Cold Weather Shelter

Hyde Park United Methodist is part of a network of shelters that provide warm, secure space for those experiencing homelessness. The program is administered by Hillsborough County government, which monitors weather conditions and issues an alert when the weather forecast shows temperatures will drop below 40°F. Once that notice is issued, our team of volunteers mobilizes to setup and open the shelter.

Hyde Park United Methodist’s Cold Weather Shelter is located at its Hyde Park Campus, 500 W. Platt Street, Tampa, 33606.

Hillsborough County has activated the Cold Weather Shelter for Tuesday Nov. 28 to Wednesday Nov. 29 2023. 

There is a possibility that the Cold Weather Shelter would be opened Wednesday Nov. 29 to Thursday  Nov. 30, 2023. Stay tuned to sign-up.

Sign-Up Here to Serve: Cold Weather Shelter Tuesday, Nov. 28 – Nov. 29

Sign-Up Here to Serve: Potential Cold Weather Shelter Wednesday, Nov. 29 – Nov. 30

Email Dale Saville with questions.

Read the Cold Weather Shelter Guest Rules here.
Location of the Cold Weather Shelter: Hyde Park United Methodist, 500 W. Platt Street, Tampa 33606

Email Don Aiken, church liaison, for more information or to volunteer.


Echo Cereal Drive

Cereal is luxury for struggling families. It is nutritious, fast and easy. This holiday season we have partnered with Echo, a non-profit organization that is working to bridge the gap between crisis and stability for families in the Tampa Bay area by offering resources like affordable housing and food banks. We hope to collect 1,000 boxes of cereal to aid families in our community. We will be accepting donations at the entrances of the worship centers every Sunday in December.

Christmas at Hyde Park

Christmas at Hyde Park

What God Wants For Christmas

Sundays in December

What does God want for you this Christmas?
How does God want to show you hope, love, peace, and joy?
Discover the answer Sundays in December.

Christmas Eve Services

Contemporary Services

9:30 a.m., 3, 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24

Re-imagined Christmas classics with a sermon and candle lighting in the Harnish Center.

Traditional Services

11 a.m., 4, 6, 11 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24

Classic hymns and anthems featuring our choir and brass with a sermon and candle lighting in the Sanctuary.

The 11 p.m. service features our choir and a guitarist with a sermon, candle lighting, and communion.

Online Services

9:30, 11 a.m., 4, 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24

An online broadcast featuring our Contemporary band, Chancel choir, sermon, and candle lighting. All from the comfort of your own couch.

Christmas Events In December

Master Chorale of Tampa Bay

7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1

Master Chorale voices join with St. Pete Baroque. Experience Baroque music performed with period instruments in an intimate setting. 

Advent Lunch Organ Recital

12:15 p.m. Wednesdays
Dec. 6, 13, 20

The American Guild of Organist Tampa Chapter will present 25 minutes of Advent and Christmas music.

Florida Wind Band Concert 

6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9

A concert telling the story of Christmas. Narrated by our Director of Contemporary Music, Colleen Schmitt.

Lumina Youth Choirs

6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10
Ticketed event $10

Spirit of the season holiday concert. Join the Choirs as they sing in the season with some favorite Christmas and holiday songs. Purchase tickets here.

Family Christmas

5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 17

Crafts, music, a live nativity, and activities in the courtyard for all age children. Bring the whole family!

Blue Christmas

7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21

A service to acknowledge the very real feelings of loss and sadness that we feel during the holiday season. We will light candles, reflect, remember, and respond through Communion.

Christmas in the Park

6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 22
Water Works Park
1710 N. Highland Ave. Tampa, FL

Bring a chair, your four-legged friends, and maybe some two-legged ones too to an outdoor service with live music, a message, and candle lighting. We’ll provide the coffee.

