2016 WARDEN'S LETTERS
2016 ALL WARDENS' LETTERS (JANUARY - DECEMBER
DECEMBER - Advent - A Season of Hope
It seems you can’t turn on a TV, open a newspaper or go on the internet without hearing or reading something about how divided our country appears to be right now after this very contentious election. I personally got to a point where I couldn’t even look at Facebook because of the angry exchanges I read between many of my good friends. It was really upsetting to think we had come to this point. I thought to myself, “What is going to get this country back on track and moving in a positive direction again? Is there any hope of that happening anytime soon?” And then the answer became so clear to me. We are now entering the beautiful seasons of Advent and Christmas, the seasons of anticipation and hope! Surely preparing for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, along with all the religious and secular traditions that go with this season, will get people re-focused on what really matters for our country. Yes, hope! It’s the promise of hope that God gives us this time of year, and we can surely use a huge helping of hope right now.
I love Christmas time because it seems that everyone is just a little nicer to one another. I get nods and hellos from people who would normally just pass by without saying a word. I look forward to spending time with family and friends during the holidays. I love decorating the house, putting up the tree, receiving holiday cards and riding around neighborhoods to look at other houses festooned with Christmas lights. And at the same time, to counter the craziness of the malls to shop for that perfect gift and the hustle, bustle and stress that we all encounter this time of year, I also relish the wonderful rites of Sundays in Advent and the marvelous Christmas services at St. Margaret’s. With my busy and stressful job in Manhattan, I need to come to church every week — to step away from the hectic outside world and just sit and pray and sing and worship with my church family. And church never disappoints me. It’s the one place I can always count on to get a meaningful message from the sermons and find peace, tranquility and balance to my life. I hope and pray that all of you make the effort this season to escape the “noise” and stress in your life and come to church every week of this wonderful season.
These days I especially have hope for the future of St. Margaret’s as we continue on our journey to find the priest that is out there looking for us! I look forward to the election of new members to our Vestry to bring something new to the table. But with that hope is also the responsibility I feel we have as Christians living out our faith to be able to pass on our hope to others. There are so many people in this world that live a life of hopelessness, and this couldn’t be more apparent and closer to home as in our local Plainview/Old Bethpage community. As you will read in my Outreach article this month, we have 13 families looking to our church for some sign of hope. Each family has a heartbreaking story of difficulty and despair, and we can all do our part to give these people a glimmer of hope. I encourage everyone this year to please give generously to our Annual Holiday Drive for needy families.
I’d like to end by saying that I look forward to seeing all of you at St. Margaret’s during this blessed season.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
~ Dan McGee
NOVEMBER - A Month Filled With Thansgivings
I’m not a big fan of Fall, or as some people romantically refer to it, the season of “Autumn.” Sorry, I don’t want the beautiful flowers in my garden and around my house to fade away and die in the first frost. I am heartbroken to see the beautiful green trees turn bare and skeletal and the lush green grass of my lawn turn brown and dry. And although I enjoy the anticipation of the wonderful but fairly short season of Christmas, it’s a big jump for me to get from October to December with any sense of excitement or joy.
Fortunately, when I sat down to write this message, it came to me: “Aha! November! The month we celebrate how grateful we are for what we have and for our many blessings!” As I began to think about it, November actually has quite a few officially recognized days on the calendar to show gratitude. There’s the obvious Thanksgiving Day, when we remember the first settlers who arrived full of hope, seeking freedom and a new life. We celebrate with big feasts and give thanks to God for all His bounty and blessings. On Veterans Day, we thank and honor the men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. And then there’s All Saint’s Day, when we recall all the wonderful saints and the struggles they endured to clear the path for us as Christians, and we give thanks for their sacrifices. Personally, I also reflect on the “everyday saints” in my life that I can always count on. Thankfully, several people I know at St. Margaret’s fit that bill for me.
So with all the dates in November to show our gratitude, it is appropriate that we try to show our thanks in any way we can as a congregation. One way is by attending our In-Gathering Service on Nov. 6, where each parish family can make a pledge of financial support to our church and also to Christ himself that we want to give something back for all He has given us! And following similar themes of “giving back” and “giving to others,” I want to encourage all of you to think about the many needy families in our local community and be generous to those who count on our financial help during our annual Holiday Outreach Drive in December. I ask you to think about the poor and hungry people who come to the St. Ignatius Pantry in Hicksville looking for food every day and how picking up a few food items during your weekly shopping trip can help satisfy a family’s hunger. Consider the senior citizens on a limited income who come to the INN in Hempstead looking for sustenance in the form of a simple PB&J sandwich, and join us for our PB&J Outreach event on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. Maybe you have an hour to spare on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, to help put flags on the graves of veterans in our cemetery. And on Sunday, Nov. 20 (which I’m calling “Thanksgiving Sunday”) can I ask each of you to please bring food donations so that we can fill the sanctuary with enough food to feed the hungry? These are just a few ways that as members of St. Margaret’s Church we can show that we care, that we believe in Christ’s commandment of loving one another, and that we will always help our brothers and sisters in need.
