Some people will bless a turkey at their Thanksgiving table, but Mother Adrienne Hymes of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church blessed ‘Tina Turkey,’ along with some assorted dogs, birds and a bunny at the church’s annual Blessing of the Animals, on Oct. 2 at the Four Leaf CrossFit in Wesley Chapel. Tina Turkey was escorted by Paige Cline.
In the beginning, it had no walls and no members — but there was a vision, to create an Episcopal church community within Wesley Chapel.
The congregation began gathering in car dealership conference rooms, then moved to larger locations.
Now, it operates at 3836 Flatiron Loop, Suite 101, in a stand-alone building in a professional business park in Wesley Chapel.
The church also has an official name: St. Paul’s Episcopal — to replace its original placeholder name of Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church.
The congregation celebrated its first patronal feast day on Jan. 24 with a special visit from the Bishop Dabney T. Smith, the current and fifth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida.
At the service, the bishop confirmed five adults, commissioned the church’s first governing board and blessed an icon of St. Paul.
The church also had a dedication ceremony and ribbon-cutting on Jan. 28.
In addition to Bishop Smith, Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore and North Tampa Bay Chamber CEO Hope Kennedy offered remarks.
Initially, the church was operating only in a portion of the building, but it has expanded and is using the remaining space in the building for a parish hall, for fellowship and teaching.
The long-term vision is to secure land and build a traditional church building, said the Rev. Adrienne Hymes, who was the original church planter and is now the church vicar.
While the church is in a new building, it is rooted in an ancient tradition, Hymes said, in a recent interview with The Laker/Lutz News.
The fledgling church has come a long way, in four years.
“To be able to stand behind an altar and actually see people in the seats, safely distanced, is awe-inspiring for me, every Sunday,” Hymes said.
The people who have gravitated to the church so far are already Episcopalians who were looking for a church closer to home, Hymes said.
“The closest Episcopal church is 11.5 miles from here, down Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. A lot of people had been going there, but we’re now in their backyard,” she said.
Having a church close to home allows greater participation by church members, Hymes said.
“Distance definitely determines the depth of discipleship. People who really want to serve and do things beyond Sunday, they can now do that,” Hymes said.
Since the church is new to the area, people might wonder what to expect, she said.
She noted: The exterior of the building is contemporary, but the liturgy is traditional.
And that, she said, evokes a familiar feeling for Episcopalians.
“It feels like their church, even though we don’t have the marble floors or the stained glass windows. With the liturgy, there’s no denying where you are and what to do,” Hymes said.
“I think that really does appeal to the Episcopalians who are showing up.
“They are starving for that ancient liturgy,” she said.
She takes care to preserve the sanctuary as a sacred space.
“There is a reverence here. They have a space that feels like church, that has a quiet in it, a sanctity to it,” Hymes said.
When people arrive before a service, to spend some time in personal prayer, she wants to be sure that they have a space where that can happen — without interruption by others.
“The space is small, and the sanctuary is used for the sanctuary work,” she said.
Ultimately, St. Paul’s Episcopal will want to operate in a more traditional church building — but that will take some time, Hymes said.
“We’re grateful for a space for us to kind of nest, and build and grow and call more people to the ministry, but the vision has always been to find land here in Wesley Chapel — which we know is going to be a challenge,” Hymes said.
The church leader said she realizes that not everyone enjoys the uncertainty that comes from planting a church in a new place — or being a member of a church that it not fully established, but Hymes embraces the challenges, and is pleased that others have joined her in this leap of faith.
Anyone interested in knowing more about the church, or watching a livestream service can visit the website at SaintPaulsEpiscopalChurch.org.
Published February 17, 2021
The spread of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) — and efforts to stay out of harm’s way — have sparked creativity and ingenuity across The Laker/Lutz News region.
When plans to celebrate Kynlee Kuberski’s 11th birthday at Universal Studios were canceled because of COVID-19, dozens of people came by her Connerton home, to wish her a happy birthday.
They came on foot, on bikes, in cars and even in a Pasco County Fire Rescue truck — to help her celebrate at a safe distance — in response to a request by her Kynlee’s mom, Jessi, on her neighborhood Facebook page.
