April 20, 2023
Dear Hyde Park Family,
Our journey through 1 Corinthians 13 continues this Sunday with an exploration of the phrase “Love is kind.”The lesson of kindness is one that we learned as children, but is one that we tend to ignore today. But even simple acts of kindness can make a big difference, for both the giver and the recipient.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an act of kindness can lower your cortisol level and decrease your blood pressure. It can also enhance the release of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, improve your disposition and increasing your feelings of well-being.
Acts of kindness can be as simple as giving people an unsolicited compliment or word of encouragement. This past week I read about a woman in Philadelphia named Celine McGee who walks around the city giving compliments to strangers.
She calls herself “The Compliment Squad,” and the idea came when her family had a yard sale. To draw attention to their home, they put signs up around the neighborhood advertising free compliments for people who stopped by. As people visited throughout the day, she discovered the power of kindness. So, today, she walks around Philadelphia, giving out compliments and handing out little cards that encourage people to respond by spreading kindness to someone else.
How about you? As we continue our 50-Day Encounter, what is something you can do to spread kindness to people?
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
BOOK STUDY POSTPONED
Due to a delay in receiving the books for sale and distribution, we are postponing the start of my congregation-wide study of “Unrelenting Grace” by Bishop Ken Carter. The dates will now be Sundays (May 21 and 28) and Wednesdays (May 24 and 31). Find out more and sign up
A soil ceremony was held on Ash Wednesday at The Portico. The ceremony honors those lynched between 1892-1934 within the Tampa community. This was the second ceremony held at The Portico. This year the church honored Lewis Jackson. See the full story here.
Open Arms (OA) moves back to the Harnish Center
The Trustees were tasked with possible renovations to the De Leon property by the Ministry Leadership Council (MLC) in early 2022. As the team did their research, they met two major barriers: cost and zoning. These barriers will prevent us from using the building to house our beloved Open Arms ministry. While this is disappointing, God always provides a way.
We are happy to announce that Open Arms will be moving into the Harnish Center for a lunch meal beginning March 5, 2023.
The meal will be served from 11:30-12:30 p.m. each Sunday. Guests will be invited to arrive beginning at 11:15 a.m.
As the leadership teams of the church have been preparing for this shift, some great questions have arisen, you might have some questions, too. If your question isn’t listed, please click here, and we will answer as soon as possible.
Q: Will the entire space be needed?
A: The entire space is available for that ministry as needed. The Open Arms Team is basing the set up on the foot print used during cold night shelters that have been held in the past several months. A portion of the chairs near the bathrooms/kitchen will be stacked and tables and plastic chairs will be setup.
Q: How will the Harnish Center be prepped in time for lunch to be served?
A: Volunteers will come into the space and stack chairs and set up tables. Time will be needed for the conclusion of fellowship taking place after the 9:30 a.m. service. Our best estimate is that set up would start around 10:45 a.m.
Q: What happens on special Sundays when wraparound services happen connected to Open Arms? (Such as Mission Smiles, Medical Clinic, and anything new that might be added.)
A: Those services will be operated in a different portion of the Harnish Center.
Q: What other needs/hospitalities should we anticipate for the guests?
- Newspapers on tables would be a nice addition.
- Quarterly decorations/holiday for the tables
Q: What happens if and when we need to start a second contemporary worship service at 11:00am?
A: Multiple options would be considered.
- The start time of lunch may be moved back 45-60 minutes.
- Alternative times for the two contemporary services (must be coordinated with other related functions such as youth ministry and nursery)
- Explore other locations for the ministry to be held.
Q: Will we begin collecting items for the Open Arms Ministry again?
Q: What are the current/future needs for storage? Will the current storage meet the needs of the ministry?
A: The team has been able to use the Missions closet and space allotted to them in the Harnish center Kitchen to meet their current needs.
Q: If guests arrive early, where will they be invited to wait?
A: We will invite them to wait along the Magnolia Ave side of the Harnish building.
Q: Will the Bible study continue, and where would it be held?
A: Yes, they will be meeting in the Harnish Center.
Q: Does the Open Arms team plan to have a presence on Azeele/Magnolia Ave in advance of lunch? If so, what time do they think would be practical?