Finally, I am happy and grateful to announce that Fr. Frederick (Fred) Miller will be our new supply priest for November and December. He served as a supply and/or interim priest for several churches in our area over the past few years, and we are very fortunate to have him share his spiritual gifts with us through the Christmas holiday.
And may I leave you to ponder this, from 2 Corinthians 9:11, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
Have a blessed month of Thanksgiving,
OCTOBER - St. Margaret's Spirit Is Alive!
I really felt the undeniable spirit of St. Margaret’s come alive this past month as I witnessed first-hand how our parishioners banded together and took on the Annual Fall Fair. It was really extraordinary to watch. Everyone seemed to have their own specific role to do and many of our fellow parishioners spent hours, days, weeks and even months getting ready. For a church of our size, this is always a giant undertaking. What is so incredible to me is how well it came off. Although the numbers are not final yet, it looks like we cleared $11,000, which is fantastic news. With several of our members leaving or moving away, these funds will help ease some of our budgetary constraints and ensure that St. Margaret’s will continue to thrive and do the good works we are known for. Congratulations to every person who helped make this fundraising event a success!
I am also excited that Kim Irvine has accepted my invitation to fill the vacancy of co-Warden through year-end and hopefully beyond. We both have a strong passion for St. Margaret’s and we will be looking to come up with some fresh ideas to invigorate our congregation, get us more well-known in our community and continue the many outreach projects we currently take on in response to Jesus’ commandment to love each other as brothers and sisters and to help those less fortunate.
And of course, always at the top of our agenda these days is the continued search for our new priest. Canon Betit just returned from four days at a Transitional Ministry Convention where he was looking forward to meeting clergy candidates that could possibly be a great match for our church. I hope to have some news in the coming weeks about potential resumes. The Joint Ministry Plan with Good Shepherd is still an option, as well as the potential to seek out our own rector.
My hope as we enter this new church year is that each and every one of you will continue to support St. Margaret’s – not just financially but by physically coming to services on Sundays and perhaps joining a group you haven’t experienced before, such as Choir, Altar Guild or Buildings & Grounds. Being involved in the life of a church and sharing in its ministries is what makes church feel special in an ever-growing secular society. Since the day I stepped foot through those red doors 28 years ago, I have felt the warmth of our parish family and the love of a community of faith that cares about each other and those less fortunate. Think of the love poured out as we collect donations for our annual Holiday Family Outreach. I also hope we will reinvigorate our parish activities calendar. Is there a particular activity you enjoyed in the past – such as Progressive Dinners or attending a local theater show? Or do you want to suggest a new activity that interests you? Please share your ideas with Kim, me, or any Vestry member.
Thanks again for all your support these past six or seven months. Your personal emails of encouragement have meant a great deal to me and have given me the positive energy I need to help guide us through this uncertain time in our church history. What I do know for certain is that we will endure and continue to do great things in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
God Bless You All,
Dan McGee, Warden
SEPTEMBER - WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU!
The summer is my favorite season of the year, and I try to spend as many days as I can at the beach. I sit at the water’s edge, far from the crowds, listening to the waves lapping at the shore, watching seagulls flying overhead and feeling the warm rays of sunshine on my skin. I come to the beach because it soothes my soul and feeds my spirit. For me, the beach is a very spiritual place. I can stare out at the beauty of God’s creation and feel peace and serenity, and revel in the glory of such a magnificent place.
However, I do have to admit that this particular summer, I have probably spent more of my time at the beach thinking about the future of St. Margaret’s and praying for God’s help and wisdom, than I have at any other time in my life. The past few months have been a very busy and trying time for the Vestry. While many of our parishioners have enjoyed taking time off during the summer months, the Vestry has worked constantly and diligently to figure out the right plan for the future of St. Margaret’s Church. As we’ve mentioned on several Sundays, we’ve been open to learning about a new plan that Canon Betit and the Diocese asked us to pursue – which would include hiring an Episcopal Associate Priest who would receive oversight and guidance from a very strong and experienced clergy leader from Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Pastor Eric Olsen. We would also have access to a young seminarian that Pastor Olsen would be mentoring through the Lutheran church – similar to the arrangement we had with Deacon Anthony Jones. This Ministry partnership, which
was a very successful model at another church in the Diocese, was seen as a great solution by the Diocese for St. Margaret’s, considering our budgetary constraints. So we have committed ourselves to embracing new and different ways of doing things and discerning where this path may lead us.
