The Blessing of the Animals

The Blessing of the Animals

Dear Hyde Park Family,

My first pet was a turtle. I was young when I received one as a gift from a friend. It was a small box turtle that I kept it in a green plastic bowl shaped around a fake island and topped with a plastic palm tree. I thought about naming it after one of the characters from Gilligan’s Island. To give you a glimpse into my prepubescent mind at the time, I decided to name it Ginger.

After a few weeks of caring for Ginger, I came home one day to discover her bowl empty. My mother broke the bad news to me. Ginger had gotten sick, and she was gone.

I was incredulous. I asked my mother what signs Ginger was exhibiting that suggested she was ill. My mother said she wasn’t moving too quickly. “But she’s a turtle,” I replied. “She didn’t ever really move that quickly.”

After coping with the news for a few hours, I went into my brothers’ rooms to warn them. I told them, “Listen. I gotta tell ya’, you better not sit still. You better keep moving, because otherwise mom will think you are dead.”


Like many of you, I learned to cherish the special relationship that humans have with animals. After Ginger, I had a handful of parakeets, a series of fish, and a total of three adopted dogs over the years, including Micah and Winnie, whom we have now. There is something about having a pet that fills a vacancy in our spirit and eases our journey through life.

This Sunday, join us as we explore Day 5 of the creation story, as part of our worship series titled “The Seven.” We will celebrate the glorious diversity of wings, fins, feathers, and fur that make up the amazing animal world. We will also discover the special responsibility and privilege we have to be in relationship with the earth’s animals.

It will include the story of St. Francis of Assisi, the 12th century Irish Catholic friar who is known as the patron saint of animals. St. Francis once said, “God requires that we assist the animals, when they need our help. Each being, human or creature, has the same right of protection.”

A culmination of the day is our first ever Blessing of the Animals, at 3pm this Sunday, February 5, on our Magnolia parking lot. We invite you to bring all the special animals of your life for an informal, come-and-go event, in which the clergy will impart a word of blessing on your pet. It would be fun for you to bring a friend, two-legged or four-legged!

See you Sunday!





From February 6 – 16, I will be joining a group of clergy from the Florida Annual Conference to travel to Israel as part of the Marcy Preaching Cohort program. We will be led by Rev. Gary Mason, whose formidable work in peacemaking has brokered conversations across the most polarized trouble spots in the world. We will be traveling to Tel Aviv, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem to meet some high-profile civic, academic, and religious figures involved in navigating tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. We will discern the role that religious institutions, including local churches, can play in forging mutual understanding and healing from divisions. Thank you for your prayers for our safety and for all we will experience. I will resume the Midweek Message upon my return.



Parents’ Night Out

Parents’ Night Out

Parents: Enjoy a night out on the town 6-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10!

Children will party the night away celebrating Jesus’s love with pizza, crafts, games and more!

$10 per child, max of $30 per family

RSVP now for this fun night!


Questions? Email

Our Cosmic Voyage

Our Cosmic Voyage

Dear Hyde Park Family,

This Sunday I’ll be preaching on the fourth day of creation, when God created the planets, stars, sun, and moon. Prior to Sunday, I would love for you to take 30-minutes to watch a short documentary film titled Cosmic Voyage. I originally saw it on an IMAX screen 25 years ago and immediately fell in love with it. Since then, the film has been made available on YouTube,  and I recommend it highly.

In essence, the film takes us on two voyages, the first on a macro journey into outer space. It travels a mere forty-two steps from a courtyard in Venice, Italy, to the outermost edge of the visible universe, with each step a power of ten in greater distance.

Then, the film takes us on a corresponding journey inward. Again, within a matter of steps, we travel into the micro world, past the smallest objects visible to the naked eye, into the world of cells, atoms, nuclei, and the edge of the unknown world: quarks and quantum energy.

From Galileo, who first fashioned lenses into the telescope and looked upward, to Anton Van Leeuwenhoek, who first fashioned lenses into the microscope and looked downward, we can see the awesome mystery and majesty of creation, along with the limits of human understanding.

This all reminds me of the words of Psalm 8, which I often think about as the “telescope and microscope psalm.” It first takes us on a macro journey outward:

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth! You made your glory higher than heaven! When I look up at your skies, at what your fingers made, the moon and the stars, that you set firmly in place, what are human beings that you think about them; what are human beings that you pay attention to them? (vss. 1, 3,4)

Then, the psalmist takes us on a micro journey downward into the beauty and mysteries of the earth:

You’ve made them only slightly less than divine, crowning them with glory and grandeur. You’ve let them rule over your handiwork, putting everything under their feet—all sheep and all cattle, the wild animals too, the birds in the sky, the fish of the ocean, everything that travels the pathways of the sea. (vss. 5-8)

And the psalm concludes with these beautiful words:

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth!

 I hope you’ll join us this Sunday as we discover the splendor of the heavens and the mysteries of creation. I’ll be referencing the amazing discoveries by the James Webb telescope and the writings of Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist Frank Wilczek.


And join us a week from Sunday, February 5, for our first ever blessing of the animals at 3pm on the Magnolia parking lot of the Hyde Park campus! We will be observing it in conjunction with Day 5 of our creation series, when God created the plants and animals. You are welcome to bring your pets to a fun, casual, and informal time, where clergy will offer a word of blessing for your pet. This would be a great occasion to bring your human friends (and their furry friends)

We cannot wait to see the beautiful zoo of creatures on that day!

See you Sunday!




We give thanks for the work of the Finance Committee, Generosity Team, the Church Conference, and the faithful stewardship of this congregation in approving the 2023 Ministry and Missions Budget last Sunday afternoon. The Finance Committee always feels most comfortable proposing a budget that is 80% underwritten by estimates of giving. Last year, we reached a high-water mark, with a budget that was 85% underwritten by pledges.

This year, thanks to an amazing generosity campaign and your faithfulness, we are moving forward with a budget that is 87% underwritten, with a higher number of total pledges, higher average pledge amount, and higher overall dollar total than last year. We are so grateful to you, and to the Spirit who is moving us into the bright future ahead. Thank you!



Vacation Bible School 2023

Vacation Bible School 2023


An out-of-this-world adventure that’s light years of faith-building fun.

June 26-29, 2022  

Have questions? Ask us or contact the church office at 813-253-5388.

Registration coming soon!

Apply for 2023 Scholarships

Apply for 2023 Scholarships

We believe it is important to invest in our students by providing financial support for higher education from eligible high school, college and seminary students. Below is a list of scholarship opportunities provided by Hyde Park United Methodist and by other United Methodist agencies.

 There are currently three Hyde Park United Methodist scholarship opportunities available: one is for high school seniors, one for college students (associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or vocational certificate) and one for divinity students. The deadline for applying for any of the Hyde Park scholarships is March 31, 2023.

  • High School Seniors
  • College (This scholarship is available to individuals who are currently pursuing a post secondary education towards a Bachelor’s degree, Associate’s Degree or a Vocational Certificate. Individuals pursuing a Master’s or Doctorate degree are not eligible for this scholarship.)
  • Seminary
Blessing of the Pets Service

Blessing of the Pets Service

3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5 – Parking lot in front of the Magnolia Building (corner of Magnolia and Azeele St.)

As we celebrate God’s acts of creation in worship, we also celebrate God’s creation of animals.

All people are welcome to attend and your pet to this short Blessing of the Pets service.

Includes a reading of Scripture, prayer and special blessing over each pet.

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