Mental Health First Aid Training

Mental Health First Aid Training

The Mental Health and First Aid Training is returning on August 19 in person on the Hyde Park Campus and September 17 on Zoom. This training is designed to raise awareness of the prevalence of mental health issues in the community, reduce the stigma and provide viable skills needed to address mental health challenges. It has proven to be a great resource for the staff and others who have participated. The training will be from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on the date chosen. In order for it to be free, we will need 12-20 people in the class. Please click here to choose the class date you’d like to attend.  

Tools for  Navigating Uncertain Times

Tools for Navigating Uncertain Times

You are not alone.

In July 2021, an article by organizational psychologist Adam Grant, entitled “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing”, ran in the New York Times and finally put a name to the feeling many of us have experienced over the course of the past 18 months. While languishing is not a new idea, it aptly describes the feeling of apathy, stagnation, and sometimes joylessness a lot of people are experiencing at present due to the circumstances we’ve faced while trying to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the symptoms associated with languishing may not reach the level of severity associated with significant depression or anxiety, it is marked with a reduced sense of well-being and deficit in mental health. As languishing has also been shown to be a risk factor for depression and anxiety, identifying and addressing it is something best done sooner rather than later. With so many factors seemingly outside of our control at the present time, it is reassuring to know that there are many tools and strategies we can begin implementing right now to improve our mental health in our day to day lives.

Positive psychology, which focuses on enhancing overall well-being as opposed to just repairing psychological damage, provides us with a framework of how to start moving away from languishing towards flourishing if we find ourselves feeling less than our best in terms of our mental health. If we take a look at the “Five Pillars of Well-Being”, identified by psychologist Martin Seligman as the building blocks to flourishing and thriving, we can evaluate how fulfilled we are in each domain and identify which areas might benefit from a boost through small, action-oriented steps.

  1. Positive Emotion: Spend time identifying, acknowledging, and cultivating positive feelings. This can include mindfulness, becoming aware of the beauty in our day-to-day-lives, savoring pleasant sensations, seeking joy, and practicing gratitude. Find times throughout your day to step away from your phone and be fully present, even if its just for a few moments.
  2. Engagement: Carve out time to engage in activities that cultivate “flow”, a state in which your concentration and skills are directed towards an activity with a clear goal. Examples include playing a musical instrument, reading a book, sports training, painting, focusing on a work task, home improvement projects, etc. As flow is best achieved during periods of uninterrupted time, make space in your day to focus all of your attention on the identified activity to truly reap the benefits of engagement.
  3. Relationships: Connecting with others is one of the most reliable ways to improve mood yet it is also one of the aspects of life most impacted by the pandemic. Finding ways to engage with others, primarily those with whom you can enjoy a positive and healthy dynamic, is vital for feeling fulfilled in regards to our need for community and connection. As showing kindness towards others is a sure-fire way to increase well-being, committing to completing one act of kindness each day is a great small step in the direction of enhanced mental health.
  4. Meaning: Without a sense of purpose, our actions and behaviors may feel aimless and unfulfilling. While it is important to identify what brings meaning to your life, it is also imperative that we allow for shifts in our priorities and purpose as we enter different seasons of our lives. Meaning may be found within the home (taking care of and connecting with family, pets, loved ones, etc.) or on a larger scale (dedicating time and resources to community, religion, politics, social causes, philanthropy, etc.) or a combination of both.
  5. Achievement: Identifying and achieving goals is vital to gaining a sense of accomplishment. While languishing brings with it a sense of stagnation, achievement reminds us of the progress we are capable of making. These goals can be large or small: learning to play chess, mastering a new song on an instrument, reading two books each month, running a 5k, making the bed each morning, completing a crossword puzzle, etc. If larger goals seem daunting, start small with a few daily tasks that will slowly but surely move you closer to the best version of you.
When there is a deficit in one or more of these domains, our mental health is left off balance in the same way we will wobble if we sit on a stool with one leg that is slightly shorter than the others. While we can typically make-do with the lack of stability, it is far more comfortable when there is a solid foundation beneath us. Languishing may not come with the intensity we associate with significant mental illness, but by taking small daily steps towards enhancing our well-being we are able to move away from feelings of stagnation and towards the experience of flourishing.
Remembering 9/11

Remembering 9/11

Church member Keather Snyder was near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. She has shared her powerful story a few times with our congregation, most recently last year for one of our Facebook devotionals.

This past week, she shared with us her special interest in one of the stained-glass windows in our Sanctuary, depicting Jesus and the children. At the bottom is the name Alice Elizabeth Woodbery, a former church member memorialized by the window. What has often caught Keather’s attention is the date of her birth inscribed in the lower left corner:

Sept. 11, 1921

Keather asked us about the story behind Ms. Woodbery, who today would have been one hundred years old, on the twentieth anniversary of the tragic event that changed the world. 

The information we discovered in response to Keather’s inquiry was simply remarkable.


Staffer Lynn Osborne researched the history of the Woodbery family. She discovered that D. Hoyt Woodbery was a significant leader in our church, serving on a committee in 1942 to raise $19,000 to pay off the debt on the old Wesley Building. He and his wife had three daughters, the oldest of which was Alice Elizabeth Woodbery. She was a Plant High School student who succumbed to a strep infection. There is no history of trauma or other cause listed on her death certificate.

She died in 1938, at the age of 16.

The Woodbery’s not only gifted the window to honor the memory of their child; it was used to remind the church of the story of Jesus, who gathers all of us children, in times of grief and loss. Little could the Woodbery’s have known that the very date of their daughter’s birthday would, a century later, represent another significant occasion for profound grief for our nation. Yet that same image, of a Jesus who embraces us with encouraging arms, gives us the same hope as it did for our spiritual ancestors long ago.


