Worship Tips for Families

Worship Tips for Families

Sunday Morning Live is worship just for kids, but what about when you want to worship together as a family?

Helpful Hints for Attending Worship Together

Preparation before Sunday:

  • Read the scripture for Sunday’s sermon together beforehand.
  • Discuss your family’s expectations for worship behavior and participation.
  • Let your child(ren) know you are happy to be worshiping together.

Ways for Children to Participate in Worship:

  • Let the whole family take turns choosing which service you go to.
  • Consider sitting in the Sanctuary balcony if you are concerned about movement or activity.
  • Help them follow the order of worship in the bulletin.
  • Let them fill out a connection card with their prayer requests on the back – either written or as a picture depending on their abilities.
  • Let them put the connection cards and money in the offering plates.
  • Help them find the hymns and scriptures in the hymnal and pew Bible, even though they are projected on the screens.
  • Encourage the use of the children’s worship bulletins which include a Children’s Worship Guide. Kids can receive a special treat by turning in the completed guide.
  • Point out specific things that might interest them; how fast the drummer’s sticks move, the way the choir sings all the words together, what color shirt the preacher is wearing, etc.
  • After service, have your family share one thing they learned in worship that day.

Most of all, relax and know that we are glad you are here. See you in worship!

Questions? Email Kristin Passath, Dir. of Children’s Ministries or call 813.253.5388, ext. 233

Celebrating Mission Smiles

Celebrating Mission Smiles

Mission Smiles is a ministry partner of Hyde Park United Methodist that provides free dental services to those in need. The Mission Smiles team visits Hyde Park United Methodist a few times a year to provide free dental services to our Open Arms guests.

On the April 23, 2017 visit of Mission Smiles, 34 guests received $13,116 worth of services from 29 volunteers!

Read a recent “thank-you” message delivered to Hyde Park by Kathy McGartland, Mission Smiles Program Manager:

Generosity, a willingness to give your time to others
Understanding, because their lives might be very different from your own
Empathy, an ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel what they must feel
Compassion, to truly care about making someone else’s life better
Patience, because the process doesn’t always go as smoothly as it might
Dedication, to stick with the project and see it through
You’ve shown these qualities and so much more, so thank you for all that you do.

We are thankful to be a partner in ministry with Mission Smiles. It is through the support of the people at Hyde Park United Methodist that Mission Smiles is able to help make God’s love real in this way.

Read Kathy’s update on Mission Smiles from April 23, 2017 here.

Midweek Message: The Broad Center of the Church

Midweek Message: The Broad Center of the Church

May 11, 2017

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Next year, the United Methodist Church will be fifty years old. And it will be in its forty-sixth year debating homosexuality. That is a long time for family members to be at odds.

The dispute has only grown more hostile over recent years; the church was even on the precipice of an irreparable split at its most recent General Conference in Portland last May. The election of the denomination’s first gay bishop last year, and the subsequent ruling by the Judicial Council two weeks ago that declared her election a violation of church law, has only enflamed the passions on both sides. We continue to pray for The Commission on a Way Forward, a group of thirty-two clergy and laity authorized by the 2016 General Conference to discern a plan for the church to find a way through its current impasse. A specially called General Conference has been set for 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri, with the express purpose of considering the plan put forward by the Commission.

These are difficult days for a denomination caught in a contentious tug-of-war that feels like there can be no winners.

Last week in Nashville, I was invited to be part of “To Serve the Present Age,” a gathering of 48 United Methodist leaders from across all five jurisdictions in the country who would identify as at or near the theological center in this debate. Some were on the “center-right” and others like myself were on the “center-left.” But we all shared mutual concern about how this argument reflects the kind of binary, dualistic and ultimately unhealthy culture of the wider world.

For a very full 24-hours, we shared, prayed, cried and lamented the harm that has been done to many in the church. Toward the end of our time, we began to coalesce around a hopeful vision that the broad center of the United Methodist Church might overcome its laryngitis, refusing to become a mere third rope in the tug-of-war and instead reminding the church of its nature and necessity in a critical time in our history.

I don’t know what will eventually become of that initial gathering, nor do I know what my future leadership in this group might be. However, I left Nashville even more firmly committed to the mission, vision and core values of Hyde Park United Methodist, for when we live into who we are called to be, we can be a witness to the wider denomination of a church in the broad center that has overcome its laryngitis.

