Midweek Message: Lessons From Irma

Midweek Message: Lessons From Irma

Sept. 21, 2017

Dear Hyde Park Family,

There were a lot of responses to my Midweek Message last week. In both my Midweek and my sermon, I invited us to reflect on what Hurricane Irma has taught us: about ourselves, what we value, what we fear, how we will be better prepared, and how we will respond to those who are suffering.

I received dozens of responses from you all, each one precious and poignant, and far more numerous than I can share with you today. Here is just a sampling of lessons you have learned, with permission from those who shared them with me:


As we were prepping for the storm, I realized I didn’t care about any of my possessions; I just wanted to keep my family safe. I only grabbed two things when evacuating: my camera and my Grandmother’s pearls. Everything else was just “stuff.”


I’ve learned how exhausting worrying can be. We all prepared, heeded the evacuations and thanked God the storm spared us and we were fine. Even if it had directly hit us, we were prepared, God would still be with us. It would be so much harder, but I truly believe that those who could, would take others in and we would all help each other make it through. I saw so many people offering to help those who may need it. Together as a community we will be okay, because we can come together and put aside our differences when needed.


I’ll start with what I was most fearful of. For me, I was terrified of losing my childhood home. Not only for the fact that the four walls would not be there. But for the mere terrifying feeling of losing memories. Now that brings me to what I value most. I hold on to and cherish memories of my dad and me throughout the home. I walk into what became his room downstairs when he was sick, and I can see his face and twinkle in his eye, telling me how happy it makes him to see me, after I’ve come home from work. I see his smile and I cling to it. I look next to the TV console and I see him, myself, and my niece dancing to his favorite song. These memories are not only what I value, but I cling to. What am I most fearful of? Not remembering each moment by its landmark (so to speak) in the house.


What did Irma teach me? Irma reminded me once again about the love that Jesus Christ has for all of us. I was very nervous and stressed leading up to the storm… not knowing what to expect (I have never experienced a hurricane growing up and living in Indiana my whole life). My husband and I talked with our two girls all week about the storm. We cried, prayed, and planned what we could. We talked a lot about what was important to us … each other and God’s Love! Things are replaceable, but each other is not. It was scary saying goodbye Saturday evening to my family and going into work, but I knew we would all be safe through our prayer and faith in Jesus Christ… I told the girls when they got scared to say a prayer to Jesus and I would do the same!


The storm taught me how much the family and close friends in my life mean to me and how we’d do anything for each other… I realized though through this storm how amazing the people are around me in my neighborhood. We went from being a cordial block to a block of people I’d call close friends who I know we’d do anything for. And my realizing we don’t ever “need” a bigger house but to be surrounded by good people is priceless. We’re here for the long haul now 🙂


This storm has taught me that we have too much stuff.
Stuff that I wouldn’t take with me if I had to evacuate.
Stuff that I had to pack up to secure in case of flood or wind.
Stuff that exhausted me before the storm to secure and after to unpack.
(Note: it’s not all going back.)
But most important: this storm taught me the value of good friends, family and neighbors.
That my nephew playing the guitar was incredibly soothing as the storm approached.
That board games create laughter that refreshes.
That planning for food (meals) and emergency supplies is important and vital.
That the ability to “camp” in your own house is helpful.


In the two days that I have been home, I’ve been listening to others tell their stories. Listening seems to be the most important thing. People want to tell their stories. I have offered to let people stay at our house, or have showers, laundry and recharge devices. I will give away stockpiled items. I’ll volunteer. I’ll pray for others and their recovery processes. I’ll be thanking God and will be grateful. And I’m so grateful for family and friends who checked in with my husband and me on a daily basis.


“Hurricane Oreos” depleted much more quickly than “Hurricane Baby Carrots.”  Restocking accordingly. – Allison Reed


by Lee Leavengood

A devastating strong force of nature cannot be ignored
Battening down from the strong winds and heavy rains
Watching the bending and swaying of the palm trees from inside
Feeling the dangers of the unpredictable outside
Being aware of life threating possibilities
In the now of an uncontrollable freak of weather
Asking who am I?

