The Original Six-Word Story

The Original Six-Word Story

Dear Easter People,

There is a legend that someone once asked Ernest Hemingway to write a story using only six words. His response? “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.” Since then, the idea of a “Six-Word Story” has grown in popularity. One article defines it as “a short narrative that can have all of the emotional themes of longer stories—from funny to dramatic, sad to scary …. They have a subject and verb that give the reader a sense of what’s happened and a bit of conflict.”

Scan the internet for examples, and you’ll find lots of gems, from the funny (“Won food fight. Used canned vegetables.”) to the sorrowful (“The smallest coffins are the heaviest.”) to the poignant. (“He died happy, knowing he lived.”)

But did you know that the original six-word story, the most important in history, first coined two-thousand years ago, is in the Bible?

It is a simple, clear narrative that appears fourteen times in the gospels, in Acts, and in Paul’s letters:

“God raised Jesus from the dead.”

That’s it. That was Christianity in a nutshell over the first centuries of the church. When the first Christians gathered in house churches to worship, this was their creed. The resurrection was the central feature of the faith, and this six-word story reminded them that just as Jesus died a real death, he was brought back to real life.

And the most important part of that story is this: Jesus did not raise himself.

To put this six-word story in grammatical terms, Jesus was the direct object, not the subject. God did the raising; Jesus did the receiving. Of course, we can split theological hairs remembering that God the Father and God the Son are one in the same, so that technically, God did in fact rise from the dead.

But let’s not miss this important point: We cannot raise ourselves, either. God does the resurrecting, not us. We cannot rise on our own; we need the power of God to raise us to new life.





That conviction is at the heart of our current worship series, which we began last Sunday. From now through the end of May, we are exploring the spirituality of the acclaimed 12-step program, which has transformed the lives of many people in various kinds of addiction recovery.

But you don’t have to be in recovery to gain immense spiritual benefit from this journey. And this Sunday, we explore Steps 2 and 3, summarized as “God can” and “I will let God”:

  • Step 2: To believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
  • Step 3: To decide to turn our lives and will over to the care of God.

If you haven’t yet done so, pick up a copy of the personal workbook at the Hyde Park office this Sunday or during the week. It includes scripture readings, reflections, and exercises for you to live into each of the steps. Pick up copies to share with a friend, or find a digital copy on our website. We also invite you to take part in one of the small groups, which are currently forming. You can register here.

And of course, don’t miss a Sunday, as we explore each of these steps together, and give praise to the God who is still in the resurrection business. Open your heart and life to being the direct object of God’s resurrecting power, and discover your own six-word story of transformation.

See you Sunday!




Tonight at 7 p.m. in the Harnish Center, the Contemporary Band will be hosting an uplifting “Night of Praise.” Come together and celebrate the great things God is doing at Hyde Park through music and story and experience the joy of being a church family. All the fantastic singers and band members will be there, so come celebrate!



Last November, our Ministry Leadership Council (MLC) chartered a Facilities and Property Task Force to develop a prioritized and time-phased master plan for utilization, improvement and disposition of facilities and real property owned by Hyde Park United Methodist. To read more about their work and the latest updates, click here.


Top Serving Opportunities

Top Serving Opportunities

Are you looking to get connected or even looking for service hours? Here we have a list of our top serving opportunities that  you can get involved in!

Adult Bible Study Facilitator

Serve any day; lead a small group or class for adults; curriculum and training provided.


Children’s Ministries Room Organizer

Do you love to organize? Children’s ministries needs you!


Justice Team: Community Events

Serve on the Community Events Team. We will organize, coordinate, and partner with other organizations to hold events around justice. Email Thad Bereday for more info.


Mission Liaisons Needed!

Mission Liaisons are needed for Feeding Tampa Bay, Metropolitan Ministries and Salvation Army. As a Mission Liaison you’ll serve as the link between our church and our mission partner. You’ll communicate with the partner, pray for them, receive updates and let others know when there are service opportunities or other needs. The schedule and frequency of engagement is up to you.