Kynlee’s teacher, Macy Kendrick, from Connerton Elementary, was among the well-wishers, some of whom honked their horns as a birthday greeting.
Meanwhile, Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano found a way to serve customers — despite closing his offices to in-person lobby services. All five tax collector offices are handling limited transactions through drive-thru. They’re processing automobile, boat and mobile home registration renewals, property tax payments, and handicapped permit applications.
The Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center also has come up with a way to help adopters who are interested in having a self-isolation sidekick but can’t physically come into the shelter. They’re calling that program Curbside Cuddles.
There’s another program for adopters who can’t come to the center that they’re calling Cuddles Shuttles. Find out more about these programs by calling (813) 744-5660.
On another front, Michele Northrup — former Lutz Guv’na — is using her entrepreneurial skills to help vendors — including her own business — that have watched their scheduled events evaporate.
“I’ve been doing markets for years, and helping run markets and shows. I have a group of maybe 200 to 250 vendors that I pull from to do these different shows and markets.
“Well, now these vendors have nothing. They have no income,” she said.
“What do you do when your markets close?” she asked. “Find new markets,” she responded.
Northrup put out the word that she’d like to create vendor boxes and, in essence, bring the Farmer’s Market to people’s doors.
The boxes sell for $60 and $100 each, and include such items as fresh produce, honey, artisan soaps, homemade disinfectant spray, sauces, spices and fresh Cuban bread.
Each week, the boxes will vary.
The first deliveries were made over the weekend.
Northrup hoped for at least 22 orders on the first shipment and wound up with 39.
Orders are being taken for the next shipment on SaucyQueen.com.
Many other businesses and shops also are changing the way they serve customers, including Hungry Harry’s Bar-B-Que, on U.S. 41 in Land O’ Lakes. It is also still smokin’ — offering pit carryout, of its full menu.
A sign on both sides of the restaurant encourages people to call ahead for faster service.
Land O’ Lakes resident Sandy Graves offered two examples of organizations adapting to limitations imposed by COVID-19.
For one, the Land O’ Lakes Rotary Club held its first virtual meeting using Zoom.
She also noted: “Keystone Community Church did a drive-in worship service on Sunday. It was really good. We were honking horns, instead of clapping.”
Many churches are adjusting to COVID-19 by live-streaming their services.
The Rev. Adrienne Hymes said Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church is using technology to keep the congregation connected, but also is using old-fashioned one-on-one telephone calls to keep in touch.
Atonement Lutheran Church, in Wesley Chapel, plans a drive-thru service, to hand out palms and a blessing on Palm Sunday.
Christine Holtzman contributed to this story.
Published April 1, 2020
When the Rev. Adrienne Hymes was considering ways to reach out into the community surrounding the new Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church, she hit upon an idea that literally involves making house calls.
She has made herself available, by appointment, to visit a house or apartment — or business or other gathering space, for that matter, to lead a ceremony to bless the space.
Recently, she visited the home of Pete and Sharon Soto, of Wesley Chapel, and read from scriptural text, as she and those gathered took part in a rite aimed at welcoming and acknowledging God’s presence, and asking for blessing and protection.
The couple, their daughter, and some friends and neighbors joined in reading passages, at certain points in the rite.
Hymes used salt and a blessing, seeking to turn ordinary tap water into holy water — used to bless every room in the home.
Salt is used for purification, she explained.
And, near the home’s front door, Hymes recited a pray, which said in part: “Almighty and everlasting God, grant to this home, the grace of your presence, that you may be known to be the inhabitant of this dwelling and a defender of this household.”
As she and the others made their way throughout the home, she sought blessings for each room.
In the bedroom, for instance, Hymes prayed: “Guide us, waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep, we may rest in peace.”
Others attending the ceremony were Jeri Jeffries, Maggie Thomas, Christine O’Donnell, Karen Bauer and Michelle Flemming, the Sotos’ daughter.
“As we go on our spiritual journey, and our deeper relationship with God, we started to realize that we need extra protection,” Sharon Soto said.
“We lived 30 years in the other house and we didn’t get it done, so when the opportunity came up for this house, we couldn’t pass it up,” Pete Soto said. “That was just like a God-sent message.”
