Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
September 24, 2020
Dear Friends of Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery,

Welcome to this week's edition of our e-letter, Presbytery Matters. Our goal is to highlight things going on throughout the Church: within our Presbytery, in our congregations, as well as in the Synod of the Northeast and across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We hope that these are things that will be helpful, informative, challenging, encouraging and supportive. In other words, we hope that these things will matter. Your input is valued, and your comments are always welcomed.
Mission Stories

We want to hear about the mission stories from our Presbytery's worshiping communities.     What mission work are you involved in? How are your members working in the community? What story would you like to share with others in the Presbytery?
Send any mission stories from your congregation that you would like to share to: 
Deadline is 12 p.m. on Wednesdays for the current week's edition of
Presbytery Matters.
We want to share your stories, missions, activities and more. Also, make sure to like our Facebook page by clicking the "Like us on Facebook" tab at the top of this letter.

Joys and Concerns around the Presbytery
     In our prayers together this week... 
  • Please keep Robert Conine, Elder with Westminster Church in Syracuse, in your prayers. Robert is battling cancer.
  • Please keep Monica Styron and her mother in your prayers. Monica's mother suffered a stroke recently in Massachusetts. Her condition has improved and has been transferred to rehab. Please keep the family in your prayers. 
  • Please pray for the Rev. Ed Kang and his family. Ed, his wife Mae and daughter Michelle are all being treated for various cancers, and Mae and Michelle are recovering from recent surgeries.
  • Please pray for James Russell, a member of Westminster Syracuse. He is battling esophagus cancer.
  • Please pray for all those impacted by fires and other natural disasters.
  • Please continue to pray for all those who lost their lives due to COVID-19.
In the cycle of prayer our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals: Taunton, Syracuse; Westminster, Syracuse; First, Weedsport; Whitelaw
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week
Meet Farmer Sokken and his best chicken Pearl as they talk with Pastor Stephanie from Robinson Elmwood United Church about a mission project: A sock harvest! Learn more by watching this video:

To have your photo considered for "Photo of the Week" post it to your church's Facebook page and tag the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse's Facebook page.
Resource Presbyter's Message   
Dear friends,
Smoke and mirrors, fog and eerie green light. A voice booms from the visage in front of the intrepid group. "I am the GREAT AND TERRIBLE OZ". All tremble, save the "little dog too" who scampers forward and pulls aside the curtain, revealing an unremarkable man pulling levers as he also pulls legs.
L. Frank Baum, the creator of the Wizard of Oz (and native of nearby Chittenango!) spun a tale of dreams and nightmares into something iconic. In the movie version, the group of adventurers sees a large floating head. In the book version, each member of the cohort sees something different -- Dorothy sees the giant head we are familiar with, but the Scarecrow sees a gorgeous woman and the Tin Man sees a monster, whereas the Lion witnesses a huge ball of flames.
Toto sees a man behind a curtain and unveils the truth.
So much truth is being unveiled these days. Oh, there are smoke and mirrors, and folks who should be insignificant folks who are pulling all sorts of levers, but there are also large broken systems being laid bare and corrupt values being exposed. It's downright apocalyptic.
Apocalypse, in the original sense of the Greek, referred to a disclosure of that which was previously unknown, and which could not have been known without being unveiled. In other words, Toto is a canine agent of the apocalypse, exposing what was previously hidden.
What's being uncovered in this time of multiple pandemics? Churches are discovering what is really meaningful. Clergy are learning what they value about their Calling. Communities are seeing (finally?) the inequities and injustices and that are seemingly baked into our systems.
It's not all bad. Churches are discerning new ways of creative mission. Families are discovering strength based on deep love. Leaders are finding new courage. The pulling back of the veil has caused many individuals and organizations to re-evaluate our lives and our purpose.
I'm not sure if it matters if we are in "THE" apocalypse. Certainly, we are in apocalyptic times. What matters is whether we choose to pay attention.
Resource Presbyter's Announcements
Forty Day Focus

