Midweek Message: The Long Shadow of Mental Illness

Midweek Message: The Long Shadow of Mental Illness

Dear Hyde Park Family,

In 1949, the National Association for Mental Health (now Mental Health America) began designating the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a good time to acknowledge the prevalence of mental health challenges in our society, and it is an opportunity for us to combat the unfortunate stigma that is often associated with those fighting mental illness.

It’s an illness that affects about one in four people in the world. The World Health Organization names it as one of the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. By next year, it will be second only to heart disease in its prevalence among global diseases. See their report.

Chances are, someone you know and care for is affected by some form of mental illness. It may even be you. It shows no preference for any one demographic or life stage, and casts a long shadow in the homes, churches, schools, and workplaces throughout our communities.

If you’re looking for biblical precedent, many scholars point to 1 Samuel 18:10 as the best example of a biblical character who may have had depression: “The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house.”


Take a moment to pray for those affected by some form of mental illness. Work to overcome your own prejudice against people who are suffering, and help stem society’s stigma. Reach out in love and concern to loved ones you know who deal with this on a daily basis. Offer them a note of understanding, a compassionate ear or simply a kind word.

And take care of yourself! I, for one, have been blessed with a number of great therapists over the years, especially the one I am seeing now. Some of the finest, healthiest people I know are unashamedly candid about their personal challenges, and the great benefits they have received from a solid support system.

So, if you are one of the millions dealing with mental illness, know that you need not walk this journey alone. Seek out the trusted counsel of a friend or professional, and feel the presence of God’s peace in your life. And of course, the pastors of this church are here to recommend therapists and counselors, and to provide spiritual counsel as part of your journey toward healing.

Together, let’s do the work of the church, and be a beacon of light for those who walk along dark paths.

Grace and Peace,


The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist

The United Methodist Board of Church and Society offers this helpful resource regarding mental illness. It provides biblical and spiritual guidance, along with practical steps and connections to helpful programs.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

Families come in all different shapes, sizes, colors and ways! Mother’s day is not just for your mom or for you if you are a mom, but for all the women in your life who have loved you and have been there for you! In this picture I’m standing next to my mom and next to her is my dad ex-wife, my three older brothers mom. We know it’s strange, but we are really grateful that our family can celebrate holidays altogether because my mom and my brothers mother, Verona, both get along so well. We all celebrate birthdays together and even go on vacations together.

Crazy…. We know…. But that’s my family!

We know that not all families are able to do life together but we do know that God is in the midst of your family! We know that the women in your life have made a Kingdom difference. Maybe your mom wasn’t the most supportive or always there for you, but we pray that God has brought another woman in your life along the way who has shown you the kind of support and love that you deserve.

We Thank God for the moms of this youth program. For all of the long nights that you stayed awake worrying and praying for your babies. You are the backbone of your families and you brought light and love to your kids’ lives. Thank you for sharing your faith with our youth. Thank you for never giving up on them even when they “try” every bone in your body with their attitude. Thank you for loving them when they were rejected or didn’t make that “A.” Thank you for loving them just for being them!

You are God’s reflection in our lives. You are who we want to be! Happy Mother’s Day!

Dunbar Elementary School Teachers Visit Hyde Park

Dunbar Elementary School Teachers Visit Hyde Park

On May 5, teachers from Dunbar Elementary School visited Hyde Park for worship. Hyde Park has partnered with Dunbar as part of the school-church parnership initiative of the Florida Conference.

To get involved with Dunbar Elementary, contact Kathy Avant at 813.928.3333.

For information about school-church partnerships and the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, click here.

Midweek Message: The Value of Scars

Midweek Message: The Value of Scars

Dear Hyde Park Family,

“Jesus showed them his hands and his side.
Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.”
(John 20:20)

Apparently, Jesus’ resurrected body had some unique abilities, like walking through closed doors and ascending into the clouds. But despite these heavenly qualities, it also had a surprising human feature.

It still showed the scars.

His hands, feet, and side bore the marks of the nails and the spear, even though the rest of his body had been made perfectly whole. His heart resumed the pumping of his blood, and his brain again processed his senses and thoughts. But his skin? Not so much. The blemishes from his suffering were still there.