An Unlikely Advent


This four-week Advent study focuses on the experiences of four sets of often overlooked characters in the Nativity story. During this Advent season, Rachel Billups (video) guides readers through the themes of hope, love, joy, and peace by sharing the stories of Elizabeth and Zechariah, Herod, the Magi, and the shepherds. Each set of unexpected characters has something to teach about living faithfully on the journey to Christmas.

  • Noon-1 p.m. at Hyde Park (in person and Zoom hybrid)
  • 6:15-7:30 p.m. at Hyde Park
  • 6:15-7:30 p.m. off-site in Carrollwood

Serving Opportunities In December

Cereal Drive

Cereal is luxury for struggling families. It is nutritious, fast and easy. This holiday season we have partnered with Echo, a non-profit organization that is working to bridge the gap between crisis and stability for families in the Tampa Bay area by offering resources like affordable housing and food banks. We hope to collect 1,000 boxes of cereal to aid families in our community. We will be accepting donations at the entrances of the worship centers every Sunday in December.

Open Arms

Sundays 10:45 a.m. -1:15 p.m. This ministry serves breakfast to our guests each Sunday. Multiple opportunities are available throughout the week to gather food, prepare meals or interact with guests. Contact the Volunteer Coordinator for specific opportunities. | Email Kara Rutherford, church liaison, with questions or to volunteer. Sign -up here to serve with Open Arms.

Cold Weather Shelter

When temperatures fall below 40°F in Hillsborough County, the county government declares a “cold night,” which mobilizes volunteer agencies, including Hyde Park, to open safe, warm space to protect those experiencing homelessness. | Email Don Aiken, church liaison, for more information.

Christmas Poinsettias

Starting Dec. 5. Christmas Poinsettias will be on sale for $10. This is a great way to celebrate those around you this season or memorialize the loss of a loved one. Order your poinsettias online here or visit the table in the Courtyard on Dec. 10 and 17.

Honoring 24 Years of Service

The Rev. Vicki Walker was featured in the news! Read about all of the amazing work she has done for our community during her 24 years of service here.

Exchanging Burdens

September 21, 2023

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Today is the feast day of St. Matthew, the person traditionally credited as the author of the first gospel. Born into the Hebrew tribe of Levi, Matthew was a tax collector who met Jesus, became his disciple, and wrote an eye-witness account of his life, death, and resurrection.

Matthew’s gospel is similar in many ways to the others, especially Mark and Luke. But there are passages that are unique to his: the Sermon on the Mount, the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, and most especially, the Great Commission.

But one special passage that catches my attention today is in Matthew 11:18-20, about exchanging the burdens we are carrying for the lighter yoke of Jesus. I suspect it’s one that you need to read and reflect on today:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I invite you to read this scripture a few times, slowly and prayerfully. Note what is happening in your body to indicate the heavy burdens in your mind and heart. Envision accepting the invitation of Jesus, literally handing over those burdens and exchanging them for the lightness of God’s love and favor.

Remember that Jesus never promised us a life free from burdens. Jesus instead offers us a lighter one. Imagine the feeling of letting go of a 30-lb weight for a 5-lb one. Your muscles have been both fatigued and conditioned by the heavier weight, so picking up the lighter one feels so much freer, maybe even joyful.

This is the kind of life that God desires for you.


We continue our worship series on Christian ethical and moral formation called “Good and Faithful: Life Well Done.” This Sunday we will be focusing on the sacredness of life. We will again tie it into stories, illustrations, and songs from live theater, to help these ideas come to life.

We invite you to click here for additional weekly resources, including lectures by Dr. David Gushee, who wrote Introducing Christian Ethics, on which this series is partially based. The website will also have links to YouTube clips that feature songs from the musicals we are referencing.

Grace and Peace,

The Rev. Magrey deVega

Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist



This Sunday will also be a special and bittersweet day for our congregation, as we celebrate Rev. Vicki Walker and her 24 years of ministry among us. We will recognize her throughout the morning services and online, and then join at 4pm for a celebration in the Harnish Center. Visit our website for details on the event, and click here  to contribute to a love offering to her. Thank you, Vicki!