Over the course of forty days, from October 4 to November 9 congregations in the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse are invited to focus on the Biblical mandate to "welcome the stranger". Each week's Presbytery Matters during this period will focus on resources and activities that focus on the following themes:
October 1: We Choose Welcome - Introduction
October 8: We CHOSE Welcome - our stories of previous engagement
October 15: Refugees in our Midst - the ministry of Interfaith Works, Cazenovia Welcomes Refugees and Oswego Welcomes Refugees
October 22: Nuts and Bolts - legal and political issues
October 29: Ministry to Migrant peoples
November 5: Choosing Welcome - choosing welcome again
Film screenings (via Zoom) at 7:30 p.m.
October 6th:To Breathe Free
October 20th: Facing the Human Tragedy in Syria
November 1: Locked in a Box
For more information, please contact


Mike Kirk, General Counsel for the PCUSA has written a paper outlining some issues regarding reopening our churches for live worship, as well as some helpful guidelines: READ HERE


Don't miss the opportunity to learn with Rev. Dr. Eric Barreto, Bonnie Ives-Marden, and Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow.

A link to participate in the weekly events will be emailed to registrants a few days prior to each program.
Register Here  
If you are a member of the PC(USA) scholarships may be available -

Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications:
The Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications are now being accepted through Nov 1, 2020.    

The purpose of this fund is to provide benevolent grants to institutions that assist in the care of elderly persons within the bounds of the Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery.  

Examples of previous requests are: food gift cards for shut-ins within the church community, senior lunch programs, "Music and Memory" program for nursing home residents, replacing dining room chairs and driveway/parking improvement at senior centers. 

The application form can be found on the our website. Completed applications can be submitted to Jackie Murphy at

Thinking of doing Interim Work? The Center for Healthy Churches has developed an online version of their S.T.E.P. interim training and is offering it both in October and November. Contact Karen for more information.

Did you know that Sexual harassment prevention training is required for all employees of churches (from pastors to day care workers and sextons and all in between) in NYS on an annual basis? We're grateful that our new partnership with the PRC means access to their webinar on this topic which fulfills NYS's mandates.
To register, click on the date below.  For people watching as a group only one registration is needed. Send a list of those in your group to 
Please be aware that you also need have your congregation's policy on file. Information can be found HERE

Resource Presbyter's Virtual Gatherings 
Our Resource Presbyter, the Rev. Karen Chamis, will be holding virtual office hours from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wednesdays.
Karen will be available for drop-in conversations on Zoom. Come say hello, share concerns or learn a bit on how to use this important tool.  
 Join Zoom Meeting:  
Password: 216956  
On Monday nights you are invited to a discussion revolving around a series entitled: "Covenantal Restoration: A 12 session film series on Faith and Race. The films include James Forbes, Bryan Stevenson, Jim Wallis and Simone Campbell, etc. Join in at any time!
We will meet Monday nights at 7:30 p.m.  
From the Stated Clerk
Friends, we are approaching that most sacred and special time of the year when minutes are reviewed and statistics are entered. Is it the most wonderful time of the year? Well, maybe not totally, but still a close second! Anyway, here are some updates:
  1. Records Review In A Pandemic: Yes, it is still possible but not in the way we have always done things. This year, we will be setting up a church buddy system partnering churches in close proximity to one another for a contactless exchange and review of minutes. If you wish to participate in the review process (and you do) just email and I will get us rolling ASAP. Please email no later than October 9th. I will send more detailed information once we have a roster of participants.
  2. Statistics! Statistics! Statistics! As we get closer to the opening up of the church data entry portals and what-not, I will send you all information and will publish said information in the newsletter. Just put it on your radar as yet another super fun thing you get to look forward to!
  3. Parity: Some folks may have noticed that a set of parity guidelines for presbytery meetings has not been issues yet. You would be correct. In our new world and based on some issues with past guidance, I am in the process of studying parity to issue more effective and balanced guidelines. That said, our online attendance has made it clear that we can indeed have better participation (online meetings have shown the widest range of participation in recent years) and parity will need to reflect that reality. Also, there has been some concerns raised over smaller churches not having fair representation and this is also being reviewed and considered. I am not going to give you a date of release for this guidance except to say it will come out when I am convinced that the Presbyterian and parliamentary standards of fair representation and the protection of equal voice has been achieved as much as possible.
God bless each of you, your communities, and our presbytery.
Peace be with you,
Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye
Stated Clerk