The argument by many on the far right of this debate is that those who have more accepting views of homosexuality have acquiesced to the culture, that we have allowed the ways of the world to shape our belief and practice, rather than the other way around. But to be warm-hearted and open-minded is less about shaping or being shaped by the culture around us. It is about tending to the culture within the church. It should be no surprise that many of Paul’s letters to the early churches, particularly I and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, and Galatians, dealt with the way Christians treated each other. And the way we treat each other can itself be a witness to the rest of the world.

So, even as I reiterate that I am for marriage equality and the ordination of gay and lesbian persons, and wish to work within our system to make those changes, I would like you to know that if you are on the opposite side of this debate, I love you as your pastor. You are not only welcomed here, you are accepted here.

Why? Because I recognize that I did not always believe as I do now. Thirty years ago, when I had a very different view of homosexuality, if the United Methodist local church of my youth was condescending of people with a more conservative view, like myself, then I would not have felt welcomed there. I likely would have left that church, which means I would not have been called to ministry in that church. I would therefore not be United Methodist today, and I would not be your pastor.

Even thinking about that alternate trajectory of my life makes me teary as I type.

This is not to say that I expect you to change your views to be like mine. And it does not mean that if you agree with me, then I think you are a better Christian. Having a church of multiple voices joined together by common mission does not make us weaker or culturally acquiescent. It does not make us a “mushy middle of ecclesiological niceness or a casual compromise of conflicting convictions,” in the words of Jim Harnish.

It makes us multilingual in our mission. And I’m pretty sure that Pentecost would say that’s a good thing.


Besides, if we really wanted to acquiesce to the culture in its present state, then we are doomed to reflect its current polarized, binary, dualistic ways. As I spent time with my colleagues in Nashville, I couldn’t help but think of the number of times Jesus was presented with either/or questions. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Who sinned: this blind man or his parents? Is it right to heal on the Sabbath? Many times, when asked a question about sin posed in the form of a contentious tug-of-war, Jesus refused to play. Not only did he never say a word about homosexuality, he had a lot more to say about the grace of God, which transcends either/or categories that are more useful to cast judgment on others than they are in transforming lives.

So, I want you to know that in this church, we are unafraid to talk about sin. All of us deal with it. None of us are immune to it. We have all fallen short of God’s glory. And though many like myself have now come to the place where we believe homosexuals are created who they are by God, and that living into that identity is not sinful, it does not make that position soft on sin. Because I know of no one, gay or straight, who would say they are sinless. And it reminds me that the best answer Jesus ever gave to a binary question about sin was this: Let the one without sin cast the first stone.

So, I’m pretty sure we could all agree on this: we all really need Jesus.


I recognize that some people who do not affirm marriage equality and gay ordination say that the central issue is less a question about its sinfulness, and more about preserving traditions and institutions, like marriage and the structures of the church. The concern is that if everyone simply did what they wanted to do, then that would be detrimental to our society. As a rules person myself, I understand this position at a personal level. I do my best to observe covenants and boundaries, and to be obedient to the systems and institutions that govern my life and my calling.

In this light, this part of the debate is a reflection of the larger ongoing tension in the wider culture, among 1) those who value the stability of institutions, 2) those who value the authenticity of personal experience, and 3) those wish to value all perspectives as having equal merit. In terms of Spiral Dynamics, a color-coded theory of human consciousness espoused by psychologist Claire Graves, we are in the midst of a formidable tectonic shift among these three groups, which – put in terms of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral – are those who most value tradition (Blue), experience (Orange), and reason (Green).

This interplay is not new. Within the biblical narrative is an ongoing conversation between the ways of God and the structures of earth. It is a dialogue between God’s initiatives and humanity’s ways of codifying them. But by the time Jesus came around, he realized that the institutionalization of God’s commandments had itself become monolithic, and when faced with the (again, dualistic) question of whether he had come to follow the law or abolish the law, Jesus said neither. He had come to fulfill the law.

If there is any bridge to be made among these three polarities in the church, it is the ethics of love. That is the theme that Jesus returned to, time and again, when he was confronted with these questions. For the traditionalists, an ethics of love means that our structures are merely a means to the fulfillment of our mission of sharing God’s love. For the experientialist, an ethics of love ought to govern the way we treat one another, even those who don’t share in that experience. For the relativist, an ethics of love is the parameter that determines what options are harmful, destructive and out of bounds.

For us Christians there is no greater revelation of that ethic of love than Jesus, revealed to us in the Bible.


That is why I believe that God is still speaking to us. Because the times are changing, the timeless word of God revealed to us in Jesus has the capacity to speak in surprisingly relevant and novel ways. This point is contrast to one Christian speaker I recently heard who declared that God is no longer speaking. He claimed that all that God needed to say to us is revealed to us in the Bible and that is, therefore, all we need to know.

