Midweek Message: A Vision Update … and a Great Start!

Midweek Message: A Vision Update … and a Great Start!

Dear Hyde Park Family,

For today’s Midweek Message, I’d like to share an excerpt of my remarks to lay leaders and teams at our Leadership Kick-Off event last Tuesday. It is an update on the implementation of our Vision Plan, and a list of all the exciting things we have seen God already do over just the first month of 2020.

Address to Lay Leadership, Feb. 4, 2020

I would like to offer a word about where we have been as a church, and where we are going in the year ahead. First, an update on where we are on the implementation of our 2018 Vision Plan, then to give you a sense of where that is heading. And I also want to celebrate with you how productive and meaningful 2020 has already been, just one month in.

Over the past year, the Implementation Team and the dozens of lay and staff members of various initiative teams have made major progress in implementing our long-term strategic plan. Many of the teams have already concluded their work, and their reports have been given the green light to implement.

  • The Missions and Outreach Team have stronger clarity about the programs that we support as a church, focusing on homelessness, hunger and education.
  • The Discipleship Team has emerged with a renewed emphasis on our Discipleship Pathway as the backbone of our spiritual formation, emphasizing our seven spiritual practices, and giving rise to The Bible Project 2020, our journey through the Bible this year.
  • The Stewardship Team conducted a comprehensive survey last fall of our congregation’s practice and understanding of stewardship, and hired the services of Horizons Stewardship, who guided our successful stewardship campaign last fall.
  • We made some strategic decisions about current staffing, which largely contributed to the hiring of Peggy Hisey, our new Executive Director.
  • Our Worship Initiative Team presented a report providing many options that would fulfill its charge from the vision plan. While changes to the worship schedule are not yet planned for the foreseeable future, the Worship Team is bringing in an outside consultant to help us make worship at all our services more inspiring and more engaging to the demographics most within the reach of our church.
  • The Portico Café team made some significant changes to its operations and updated its menu, resulting in sizable improvements to its profitability, nearly breaking even each of the last three months. And since Jan. 1, 2019, no money from the church’s Ministry and Missions budget has been used to cover any deficits of the Café.
  • And last week, our church conference unanimously adopted new clarity about the mission and vision of The Portico, bringing all of its ministries, the work of the Café, and its emphasis on homelessness, all in line with the goal of the whole church, which is to teach people to follow Jesus and guide spiritually seeking people along the path of discipleship.

Looking ahead, the work of the Implementation Team continues with:

  • Reports still to be received and reviewed in the areas of Communications and Invitation, along with a comprehensive review of our organizational structure and alignment of staff.
  • We are continuing work with our stewardship consultant, who will guide us in a thorough analysis of our giving patterns and unlock greater potential in our giving through a comprehensive stewardship campaign.
  • Our Discipleship Team will continue work with renowned church development consultant Tom Bandy in helping us deepen the spiritual practices of our congregation and reach currently underserved demographic groups in our community.

You can see that it was a very full 2019, and we can see that 2020 has a great deal of promise ahead of us. But what you may not know is just how much we have already accomplished just in the last month, over these first few weeks of 2020:

  • We finished 2019 in the black, enabling us to make lay retirement contributions to our staff, and building up our capital reserve to more than $245,000.
  • We held two nights of cold night shelters in the Harnish Activities Center, providing a warm, safe space for many living on the street (with terrific local media coverage).
  • We had a fun and inspirational weekend for our youth at the Rock the Universe Christian music festival in Orlando.
  • We gave out about sixteen Beginner’s Bibles to our 2-4 year olds in worship on Jan. 5 and began a three-week class for their families to learn how to read the Bible together.
  • We now have brand new, beautiful pavers for our Sanctuary Courtyard, as well as new pew cushions for our Sanctuary pews.
  • We far surpassed our goal of 2,000 books by donating 3,051 new books for the students and familes at Dunbar Elementary School, altering the trajectory of their lives through the gift of literacy.
  • The PrimeTimers and Merge held successful parking fundraisers during both Gasparilla parades.
  • We had more than 120 people watch the documentary “True Justice” and engaged in a conversation about racial inequality in the criminal justice system.
  • At The Portico, we hosted dozens of bishops and other significant denominational leaders from throughout the connection for an important video broadcast related to the Protocol, a training event for presiding over General Council, and a meeting of the Council of Bishops Executive Committee.
  • Last week at our Church Conference, we approved a budget that is underwritten by a larger than usual percentage of stewardship pledges.
  • We had close to sixty people gather around our Homeless Jesus sculpture to honor the 69 homeless people who died in our community in 2019. It was an incredibly moving service.
  • The Bible Project 2020 is off to a very strong start, with people engaged, reading the Bible, talking about it, and making use of our wide array of extremely well-produced resources: small groups, worship, daily devotional, Facebook group, and a weekly podcast that now has about 1,000 active listeners.
  • We welcomed our new Executive Director, and Peggy is quickly filling the void long vacant in our church.
  • And we have continued to provide pastoral care through hospital visits, weddings, baptisms, and of course, funerals, including a stirring memorial service for George Gage with the largest crowd many of us have ever seen for a funeral in this church.