John’s gospel would have us believe that they were there for a reason: to identify Jesus to those who doubted. For anyone who wondered whether the resurrection was real, the scars dispelled the possibility that an imposter was in their midst. They would come to recognize Jesus not by his voice or his gait, nor by his mannerisms and motions, but by his scars. Jesus’ had suffered extraordinary brutality, and he alone had the marks to prove it.

Some of us go through life with scars, wishing they would disappear forever. I have a burn mark on my arm when I once touched a hot piece of equipment. My younger daughter Madelyn has a scar over her left eye from stitches she needed after falling off her bicycle. My older daughter Grace has a scar on her cheek from when she was born. And I, like many of you, have scars that are invisible to the eye. They are from wounds in our spirit that reach deep within our past, etched by heartache, grief, doubt or remorse. Perhaps our scars have faded some since their original severity. But they remain, reminding us of what we’ve been through, and what we’ve become as a result.

Consider the enduring scars of people in the Bible. There’s Jacob’s limp, or Adam’s sweat or Paul’s thorn. Consider stories from the wider culture, and you’ll see the scar on Odysseus’ foot when he fought with a boar, and Luke Skywalker’s robotic hand after his duel with Darth Vader. Alice emerged from Wonderland with scrapes on her arm. And Harry Potter survived his childhood encounter with Lord Voldemort with a tingling, lightning-shaped mark on his forehead.

Yes, scars recall old wounds. But they also offer encouragement. They remind us that in those moments when we could have played it safe, we chose to take a risk. When we could have chosen the easy way out, we decided to stay and struggle. When times got tough, we didn’t run and hide. Instead, we succumbed to the brutality of the moment, persisted through the pain, and survived to tell about it.

And, not only did we endure the suffering, we were transformed by it. Often, life’s most formative experiences are not the triumphs on the mountain top, but those born in the crucible of suffering. Those are the moments that stretched us until we thought we would break, bruised us until we thought we were bloodless, and pushed us until we thought we would never stand again. But the scars remind us that we did more than survive. We experienced the most powerful and central Christian realities:


Look back on your life. Yes, you have been through a lot. More than you might feel you deserve. And at the time, it was more than you thought you could handle. But look at yourself, at all those scars and bruises (especially the ones so deep inside you that only you and God can see.) There’s no reason to be ashamed of them. No reason to hide them. Because they are living proof that God has seen you through.

Grace and Peace,


The Rev. Margrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist

Summer Sunday Morning Live

Summer Sunday Morning Live

Summer Sunday Morning Live is almost here! Parent help needed!
9:30 and 11 a.m., 
Sundays, June 2 – Aug. 11

During this time, our school year shepherds take a much-deserved break and the only way programming can continue is if parents step in!

This is a wonderful opportunity for you to touch lives, change hearts and draw kids closer to God!

How many opportunities allow you to make THAT kind of impact? And it’s a great way to experience Sunday Morning Live with your child!

Grab your spouse, partner, older child (rising seventh grader or older) or dear friend and make it extra fun to serve with someone you know!

All lessons and supplies are supplied/prepared for you – you just need a heart for God and a heart for kids!

Click here to sign up for Sundays.


  • May 15 is last night of Wednesday night programming (Club 45, Zone, Jr Zone)
  • May 19 is last Sunday of our regular Sunday Morning Live programming
Merge Orientation and Messy Night

Merge Orientation and Messy Night

We invite our incoming sixth grade parents and students to attend Orientation Night Sunday, May 19. We will meet in the Magnolia Building, first floor, to share information about summer activities and give you an opportunity to meet our Youth Ministries staff. The schedule is as follows:

5:30-6 p.m. – Students and parents meet together with the Youth Ministries Staff
6 p.m. – Students are dismissed to join Messy Night
6–6:30 p.m. – Parents finish meeting with the Youth Ministries Staff
8 p.m. – Student pick-up (Parents can stay for Messy Night or come back for pick-up.)

Please note: Traditionally, Messy Night is a crazy night mixed with fun and filth that students love! Students will need to wear clothes that could be ruined or thrown away. In addition, please plan to cover your car seats with towels when you pick-up your student at 8 p.m.

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