Dear Hyde Park Family,

First, a quick word of prayerful concern for the people all along the Gulf coast and the southeastern United States who have been affected by the devastation of Hurricane Michael. Our United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will offer a coordinated response from our denomination, and we will inform you of how to join in those recovery efforts. In the meantime, we pray for aid and comfort for those seeking provision and shelter, safety for the first responders and electricity workers, and swift, effective work by all agencies working to provide relief.

Second, I want to offer you this exciting, comprehensive update on where we are in our visioning process. This statement was written by members of our Vision Team and offered as a bulletin insert in last Sunday’s worship services. But in case you missed it, I invite you to read it and ponder these important learnings by our Vision Team so far:



For 12 months, we’ve been engaged in a sustained effort to discern how the Spirit intends to use Hyde Park – its people, its service and its worship – to make God’s love real and make disciples, both today and in the future.

We’re in the process of synthesizing a year’s worth of information gathered through meetings with hundreds of church members and non-members, staff and lay leaders; through ministry assessments; open-invitation visioning chats with more than 200 participants; and a congregation-wide survey with more than 700 respondents; among other outreach.

As we advance this visioning process toward recommendations to present to the church, we do so…

Against a landscape of challenges and changes in the Tampa-area community and our culture:

  • 2/3 of people living in the area are not involved in a religious community.
  • Going forward, three times as many people in the area are likely to disassociate from religious community than become active in one.
  • Unchurched people living in the area have a higher level of disinterest and disillusionment with organized religion than the national average.

Understanding that Hyde Park United Methodist has a strong foundation and committed members:

  • The vast majority of our congregation currently feel a strong connection to God and consider themselves fully committed followers of Jesus.
  • At least 2/3 of our congregation cited our worship, the warmth and friendliness of our people, core values and our preaching among the reasons they remain committed to Hyde Park United Methodist.

Recognizing that complacency could cause us to miss opportunities in the midst of our changing community and culture:

  • Average Sunday worship attendance has remained at approximately 900 people for 20 years, out of more than 2,000 members, and more than 6,000 who participate in our ministries, communications and other involvement.
  • Approximately 500 households participate in financial pledges to the church each year out of nearly 1,400 households, and this has remained about the same for many years.
  • 1/3 of congregational survey respondents expressed a desire for a stronger spiritual commitment while recognizing they have not made the commitment to get more involved.

Acknowledging our congregation’s expressed desire for increased connection, deeper Biblical understanding, and more service and outreach opportunities, among other needs:

  • 54% of survey respondents requested more opportunities to be better connected (to church members, staff and/or community.)
  • While many church-goers first came to Hyde Park United Methodist because of a personal invitation from a friend, more than 50% of our congregation are neutral or dissatisfied with their invitation to others.
  • More than 50% of respondents expressed neutrality or dissatisfaction with their personal progress in reading Scripture faithfully, a standout among overall satisfaction with other spiritual practices.
  • More than 80% of survey respondents reflected that it is “Somewhat Important” or “Very Important” for the whole church to have better clarity about the purpose and mission of The Portico.
  • Connectivity, diversity, community, invitation and communication were the topics most widely discussed in the Vision Chats, as was a call for more focus in our missions and service for greater impact.

The Vision Team will soon be announcing town-hall-style gatherings to present its findings and recommendations to the congregation ahead of presenting recommendations for vote by the Church Conference.

Should you have any questions or comments, please send them to chairpersons Scott Meckley and Cheryl Parrish and our Vision Team at

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