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Hard To Believe

Dear Hyde Park Family,

We can freely admit that there are some aspects of the Christian faith that are simply hard to believe. It’s not that we don’t believe them. It’s just hard to fully comprehend them. There is a whole category of essential concepts to the faith that cannot be completely explained with reason.

  • What is the nature of the trinity? How can one God exist in three persons?
  • How was Jesus fully human and fully divine?
  • How can we believe that God is all-powerful, all-loving, and all-present, especially in a world filled with such suffering and evil?
  • What does prayer mean, and what difference does it make?

These are questions that stretch the mind.

For some people who consider themselves irreligious or non-Christian, these questions are barriers that prevent them from having faith. In a world filled with such unsettledness and uncertainty, we crave the reliable and the predictable. We would much prefer answers that are clear, cut and dry. So, for some, these concepts are not only hard to believe; they make it hard to have faith.

But for others, including many of us, these are questions that actually reinforce the need for faith.

For the next five weeks, our worship series is called “Hard to Believe,” and we will tackle each of these imponderable questions that are at the core of the Christian faith.

  • May 26: The Trinity: How Can Three Equal One?
  • June 2: The Nature of Christ: How Can He Be Fully Human and Fully Divine?
  • June 9: The “Omnis” of God: All Powerful, All Knowing, All Present
  • June 16: The Impossible Chess Match: The Problem of Suffering and Evil
  • June 23: Prayer: What Difference Does It Make?

We will discover that these questions not only remind us of the limitations of our intellect and keep us humble. They help us to embrace mystery, not shy away from it. They remind us that we are not God, because if we had everything completely figured out, there would be no room for wonder, and no need for God. To believe in God is to believe in something beyond us, and beyond our capacity to grasp it. And that’s what each of these questions do.

So, join us for this series. Bring your questions, and your openness to mystery. We will discover that these essentials to Christian doctrine are not barriers to faith but are reminders of faith.

See you Sunday!

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

General Conference in Review

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Thank you for the prayers and encouragement over these last two weeks as the General Conference of the United Methodist Church gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina. I felt honored to serve as one of the clergy delegates, along with Clarke Campbell-Evans (clergy), Justin LaRosa (reserve clergy), and Steve Gardner (reserve laity).

The General Conference made some significant decisions for our denomination, and the following is a brief list of its highlights. I encourage you to watch this recording from a webinar last Tuesday in which I interviewed Bishop Tom Berlin, Molly McEntire, and Rev. Alex Shanks. In addition, you can view my announcement last Sunday in our in-person worship services.

Here are the highlights:

REGIONALIZATION

Delegates approved legislation that would restructure the denomination to be more

contextual in different global regions served by the church. This plan accounts for the evolving nature of worldwide United Methodism, which began as a U.S.-centric denomination in 1968, but has since become a growing presence in Africa and the Philippines, which have their own unique cultural contexts and missional needs. Regionalization emphasizes unity in our core beliefs, along with liberty to adapt ministry and parts of The Book of Discipline to different settings.

It received 78% approval, exceeding the requisite 2/3 threshold. Because it requires changes to the UMC constitution, it now moves through a ratification process, in which 2/3rds of the total delegates of all Annual (U.S.) and Central (International) Conferences will vote. It is anticipated that most Annual Conferences will vote on it in June 2025.

 

LGBTQIA+ INCLUSION

The General Conference voted by overwhelming majorities to remove from The Book of Discipline discriminatory language and practices against LGBTQIA+ persons. Actions included:

  • Removal of the language that the “practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.
  • Removal of the ban on the licensing, commissioning, ordination, and appointment of queer clergy.
  • Removal from the list of chargeable offenses against clergy the act of presiding over a same-sex wedding.
  • Removal of the ban of United Methodist funds to support ministries that promote LGBTQIA+ inclusion.

 

GENERAL CONFERENCE BUDGET AND CLERGY PENSION

The General Conference budget, which funds domestic and international agencies and supports our bishops, was reduced and streamlined, so as not to incur a heavier apportionment burden on local churches in the wake of disaffiliations.

Wespath, the denomination’s pension and benefits agency, received approval for a new clergy retirement plan, which is a defined contribution, rather than a defined benefits plan.

 

THE REVISED SOCIAL PRINCIPLES

Delegates approved the first overhaul of the denomination’s Social Principles

in nearly 50 years. These are not considered church law, but reflect official

United Methodist teachings on a wide range of topics. They inform our witness on major issues of the day through a biblical foundation that is shaped by tradition, reason, and experience.

 

DEACONS RECEIVE SACRAMENTAL AUTHORITY

The clergy order of deacons (which includes Rev. Justin LaRosa) received the ability to perform the sacraments of baptism and communion without the need to seek prior permission from the bishop, as long as they are done in that clergy’s ministry setting.

 

FULL COMMUNION AGREEMENT WITH THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

After a 22-year study, the General Conference adopted a plan to enter into a “full communion agreement” with The Episcopal Church. This is not a merger of the two denominations, but a recognition that both traditions are part of the same holy, catholic, apostolic church. It also affirms that we have much in common theologically and organizationally, and it allows for clergy to serve churches in the other denomination when 1) it is missionally necessary, and 2) it is approved by the bishops. This plan requires the agreement of The Episcopal Church when it convenes in 2026.

