May 13, 2021
Today, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) lifted several restrictions for fully vaccinated persons, specifically for indoor mask wearing and physical distancing. Subsequently, the Executive Team of the Ministry Leadership Council (6 lay people and 4 staff) met this afternoon to discuss this news. Since the start of the pandemic, the Executive Team has relied on guidance from the CDC, local data from the Florida Department of Health, and the Florida Annual Conference to guide its protocols.
As a result, we are announcing the following important changes, effective starting this Sunday:
1. Indoor and outdoor mask wearing will now be optional for fully vaccinated people;
2. Reservations are no longer required for attending Sunday morning worship; however, reservations will still be required for now for children attending Sunday morning ministries.
3. Social distancing will no longer be required.
These changes will also apply to all adult small groups and committees meeting indoors on campus. We encourage each small group to consider the unique needs of their members and reach a consensus on how they are most comfortable meeting.
We sincerely appreciate this congregation’s prayerful patience as we have walked this unprecedented journey together. With today’s announcement, and with the exciting plans that continue to unfold for our church, we move into God’s future with enthusiasm, gratitude, and great joy!
Grace and Peace,
I’m not sure who decides such things, but on the National Day Calendar website, this past week contained several unusual observances: Monday was National Clean Your Room Day, followed by National Eat What You Want Day. Who knew that yesterday was National Odometer Day? And how exactly does one celebrate that?
For what it’s worth, today is an odd convergence of four celebrations: National Crouton Day, National Apple Pie Day, National Fruit Cocktail Day, and National Frog Jumping Day. Sounds like the makings of a very weird party.
But there is one observance that caught my attention: Tomorrow is National Decency Day.
In 2017, a parent in New York named Lisa Cholnoky had grown weary of the caustic nature of our public discourse, particularly online and in social media. She started a simple campaign in the form of a button she created and wore every day, containing the single word “decency.” The buttons became viral, as did her non-partisan, grassroots movement, which you can learn more about on their website Their mission is simple: “To inspire decency in our everyday life, in our conversations and our actions.”
Their efforts were recognized on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in September 2017. And in 2019, National Decency Day was established to “celebrate the basic standard of civility that every American deserves.”
They offer three simple guidelines for practicing decency and civility in our interactions with others:
A: Active listening
B: Better understanding
CREATED TO BE IN RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS
In John 15:9-17, our Scripture text for this Sunday in our “New Creation” worship series, Jesus said that our relationships with others ought to be life giving and loving, rather than hostile and divisive. “My command is this,” Jesus said. “Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
We are connected to God and to each other, as a vine is connected to branches. So, we are called to lean into that connection, despite our divisions and disagreements, to become an interdependent community, strengthening and encouraging each other. In other words, every day should be one of decency.
So, Happy Decency Day tomorrow, friends. Let’s make an extra effort to model civility and compassion in our interactions with others, every day. And in all things, let us love one another.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist
INCREASED SEATING FOR SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP
Our Ministry Leadership Council Executive Group has approved an increase in the number of people who can attend Sunday indoor worship services. The total number of available seats has been increased by the number of people attending who are fully vaccinated (two weeks have elapsed since the final vaccination). You will find a space on the RSVP form for you to provide the number of people in your reservation who are vaccinated. Sharing this information will allow us to welcome more people into worship. The information will not be retained, but only used to determine capacity. See you Sunday! RSVP here.
Our Florida Conference Bishop Ken Carter has also provided helpful guidance to churches, following Governor DeSantis’ recent announcement lifting local government mask mandates. You can read Bishop Carter’s statement here. As we eagerly and steadily increase worship seating capacity and resume indoor ministries, we will continue for now to practice mask wearing and social distancing, in accordance with direction from the CDC, which has guided our Executive Team since the start of the pandemic. We believe that doing so lives out our faithful Wesleyan understanding of doing no harm, which is one of John Wesley’s three simple rules. It is also a way to love God and love all, fulfilling our mission of making God’s love real.