An Exciting Year Ahead

Dear Hyde Park Family,

With Advent starting this Sunday, it is the official start of the new Christian liturgical year. We look forward to a fresh arrival of Jesus Christ in our lives, and anticipate all that God will be doing in and through this church throughout the upcoming year.

So, in that spirit of anticipation, today’s Midweek Message is a sneak peek into an exciting year of worship in 2024:

2024 Worship Series

You are Not Alone: Spiritual Insights for Creating Community

January 7 to February 11

We crave connection with one another, along with healthy, life-giving relationships that enable us to live fully as God intends it. This series will explore various kinds of human connection and discover spiritual insights for helping us have healthier friendships and families, and a stronger social fabric.

January 7                       “You are Not Alone”                                       Genesis 2:15-25

January 14                    “Baptized into Community”                               Mark 4:1-11

January 21                     “Stronger Families”                                  Ephesians 5:21-33

January 28                     “Stronger Friendships”                         Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

February 4                     “A Stronger Social Fabric”                         Romans 12:9-21



In the Shadow of the Cross: Joining Jesus on the Road to Calvary

February 14 to March 24

Lent is a time of introspection and obedience. Each Sunday, we will center on various aspects of our lives that we should surrender to God, and exchange them for the cross. We will remember that Jesus not only died on the cross in our place, he showed us how to take up the cross and die to ourselves, so that we can experience the new life and transformation of Easter.

February 14                   Ashes to Ashes                                   Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

February 18                   How to Be Temptation Tough                         Mark 1:9-15

February 25                   Losing Life to Gain It                                          Mark 8:31-38

March 3                           The Tables Have (Over)turned                      John 2:13-22

March 10                        Preferring to Stay in the Dark                        John 3:14-21

March 17                       What Goes Down Will Come Up               John 12:20-33

March 24                       From Hosanna to Crucify Him                      Mark 11:1-11

March 31                       Easter Sunday: From Death to Life!              Mark 16:1-8


Life’s Highs and Lows: Navigating the Landscapes of the Soul

April 7 to May 12

From one day to the next, even one moment to the next, it can feel like going from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. It is no surprise that the Bible is filled with numerous landscape images that depict the varieties of human experience. This series explores the various biblical settings that describe aspects of being human, and encourages us to trust in God and seek the companionship of others along the way.

April 7               Mountains: Moments of Celebration                              Psalm 121

April 14             Valleys: Seasons of Loss and Grief                                       Psalm 23

April 21             Deserts: Times of Loneliness and Anxiety          Psalm 107:1-9

April 28             Skies: Times of Hope and Promise                    1 Kings 18:42-46

May 5                 Rivers: Places of Refreshment and Renewal                   Psalm 1

May 12              Roads: Strength for the Journey Ahead         Psalm 119:27-40

May 19               The Power of the Spirit (Pentecost Sunday)           Acts 2:1-15


Hard to Believe: Essential But Challenging Aspects of the Faith

May 26 to June 23

The Christian faith is filled with many wondrous propositions, each of which stretch our thinking and remind us that God is beyond our ability to fully comprehend them. At the same time, these ideas can be so challenging that they prompt moments of skepticism, and even disbelief. Each of these Sundays explores a different, central aspect of the Christian faith and unpacks it using the resources of Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason, enabling us to embrace these essential tenets with a refreshed ability to believe.

May 26              The Trinity: How Can Three Equal One?

June 2                Human and Divine: How Could Jesus Be Both?

June 9                Qualities of God: All Present, Knowing, and Powerful?

June 16              Suffering and Evil: The Impossible Chess Match

June 23             Prayer: What Good Does it Do?


Voices of Inspiration: Great Lives that Light Our Way

June 30 to August 4

The history of the church is filled with luminaries of the faith, who reveal aspects of holy living that strengthen and encourage us. Each Sunday we will not just remember the story of their lives; we will lean into their example, and explore how we can carry on their legacy through the way we live.