Grace and peace,
Magrey DeVega
Senior Pastor
Hyde Park United Methodist


We are so grateful for all the donations you brought in by last Monday. A box truck full of flood buckets, hygiene kits, and items you stockpiled for the storm were all delivered last Tuesday to people in need down in Southwest Florida. This is in addition to deliveries we made last week to flood-ravaged residents in nearby Lithia. We are continuing to receive donations, so please bring them to church, and we will deliver them as they come in. You can also make a financial contribution to the United Methodist Committee on Relief by making your check payable to the church and designating it for “Hurricane Relief.”


We are honored to host Bishop Carter this Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. in our Sanctuary. We will be welcoming United Methodists from all throughout Central Florida and the Gulf Coast. There will be opportunities for you to submit questions, and he will share with us his reflections on the Commission on a Way Forward, hurricane relief, the mission of the church, and much more.

Missions Celebration Sunday is Oct. 1

Missions Celebration Sunday is Oct. 1

More than 40 different Missions organizations are supported by you and the rest of the Hyde Park congregation. Hear stories from and meet our mission partners face-to-face at our annual Missions Celebration 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1 in the Harnish Activities Center. Light refreshments will be provided.

Missions ministries and partners will host information tables in the Harnish Activities Center. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the missions our congregation supports and how you can get involved, too.

Multiple opportunities are available to serve and support Missions Celebration Sunday. By volunteering to set up, organize, or donate food to the event, you can help make God’s love real to our congregation on Missions Celebration Sunday. View all opportunities and sign up here.

Hurricane Relief: 5 Ways to Help

Hurricane Relief: 5 Ways to Help

As we watch the ongoing weather devastation in Texas and Florida, our United Methodist Committee on Relief is already actively providing relief assessing needs. Florida Bishop Ken Carter has issued a challenge to collect 4,000 Flood Buckets to provide relief in Texas, and more will be needed in Florida.

Here are five ways you can offer direct assistance to people in need:

  • VOLUNTEER TO SERVE. Sign a waiver, tell us your skills and get on the list  with this form.
  • DONATIONS FOR FLORIDA. Non-perishable food items, water, batteries, and other hurricane supplies for immediate delivery. If there are items you stockpiled that you no longer need, or want to purchase items, bring them to the Courtyard outside the Sanctuary Sunday.
  • FLOOD BUCKETS (CLEANING KITS). The Florida Conference is once again challenging all churches to participate in a statewide flood bucket effort, with a goal of assembling 4,000 buckets. View the whole contents list here in a downloadable PDF. Bring your completed buckets to the Ministry Offices.
  • HYGIENE KITS. Basic health and hygiene products fit in a one-gallon plastic bag. Contents and instructions for assembly are here in a downloadable PDF.  Bring your completed buckets to the Ministry Offices.
  • MONEY. Consider making a financial contribution to flood relief, all of which goes directly to people in need. Make your check payable to Hyde Park United Methodist, and designate it for “Hurricane.” Alternatively, you may donate directly to UMCOR online here.

Our state and national governments are providing assistance. Senator Bill Nelson outlines many ways you can receive help here


Midweek Message: When the Great Storm is Over

Midweek Message: When the Great Storm is Over

Dear Hyde Park,
30  “But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31  Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Just now, I bet you barely took a pause between reading verses 30 and 31 of Matthew 14. Peter cried out for help, then Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him. Call, then response. Just like that.
The truth is, we could just as easily separate those two verses with about 24 hours, spanning from, say, last Sunday morning to last Monday morning. We were all Peter last weekend, facing the strong wind, gripped with fear, and our spirits beginning to sink. In so many ways, we each cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Then, 24 hours later, we woke up to a brand new day. The storm departed, the wind ceased, and the dreaded storm surge that was to engulf South Tampa never materialized. We were left with downed trees and loss of electricity, but mostly blinking and bleary-eyed with disbelief. We wondered how we were spared, when nearly every other part of Florida was so devastated.

