room of The Portico
  • Noon Wednesdays beginning Nov. 28 in Knox Hall 153
  • 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Nov. 28 in Knox Hall 150
  • 6:30 p.m. Thursdays beginning Nov. 29 in Knox Hall 156/157 (women only)

Sign up now!

Hurricane Michael Relief Efforts

Hurricane Michael Relief Efforts

Hurricane Michael did unprecedented damage to many small beach communities and several cities in Florida’s panhandle. Hundreds of thousands of people remain without power. Here are several ways that can help alleviate some of the suffering:

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) suggests Five Things You Can Do For Disaster Response:

  1. Pray for those whose lives have been impacted by this disaster. Please also pray for Early Response Teams, disaster coordinators and the many volunteers who are working tirelessly to provide relief.
  2. Make relief kits. Download the packing list and shipping label at umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies.
  3. Give to UMCOR’s relief and recovery efforts at umcor.org/donate (U.S. Disaster Response, Advance #901670; International Disaster Response, Advance #982450; Undesignated, Advance #999895).
  4. Donate requested items only. To keep relief supplies in stock, give to Material Resources, Advance #901440 at umcor.org/donate.
  5. Please wait for an invitation to volunteer.

If you wish to make a financial contribution using your phone, TEXT UMCOR to 91999. You will receive a response that allows you to make a donation in any amount using your credit card.

You can also make your check payable to Hyde Park United Methodist and drop it off in the Ministry Offices or in the offering plate. Please make sure to write Hurricane Michael relief on the memo line. Contributions will be combined and sent to UMCOR.

Early Response Team Training

An Early Response Team (ERT) is a self-contained team invited to a disaster-affected area to provide specialized physical, emotional and spiritual assistance to survivors. ERTs help with specific needs in the early days after a disaster, cleaning out flood-damaged homes, removing debris, placing tarps on home and other tasks as needed, while providing a caring Christian presence.

An email from the Florida Conference shared this message on Oct. 15:

Because the situation is still very unstable and changing hourly, we will be sending only ERTs who have been trained and credentialed in the last five years. As the situation stabilizes over the next few weeks, we will broadcast a wider invitation for volunteers.

If you would like to be trained as an early responder for the Florida Conference and UMCOR, New Covenant UMC in The Villages is hosting a training 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Nov. 9 at New Covenant United Methodist Church in The Villages. To learn more or to register, click here.

“Fissures and Cracks” Art Exhibit

“Fissures and Cracks” Art Exhibit

On Oct. 23, The University of Tampa’s Scarfone/Hartley Gallery will open Fissures and Cracks, an exhibition of visual works by the homeless of Tampa Bay. The exhibition will also feature The Faces of a Million Meals, a photography portrait series by Tim Kennedy, UT professor of communication, originally created for Trinity Café. The exhibition runs through Nov. 4.

The works in the exhibition were created through Art Space, a partnership program of the UT art therapy program, the Tampa Museum of Art and Hyde Park United Methodist Church/The Portico. The Art Space program provides opportunities for homeless individuals to explore the arts at the Tampa Museum of Art, then provides them with art supplies to create their own visual works with the assistance of UT art therapy students at The Portico in downtown Tampa.

On Oct. 26, from 6–8 p.m. there will be a panel discussion on homelessness in Tampa Bay, the Art Space program, as well as the various resources and programs area organizations are implementing to help with this societal issue. Panelists include representatives from the UT PEACE Volunteer Center; Vicki Walker, minister of missions and outreach from Hyde Park United Methodist Church/The Portico; Joseph Scarce, UT art therapy instructor; and Mandy Cloniger, executive director of Trinity Café. A reception with light refreshments will follow.

Developed by the Las Damas de Arte foundation in partnership with the gallery, Hyde Park United Methodist Church/The Portico, Trinity Café and the UT art therapy program, the exhibition is sponsored through a Community Arts Impact Grant from the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners, as well as the Friends of the Gallery.

The gallery is located on campus at the R.K. Bailey Art Studios at 310 N. Boulevard. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. There is no charge for admission.

For more information, contact Jocelyn Boigenzahn, gallery director, at jboigenzahn@ut.edu or (813) 253-6217.

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