June 30             Dietrich Bonhoeffer

July 7                 Mother Theresa

July 14               Howard Thurman

July 21               Mahalia Jackson

July 28               Mary McLeod Bethune

August 4            Oscar Romero


Branching Out: Our Place in the Faith Family Tree

August 11 to 25

As United Methodists, we recognize that we are part of a grander connection throughout the world, with people of faith beyond United Methodism and Christianity. This series explores “where we fit” in the family tree of Christian denominations, how we relate to people of other religions, and even our posture of humble witness and profession with people who are irreligious or formerly religious.

August 11        The Catholic Spirit: Our Relationship with Other             Denominations

August 18        Outside Christianity: Our Relationship with Other Faith Traditions

August 25         Out on a Limb: Our Relationship with Non-Believers


Foundations for the Future: Celebrating Our 125th Anniversary

September 1 to 15

In 1899, a group of 30 people from First Methodist in Tampa crossed the Hillsborough River to begin meeting in a two-room schoolhouse at the corner of Platt and Magnolia. 125 years later, we are living into a legacy that has proclaimed the good news of Jesus and built the kingdom of God for generations. This three-part worship series celebrates the grace of God and the history of our church, and points us toward an exciting future for generations to come.

September 1                 The Church’s One Foundation

September 8                 Making God’s Leave Real: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

September 15               I Love to Tell the Story: Our 125th Anniversary Celebration


Built to Last: Becoming the Church God Intends

September 22 to October 27

A natural and important follow-up to our 125th Anniversary Celebration is a season of recommitment to grow deeper as disciples, widen our reach to others, and be united in mission to love God and love all. This five-part series reviews the five-fold membership vow that declares our support to God’s mission in our church.

September 22               Prayers

September 29               Presence

October 6                       Gifts

October 13                     Service (Missions Celebration Sunday)

October 20                    Witness/Invitation

October 27                     Commitment Sunday


Not the End of the World: Hope in Jesus During Difficult Times

November 3-24

These scriptures invite us all to ask where God is when things go wrong. In a world caught up in a negative news cycle, the texts that speak to hopelessness, fear, and even the close of history can teach us much about remaining faithful in difficult times. This series will help us remain hopeful, even when the headlines seem out of control.

November 3                  The Work of Waiting                      Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4

November 10                 Skipping to the End                           2 Thess. 2:1-5, 13-17

November 17                 Full Disclosure                                                      Luke 21:5-19

November 24                Proving Who You Are                                     Luke 23:33-43


The Christmas Letters: An Advent Invitation from the Epistles

December 3 to 24

This Advent we will explore aspects of the incarnation of Jesus through scriptures from Romans, Colossians, Philippians, and 1 John, along with the birth narratives in the gospels. The series will be based on my upcoming book of the same title, to be published by Abingdon Press.

December 1            Good News: Hope for Salvation                        Romans 1:1-6

December 8            Love Incarnate: The Word of Life Reveale          1 John 3-4

December 15         Fully Human: Joy in Humility                     Philippians 2:1-11

December 22          Fully Divine: Peace through Christ        Colossians 2:6-15

December 24           God’s Downward Mobility                                      Luke 2:1-20


Next year promises to be filled with excitement, joy, and wisdom. I am eager to take this journey with you in 2024!

Grace and Peace,

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


Visit our website to check out the full calendar of Advent and Christmas events this month, including inspiring concerts over the next ten days by the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, the Tampa Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, the Florida Wind Band, and the Lumina Youth Choir. You can also learn about our donation drive to provide boxes of breakfast cereal to ECHO of Brandon, one of our missions partners.


We are off to a very strong start in our estimates of giving for next year. We are ahead of the pace of last year, with a long way to go before our Finance Committee can finalize the 2024 budget this January. To submit an estimate quickly and securely, visit our website.

Cold Weather Shelter at Hyde Park United Methodist

Four cold weather shelters will open in Hillsborough County on Tuesday night as temperatures plummet in the Tampa Bay area.

City officials announced the county’s cold weather shelters program will be activated Tuesday night for the homeless and those who live in homes without adequate heat. 

Temperatures are expected to dip as low as 46 degrees and possibly even below 40 degrees with wind chill overnight in Hillsborough County.

At Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, volunteers spent the day setting up enough mats and blankets for at least 80 people.