New Baby Ministry Team

Hyde Park’s Children’s Ministries is looking for team members for the New Baby Ministry. Volunteers will pick up a gift at the church provided by Children’s Ministries for new parents and deliver it to them in the South Tampa area.


Scripture or Prayer Reader for Online Worship

Reading scripture or prayers provided to you, video yourself at home or at the church with staff help; video will be shown during online worship.


Serve at Dunbar Elementary

Hyde Park United Methodist has partnered with Dunbar Elementary. Volunteers are needed for tutoring, help in the garden, visiting with students at lunch, administrative support, or volunteering in the office. Here are some specific needs as the school year comes to a close. 


Serve with Children’s Ministries

Children’s Ministries is only possible with our team of amazing volunteers!

Serving opportunities are available for school-year teams of small group shepherds, greeters and floor coordinators.

If you and/or your youth love kids and are excited to get more involved, Sign Up To Serve.

Not sure what role is best for you? Learn more about serving with Children’s Ministries!


Set Design and/or Construction for Contemporary Worship

Assistance needed quarterly.


Sunday Morning Hospitality at Hyde Park

Sundays, 9:30 or 11 a.m., serve on the Hospitality Team at Hyde Park. Serve as an Usher or Greeter. Training provided.


Volunteer Barista at The Portico Cafe

Serve up a daily perk while also giving back to your community!

Serve any day, Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Duties include running the cash register, making coffee and helping with coffee retail sales. Training provided.

Help this social enterprise gain momentum and craft our comeback in downtown Tampa.


To sign up for any of these Top Serving Opportunities click here


Facilities and Property Task Force: Congregational Update

Facilities and Property Task Force: Congregational Update

Last November, our Ministry Leadership Council (MLC) chartered a Facilities and Property Task Force to develop a prioritized and time-phased master plan for utilization, improvement and disposition of facilities and real property owned by Hyde Park United Methodist. They were tasked to frame their recommendations in terms of relative priority among three time frames — near term (this year and next), mid term (2-5 years out) and long term (out to 20 years if possible) — and to discern the conditions and trigger points for both the timing and priority for meeting our ministry needs.  We put out a call for volunteers for the Task Force, and our Committee on Lay Leadership accepted task force volunteers and also asked other church members with relevant expertise to join in (task force members are listed below).  The MLC expects a final set of recommendations in June or July.


(in alphabetical order)

Wendy Anastasiou

Mary Britain

Jim Cloar

Rob Foss

Steve Gardner

Kevin Gray

Gary Heckman

Kelly Howard-Allen

John Mathew

Cheryl Parrish


The Task Force first researched previous work on the topic – former master plans, visioning, vision implementation, etc. – to know the current body of discernment regarding facilities.  They then reviewed each ministry area – worship, discipleship, congregational care, the Portico, missions and outreach — of the church and built upon prior work and staff input to draft around two dozen “ministry need statements” that span the near to long term.  They are now looking at the near-, mid- and long-term impacts of each ministry need, and integrating the review by arraying each of the ministry needs by the locations that may provide potential solutions.  Mindful of good stewardship, the preference is to find ministry need solutions that do not require additional facilities.

Task force actions are still “pre-decisional,” but here are some of the big picture issues that are shaping how we undertake this task.

  • Factors driving future facilities requirements at Hyde Park and Portico campuses
    • Transitioning from a pre-COVID to a post-COVID concept of church operations
    • Expected growth in youth and children’s ministries, and Small Blessings Preschool
    • Accommodating emerging ministry needs at the Hyde Park campus, and also at the Portico, especially at Branscomb Hall
  • Near term needs
    • Smoothing competing ministry needs in the Wesley Center and Magnolia Building
    • Outdoor space for Open Arms + Small Blessings + Youth and Children’s Ministries
  • Considerations in the 2-5 year planning horizon and beyond
    • Resolving any competing ministry needs in our current facilities and outlying land parcels
    • Possible further growth in youth/children’s ministries beyond Wesley and Magnolia facility capacities
    • Furtherance of ministry needs at Branscomb Hall and the DeLeon block
    • Accommodating emerging ministry needs on the DeLeon block and outlying parcels, and exploring possible long-term income-producing opportunities that do not cancel out priority ministry needs.