A: Yes, Director of Missions Vicki Walker or an Open Arms volunteer will be there with the guests until they come inside.
Q: Will students be able to volunteer during the new serving time?
A: Yes! We would love for students to sign up for a serving shift.
Q: How will this impact The Portico Community Meal?
A: The volunteers who lead this ministry want to assess the needs of the people they are serving. If a time change at The Portico makes sense, they will make it.
Q: Will we be preparing meals in the Harnish Center kitchen?
A: No, we will continue to serve prepared hot meals from Metropolitan Ministries.
Q: Will the new hours impact the security officer/team who is onsite and who patrols our property during the week?
A: Yes, we would have them start later in the morning.
Q: Will our guests be able to use real table wear again?
A: Yes! We are thrilled to have close proximity to the dishwasher once again. Not to mention that we will be helping the environment. Win/win.
Q: How will this impact the neighbors around the church property?
- We think there is a positive impact on our neighbors since this ministry will take place indoors and food will be served inside and onsite.
- It may improve the invitation of the neighbors to serve at Open Arms; the later time might be great for people who like to sleep in.
Q: Can my small group or my family serve together at Open Arms?
A: Absolutely! Sign-up here.
Q: Who will be making the final determination of how we move forward?
A: Missions/Open Arms Leadership Team through the Program Executive Group.
Q: What is the Program Executive Group (PEG)?
A: This group makes programmatic decisions comprised of representatives from ministry lay leaders and staff from each of ministry area (Worship, Service, Spiritual Growth, Congregational Care, and The Portico along with three staff members). This was proposed by the Vision Implementation Team and approved by the MLC several years ago. They meet on an as-needed basis.
Dear Hyde Park Family,
We are a week away from Thanksgiving, and I pray your days ahead will be filled with moments of joy, reflection, and connecting with loved ones.
As the season suggests, may there also be occasions for you to give deep thanks to God and to each other for the blessings that you enjoy. And may your expression of thanksgiving be more than just a special occurrence before an annual meal; may it become a way of life.
So, here are three practical tips you might consider for cultivating a pattern of gratitude in your life.
1. Be as Specific as You Can.
There have been seasons of my life when I have maintained a gratitude journal, in which I intentionally write down two or three things I am grateful for every day.
The best advice I have ever received about keeping a gratitude journal is “the more specific, the better.” It is easy (albeit important) to be grateful for broad, general things, like your family, your health, your job, and other basic necessities. But research
has shown that the more details you can give about specific experiences of gratitude, the more aware you will be of such blessings in the future.
For example, in my own gratitude journals, I have noted the following:
· The feeling of my bare feet on a newly cleaned floor, or the feeling of waking up in freshly cleaned bedsheets.
· Walking in the front door and seeing both my dogs wagging their tails in perfect sync.
· The rays of sunshine that poked through the trees as I was walking around my neighborhood, just as I was listening to a beautiful rendition of a favorite praise song.
2. Try the Daily Examen Prayer.
Many Christian communities observe the Daily Offices, a rhythm of daily prayer that aligns with different moments of the day. One of the evening prayers is called the Daily Examen
, which is a structured way to review the past day with prayer and gratitude. The following uses the pattern prescribed by St. Ignatius of Loyola.
Begin with a pause and a slow, deep breath or two; become aware that you are in the presence of the Holy.
What am I especially grateful for in the past day:
· The gift of another day…
· The love and support I have received…
· The courage I have mustered…
· An event that took place today…
Petition and Review:
I am about to review my day; I ask for the light to know God and to know myself as God sees me.
· Where have I felt true joy today?
· What has troubled me today?
· What has challenged me today?
· Where and when did I pause today?
· Have I noticed God’s presence in any of this?
Response and Look Ahead:
· In light of my review, what is my response to the God of my life?
· As I look ahead, what comes to mind?
· With what spirit do I want to enter tomorrow?
3. Answer These Two Simple Questions.
Finally, you might find value in regularly answering the very same two questions that my therapist asks me at the conclusion of each of our sessions:
· Since we last met, what is one thing that you are proud of?
· What is one thing you are looking forward to?