“To be able to provide a night that they can rest comfortably at least somewhat in a safe place is really important,” said Heidi Aspinwall, Hyde Park United Methodist Church’s interim coordinator for missions and outreach.

Each person coming in gets a warm meal Tuesday night and a take-home breakfast Wednesday morning.

“They’ll have a hot meal tonight for dinner, and then they’ll have a takeaway meal in the morning. A lot of folks need to get to work. Our volunteers also need to get to work, and so we’ll have to reset, clean up, and then we just have to hope that it warms up,” Aspinwall said.

Also working hard to help is Metropolitan Ministries. Their volunteers spent Tuesday afternoon preparing hundreds of meals for the shelters.

Check out the full report here.

Echo Cereal Drive

Cereal is luxury for struggling families. It is nutritious, fast and easy. This holiday season we have partnered with Echo, a non-profit organization that is working to bridge the gap between crisis and stability for families in the Tampa Bay area by offering resources like affordable housing and food banks. We hope to collect 1,000 boxes of cereal to aid families in our community. We will be accepting donations at the entrances of the worship centers every Sunday in December.

The Portico on Thanksgiving

A trendy cafe in downtown Tampa, Florida serves up delicious foods, sweets, and all the proceeds go to those in needs.

The Portico Cafe also offers people transitioning out of homelessness, addiction and incarceration opportunities for job training, employment and safe affordable housing.

The Cafe is a social enterprise, and when you make a purchase at The Cafe, you help build a bridge from brokenness to restoration.

Rev. Justin LaRosa, LCSW joined Gayle Guyardo the host of the global health and wellness show Bloom to share The Portico Cafe’s mission and how they serve those in need on Thanksgiving Day and year round. Watch the full report here.

A Thanksgiving Blessing

Dear Hyde Park Family:

Rejoice always. Pray continually.
Give thanks in every situation
because this is God’s will
for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

As we enter these days of giving thanks with loved ones and friends, consider these words from John Wesley, in his commentary on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Thanksgiving is inseparable from true prayer:
it is almost essentially connected with it.
He that always prays is ever giving praise,
whether in ease or pain,
both for prosperity and for the greatest adversity.

He blesses God for all things,
looks on them as coming from him,
and receives them only for his sake;
not choosing nor refusing,
liking nor disliking, anything,
but only as it is agreeable or disagreeable
to his perfect will.

On behalf of the clergy, staff, and lay leadership of Hyde Park United Methodist Church, I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving!

Grace and Peace,

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


Thank you to all who made last Sunday such a joyous day for our congregation! Over 200 of you served under the Hospitality Tent of Metropolitan Ministries, working at every level to distribute food to persons in need. It was a glorious sea of people in red t-shirts, all making God’s love real! To see pictures from the day, check out our Facebook and Instagram pages.

And thank you to those who helped kick off our Commitment Sunday with such a strong start by turning in your estimate of giving card. If you haven’t yet done so, please submit one securely and quickly online at To see more about our “Love for All” campaign, click here.

An Enneagram Thanksgiving

November 16, 2023

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Over the past three Wednesday nights, I have had the fun of teaching a class on the Enneagram, a personality type indicator that guides self-discovery, offers awareness of one’s strengths and shadows, and enhances relationships with others. Every time I offer the class, I learn more about each of the nine types, including greater understanding of my own. (Type 6, in case you are familiar with it.)

With Thanksgiving next week, I have been pondering what each of the nine styles would be most grateful for in their lives, in their relationships, and in their faith. So, I wrote the following as a kind of litany that you might find meaningful, whether or not you know your own Enneagram type.

An Enneagram Thanksgiving

Type 1, The Perfectionist: I am grateful for God’s goodness and righteousness, which enables us to live moral and ethical lives. And I am grateful for God’s forgiveness, which redeems me when I go astray.

Type 2, The Helper: I am grateful for God’s love, which enables me to be generous and self-sacrificial in addressing the needs of others. And I am grateful for how that love is unconditional, which shows me how to love myself.