I would say: this has been an amazing start to 2020!

Now, none of this happens without the devotion of a terrific staff and amazing lay leadership. But more importantly, none of this happens – none of this happens – if the people of this church don’t take their spiritual practices seriously. Not just the three corporate practices of worship, small groups and service, but the four personal practices of giving generously, reading Scripture without fear or frustration, inviting others to Jesus in a natural, non-intimidating way, and the final practice, prayer.

Thank you, Hyde Park United Methodist, as we claim God’s exciting future together.

Grace and Peace,


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

Giving Matters: Discovering Faith Through Meditation

Giving Matters: Discovering Faith Through Meditation

Dear Hyde Park Disciples,

From its inception, The Portico campus has presented us with unique opportunities to connect to the spiritual but not religious residents of downtown Tampa. When we began restoring the historic chapel on the downtown campus, we knew that it would be a place for contemplation and meditation. But we couldn’t have foreseen that for one resident across the street this restoration would be a new beginning for her faith.

Silvia Hale has lived in Vista 400, a community for senior adults, since 2011. Located directly across from The Portico, she had a bird’s eye view of the new construction. As soon as the Chapel opened for meditation in 2015, she went. Growing up, Silvia never gave religion or Jesus much thought. She had never attended church. But in that restored Chapel, she found an expression of faith and spirituality that drew her in.

Through the meditations, Silvia met Justin LaRosa. As someone in recovery, Silvia was intrigued by the thought of a pastor who was in recovery too. As they talked more, Silvia shared that she had never been baptized. According to her, “Justin jumped on that!” They began talking about what baptism meant and would mean for Silvia.

In December 2016, while worship was still happening on the second floor of the Admin Building, Silvia was baptized.

Silvia continues to be a vibrant part of the Portico community. She attends Tuesday meditation and the spiritual discussion afterwards. She continues to grow spiritually, “And hopefully it spills out into my everyday life.”
As she reflected on this journey to faith, Silvia said of The Portico, “It’s a wonderful community—I see nothing but good things coming out of this. I see tremendous potential for The Portico.”

You are a part of Silvia’s story too. Your financial generosity and support for all the ministries of Hyde Park United Methodist continue to transform lives and Make God’s Love Real.

Grace and peace,

The Portico Community

Giving Matters: Discovering Faith Through Meditation

Giving Matters: Youth Ministries Summer Update

This summer, our Merge teens have been active in our ministry and made a ton of incredible memories!

They experienced a powerful week at Warren Willis Camp back in June with the theme being “Speak Peace.” They learned how different cultures convey peace through their words. They played a lot of different games and did team building exercises while they grew in their peace and love for the world.

In mid-July we took 18 students and adults to Science In Faith And Technology (SIFAT) in Lineville, Alabama. This trip proves to be an incredibly powerful experience for everyone involved each time we go. The theme this summer was “Bloom” to teach the students not only how to use handcrafted technology to help different cultures with their water supply, building materials and livelihood, but also to Bloom in their own personal faith journeys.

Our last trip was taking 16 high school students and chaperones to Costa Rica. We worked in four different neighborhoods teaching and sharing the love of God. The theme for the week was “Faith, Hope and Love.” The group learned who we should truly put our hope in, and how our dependence on God creates a more fulfilling future.

If it wasn’t for the amazing financial support of this church, many of our students wouldn’t have been able to go. Your support helped them learn and grow in various parts of the worlds this summer.

Giving truly matters when it comes to the spiritual life of our students here at Hyde Park. We are so grateful for the ways in which you make a difference in the lives of our teenagers!

Amazingly His,

Emily Kuche
Director of Youth Ministries

Giving Matters: Discovering Faith Through Meditation

Giving Matters: From Possibility to Reality

June 2019

Dear Hyde Park Disciples,

Your Facilities Team and Board of Trustees loves that the things we do to maintain and improve the property of the church is so that ministry can happen. We help turn possibilities into reality.

Your financial support enables us to proactively maintain all of our property. This is no small thing.

We are forward-thinking here, including the approach we take with our buildings and grounds. In the past year, we have been able to replace items in need with energy-saving and environmentally-friendly options. These new items help save the church money and reduce our impact on the planet.

Knox Hall now has a “cool roof,” which helps prevent heat absorption. It also has been outfitted with Wi-Fi thermostats. These allow us to monitor potential air conditioning problems in real time, and to customize room settings. Lights across our property are being retrofitted with LED bulbs. The Chapel uses all LED bulbs now, is brighter and uses much less electricity.

Air conditioning units in the Wesley Center and Harnish Activities Center have been repaired by our own facilities staff, saving huge expenses that would have been paid to an outside vendor. Many older toilets in the children’s rooms of the Wesley Center have been updated as needed with toilets that use less water.

The parking lot on the Hyde Park campus was recently repaved and sealed. Sidewalks have been pressure washed. These improvements help create a much safer place for drivers and pedestrians.

We are grateful to be part of the possibilities that God brings our way.

Grace and peace,


Rich Howard-Allen
Facilities and Operations Team Leader

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