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.”

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.

Missions Celebration Sunday

Missions Celebration Sunday

Missions Celebration – Sunday, Oct. 28: Volunteers Needed

At our annual Missions Celebration, Sunday, Oct. 28, you will connect, face-to-face, with many of the more than 40 missions organizations our congregation supports. In addition, several inspiring guest speakers will participate in our worship services:

8:30, 9:30 and 11 a.m. Sanctuary: The Rev. Pam Carpenter, Disaster Recovery, Florida Conference
8:30 Chapel and 11 a.m. Magnolia: The Rev. Joe McColligan, Professor, Asbury Theological Seminary
5:30 The Portico: Michael Doyle, Love INC, Tampa

You can help provide hospitality for our mission partners and guests. Bring food or help prepare it here, help set up, replenish or clean food stations, or assist in setting up tables in the Activities Center. Sign up at hydeparkumc.org/MissionsCelebrationVols

Learn more about our mission partners at hydeparkumc.org/missions.

Prayer Bears

Prayer Bears

Have you seen one of these bears before?

If you can believe it, 10 years ago, Trish Krider started this ministry. Since then, these bears have helped children find comfort in this space, brought peace to people in the hospital, and have been delivered to all ages, in all walks of life – from CEO’s to the homeless. They’ve even made it around the world. Other churches have begun similar ministries. It only happens because of the volunteers, but also because you are part of this church, you have and continue to support every bear through your financial generosity.

Thank you. And next time you see one of the bears, say a prayer for the person who will receive it.

Florida Restores – Disaster Recovery

Florida Restores – Disaster Recovery

It’s hard to believe a year has passed since Hurricane Irma. For many, a lot has changed. For many more, the challenges remain overwhelming — as they continue to struggle with recovery.

Everyday Faith

Everyday Faith

Faith is not merely a set of rules, but a way of living.


Let’s make faith what we do, not just what we believe.

Let it shape what we say, not just what we know.

Let it impact others, not just ourselves.

Let’s live our faith every day, not just an hour on Sunday.


Join us as we explore the powerful, practical wisdom in the book of James in our new series, “Everyday Faith” Aug. 26 – Sept. 23.


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