Dates to Remember
November 14    Presbytery Stated Meeting, TBA
Around the Presbytery
A Service of Lament and Prayer
for the Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence
The Scipioville Presbyterian Church, Scipio Center NY and The First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro, CA
join together in a service of lament and prayer to recognize gun violence as a national and global health crisis
When: 7 p.m. Eastern/4 p.m. Pacific on Thursday, September 24
Where: This will be a virtual service using the Zoom Platform
Register to attend by clicking on:
The United Church of Fayetteville seeks an organist or pianist to provide worship music virtually for its streamed services and intermittent in the sanctuary Sunday services. This position exclusively for music could transition to the Director of Music Ministries when choirs can safely participate in the worship service. Candidates must be an experienced organist or pianist and technology savvy. Yearly salary range during the pandemic is $9,100-$10,400.  
For more information about UCF see Send a letter of intent, résumé, and a link to a recent video with you playing church appropriate music to:  
What: Chicken BBQs Saturdays 
When: 11 a.m. until gone on October 10 
Where: Columbian Presbyterian Church, corner of Routes 20 & 11, LaFayette 
Cost: Half chickens $6 or full dinners $11 
Have a question for our Bookkeeper?  Paula Lamberson is generally available on Mondays, and can be reached via email at:
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Stated Clerk reflects on the life and impact of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Nelson urges elected leaders to be thorough in seeking replacement

By Rick Jones
Office of the General Assembly
As the nation mourns the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is calling on national leaders to be thorough and not rush to fill the new vacancy. The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, urges Capitol Hill to consider waiting until after the presidential election.

Senate Republican leaders have indicated plans to move quickly to get a nominee approved.

"We are not in a place right now where we are pressed with some type of decisions that have to be made. The reality is we ought to take our time and see who the next president of the United States might be and offer that person, whoever it might be, the opportunity to put forth a nominee," said Nelson. "To have a nation that is teetering on the edge of transition, it seems unfair to the electoral process."

Prior to his current role, Nelson served as the director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C., which is located next to the Supreme Court building. He says Ginsburg was the spirit of the Supreme Court.

"One of the significant things about Ginsburg's work that probably stands out the most was her interest in the younger generation who, in some degree, had lost some sense of respect and understanding of government across the board," he said. "She revived integrity within the Court and also showed a willingness to fight for fairness."
Nelson says Ginsburg was not just a judge, but an advocate for justice.

"There's so much that could be said about her commitment to civil rights and still pressing for civil rights in this period of history, recognizing that the ongoing work of the Court was more than just making decisions," he said. "There was something inherently different about the way she brought the Supreme Court to the country as opposed to the cases coming to her. She was out in front of much of what she believed. I don't know we've seen, since Thurgood Marshall, this kind of active engagement. It was the very reason they joined the Court in the first place."

'Prophets for peace'
Bracing for the Breonna Taylor decision, Louisville Seminary's student body president is part of an organization employing nonviolent principles
By Paul Seebeck
Presbyterian News Service

Having declared a state of emergency this week as Louisville, Kentucky prepares for a decision on indicting police in the Breonna Taylor case, Adrian Baker, the student body president at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, describes the situation as "a powder keg."

"I'm distracted and anxious to say the least," he said. "Whether the cops are arrested or exonerated, we're hoping for the best, but anticipating the worst. By the grace of God, nobody gets hurt."

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was fatally shot by police March 13 during a raid at her apartment.

Baker works with Until Freedom, a social justice organization working to address systemic and racial injustice. While Until Freedom is based in the nonviolent principles espoused by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Baker said they understand tempers will rise and that some will not be calmed or corralled.

"We are not peaceful prophets, but we are prophets for peace," he said, "which is why I operate in non-violent way - because I don't trust the temperament of local police, any rogue organization or white supremacist."

On July 14, Baker was one of 87 people arrested during a Breonna Taylor protest at the home of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron. Protesters demanded that the officers involved in the shooting be charged.

Those arrested in the protest were charged with felonies for intimidating a participant in a legal process.  Baker said what was perceived as threatening was their chant, "We want justice, we want in now, if we don't get it, shut it down."

In jail, Baker and the others were chained together like a chain gang, with six on each chain.

"They were putting us in our place, so to speak," Baker said.  "It definitely brought back memories of Black and brown brothers and sisters connected together - with the risk of COVID-19."

5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
"I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them
bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
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