The Sotos moved to Wesley Chapel a couple of years ago.
“We were ready to downsize to a smaller home, and we have a daughter, a son-in-law and two grandsons that live in Wesley Chapel.
“It’s not that we don’t feel the presence of God here, we already do. It just is kind of an affirmation, I guess,” Sharon Soto said.
Hymes said besides blessing homes, she’s available — by appointment — to bless other spaces, too.
“More and more, as people are pushed into very determined sacred and secular spaces, I think it’s important to remind people that showing up where they live, work and play, and saying, ‘You know what, all of it is sacred,’ ” she said.
“Ritual is so important for us to memorialize different milestones in our lives. One of those would be that now, we have a new home, or we have a home that we now want to make sure that is adequately blessed, particularly if you’re a religious person,” Hymes said.
“It’s one way for the church to say, ‘We’re new here,’ but we also want to be able to bless you in whatever way that we can. Interacting with people, not just on the street corner, or the place where we’re shopping — but to be able to go into their home, is a very intimate space. And, I think that connects with people on a very different level.”
New church begins Sunday services
What: Wesley Chapel Episcopal Church is beginning to offer a Sunday morning service
Where: 3758 Maryweather Lane, Wesley Chapel
When: Nov. 4 at 8 a.m. (This will be the new church’s first Sunday service, which it plans to offer each week at 8 a.m.)
Details: Besides offering a Sunday service, the church also offers home blessings and other activities aimed at promoting spiritual development.
Info: Visit WCEpiscopalChurch.org, or call (813) 418-1281.
Published October 31, 2018
While it’s a long way from having the permanent worship space and congregation it intends to have, the Episcopal Church has found an initial home at a business park in Wesley Chapel.
The church, at 3758 Maryweather Lane in Wesley Chapel, is now having monthly meetings on the second Wednesday of the month, which begins with evening prayer at 6:30 p.m., and then is followed by a core group meeting.
It currently has four core group members, but needs a dozen to create the various teams needed to launch the church, said the Rev. Adrienne Hymes, whose official title is Diocesan Missioner for Church Extension.
The core group is focusing on the areas of theological and spiritual formation; discipleship, evangelism and mission. Efforts continue to recruit additional core group members.
Members of that group need to be people with vision — who can see things that are not yet there, Hymes said.
While much work remains to be done, Hymes is encouraged by the progress so far.
“The Holy Spirt has really been active in this ministry,” she said. “It (the church planting) is moving faster than the plan on paper.”
The church is planning a soft launch in June, when it will transition to weekly Wednesday evening prayer meetings and core group meetings. It also will begin Sunday 9 a.m. services.
The hope is for an official launch of the church in November, Hymes said.
The church opened at its current location during the week of Ash Wednesday, allowing it to have its first Ash Wednesday service there. Fourteen people attended.
These milestones are important, Hymes said, noting they provide encouragement to the people who are working to help establish the Episcopal Church in Wesley Chapel.
Hymes said she knows there is a need for the church in the community.
“There are Episcopalians here. They don’t want to drive. They want to go to church where they live,” she said.
She also knows that having a church in Wesley Chapel makes it possible for people to be more involved in their community.
“Discipleship is determined by distance,” she said. She said she’s heard from Episcopalians, “‘Yeah, we’d love Sunday service, but I’d also like to be able to do Bible Study during the week. I also want to be able to learn more about the Book of Common Prayer during the week,’” she said.
But, that’s difficult to do, if your church is 20 miles away, she said.
When people reach out to her to let her know that they’re interested in attending an Episcopal Church in Wesley Chapel, she makes it clear that this church is still in its formative stages.
She tells people when they come: “Don’t have any expectations other than: ‘We’re here to be present for God’s people.’”
Some things that need to be done before the church can have a formal launch include coming up with a name for the church, establishing child care provisions and setting up its music program, Hymes said.
While the church continues to plan and work toward its future, it continues moving forward.
For instance, it is hosting a six-week Lenten Series, which began on Feb. 21 and concludes on March 28.
The Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, which has 77 churches, has been wanting to establish a presence in Wesley Chapel for many years.
Here is the schedule for the rest of the Lenten Series being hosted by the Episcopal Church in Wesley Chapel.