I have learned to love those two questions, and it is often my favorite part of my therapy sessions. It has come to the point that I ask myself those questions even when I am not meeting my therapist.
No matter how hard life might become, God has empowered you to accomplish at least one thing that you can be proud of (and again, the more specific, the better.) And no matter how fearful or challenging the days ahead might feel to you, there is always something, even something small, that you can look forward to in the future.
So, friends, as you move into the week ahead, may it be filled with delightful, even surprising, reminders of all that God has done for you, in you, and through you.
ESTIMATE OF GIVING CARDS
Thank you to the many, many of you who have enabled us to get off to a strong start in receiving our estimates of giving for 2022. If you have not yet done so, please fill out your estimate by going to our website
. Your estimates of giving are the only way our Finance Committee has to accurately plan for all the ministries and programs God is calling us to do next year. Thank you!
Dear Hyde Park Family,
Happy National Limerick Day!
I know; today’s observance was likely not on your calendar. It wasn’t on mine, either, until I randomly checked this website yesterday. In case you’re wondering, today is also International Nurses Day, National Odometer Day, and National Nutty Fudge Day.
So, to commemorate this weird convergence of celebrations, let me offer you this greeting:
When too many brownies immerse us,
And hospital care is disbursed us,
With their cheery smile
Going the extra mile
We give thanks for the work of our nurses!
Okay, I didn’t say I was good at writing limericks.
Maybe you could give it a try, and share with me anything fun and creative you come up with. In the meantime, as part of our current series Rise: 12 Steps with Jesus, I thought I would try writing a limerick for each of the steps we have covered so far:
Our sins feel like they will devour us,
They can even seem to overpower us.
So, we must take a flier,
On a Power that’s Higher,
And admit, against sin, we are powerless.
A Power that’s Higher? How can it be?
That amid all of my life’s inanity,
I’ve come to perceive
That I must believe
That God can restore me to sanity.
So instead of being a pretender,
And being a sin self-defender,
I’ll give God my will
And promise God still
To turn over my life in surrender.
With all my resentments and fears,
That I’ve carried on down through the years,
I’ll write them all down,
Do a thorough breakdown
In an inventory that’s plain and clear.
But I won’t keep this list to myself,
Tucked and hidden on some dusty shelf.
This list, I won’t hide;
In someone, I’ll confide.
Confession can bring hope, in itself.
Join us this Sunday as we continue our journey by exploring Steps 6 and 7, and discover new life one step at a time!
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
HORIZON CHURCH AT MAGNOLIA
Starting Friday, June 3, Horizon Church (a United Methodist congregation) will be worshipping in our Magnolia building on Friday evenings for the next several months. Horizon will be moving to a permanent location off Gandy Blvd. later in 2022. Click here to watch a special announcement video featuring me and Horizon co-pastors Erica and Chris Allen. This is an opportunity for us to live out our core value of being Connection-Committed, and displaying the value of our United Methodist connectional system.
At the start of every year, Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan publishes its annual list
of “Ten Banished Words for Misuse, Overuse, and Uselessness.” In their estimation, these are the words and phrases that have become insincere, useless, and cliché. And it might not surprise you that their most recent list was largely related to COVID-19.
Among the words and phrases were: “unprecedented,” “in these uncertain times,” “in an abundance of caution,” and “pivot.” And then there’s this one, which I probably heard more than any other one on the list:
“We’re all in this together.”
I’ll admit that I heard that phrase so often throughout 2020 that I felt a brain twitch every time, and I was unable to shake the annoying earworm of that song from “High School Musical” by the same name. So, I was pleased to see that phrase on the list, among others.
Except, here’s the problem: it’s true. Socially, emotionally – and most importantly, biblically – we really are in this together.
Read how Paul describes the ideal faith community to the church in Corinth:
“But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:24b-26, NRSV)
And Paul was clear with the Ephesians, that the way to be all in together was to pray for each other:
“Offer prayers and petitions in the Spirit all the time. Stay alert by hanging in there and praying for all believers.” (Ephesians 6:18, CEB)
ALL IN TOGETHER
It is in that spirit that I invite you to join me in a special 22-Day journey of prayer starting this Sunday. You can go to this link right now to receive a daily message that will contain the following:
- a daily scripture;
- a particular aspect of our church that you can pray for;
- a brief sample prayer; and
- a powerful testimony from someone in our congregation or community that has been impacted by our church.