The task force has accrued more than thirty hours of meeting time since last December, along with time spent with the Program Staff, the Board of Trustees, the Finance Committee, and the Executive Team of the MLC. On Tuesday, April 5, the entire MLC received a progress report from the task force. The MLC gave approval related to the two pressing/urgent needs listed above: 1) Interior modifications to the Wesley Center, as coordinated by impacted ministry teams, and 2) The concept of an outdoor covered pavilion on the Magnolia block, with details to be determined as the task force completes its work.

This is an exciting time.  You all continue to be generous in supporting the church’s mission, and we who shepherd the use of God’s resources renew our pledge to be excellent stewards of your treasure and your trust.  We are truly blessed here at Hyde Park United Methodist, and we aim to preserve and grow this blessing for God’s glory and for future generations.


For questions please contact


See You at the Starting Line!

See You at the Starting Line!

Dear Hyde Park Pilgrims,

Don’t finish what you can’t start.

That’s a twist on the classic cliché, but it is sage advice for our tendency to jump quickly to Easter without moving through the Passion. Our stores are stocked with plastic grass and chocolate bunnies, yet you’d be hard-pressed to find a Maundy Thursday gift basket or a Good Friday greeting card.

It’s emblematic of a culture that wants the reward without the discipline, the quick fix without the sacrifice, the finish, without the start.

That’s why Palm Sunday is so important. It offers a formal invitation into a week of discipline and darkness that we would rather ignore. But such avoidance turns the empty tomb into an empty victory. As my seminary theology professor frequently asked: “If Jesus is the answer, then what was the question?”

If Easter is a day of victory, then what has been defeated?

The gospel’s answer to that question is found in the stories of Holy Week. After Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem:

  • He cursed a fig tree for not being fruitful.
  • He emptied the temple of self-serving moneychangers.
  • He confronted religious leaders who questioned his authority.
  • He challenged notions of financial stewardship by praising a poor widow.
  • He warned his followers of imminent persecution and called them to vigilance.

And that’s before we even get to Maundy Thursday, before we enter the upper room. If we have any inclination to jump ahead to Easter morning, the Bible proclaims, “Not so fast. You’re not ready. There is much you need to hear.”

It’s captured in the words of Medieval mystic Thomas a Kempis:

“There will always be many who love Christ’s heavenly Kingdom, but few who will bear his cross. Jesus has many who desire consolation, but few who care for adversity. He finds many to share his table, but few who will join him in fasting. Many are eager to be happy with him; few wish to suffer anything for him. Many will follow him as far as the breaking of bread, but few will remain to drink from his passion. Many are awed by his miracles, few accept the shame of his cross.

If you want to experience a truly powerful, meaningful Easter finish, then start the journey this Sunday with humility, repentance, and obedience to God. Remember your membership vows and use Holy Week as a time for spiritual renewal.

  • Offer God your Prayers of praise, confession, gratitude, and intercession for others.
  • Worship God with your Presence, with less a need to be entertained and more a desire to glorify God.
  • Present God your Gifts, not for your own benefit, but for the work of God’s Kingdom.
  • Pledge to God your Service, knowing that your only reward may be a cross.
  • Honor God with your Witness to others, inviting them to experience God’s love with you.

At the very least, I invite you to join us for all of Holy Week, not just for Easter morning. Allow the services of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday to stir your conscience and call you to discipleship. For the full schedule of Holy Week, click here. Be sure to sign up to serve in hospitality on Easter morning. And invite others to join you in services all week long.

Through scripture, sacrament, and solemn ritual, let’s experience the drama, passion, and power of the week that turned the world upside-down.

See you at the starting line!