The sessions begin with a simple supper at 6:30 p.m., followed by the program, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The next two sessions will be led by Brother Eric Mukasa, a former Benedictine Monk:
Feb. 28: Christian Charity
March 7: Ministering with Meaning
The last three sessions will be led by The Rev. Adrienne Hymes
March 14: Developing Your Spiritual Toolbox
March 21: Practicing Theological Reflection
March 28: Pastoral Care for the Faith Community
Published February 28, 2018
Picture, if you will, a church that does not yet have walls, or established ministries — but is rooted in an ancient tradition.
While it’s a blank canvas at the moment, a new Episcopal church in Wesley Chapel won’t remain that way forever — and beginning in January, meetings will be held to begin organizing the church’s first location in the community.
“We call it church planting. It’s like the sower (in the Bible) who sows the seeds; it’s planting,” said the Rev. Adrienne Hymes, whose official title is Diocesan Missioner for Church Extension.
She has assembled a core group of five people to begin one-on-one conversations with people in the community to find out more about Wesley Chapel’s needs.
The core group also will focus initially on the areas of theological and spiritual formation; discipleship, evangelism and mission.
Hymes expects to have a location by January and to begin holding monthly meetings.
“It will start out once a month on Wednesday nights, and then as we grow, we’ll be looking at Sundays,” she said.
The church currently is in talks for a possible location in a business park off of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.
As more members join, a launch team will develop.
After that, it’s hard to predict how fast the move will be to a new location, how large the church will be, how many services and the exact shape of the ministries, Hymes said.
“With something like this, this really calls on us to lean heavily on the Holy Spirit movement — which can be a slow movement, or it can set on fire really quickly,” she said.
One thing is clear; the Episcopal church wants to be a presence in Wesley Chapel.
“Wesley Chapel is growing exponentially, and there are no signs of it stopping,” Hymes said.
The Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida has been wanting to establish a presence in the community for many years. The diocese has 77 churches.
The diocese perceives a need in Wesley Chapel, and funds from a three-year national grant are being used to help support the effort to establish a church in that community.
“We do know there are Episcopalians who have been waiting for a (local) church for a long time. If you grew up in the tradition, you want an Episcopal church,” she said. Other Episcopal churches are miles away — in New Tampa, Zephyrhills and New Port Richey.
As the effort gets underway for a new church in Wesley Chapel, Hymes noted: “It just turns out that God sends servants and God sends resources, so that we are really able to focus on establishing a presence out there at this time.”
She is looking for people who want to part of a ground-floor, grassroots effort.
“We’re looking for entrepreneurial types. We’re looking for people who are visionaries. People who can see things that aren’t there yet,” Hymes said. “We’re going to need people who vision and dream,” she added.
“Normally, when you walk into a church, you’re worshipping — things are there,” Hymes said.
Some people definitely prefer it that way, she said.
If, however, “you’re comfortable with not knowing everything and the details, those are the people that we need.
“It’s kingdom-building work,” she said, and she’s looking to attract people from all walks of life to play a role.
There may be architects and construction workers, business people and others, she said. Retired people, who have just wrapped up a long career, may want to get involved in beginning something new, she said.
“Maybe you’ve been a strategic planner your whole life,” she said. “You’re not done yet.
“Right now, we’re in this wonderful dance of the Holy Spirit, wondering what is going to happen next,” said Hymes, who is clearly excited by the prospect.
“How many people have a chance to get on the ground floor of a brand-new church that does not have a name yet?
“Every time we meet and every time a new person shows up, the DNA for this church is being created,” Hymes added.
For those who do not know much about the Episcopal church, Hymes offered a brief overview.
“Our history and our roots run deep. The Episcopal church’s roots are rooted in the church of England, which started in the 16th century. What we offer is an ever-ancient liturgy that people can tap into and hold onto,” she said.
“If you’re led to the doors of this church, we welcome you, and we invite you into the rich Anglican tradition,” she said.
At the same time, the church’s ministries adapt to meet the changing needs of the community it serves, she said.
Those helping to lay the groundwork for the church will be learning about the needs it is called to serve in Wesley Chapel area.
Published November 29, 2017