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Dear Hyde Park Family,

One of the joys of offering our online service every Sunday is the new sense of connection we have with people around the country. For the last several months, a couple from Virginia named Claudette and David Collins have not only been joining us online, but Claudette has been singing in our choir. Through the wonders of technology, our Director of Traditional Worship Michael Dougherty has been able to include her in a number of our virtual choir selections. Last week, David and Claudette made the trip to Tampa and joined us for in person worship last Sunday. It was a joy to meet them, and afterwards they went out to lunch with Michael.

This is where the story gets really good.

Over the course of the lunch, they revealed that they were related to a woman named Mary Collins, who was born in 1827. She was born in Decatur, Georgia, but eventually moved to Tampa and lived in a little house in the Hyde Park area.

It was in that home – the very home of Mary Collins – where a small group of Christians began to meet to form a community that would eventually become Hyde Park United Methodist Church. That little house sat on the very property where 122 years later, God’s love is being made real each and every Sunday.

This is a portion of the newspaper clipping from 1913 containing Mary’s obituary:

“Born in Decatur County, Georgia, Mrs. Collins drove thirty-seven years ago through the country in a covered wagon to Tampa. Her husband, W.B. Collins, died soon after the Confederate war of consumption. Settling here she went to live in a little house in what is now Hyde Park, but which then was a native wilderness. Ever since she was twelve years old, she has been a devout member of the Methodist church. Before a Methodist church was organized in this city, services were held in her Hyde Park home. When the Hyde Park Methodist church was dedicated, she was one of its first members.”

Needless to say, when we heard this story from the Collins’, we were awestruck


Little could Mary Collins have imagined how her property would evolve into the dynamic campus that we have today. Ever since her time, generations of Hyde Park members have been stewards of the properties and facilities of this church. And today, we have the opportunity to exercise that same faithfulness for the future.

When our recent visioning process concluded last year, it ended prior to our acquisition of the Women’s Clinic last June. Now that we have acquired the entire DeLeon block, it is time to update the campus master plans of both the Hyde Park and Portico campuses. The last time our master plans were updated was over twenty years ago.

So, last Tuesday, the Ministry Leadership Council approved the start of a discernment process, which will have the following objectives:

  • Cast the net wide throughout the congregation for input, discernment, and buy-in;
  • Engage key constituents;
  • Develop a prioritized and time-phased set of recommendations relative to Hyde Park properties and facilities, including improvements, divestures, purchases, and usage;
  • Recommendations will be consistent with Hyde Park’s vision and mission and represent good stewardship of resources that is sustainable over the long term;
  • Final recommendations will be delivered to the Ministry Leadership Council for approval by the end of June 2022.

If you would like to be a part of this process, we would love for you to let us know by sending an email to questions@hydeparkumc.org.

Let us live out the example of our ancestral pioneers like Mary Collins, and carve out a future that will be claimed by future generations of this church.


Grace and Peace,