This Shared Ministry Plan is still very new to us and the Vestry has been trying to understand all its benefits and most importantly, trying to get answers on the details of how this plan is supposed to work. We have so many questions – such as “Which priest will be saying Mass on a given Sunday?” and “Who will be in the church office on certain days?” We are told that St. Margaret’s will benefit greatly from this plan but it is a very different model from the traditional search process we have conducted over the years. It is new. It is sort of scary. But it is also very exciting! We all need to start thinking a little differently and embrace change. We have also recently discussed pursuing another possible option that would allow us to hire a more experienced priest that may not need any oversight from Pastor Olsen - but this would require additional funding which we would need to work out. But the bottom line here is that I want everyone to know that your Vestry is working hard for you!
At this time, I would also like to give thanks to God for the many years that Janice and Paul Palladino have given of themselves to St. Margaret’s. As they move on to the next chapter in their life, may they be blessed with God’s grace and love and know that St. Margaret’s will always be there for them. I also want to add that Janice and Paul have both reached out to me recently and have vowed to continue to transition their roles and offer any assistance they can through year-end. This means that I will be calling on Janice for help on many of the administrative roles she took on as co-Warden, and Paul will continue to work on his “punch list” of jobs that he started until everything has been completed. I am very grateful for their help with so much on our plate. As a group, the Vestry keeps praying that the Holy Spirit will guide us in the right direction and lead us to our next clergy leader. We believe that God is helping us in that search and we believe that this person is out there looking for us as well. We just have to have a little patience and a lot of faith that we will get there sooner than later.
In the meantime, I look forward to seeing the wonderful faces of those I have missed this summer, and I am happy and grateful to welcome you all back for another church year!
I wish everyone at St. Margaret’s a blessed month!
Dan McGee, Warden
JULY / AUGUST - A JOURNEY OF HOPE
Five years ago when we were beginning our search for a new rector, I asked us then to be ready for change; that the days of the “standard” male priest were waning and that we would have to consider other options. Today, in the not-so-unfamiliar territory of rector searching, I will, once again, be asking us to think outside the box.
It is five years later and what a difference a day makes. Today, we find ourselves in trying financial times that have us stretching thin our hope for the future and the monetary resources that once enabled us to hire that “standard” full-time priest. For those who attend Sunday services regularly, it is not a surprise to hear me say that our numbers are down. The math is simple: fewer people = less money. And less money means we are not in the same financial position we were five years ago when we were easily able to hire a quality, full-time priest and offer the financial package that we were able to handle with Jennifer. We can no longer turn left … this baby is flying coach.
Canon Betit was here to meet with the Vestry on June 14th to present the Diocese’s ideas for filling the Rector position at St. Margaret’s. It was a very positive meeting filled with outside-the-box ideas that held hope for vitality and renewed life. At this time, the Vestry is digesting all the information it received and discussed at that meeting. After a lengthy and healthy back and forth, the Vestry ended on a positive high note; hopeful that the Diocese understands our financial position, supports us, is willing to work with us and is stretching itself to invent innovative ideas to see that St. Margaret’s stays on the path to be the vital parish it once was and hopes to continue to be. Be assured that the Vestry is not taking this task lightly, and we will continue to meet over the next few weeks and continue discussion and discernment.
Romans 12:4-8 talks about the many parts that comprise the one physical body and “all these parts do not have the same function or use.” Can you imagine a church where everyone did the same thing and had the same gifts? It would not be very exciting or effective. In this same vein, how exciting would it be to do something different? To follow a different model. To stretch ourselves outside the box to reach that place we long to be – a vital parish seeking, serving and sharing amongst ourselves and our community.
Be with us on this journey of hope.
Romans 12:12 says: “Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer.”
“May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing with hope.” Romans 15:13
So we ask each of you: Will you keep an open mind and work with us toward a future that seems positive, healthy and maybe just a little askew of “normal”? A few months ago, I posed the question in our Wardens’ Message, “What does St. Margaret’s mean to you?” I said that question would be answered by you during the next few months. The time is coming …
~ Janice Palladino and Dan McGee
JUNE - TOGETHER IN OUR DIFFERENT WAYS
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” follows a group of British retirees who travel to seemingly exotic India to take up residence in what they believe, from exaggerated advertisements, to be a newly restored luxurious hotel. Enticed with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find their so-called future palace home a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than they had imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences (both good and bad), discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past.