Then Jesus said to Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

I’ve always interpreted that line to be one of rebuke from Jesus. “C’mon, folks,” I hear Jesus say. “Amp up the faith, tone down the doubt. Get yourselves together.”
But I don’t think Jesus is reprimanding us right now. I am hearing a different tone in his voice, one that is instructive and inviting, not chastising. What I hear is, “Okay. So what will you learn from this experience? What did this storm teach you?”
Those are the questions we will be exploring this Sunday. And I’m wondering, what has this experience of dealing with Hurricane Irma taught you?
  • What has it revealed about who you are?
  • Or what you value?
  • Or what you are most fearful of?
  • Or what you would do differently in preparation for next time?
  • And how are you going to minister to those who are suffering?
Would you be willing to share with me what this experience has taught you? I would love for you to email me your responses, as I discern the content of my sermon for this Sunday.
No, I do not think God causes hurricanes, or even allows them to happen. Nor do I think God uses human suffering to reprimand us. Instead, I believe in a God of resurrection and second chances, who is with us in suffering, ready to reach out a hand. Then, it is incumbent on us to learn the lessons that this experience is teaching us.
We are continuing our collection of flood cleaning buckets and hygiene kits, expecting now that many of our donations will stay here in Florida to assist with recovery from Hurricane Irma. With the rising flood waters of the nearby Alafia River, many communities in our own county will be in great need. Those communities include Lithia, where former staff member Erick Ashley and wife Tracey serve churches and are in urgent need of buckets and kits. We encourage you to complete those donations and bring them to the church this Sunday.
In addition, bay area United Methodist churches are collecting donations of non-perishable food items, water, batteries, and other hurricane supplies for immediate delivery to Naples and South Florida. If there are items that you stockpiled which you no longer need, or if you can purchase items for donation, please bring them to the Courtyard outside the Sanctuary this Sunday.
It’s great to be on the other side of this storm. Now, let’s make God’s love real for others.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
Church Activities UPDATE /// This Week

Church Activities UPDATE /// This Week

Things are a little different here this week due to cleanup from Hurricane Irma. We continue to lift in prayer all those affected by the storm, and those working to clean up. 


  • Ministry Offices will be open again starting Wednesday, Sept. 13
  • 6:30 p.m Prayer service Wednesday, Sept. 13 in the Chapel on the Hyde Park campus. Open to all who desire prayer in community.
  • We will have Chancel Choir and Children’s Choir Practice at their normal schedule on Wednesday, Sept. 13
  • No Dinner, Adult Small Groups, Youth, Nursery or Children’s programming on Wednesday, Sept. 13
  • Aldersgate Corner Bookstore and Coffee Shop (Hyde Park campus) is closed until Sunday, Sept. 20
  • The Portico Cafe will be open with extended hours on Wednesday and Thursday evenings Sept. 13 and 14 until 7 p.m. – It is located at 1001 N. Florida in downtown Tampa
  • New Small Groups, Classes and New Member Class will start next Wednesday, Sept. 20
  • DocNight Screenagers at The Portico campus is cancelled
  • Missions Team meeting (Wednesday, Sept. 13) is cancelled
  • Finance Team meeting is happening as scheduled on Wednesday, Sept. 13
  • Small Blessings Preschool will be open on Thursday, Sept. 14 as scheduled
  • Trustees Team meeting is moved to Thursday, Sept. 14 – 5:30 p.m. at The Portico Cafe
  • Family Fun Night is still happening Friday, Sept. 15
Hurricane Resources and Information

Hurricane Resources and Information

Our Church’s Storm Readiness Plan and Sunday Worship Schedule:

The Ministry Offices will reopen on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Find details on other activities here.

Relief Efforts

Assist in disaster recovery efforts. Find information through the Florida United Methodist Conference here.

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