These 22 testimonies are amazing and deeply moving. We’ll hear from a person who experienced God’s love in the midst of personal crisis and grief; we’ll hear from a youth whose life has been changed through service in this church; we’ll hear from spiritual seekers who have had their unbelief transformed into a commitment to Jesus, all because of what God is doing through Hyde Park United Methodist.
You will not want to miss reading a single story or miss the opportunity to pray for the work and witness of this church. It will take you just a few minutes each day to make this journey a part of your daily practice. But by the end, we will all be moved and amazed by what God is doing through our faithfulness and generosity.
This is a central part of our Generosity Campaign this year, titled “All in Together,” and culminates in Commitment Sunday, November 14. I hope you’ll join us.
MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID TRAINING
The other way we can care for and love one another is to participate in a unique program we are offering for the first time. It is called Mental Health First Aid Training, known as the CPR of mental health. It is a national certification through the National Council for Behavioral Health and has proven effective in helping people recognize signs, symptoms, and risk factors of mental illnesses and/or addictions.
I and most of the Program Staff have been certified in this program, and it is well worth your time. The workshop takes place via Zoom on November 6, from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. You can find more information and register here by Oct. 22.
It may be cliché to say it, but it is no less true. We really are “all in this together.” See you Sunday!
Grace and Peace,
Most of the time, I have to figure out what to write for my Midweek Message. This week’s message practically fell into my lap.
Last Tuesday, during our staff chapel, as we were preparing to pray for the joys and concerns submitted by the congregation last Sunday, our Business Administrator Meagan Kempton led our morning devotional with a piece she found online. It turns out that it was written by a clergy colleague of mine, Rev. Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, of Coronado Community UMC in New Smyrna Beach. Rev. Degrenia gave me permission to share this remarkably profound and timely message with you:
TWO POCKETS: HEALTHY, FAITHFUL PERSPECTIVE
A well respected and beloved Polish Rabbi named Simcha Bunim used to say, “Every person should have two pockets. In one, there should be a note that says:
- ‘For my sake was the world created.’
- In the second, there should be a note that says, ‘I am dust and ashes.’”
Rabbi Bunim went on to say one must know how to use the notes, each one in its proper place and at the right time. He knows us well. When misused, we hunker down in one pocket and make a home. We use a note to justify, judge and deflect self-examination.
“For my sake the world was created – I’m all that and a bag of chips.”
“I am dust and ashes – Eeyore is my best buddy.”
But, when we open to the wisdom of the notes, we accept we are not one or the other. We realize we are both notes. Both pockets. We see the wisdom of the notes in the wisdom of God’s Word which goes back and forth, naming us and reminding us who we are – beloved and dust. We are both and we need both.
“I am dust and ashes”
When we are too proud, too entitled, too full of ourselves, too self-sufficient, we reach in a pocket and remember “anokhi afar va’efer,” I am dust and ashes.
- I am small
- I am worthless
- I am mortal
- I am unclean
- I miss the mark, I stray from the path – that’s what the word sin literally means in Greek
- I am like everyone else who has ever lived and who will live
- I need a savior
Psalm 90:3 NRSV: You turn us back to dust, and say, “Turn back, you mortals.”
Ecclesiastes 3:20b NIV: All come from dust, and to dust all return.
Luke 9:41 NRSV: “O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you?”
In Luke 3, John the Baptist is right to remind us we are a “brood of vipers” and of our need of repentance, to turn back to God’s path, not just with our words but our actions.
“For my sake was the world created”
Then, when we are discouraged, overwhelmed and losing faith (when we feel like dirt) we reach in the other pocket and remember bishvili nivra ha’olam, for my sake was the world created.
I am a unique and beloved child of the King of kings
- Christ loved me enough to die for me and raise me to new life
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made
- I am called
- I am gifted
- I am empowered by the Holy Spirit to do great things for God
- God is using me in the salvation and transformation of the world
Psalm 8:4-8 NRSV: What are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
Psalm 139:14 NRSV: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
We stand with Jesus in our baptism, water washed, anointed with the fiery dove of the Holy Spirit, named and claimed by God as beloved children.