Good and Faithful

September 14, 2023

Dear Hyde Park Family,

In case you missed worship last Sunday, we introduced our current fall series “Good and Faithful: Life Well Done.” It is a series that explores Christian character, based on a book by Dr. David Gushee titled: Introducing Christian Ethics: Core Convictions for Christians Today. Visit our website for resources that supplement the series each week, including a link to purchase this book.

I had not read a book on Christian Ethics since my seminary days, but I picked it up from a recommendation of a friend, and from the book’s reputation for addressing many controversial, polarizing topics of our day from a Christian perspective.

When I got to chapter 8 in the book, the part that explains five qualities that constitute the moral core for Christian people, I knew I had to explore these five ideas with you in this worship series:

1. Truthfulness. What does it mean to be a truthful person? And how do you hold on to truth in a time when there are such competing and contradictory notions of what is true? We will talk about that this week.

2. Sacredness. What does it mean to live as a sacred child of God, and see others as just as sacred? And how do we preserve the sacred dignity and worth of others, in a time we are just as prone to dehumanize each other? We will explore that theme on September 24.

3. Justice. What does it mean to be a just person? What do we mean by justice, in a world that has vastly different definitions of it, from retribution to redemption to reconciliation? We will explore that idea on World Communion Sunday, October 1.

4. Love. What does it mean to be a loving person? Given the wide spectrum of understandings of love, how can we agree on what it means to act in loving ways toward each other? That will be on October 8.

5. Forgiveness. We will round out our series on October 15 with maybe the hardest question of all: How can we be a forgiving people? Despite the harm that we have done to each other, how can we make forgiveness a central part of our character, and be agents of reconciliation in the world?

Truthfulness, Sacredness, Justice, Love, and Forgiveness. All five of these qualities are found throughout the teachings of Jesus, and together they form a composite sketch of how Jesus would define the virtues and the ethics of the Christian moral life.

And as I mentioned last week, each of the services will include stories, songs, and illustrations from famous musicals. (Last week’s in-person rendition of “Light of the World” from Godspell was a hoot!)

We look forward to what Broadway will bring us this Sunday! See you then!

Grace and Peace,

The Rev. Magrey deVega

Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist



The Rev. Vicki Walker has announced her departure from serving on staff at Hyde Park United Methodist. Read more here. Help us celebrate Vicki’s ministry at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24. Learn more here, including an invitation to contribute to a love gift for Vicki.

Waffle Day!

August 24, 2023

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Well, here’s an opening to a Midweek Message that I never thought I’d write:

“Happy National Waffle Day!”

I normally overlook these kinds of special recognitions, likely manufactured by restaurant and food industries to promote their products. But for some reason, my email inbox this week was inundated with local breakfast eateries advertising today’s special day. (It may have something to do with the fact that I generally go out for breakfast on Wednesday mornings as part of my weekly sermon-writing routine.)

For what it’s worth, today is sandwiched (pun intended) between yesterday’s “National Cuban Sandwich Day” and tomorrow’s “National Banana Split Day.” Its historical roots are connected to an inventor named Cornelius Swartwout (Great name!), who received a patent for his new invention – the waffle iron – on August 24, 1869. For 154 years, Mr. Swartwout’s invention has graced countless kitchen counters, ubiquitous Waffle House franchises, and hotel breakfast stations.

So, what’s the religious connection? Well, I’m glad you asked!

There’s two. The first one is comical. National Waffle Day is apparently celebrated in different countries on different dates, including Sweden, who observes it on March 25. Why? Well, March 25 is the Christian church’s Feast Day of the Annunciation, which in Swedish is pronounced “Varfrudagen.” (Try to say it; it’s fun.) Over time, many fast-talking Swedes began mispronouncing it as “Vaffeldagen,” which means – yep – “Waffle Day.”