Type 3, The Performer: I am grateful for God’s excellence, which urges me to offer God my very best, in every aspect of my life. And I am grateful for how God’s is teaching me not to avoid failure, but to embrace it as a teacher and guide.

Type 4, The Artist: I am grateful for God’s beauty all around me, which allows me to transform the hurt and suffering within and around me into something that is exceptional, beautiful, and inspirational to others. And I am grateful for how God is showing me humility, through the example of Jesus.

Type 5, The Thinker: I am grateful for God’s wisdom, which enables me to experience the thrill of discovery through intellect and reason. And I am grateful for how God is helping me to embrace mystery and the unknown, so that I can be more connected to God and others.

Type 6, The Loyalist: I am grateful for God’s commandments, which creates order out of chaos, and aligns me and others to live together as God intends. And I am grateful for how God is helping me to embrace my fears, trust my gut, and take a risk whenever necessary.

Type 7, The Adventurer: I am grateful for God’s joy, which addresses the pain and suffering in my life and others, and helps me to savor all the delights and adventures that are around me. And I am grateful for how God is helping me to acknowledge pain, rather than escape or avoid it.

Type 8, The Leader: I am grateful for God’s power, which is made perfect in my weakness, helps me overcome my limitations, and enables me to empower others. And I am grateful for the gift of repentance and humility, which helps me to live in God’s strength, rather than in denial.

Type 9, The Peacemaker: I am grateful for God’s peace, which seeks the wholeness and health of all creation and within my own self. I am thankful for the harmony of the natural world, and for moments when I feel calm and settled. And I am grateful for times of conflict, which push me and others into new understandings and possibilities for growth.

Most of all, I am grateful for Jesus Christ, who is the perfect reflection of all nine dimensions of humanity, and is the full expression of God’s divinity. In him, and through him, we have all that we need.

And for that, let us be thankful.

Grace and Peace,

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



Celebrate with us the exciting future God has in store for us, as we turn in our estimates of giving for 2024. Bring your completed cards to worship, or submit them quickly and securely online. To watch stories of transformation because of your generosity, visit our “Love for All” page.


Christmas Poinsettias

Christmas Poinsettias will be on sale for $10. This is a great way to celebrate those around you this season or memorialize the loss of a loved one. Order your poinsettia online here or visit the table in the Courtyard on Dec. 10 and 17.

A Penny For a Memory

November 9, 2023

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Years ago, Grace asked me to describe my happiest memories. I told her about the time she and her sister were born, about the day I married their mother, and about the night I was ordained a minister. She agreed that those were good memories and felt satisfied by those answers.

But here’s a thought experiment. What if she had asked me to assign a monetary figure to those memories? What if she had asked, “Daddy, what is the monetary equivalent of those memories? How much money would I need to have in order to feel as happy as any of those events?”

I know; that’s a really odd question. But it’s one that an Australian professor named Paul Fritjers asked back in 2009, as the culmination of a surprising eight-year study. After surveying 10,000 people, he developed dollar value equivalents for the emotional effects of events such as marriage, childbirth, divorce, and home purchases. Positive dollar amounts indicated “psychic benefits,” and negative dollar amounts showed “psychic costs.”

For example, here are some of his conclusions:

  • A man getting married feels like he just received $32,000. To women, it only feels like $16,000.
  • Divorce feels like a $110,000 loss to a man, but only $9,000 to a woman.
  • The death of a spouse or a child feels like minus -$130,900 to a woman, and a whopping -$627,300 deficit to a man.
  • And moving into a new home? A positive $2,600 for a woman, and a negative -$16,000 to a man.

Frijters suggested that the study’s value might be in assisting insurance companies and lawyers in assigning dollar compensations for certain life events. He summarizes his study with this statement: “Losing or gaining money can offset the effect of other life events quite well, and that is what we are formally looking at – the amount needed to offset an event or keep someone happiness-neutral.”

Oof. I don’t know about you, but the word outlandish comes to mind.