Jesus stepped into the water not out of his need but of ours. To remind us of our great need – I am dust and ashes. To remind us who we are in Him- For my sake the world was created.
PRAYER FOR PERSPECTIVE
And then, Rev. Degrenia offers this powerful prayer, which I invite you to pray with me:
Eternal and Beautiful God,
The One who births us and names us
Grant us perspective
A holy centering
of truth, humility and our belovedness
Not too high that we fall away from you
our need of you
our need of others
Not too low that we fail to trust
to reach out for you
to reach out with you
In you, with you, for you we are
humble and powerful
unique and alike
common and regal
priceless and dust
Grant us perspective, Merciful One
A holy centering
Let no voice be too loud
Or too soft
So we may persevere in faith
Grace and Peace,
THIS SUNDAY: MISSIONS CELEBRATION
Join us Sunday for our annual Mission Celebration. Our guest preacher is Derrick Scott. He is the Executive Director and United Methodist Campus Minister for the Campus to City Wesley Foundation in Jacksonville and St. Augustine, Fl. He has been leading ministry to college students and young adults for more than 18 years. He is passionate about raising up a new generation of leaders and laborers who will live as disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world. Our Celebration also showcases the many ministries in our city, state and around the world that Hyde Park supports financially and through our volunteers.
Dear Hyde Park Family,
It’s harvest season in the fields and farms across the country, and a time of year I gained an appreciation for during my eight years serving in Iowa. Farmers are in their combines, reaping the benefits of their risk: planting last spring, waiting over the summer, watching as nature ran its unpredictable course.
Don and Jeanne Blackstone were members of my church in Cherokee, Iowa, and they invited me one day to ride the combine on their farm. Don told me it had been a good growing season that year, with the corn stalks surpassing that fabled standard of “Knee-high by the Fourth of July.”
He then corrected my misunderstanding of what constituted a “good harvest.” I had always thought that the taller a corn stalk gets, the more ears of corn grow on them. Not so, it turns out.
No matter how tall a corn stalk gets, it will never have more than two ears of corn. The difference between a good and bad yield is not found in the number of ears per stalk, but in the number of kernels per ear. It’s not about the quantity of the ears per stalk. It’s about the quality of the ears themselves.
As a city kid, my mind was blown.
This discovery on the Blackstone’s farm has since served as a helpful reminder to me of what constitutes a healthy spiritual life. We might have the false assumption that spiritual maturity is defined only as doing more and more things for God: more works of piety and more holy deeds, like notches in our belt or check marks on a to-do list.
But it’s less about the quantity of our actions and more about the quality and depth of our actions. It’s less about growing more impressive in the eyes of others, and more about growing deeper in our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
35-DAYS OF LOVING GOD WITH ALL WE’VE GOT
As our worship series “All In” draws to a close, our 35 days of daily activities are coming to an end. I would love to hear from you how these cards have been helpful to you.
Moving forward, here’s how these cards can help. You might repeat the 35-day journey during seasons of your spiritual life when you need to recharge. You can even shuffle the cards and go in a different order, to discover new patterns in your journey.
But in the spirit of “growing deeper,” you might choose to identify the handful of cards that were particularly meaningful for you over the last five weeks. Those activities that spoke to you and resonated with you may be an indication from the Spirit. You might choose to incorporate the activities on those cards on a more regular basis – daily or weekly – and make them a regular part of your spiritual disciplines.
Doing so would lead you to creating a unique “rule of life” that you can use to frame your spiritual practices. Like planks on a trellis, those select activities, practiced regularly, could become the structure upon which your harried and chaotic life can begin to bloom and produce the beauty of God’s love.
God may be calling you into a season of bountiful harvest in your life. A season of abundance, fruitfulness, and beauty. If so, it is less about growing more impressive in the eyes of others, and more faithful in the practices that will help you blossom.
See you Sunday as we conclude our series, and happy harvesting!
Grace and Peace,
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
THE FUTURE OF OUR CAMPUS MASTER PLANS
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 firstname.lastname@example.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,