Lynn did some additional digging and found other significant parallels:

“Unrelated to Alice, there were two earlier entries in the history book that caught my eye. “Hyde Park Church, like every other, has had years of prosperity and of depression. In 1905 the pastor reported that the attendance was poor. Many members had not returned from summer vacation because of the prevalence of yellow fever in the state.” In the next paragraph, “An interesting note in the old records is that in 1908 there was a movement to sell 14 feet off the south side of the church lot. The question actually came to a vote and was narrowly defeated. Upon those 14 feet, part of our John Wesley Building now stands, a monument to the vision of the negative vote.” 

Lynn concludes: “And in 2021, our Ministry Leadership Council will begin new discernment about whether we should hold onto property or sell. I think the writer of Ecclesiastes had it right, “There is nothing new under the sun.”


Mark Twain famously said, “History does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” On this day of remembrance, we acknowledge the presence of a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12) whose example summons our courage, faithfulness, and perseverance. They endured hardship, grief, and even widespread disease. By God’s grace, we can, too.

I invite you to join me in prayer:

Holy and Eternal God, we pause to remember the events of a day that will forever be etched in our collective memory. We give thanks for those who heroically risked their lives to care for others. We grieve with families burdened with an enduring sense of loss. We pray for our own collective spirit, that the impulse for revenge might be transformed into a pursuit of justice and a capacity for forgiveness. We pray for a love that will overcome prejudice based on nationality, ethnicity, and religion. Ultimately, we pray for peace, in our hearts, in our communities, and throughout the world. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen. 

Grace and peace,

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

Hyde Park Helps with Tampa General Hospital’s COVID Memorial

Hyde Park Helps with Tampa General Hospital’s COVID Memorial

The Rev. Sally Campbell-Evans, our Congregational Care pastor, received a phone call recently from Jenny Carswell, a pastor at Tampa General Hospital, asking whether Hyde Park had a handbell she could borrow. Tampa General was planning a COVID Anniversary Memorial Service and the handbell would be used to toll the names of their patients who passed away. In addition, the Hospital was making 1000s of paper butterflies representing these patients and those who cared for them. Inside each butterfly was a note of encouragement or the name of someone impacted by the disease. Volunteers and staff members from Hyde Park gathered under the Ministry Offices Tent  to craft the butterflies pictured here.

When the hospital staff gathered for the memorial service on March 17, this is the litany that was shared with those in attendance:

We remember the lives lost.

Countless lives have been lost over the last year, some due to COVID and others for unrelated matters, but our grief is complicated by the many layers of loss and isolation over the last year. The blue butterflies in our installation include the names you submitted who have died in the last year. We also know many names rest on your hearts even if they were not written down. To remember them, I invite you to first join me in a call and response litany of remembrance. After the litany, you will hear Amy ring the bell five times. Each ring represents 100,000 who have died in our nation from COVID-19.

Please join me in this call and response poem entitled “We Remember Them.” After each line, I will raise my hands and invite you to say with me: “We remember them.”

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember them.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us, as
we remember them.

Please join us in a moment of silence as you hear the bell ring.

A physician share this reflection about hope and tenderness:

Hope demands optimism, but tenderness has room for both sadness and joy. 
You can hope alone, but tenderness needs at least two. It’s a recognition, moments of “mutual seeing.”

Finally, an ICU nurse read a poem, “Blessing in the Chaos,” by the Rev. Jan Richardson, a member of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.

To all that is chaotic
in you,
let there come silence.
Let there be a calming
We remember as we move ahead.

of the clamoring,
a stilling
of the voices that have laid their claim on you,
that have made their home in you,
that go with you even to the
holy places
but will not
let you rest,
will not let you hear your life
with wholeness
or feel the grace that fashioned you.
Let what distracts you cease.
Let what divides you cease.
Let there come an end to what diminishes and demeans,
and let depart
all that keeps you in its cage.

Let there be
an opening
into the quiet that lies beneath the chaos, where you find the peace
you did not think possible
and see what shimmers within the storm.


PrimeTimers Look for a Wee Bit of Leprechaun Magic

PrimeTimers Look for a Wee Bit of Leprechaun Magic

Our PrimeTimers will be hunting for four-leaf clovers or some other lucky charms under the Ministry Tent on St. Patrick’s Day,  at noon, Wednesday, March 17.

Our own Patrick Hannon will be regaling us with pictures and stories of Ireland, as we learn some of the legends behind St. Patrick’s Day.

Join us for a Traditional Irish MealCorned Beef and Cabbage from Molly Malone’s, with an Apple Surprise for dessert for $8.00 per person.

Note: If you don’t like corned beef and cabbage – please bring your own lunch and we’ll have plenty of dessert to share with you!

Hurry! RSVP by Friday, March 12

PrimeTimers’ Questionaire Game Show

Join our PrimeTimers at 2:30 p.m. Thursday Jan. 28 on ZOOM for an enjoyable bit of entertainment. Dennis Blackburn will be our host for “The PrimeTimers’ Questionnaire” (a Stephen Colbert-type set of “15 Questions”). Dennis’ crew for this event includes Deanne Blackburn, Bette and Dave Whitley.

We will have a few seconds to answer each question … and it will surely be a fun way to get to know each other better (as we laugh together).

Please mark your calendars now for 2:30 p.m. Jan 28. Email Sally Campbell Evans with questions or to RSVP. The ZOOM link will be sent to you as the event nears.

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