 

OTHER MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Approved a constitutional amendment addressing the denomination’s commitment to eradicating racism.
  • Approved an apology to victims and survivors of sexual misconduct by clergy and lay leaders in the church. The resolution also encourages the reporting of sexual abuse and states that the abuse of power will not be tolerated in the church.
  • Celebrated the impact of Africa University and milestone anniversaries – the 200th anniversary of Methodist mission, the 100th anniversary of the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C., and the 80th anniversary of the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

After 1,100 petitions, the work of 14 Legislative Committees, nearly 800 delegates, and 12 straight 16-hour days, this General Conference has drawn to a close. I would say that even beyond these major legislative accomplishments, the most important highlight for me was the genuinely civil, hope-filled, and thoughtful interactions that I observed and engaged in with people across our differences.

This truly felt like the start of a new day in the United Methodist Church, and I am grateful to have been elected to be a part of it. And thank you for being such an amazing congregation to return to, as we continue the work of making disciples for the transformation of the world.

Grace and Peace,

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

VBS

June 24 – 28, 2024!

Dive Below the Surface to Build a Strong Faith

Deadline to register is MAY 31!

Cost: $50 for Preschool – Grade 4 and $75 for Tweens

Schedule: Monday – Friday, 9:00AM – 12:00PM.

* Note: rising 5th and 6th graders have extended programming (until 3 p.m.) Tuesday and Thursday during VBS

 

Ready to Dive into the Scuba VBS volunteer team?

Adult and youth volunteer registration is now open! Early child registration is available for adult volunteers upon completion of the volunteer form.

Mini-VBS and Nursery care is available for children of volunteers. This is not a drop-off program but reserved for those volunteering. A link will be available once adult registration has been completed.

 

Volunteer Training: Thank you for serving at SCUBA VBS! Please mark your calendar for our mandatory VBS Volunteer Training on Wednesday, June 12 at 5:45 p.m.

 

Decorations and Construction: If you like crafting, being creative or even using a hammer, join the VBS Construction & Decoration Team on select Thursday mornings (9:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m.).

Amazon Wish List: Have a heart to serve but limited time? Check out this amazon wishlist for VBS supply needs!

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

Day 1 – June 24

God Is a Friend Who Is Real.

Day 2 – June 25

God is a friend who loves!

Day 3 – June 26

God Is a Friend We Can Trust.

Day 4 – June 27

God is a friend forever!

 

Day 5 – June 28

God Is a Friend For Everyone.
What crew is my child in?

A parent email will be sent the week before VBS to all parents of registered children with crew information. This email will also contain pick-up passes which must be shown to your child’s crew leader at dismissal/pick up each day.

How does drop off / pick up work?

Morning drop off: Campers should be seated in the Sanctuary with their crew by 9 a.m. for opening worship each day. Doors open at 8:50 a.m., please escort your child inside the Sanctuary to their crew’s pew and drop off to their crew leaders.

Afternoon pick up: Dismissal will start at 12:10 p.m. each day.* Children should be picked up from their crew pew in the Sanctuary.

*Note: rising 5th and 6th graders will have extended hours on Tuesday, with dismissal at 3 p.m. from the Magnolia building. Dismissal on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday will be from the Sanctuary balcony at 12:15 p.m.

Can I watch closing worship?

All parents are invited to watch closing worship in the Harnish Center. (11 :35 a.m.- 12:10). If you need to get your children before dismissal, please come to campus before 11:40 a.m. and we will locate your child for you. 

What does my kid wear to VBS?

Each day your child should wear their VBS T-shirt. T-shirts can be picked up each Sunday in June in the Courtyard from 9 a.m. – noon. T-shirts can also be picked up in the church’s Ministry Office 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday-Thursday, and 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday. Shirts must be picked up by Sunday, June 26. If we have shirts left over, additional shirts can be purchased beginning Wednesday of VBS week (at the VBS info tent in the Sanctuary Courtyard. $5 each).

Please use a black Sharpie marker to write your child’s first name and crew number on the FRONT of the shirt. This will act as their nametag (Using a flat cardboard piece inside the shirt helps when you do this). We also suggest comfortable shorts and closed-toed shoes for their safety.

What if I can't pick up my child - can another parent, friend or grandparent pick them up?

YES, BUT THEY WILL NEED TO HAVE A COMPLETED PICK-UP PASS FOR YOUR CHILD TO PRESENT TO YOUR CHILD’S CREW LEADER. We are accepting pictures of completed Pick-Up Passes on smart phones as well. If your child’s pick-up person does not have a pass, they will be asked to go to our info tent outside in the Courtyard. They will need to show their driver’s license and we will check registration forms to see who has been authorized to pick up your child. If you did not list them as an authorized person to pick up your child in your child’s registration, we will call you to confirm authorization.

Will there be a 'VBS Recap Video' this year?

Yes! Join us for worship Sunday, June 30.