A Safe Place for Questions

A Safe Place for Questions

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Last Sunday morning, I spent the 9:30 hour with about thirty of our seventh-grade confirmation students, to walk them through a rehearsal for our Confirmation Service on April 24. I also spent time with the entire youth group, for a special Pastor’s Q&A with our teens.

You would be amazed by the earnest and deeply reflective questions our youth are asking about Jesus, the Bible, and the Christian faith. I knew of a few of their questions in advance:

  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • What is it going to be like when I die?
  • I understand God, I understand Jesus, but I do not understand the Holy Spirit. Can you help me understand it more?

And then there were the questions that they asked spontaneously, in real time, straight from their hearts:

  • What do we do with all the violence in the Bible?
  • What do we do with all the contradictions within the Bible?
  • How can we make sure we don’t use the Bible to justify hate?

I walked away from my time with the youth group full of gratitude for the faithful way our kids ask hard questions about the faith. I am also grateful to be serving a church which creates an environment where our children feel safe to ask those questions, without fear of being judged or shunned. The great 20th century missionary Elisabeth Elliot said, “Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.”

I give thanks for the amazing adult confirmation facilitators, youth group volunteers, and staffers Katherine Cosmas and John Barolo for reminding our youth each week that in this church, our faith can handle the questions that they carry with them.


And then, throughout the morning, I watched as our children’s ministry staff and volunteers were joyfully promoting our upcoming Vacation Bible School, taking place June 27-30, 9 a.m. to noon. Registration is now open to members of our church, and to the general public next Monday.

More importantly, I encourage you to consider volunteering for Vacation Bible School this year. There is an open volunteer slot for VBS with your name on it, just waiting for you to say yes! Even if you have never volunteered for VBS before, and even if you never thought you could do children’s ministry, you can be trained and resourced with all that you need to make a huge difference in the life of a child. Click here to inquire about ways to serve.

Together, let us continue to provide a safe, warm, and joyful place for our children and youth to grow, learn, and most importantly, ask questions without fear.

Grace and Peace,


Vacation Bible School 2022

Vacation Bible School 2022


An off-road adventure exploring God’s awesomeness to form a rock-solid faith for the road ahead.

9 a.m. – Noon* /// June 27-30, 2022 


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


Monumental is an epic summer event where kids will explore the sunbaked Southwestern desert as they dig into God’s great love! It will be another incredible time together full of Bible discoveries, interactive activities, rockin’ music and faith-filled fun with our friends!

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

Registration for all campers is now full.

Contact Melissa Torres with questions about registration.

Decorations and Construction

Dads, moms, friends, grandparents, elementary kids to teenagers…everyone welcome! It’s for the kids, but there’s a lot in it for you too! 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.) and help us create décor and props for MONUMENTAL VBS. If you can cut with scissors, you can help these teams! ~Fun, relaxed fellowship with your church family ~Stress-relieving, creativity-building activities! (painting, cutting out patterns, crafting, tracing and more!) ~You’ll be helping to bring a Southwestern Oasis to Hyde Park’s VBS! Contact Amy to learn more!


Help us turn the campus into a Southwestern Desert!


9 – 1 p.m. // Tuesday, June 21 (Wesley Center)

9 – 1 p.m. // Thursday, June 23 (Harnish Center)

9 – 1 p.m. // Friday, June 24 (Magnolia & Narthex)

12 – 3 p.m. // Sunday, June 26 (Courtyard & Sanctuary)


All are welcome to join the decorating fun, even if you’re not able to serve during VBS!


Childcare will be provided during all decorating days with an RSVP to Kim.

General Volunteer Information

Our goal is to reach 200 children with God’s love at Monumental VBS. We can’t reach that goal without you.

How can you help?
Sign up to serve at this year’s VBS and help kids discover God’s greatness!

Who: Volunteers! Rising 7th graders – adults
When: June 27-30, 9 a.m. – noon.
Why: To share God’s love and help kids discover God’s awesomeness to form a rock-solid faith for the road ahead.

Whether you want to serve in the months leading up to VBS or the week of, behind the scenes or on stage, we have volunteer opportunities to fit your schedule and your interests.