One of the singularly transformative moments in my seminary career was in my theology class, where Professor Tyron Inbody said to us, “Okay. Let us accept for a moment that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, word of God, and all that God wishes to say to us about anything is included in it.” Then he asked the zinger:

“So what?

“Isn’t it the case,” he continued, “that we would still need to interpret it? That we still need to make connections between its words and our times and situations? Of course we do. So, what is to prevent us, as imperfect and mistake-prone as we are, from taking the holy words of God and interpreting them in an unholy way? Every act of interpretation has the capacity for fallibility.”

I realized then that he was right. Yes, the Bible is our primary authority. In in the words of John Wesley, in it is contained all that is necessary for our salvation. But because we are far from perfect, we need the constant, steady voice of the Holy Spirit to help us interpret the Bible in the way God needs it to be embodied and enlivened in the world today.

The church may have closed the biblical canon. But it did not close the mouth of God.


Ultimately, here is why I am energized to be the senior pastor of this church, regardless of what is happening in the higher levels of our denomination. We are a Christ-centered and biblically-rooted church. That is at the core of who we are, and those two values alone define the center of our life together. It is what enables us to be both warm-hearted (open to a diversity of people) and open-minded (open to a diversity of perspectives). And because we are mission-directed and connection-committed, we remember that all that we do is guided by an ethics of love.

The world today is governed by a different ethic. It is one of humiliation. It is one where a black teenager cannot walk the neighborhood at night without worrying if they will be humiliated by a police officer. It is a world where a white male is made to feel humiliated for having too much privilege, when he instead feels so helpless and poor. It is a world where a gay person called to ministry feels humiliated by a church who forces them to choose between the way they were created and the way they were called by God. It is a world where a person cannot long for a preservation of tradition without being called a bigot.

But our core values are clear: in this church, humiliation has no place in Christian community. We worship together, debate together, serve together, and love together. Not just because we have more in common than we are different (though we do). And not just because we need each other (and we do).

But because the world needs us. They may not realize it, but they need the institution of the church to be an alternative community against the brokenness of the world. It is a community not shaped by the polarizing dynamics of our society, but by an ethic of love. And because there are way too many people in the world who need Jesus, we are the body of Christ.

Now, more than ever, it is good to be the church. And I am privileged to be your senior pastor.

Let’s make God’s love real together.

Grace and Peace,

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


To Learn More about the Nashville Gathering:
To learn more about the gathering in Nashville called “To Serve the Present Age,” you can read the press release. To read a wonderful reflection on the experience, check out the latest Faith Matters by Jim Harnish, one of the organizers of the event. To sign up to receive future updates about the group, email UMC.allofus@gmail.com.

To Learn More about the Commission on a Way Forward:
Click here to learn more about the work and members of the Commission. I invite you to be in prayer by name for those who are serving on it. If you would like to meet two of the Florida representatives on the Commission, there is a pre-Conference gathering in Orlando on Wednesday, June 7 that you can attend.

To Learn More about How We Got Here:
To read Bishop Ken Carter’s excellent historical overview of the current debate, click here.

If You Would Like to Share Your Thoughts, Questions, and Feelings:
I can speak for all six of your clergy when I say that we welcome your thoughts, questions, and feelings related to this discussion. We are here to listen and offer pastoral support to you, wherever you are in this debate. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or any of the other clergy if we can be of any assistance to you.

Ribbon Cutting for The Portico Cafe

Ribbon Cutting for The Portico Cafe

The ribbon cutting at The Portico Cafe was a success! Friday, May 5, a room full of supporters and reporters celebrated the ribbon cutting of The Portico Cafe. We are thankful for the prayers and support that unleashed this cafe with a mission!

Read local and regional articles about the cafe’s grand opening:

The cafe is now open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. Fridays and 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. Saturdays. Learn more about The Portico Cafe.

View photos from the opening:


Unleash God’s Work in You Sunday

Unleash God’s Work in You Sunday

Your life matters, and God has created you to make a difference. We believe that serving others is part of who we are as a church. When we say yes to God’s work in us, we take part in making God’s love real!

Sunday, May 21, you will receive a “Say Yes” serving card so that you can “say yes” to serving at Hyde Park United Methodist. Interested in exploring serving opportunities now? Explore online here.

Sunday May 21, stop by the serving information tables in the Courtyard or Magnolia for ways to say yes to God’s work in you through service in our church. Representatives from various ministry areas will be on hand to discuss why they serve where they do and how you can join them in making God’s love real through service.