So, in Sweden, the holy day of observing the grand visitation of Mary by the Angel Gabriel was transmuted into a day of honoring the crisp, crevassed doughiness of Cornelius Swartwout’s invention. (By the way, neither of these words should be confused with “Vaffeljern,” which is how you say “Waffle Iron” in IKEA.)

Anyway, here’s the other religious connection. In Medieval Europe, churches began tinkering with the wafers used to celebrate the sacrament of holy communion. (You can see where this is heading. Wafer and Waffle have the same root word, Weben, which means, “to weave.”) Over time, they modified the irons they used to press the wafers into flat discs, inscribing into the metal images of crosses, biblical scenes, and other religious symbols.

These “religious waffles” were often enjoyed at the end of meals, not only as a final treat, but also as a kind of prayerful reminder of the divine source of the meal itself.

Regardless of whether or not you enjoy waffles, and even if you don’t observe National Waffle Day, I hope each of us can take a moment to give thanks to God, who gives us both the food on our plates and the capacity to delight in it. And just as we often say a prayer of thanks before we eat, it may not be a bad idea to take a page from Medieval waffle practice, and also give thanks to God after the meal is over.

Come to think of it, “Medieval waffle practice” is also not a phrase I thought I’d ever use to conclude a Midweek Message.

I think I’ll go celebrate with a waffle.

Grace and Peace,

The Rev. Magrey deVega

Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist



Join me and Sally Campbell-Evans next year on a 9-night Greek Isles Journeys of Paul Cruise from Sept. 21 – Oct. 1, 2024. I will offer three lectures about the life, ministry, and travels of the Apostle Paul as he shared the gospel and planted Christian communities throughout the first century Greco-Roman world. Learn more about the cruise here.  Attend the information session 2 p.m. this Sunday, Aug. 27, Knox Hall Room 150. RSVP for the information session here.

Pray for Pakistan and Hawaii

Pray for the people of Pakistan who are affected by churches being burned and threats of harm. See the message from Bishop Tom Berlin.

Please pray for those affected by the terrible fires and destruction in Hawaii from Hurricane Dora. See the message from Bishop Tom Berlin from the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. See California-Pacific Conference Bishop Escobedo-Frank’s pastoral letter on the fires here.

Thank you, Vicki!

August 10, 2023

Dear Hyde Park Family,

It is with a sad, but grateful heart that I share the bittersweet news that Rev. Vicki Walker has announced her departure from serving on staff here at Hyde Park United Methodist. As she shares below, she has discerned a new way to live out her ministerial calling. I am glad to note that she will continue to be a part of our congregation as a fellow worshipper and disciple among us.

Her last Sunday will be on Sunday, September 24, when we can look forward to a joyous, albeit emotional, celebration of her ministry among us.

It is impossible to capture in words the impact she has made as a pastor, director of adult discipleship, and leader of our missions and outreach efforts. Her twenty-four years of ministerial service make her the longest-serving clergy in the history of Hyde Park United Methodist.

I hope you’ll join me in thanking Vicki and celebrating all she means to us.

Grace and Peace,

The Rev. Magrey deVega

Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist


Here is Vicki’s message to us:

Thirty years ago, you welcomed me into the church, and twenty-four years ago, you welcomed me onto the staff. First in adult education, where hundreds of us studied the Bible through Disciple Bible Study. Then, we took Disciple seriously and went “Into the Word, Into the World.”

Together we have discerned God’s call to serve our community in Tampa and beyond. I am proud of our relationships with our neighbors experiencing homelessness, our friends at Dunbar Elementary Medical Magnet School, and our amigos in Cuba and Nicaragua, and places in between. Your commitment to Making God’s Love Real has made my job so easy.

As I have prayed about this season of ministry, I sense God calling me to be more available to spend time with my family in Kentucky and step back from my leadership role at the church. I am not leaving you or the church, just the position. I have also been accepted into a two-year Spiritual Direction training program that begins in September, so I am excited about that.

While I am sad to leave the staff, I am thrilled to still be a part of our church.

Hyde Park, you are always my heart and my home.