Click here to learn more about the serving opportunities at Monumental VBS

Register as an Adult or Youth Volunteer

WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND USING FIREFOX AS YOUR BROWSER WHEN REGISTERING.  Our forms are no longer recognized by Explorer and you may encounter issues if using Edge or Chrome.

Adult volunteers (18 years of age by June 1, 2022 or older) sign up here. If you are new to serving with us or haven’t done a Background Check in the last three years, you will need to complete the form and return to Emily Nelson.

Youth volunteers (in rising Grades 7-12 for the 2022-2023 school year, max age 17) sign up here.  (If 18 years or older by June 1, 2022, please fill out our adult volunteer form.)

Not sure where you want to serve or what’s involved with each role? Learn more here.

Mini-VBS and Nursery care is available for children of volunteers. This is not a drop-off program but reserved for those volunteering.

Frequently Asked Questions (Camper)

How do I find out what crew my child is 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.

What does my kid wear to VBS?
Each day your child should wear their VBS T-shirt. 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.

When/where can I pick up my child’s VBS T-shirt?
Please pick up their T-shirt before VBS. (Starting early June, T-shirts can 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 can also be picked up each Sunday in June in the Sanctuary Courtyard from 9 a.m. – noon.) Shirts must be picked up by Sunday, June 26.

Can I get a second shirt for my child?
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).

What time do I drop off my child each morning?
Campers should be dropped off to their Crews in the Sanctuary at 8:50 a.m. (Doors open at that time. Please do not enter the Sanctuary before that time, as there are VBS preparations going on with staff and volunteers). Children should be seated in the Sanctuary with their crew by 9 a.m. for opening worship each day.

Where do I drop off my child each morning?
When our Sanctuary 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. Pews will be marked with crew names and numbers beginning with Crew #1 in the front. Odd numbered crews are to the left, as you face the stage, and even numbered crews are on the right. Rising 5th and 6th graders are in the balcony.

What time is pick up/dismissal each day and what do I need to have with me?
VBS ends at noon each day*
You will need to have your yellow or red pick-up pass with you (The pick-up pass is included in the parent email that will be sent the week before. Please print out your pass and fill in your child’s information).
                                    Dismissal will start at 12:10 p.m. each day*

– Those with yellow passes (preschoolers 4-5-K) will be allowed in the Sanctuary to pick up their preschoolers from their crew. If you also have a child in elementary, you may show that pass and pick up your older children as well.
– Those with red passes (grades 1- 6) will be allowed in the Sanctuary to pick up their elementary-aged children from their crew once the preschoolers have exited 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.

Where do I pick up my child?
Children should be picked up from their crew pew in the Sanctuary. Please refer to diagram below to see the traffic flow into the Sanctuary for dismissal. Side aisles serve as a walkthrough (no stopping) only; please pick up your child from the center aisle. Please leave strollers outside, if possible. A leadership team member can stay with the stroller at the information tent.

Please keep moving as you walk through the Sanctuary and save conversations for when you are outside of the Sanctuary and out of main traffic areas.

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.

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.

Will there be a ‘VBS Recap Video’ this year?
All Monumental volunteers and campers are invited to wear your VBS shirts and re-live all the fun memories by watching a video of Monumental VBS at Hyde Park United Methodist! It is a Sit-Together Sunday, so families will be worshiping together. Bring the whole family, show off your VBS spirit and spread the good news of God’s greatness!

Still have a question? Ask it here or contact the church office at 813-253-5388.

Donations for Hospitality

Help us celebrate and bless our volunteers during MONUMENTAL VBS by donating items to fill our Volunteer Hospitality. Here’s what we need: *Bottled waters


*Non perishable food items such as chips, granola bars, trail mix, cookies and other favorite snack-type foods.

*Breakfast casseroles, brownies, or other baked goods

*Cans of soda

Non-perishable items can be dropped off in the church office any time. Freshly made goodies can be brought to the Hospitality Rooms during VBS! Contact Kim to coordinate drop off.

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