You know as well as I do: you cannot quantify your feelings with dollar signs, and you cannot put a price tag on life’s most significant moments. Yet that is a message embedded in our natural urge to accumulate more material goods and earthly treasure. The only solution to this kind of wayward thinking is to align our finances around the biblical principles of generosity. It’s captured in Jesus’ words to his disciples:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 6:19-21)

This Sunday, we continue in our Generosity Campaign Love for All with an exploration of Paul’s teachings on money, contentment, and generosity in 1 Timothy 6. We’ll hear more stories of transformation through the work of this church, especially at our downtown Portico location. And, we will lift up a reminder for you to prayerfully fill out your estimate of giving card by Commitment Sunday, November 19, so that the Finance Committee can responsibly plan for all the exciting ministries and programs for 2024.

By God’s grace, may we experience true joy, through contentment and generosity.

Grace and Peace,

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

Something God Alone Can See

November 2, 2023

Dear Hyde Park Family,

This Sunday will be an especially poignant All Saints’ worship service for me. Over the past year, several influential people in my life have died, people who were formative to my Christian journey and my ministerial calling. There is my high school Bible teacher Bruce Strickland, my high school administrator Rita Smith, and my lifelong mentor and senior pastor Jack Stroman. I have written and preached about each of these people over the last several months.

One other person I will be remembering is C. Frederick Harrison, or “Mr. Fred,” who was the longtime Director of Music Ministries at Pasadena Community Church in St. Petersburg, Florida, my home church. Mr. Fred had a remarkable ministry, directing choirs of all ages, including the youth choir in which I sang when I was in the youth group. Every fall, we would have a Music Ministries Sunday, when all of our groups and ensembles would perform in worship, and we would celebrate the fact that the number of volunteer musicians and vocalists under Mr. Fred’s care was larger than the membership in most congregations in the Florida Annual Conference.

In the 1980s, Mr. Fred developed a close friendship with a well-known composer named Natalie Sleeth, who had become famous for her moving anthems and hymns. In the spring of 1985, Pasadena Community Church hosted a music festival honoring Mrs. Sleeth, performing many of her best-known works.

Mr. Fred requested that Mrs. Sleeth compose a special anthem for that festival, for his Chancel Choir to perform as a debut in her honor. Mrs. Sleeth obliged, and she wrote what would become one of our most beloved hymns.

It is titled “Hymn of Promise,” which she composed in honor of her husband Rev. Dr. Ronald Sleeth, who had been diagnosed with cancer. Just weeks after the hymn’s debut at Pasadena, he died. Read the deep and profound lyrics below, and watch it performed here.   

“Hymn of Promise”

Natalie Sleeth

In the bulb, there is a flower
In the seed, an apple tree
In cocoons, a hidden promise
Butterflies will soon be free

In the cold and snow of winter
There’s a spring that waits to be
Unrevealed until its season
Something God alone can see

There’s a song in every silence
Seeking word and melody
There’s a dawn in every darkness
Bringing hope to you and me

From the past will come the future
What it holds, a mystery
Unrevealed until its season
Something God alone can see

In our end is our beginning
In our time, infinity
In our doubt, there is believing
In our life, eternity

In our death, a resurrection
At the last, a victory

Unrevealed until its season
Something God alone can see

After its debut in our church in 1985, its popularity soared. It became a fixture in worship at Pasadena; my dad says it is his favorite hymn. When The United Methodist Hymnal was revised in 1989, Hymn of Promise was included, just four years after its debut. To this day, it is a favorite feature of many funeral and memorial services.

This Sunday, I will join you in remembering those persons who have played an influential role in your life. I will remember Bruce, Rita, Jack, and Mr. Fred. And I will join you in remembering all the saints, that “in their death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory.”

“Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.”

Grace and Peace,

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



Join us this Sunday afternoon at 4pm in the Sanctuary as we honor the saints with the majestic and inspiring composition “Illuminare,” by acclaimed composer Elaine Hagenberg. This concert by our Chancel Choir and orchestra is free and open to the public.


We are well on our way of reaching our goal of providing 200 volunteers for our annual SERVE Day, on November 19, when we help Metropolitan Ministries distribute food and supplies to needy families in the area. To date, we only need about 35 more volunteers, but we can accommodate many more! We are hoping to fill all those slots by this Sunday, November 5. To register, please click here.