Visit the tables to learn about no-experience-needed opportunities to serve at Hyde Park United Methodist!

Midweek Message: Comfort in Continuity

Midweek Message: Comfort in Continuity

May 4, 2017

Dear Hyde Park Family,

This past weekend, I felt like a teenager again.

Last Friday night, my daughter Grace and the Plant High School Wind Ensemble performed two selections that immediately transported me back to my high school days. As soon as I heard Gustav Holst’s Suite No. 1 in E-flat and the sixth movement of Percy Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy, I was a 17-year old bass clarinetist again. I noticed my fingers instinctively moving with the notes, myself breathing in between runs, my shoulders leaning in with every dynamic contrast. It was more than just fond recollection; it was anamnetic, a kind of dynamic remembrance which brought the past vividly into the present.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, my younger daughter Madelyn performed in the Symphonic Festival, a regional middle school honor band at the University of South Florida. As I walked the grounds of the campus, I was instantly transported back to when I was part of a similar honor band at USF. As I watched her work long hours, make new friendships, and perform under a renowned conductor, I felt like a much younger version of myself was right there with her.

What intrigued me about both these experiences was not the attempt to recapture my past, or to relive my “glory days” through my daughters. Instead, I was fascinated by the power of these songs and these shared memories to connect me to something greater than myself. As much as I have changed since my teenage years, and as much as the world now feels so different from the days of my youth, there was comfort to be gained in the continuity of shared music and memory. Years from now, when both girls are my age and hear this same music performed by others, they will be able to look back on these experiences with the same kind of dynamic remembrance, linking them to their father, and to all who enjoyed those experiences before them.

It’s the perfect metaphor for what I felt Sunday morning, at Youth Sunday. Our amazing youth led us in worship by offering prayers, performing skits, leading singing, and preaching sermons that called us to freedom from our fear. They spoke with poise, conviction, vulnerability, and maturity, and I couldn’t help but think about my first ever preaching experience in 1989, as part of Youth Sunday in my hometown church.

The songs of Gustav Holst and Percy Grainger link me to instrumental ensembles then and now. But it is the music and artistry of the Holy Spirit at work through the history of the church that calls us to a grand, cosmic connection to the church’s past, present and future. Last Sunday our youth preached from the same Bible that grounds the church in God’s revelation in Christ, recited the same prayers that unite us with the communion of saints, and reminded us that the same Spirit of God is alive and active now, just as before.

No matter what may happen in this chaotic, unpredictable, and sometimes frightening world, there is comfort in the continuity of God’s love and grace. And it’s a message we need to hear today.

Last Friday, the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church rendered its decision regarding the ordination of Bishop Karen Oliveto, the first openly gay bishop in the denomination. We knew that going into the trial in Denver last week, no decision was going to put an end to this nearly 40-year rift within the church over this debate. And indeed, when the verdict came out, it emboldened some, saddened others, and further entrenched the already polarized sides more deeply into their camps. You can read more about the verdict here as well as a fine statement by our own Bishop Ken Carter, which he offered before the verdict was issued.

That news, compounded with the seemingly endless barrage of sad and scary headlines that come across our feeds every day, have the potential of making one feel so overwhelmed by the conditions of our society, our church, and our world. Never mind the personal burdens that we all have, some of them known only by God and held tightly in the confines of our hearts.

But if you listen carefully, you can hear the continuity of the Spirit’s song. It was composed by Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. You may have performed it in the early days of your faith journey, when times felt simpler and uncluttered. But it is still performed by ensembles of faithful people today. And when you hear it, when you experience it in worship, and especially when you see it rendered by the youth of our time, it does more than bring you back to a time gone by.

It calls you to pick up your instrument again. To dust it off and sit up straight. To tune yourself to concert pitch. To take a deep breath and focus on the notes in front of you. Because the Conductor is taking the podium once again, with baton in hand. And that same music that has long been a faint echo in your memory is being called forth once more, into a world that is desperate to hear it.

Grace and Peace,

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

One of the ways you can rediscover God’s song within you is through our new worship series called “Unleashed! Saying Yes to God’s Work in You.” Over the next three weeks, we will rediscover who we are in Christ, be inspired to take the next step in our spiritual commitment, and explore ways to offer our time and talents to God. You can look forward to receiving your own serve letter, which includes a “Say Yes” card that we invite you to prayerfully fill out and return on our Serve Commitment Sunday on May 21. And this Sunday, you can connect with folks in a special tent on Azeele Street who will help you be unleashed for God’s service. For more information, visit our website.

Pin It on Pinterest