Perhaps we are in our own exotic Marigold Hotel. The excitement of the hiring of a priest that would bring us into a new future and the unexpected short tenure could be looked at as a false advertising. It just didn’t, for various reasons, turn out as we had hoped and imagined. BUT, by letting go of the past and letting go of the disappointments of the past, we can and will begin again. How? We will trust God. God will not let us down. He is good and loving and wants to care for and provide for us.
David wrote in Psalm 37:3:
“Trust [lean on, rely on, and be confident] in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.”
In the movie, Evelyn says: “The only real failure is the failure to try. And the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment. As we always must. We came here, and we tried. All of us, in our different ways. Can we be blamed for feeling we're too old to change? Too scared of disappointment to start it all again? We get up every morning; we do our best. Nothing else matters.”
So, here at St. Margaret’s Church in Plainview, New York, we will get up every morning, ALL OF US, and we will put one foot in front of the other and we will begin again TOGETHER “in our different ways,” and we will try again TOGETHER “in our different ways” because “nothing else matters” right now. This is our future. We are not in transition; we are here.
Together we still have much to give and much to offer each other and our community. Together “in our different ways,” we can be a powerful source of seeking, serving and sharing in this community. We just have to be strong enough TOGETHER to continue in “our different ways” on a path of trust and change.
Evelyn continues: “But it’s also true that the person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. But, perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. So, we must celebrate the changes. Because, as someone once said ‘Everything will be all right in the end. And if it’s not all right, then trust me, it’s not yet the end” (emphasis added).
~ Janice Palladino and Dan McGee, Co-Wardens
MAY - HOW MUCH DOES ST. MARGARET'S MEAN TO YOU?
If you see something, say something – P O S I T I V E. How much does St. Margaret’s mean to you?
One month into transition we are alive and well and living in the Grace of the Lord! What happens in a time of transition in a parish without a Rector?
- Prayer and more prayer.
“For what great nation is there who has a God so near to them as the Lord our God is to us in all things for which we call upon Him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7) And then after God does what He can do, we have to do what we can do. How much does St. Margaret’s mean to you?
Many hands make light work, and in a small group such as ours, the hands on deck need more help than ever. Jesus asks his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “… Stay here and keep awake and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38) “And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, What! Are you so utterly unable to stay awake and keep watch with Me for one hour?” (Matthew 26:40) Can you keep awake and watch and help your church for one hour? If we can all do a minimum of just one hour a week, think of the lessened load, what we can accomplish, what programs and events we can keep going at the church. How much does St. Margaret’s mean to you?
- Be part of the solution and get involved.
This is not a job for just one or two people.
“Next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, What is this that you do for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening? … Moses' father-in-law said to him, The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out both yourself and this people with you, for the thing is too heavy for you; you are not able to perform it all by yourself. Listen now to [me]; I will counsel you, and God will be with you. … Moreover, you shall choose able men from all the people — God-fearing men of truth who hate unjust gain — and place them over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, to be their rulers. And let them judge the people at all times; every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they shall judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you will do this, and God so commands you, you will be able to endure [the strain], and all these people also will go to their [tents] in peace. (emphasis added) Exodus 18: 13-23.
Let’s all be part of the solution together. How much can be accomplished by just complaining about the problem or complaining about the people who are trying to be part of the solution? If you see a need, be willing to volunteer. If you are asked to assist, be willing to say yes. How much does St. Margaret’s mean to you?
We all have heard the saying, this too shall pass. But, how and when?
“I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me.” (Philippians 4:13)
… “We are assured and know that all things work together and are for good to and for those who love God and are called according to His design and purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
As we consider how many times we have made it to the other side of uncertainty in our own lives and in the church here at St. Margaret’s, we can be confident we will make it again through Christ who will strengthen us. This is not easy for any of us. Many of us have been here before (and before and …) and are having trouble seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Where do we go from here? Paul said in II Corinthians 4:17-18 that the seasons of trials pass. Paul learned to keep his eyes on the prize and trust God. When we are tempted to get discouraged and lose faith, remember that God loves us. We can trust that everything will work out because of his great love for us.
So, I ask you again: How much does St. Margaret’s mean to you? How much are you willing to give with prayer, time, and treasure to keep us going strong? We will see the answer and the fruits of your labor and generosity in the coming months.
~ Janice Palladino & Dan McGee
(Note: Bible quotes are from the Joyce Meyer Bible)