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Dear Hyde Park Family,

I returned to the office this week, having relished the gift of a study and renewal leave. My daughters and I shared some wonderful experiences, the insights from which I am eager to share with you over the weeks and months ahead. For now, I am grateful to all of you for continuing to grow in your faith and your support of the ministries of the church throughout this summer. I am also grateful to the staff and volunteers who made God’s love real in remarkable ways in the areas of worship, children and youth ministries, missions and discipleship.

I look forward to being in worship with you again this Sunday, as we kick off a new worship series. I’ll share more about that with you at the end of today’s Midweek Message.


The staff held a potluck lunch on Tuesday for us to reconnect after my return, and I shared with them the following list of “favorites” from my renewal leave. Perhaps you will enjoy them as well:

Favorite Film: “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.” It’s a real charmer of a film: original, creative, life-affirming storytelling. I saw it in the Tampa Theater last week, and it’s now showing in most of the area movie theaters. Go see it if you can!

Favorite TV show: “Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street.” HBO and HBO Max. A documentary about the development of a TV series that was so foundational to me and many of you. It explores the themes of creativity, equality, and opportunity that were in the heart of its creators.

Favorite Video: 12 Truths I Learned from Life and Writing” by Anne Lamott. She’s one of my favorite writers, and this TED Talk is jam packed with nuggets of insight and humor.

Favorite Song: “Thank You” by Ben Rector. I love all of Ben’s music, and his latest album, “The Joy of Music” is wonderful. It is as spirited and lively as his other recordings, while also more self-reflective.

Favorite Non-Fiction Book:How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question” by Michael Schur. It’s an absolutely hilarious and utterly insightful exploration of different ways to make moral, ethical choices. The author has produced some of the greatest comedies of the last twenty years (The Office, Parks and Rec, The Good Place.) Bonus points if you get the audiobook, as it is voiced by the cast of The Good Place.

Favorite Fiction Book:Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” by Gabrielle Zevin. I adored her “Storied Life of A.J. Fikry,” so when I saw that she released this latest book a few weeks ago, I had to read it. My girls and I agree it’s one of the best novels we’ve ever read. I have never cared for main characters like I cared for the ones in this book.

If you are interested in purchasing either of these books, we invite you to check out our church’s Amazon page, which contains a list of staff recommendations. Proceeds from purchases from that website support the ministries of Hyde Park United Methodist.


I am eager to join you in a new worship series that explores the unique and meaningful distinctives about being a United Methodist. It is a series that will give you greater appreciation for our Wesleyan heritage, not at the expense of other Christian traditions, but to strengthen your commitment to Jesus and enthusiasm for the Christian life. The series will cover the following topics:

The Meaning of Methodist

August 7

“One Who Lives in Grace”

(United Methodist Belief)

Ephesians 2:1-10


August 14

“One Who Practices Daily”

(United Methodist Disciplines)

Psalm 119:97-112


August 21

“One Who Connects with Others”

(The United Methodist Church)

Exodus 18:13-27


August 28

“One Who Impacts the World”

(United Methodist Mission)

2 Corinthians 5:11-21


September 4

“One Who Moves to the Center”

(United Methodists Together)

Galatians 3:19-29


It’s good to be back! See you Sunday!