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This week we begin a series of guest blog posts by parishioners at the Episcopal Church of St. Margaret in Plainview, NY.  They are reflecting on what stewardship means to them, and how God the Giver has been a part of their lives.  Our first guest post is from parishioner Phil Russo.

I am grateful for many blessings in my life but most recently I find my gratitude rooted in the support my family has received during times of adversity.  Over the course of the past two years I have encountered two sudden and unexpected upheavals.  The first involved my mom suddenly falling ill, resulting in a long hospital stay, with series of setback after setback.  As we began to grasp the reality and gravity of the situation, my family and I founds ourselves sitting in a hospice facility knowing that the end was near.

The second upheaval was even more unexpected and impactful, as my wife Nancy fell seriously ill.  It turned our life upside down as we faced surgery, treatments, and adjusting to a new normal striving to get our lives back.  During both of these ordeals, I found myself praying more often, asking God for help.  At times I labored in trying to understand why these things were happening to me and my family.  As many of you know, these kinds of things can test your faith.  One constant source of support and comfort was knowing that we had a church family at St. Margaret’s praying for us, pulling for us and reaching out with words of encouragement.

St. Margaret’s for me has always been a kind of spiritual anchor, a kind of home base for me and my family in our faith journey.  It made us feel good to be part such a caring church community.  It also underlined the importance of having a spiritual support base to lean on in time of need.  I am grateful and blessed to be part of the St. Margaret’s family.  It just seems logical for me to start from a place of gratitude when I consider my thoughts about Stewardship and pledging financial support.

I am also grateful that I have gotten involved in some of the business aspects that go into keeping St. Margaret’s running.  Unfortunately, St. Margaret’s pledges do not cover expenses and we operate at a loss.  This is not sustainable.  This is an inconvenient truth that many do not realize or may choose to treat with indifference or leave to others to deal with.  It will eventually cause us to make difficult decisions and possibly cut programs near and dear to many.  Therefore, I find it helpful to keep these facts in mind as I consider my annual pledge.  It always starts with gratitude but it is also grounded in an understanding of the financial side of St. Margaret’s.

Submitted by Phil Russo.

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