Dear Hyde Park Family,

Last week was the gathering in Lakeland of the Florida Annual Conference, comprised of clergy and laity from around the state. One of the highlights is always the service of licensing, commissioning and ordination, in which we celebrate persons newly serving as clergy.

Among them were our own Amy Greene (deacon) and Zach Hutchinson (local pastor), two people who grew up in our youth group and were confirmed here many years ago. It was also great to welcome back Michelle Shrader, whose calling into ministry is rooted at Hyde Park. After three years of serving in South Africa, she returns home to Florida, where she will be serving down in the Miami area. You can read more about her return home here.

I am thankful for the way this congregation has nurtured the call of many throughout the years into full-time Christian ministry. We are grateful to have Nicki Taylor, a candidate for ordained ministry, serving on staff as our Director of Small Group Ministries, learning and leading among us.

It is also a time to recognize the year ahead for all of us, and the six clergy persons at Hyde Park who are all returning for another year of ministry. Sally, Vicki, Kim, Debbie, Justin, and I are grateful to be coming back, and as always covet your prayers and support as we seek to fulfill our calling among such a loving, caring and committed congregation as this one.

I have posted similar prayers like this in years past, but I offer it again, in the hope that you will lift up the clergy of Hyde Park, as well as others throughout the denomination, over the months ahead:

A PRAYER FOR PASTORS IN THE YEAR AHEAD

Gracious God,

We thank you for your church, the living embodiment of Christ, empowered by your Spirit to reach a hurting world.  We thank you for the women and men who serve as clergy and lay preachers, who challenge, nurture and order the life of your people.  And we thank you for lay people, and their rich array of skills and passions. Together, we are your church, from all walks and seasons of life.

We thank you for candidates for ministry, and those who are newly licensed, commissioned, and ordained for ministry, who are entering the tender years of their work. We especially give you thanks for Amy, Zach and Nicki. And we thank you for those who are retired, continuing to serve your kingdom in renewed ways. May all clergy, at every stage of ministry, fulfill their sacred calling for years to come.

We pray for our Bishop Ken Carter, his cabinet, and all our Conference leaders, as they lead us through times of adaptation, healing and growth. Grant them wise discernment and grace-filled leadership.

We thank you for your presence amid transition, particularly for clergy who are moving, and for churches receiving new pastors. Bless spouses, families, friends and all those impacted by these changes. Grant them strength for the journey ahead and a confidence that your kingdom will be built by the best people serving in the right places.

Even amid our gratitude, we acknowledge hardship. We recognize that the journey is often difficult for those who pursue your call. We pray for clergy who are dealing with physical, relational, emotional, mental or financial strains. Grant them courage to face their limitations, wisdom to make the tough choices, supportive loved ones to surround them in their darkest days, renewed strength for their moments of fatigue and the willingness to make necessary changes toward health and wholeness.

We pray for those struggling to find adequate balance between the demands of leadership and their responsibilities to family and self-care. Grant them the ability to discern healthy choices, prioritize what is most important and tend to those areas of life that nourish their souls and relationships.

We pray for pastors whose current spiritual state is likened to a dry, parched wilderness. For those whose difficult years in ministry have sapped them of joy, creativity, and innovation, we ask that you restore their energies and inspire them to new ways of serving your church. Buoy them with hope, fill them optimism and holy humor and remind them that “the joy of the Lord is their strength.” 

Over the year ahead, renew within preachers a holy passion for the Scriptures. Open their eyes to new interpretive possibilities, and fill them with new zeal for its preaching, its teaching and its embodiment through their example. May they fall in love once again with the beauty of language, and its power to name and sustain our commitment to be your people.

We give you thanks, O Lord, for all you have done in and through the faithfulness of clergy and lay people throughout the years. May we continue to serve as the living expression of your love, made real for the world to see. May all of us be led by the one whom you sent for our sake, Jesus the Christ, who is the head of the church, and in whose name we pray, Amen.

Grace and peace,

Magrey

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

Roger Scholtz Preaching July 8

We welcome back to the Hyde Park pulpit the Rev. Roger Scholtz, interim preacher prior to my return, on Sunday, July 8. An incorrect date was published in last week’s Midweek Message. He will also be offering a workshop the following Tuesday, July 10.

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