Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY 13057
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.
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
Deadline is 12 p.m. on Wednesdays for the current week's edition of
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
n our prayers together this week...
- Please pray for Melanie Toole, her husband Brien, and their son Declan of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn. Melanie is the office administrator at the church. Brien is in the hospital with a severe (non-COVID-19) health condition. Melanie's uncle died unexpectedly of a heart attack a few weeks ago (again, unrelated to COVID-19), and Brien, like so many others, has been laid off from work during this time of isolation. Please keep this family in your prayers during this difficult time.
- Pray for all the doctors, nurses and medical staff on the front lines fighting to save COVID-19 patients.
- Please pray for all those who are sick with COVID-19 and all those who have lost loved ones.
- Pray for all those who feel lonely and disconnected during this time of social distancing.
- Pray for everyone in self-isolation or quarantine.
A Prayer of celebration: Happy 94th Birthday!
Esther Brinkerhoff Rounds celebrates her 94th birthday on April 26, 2020. She has continually worked within the Presbyterian denomination for over 70 years.Esther has served as a church secretary and been active in Presbyterian Women. During the late 90's, she served as assistant to the Baldwinsville pastor. Her main focus, however, was and is Christian Education. As an educator, she has worked in churches across the USA.
Esther has always been interested in learning and still participates in a bible study group. Now retired, Esther attends the Baldwinsville FPC. (Read more about Esther below from our Associate Stated Clerk Linda Russell)
Cards are very welcome!
Her address is:
116 Oswego St.
Baldwinsville, NY. 13027
In the cycle of prayer our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals:
Port Byron Federated; First, Scipioville; Sennett Federated Church; First, Skaneateles
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:
A bird's eye view of Onondaga Hill Presbyterian Church in Syracuse. (Photo by Jon Yousey)
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
From the Resource Presbyter
During this season of exile from the ordinary activities that define us 'church,' we've scrambled to become adept at camera angles and green screens. For many, much has remained the same, it's just the trappings that have changed. We're finding new patterns and traditions. We find ourselves adapting, even as we long to get back to normal.
Is that what we should be longing for?
Is that God's desire ... that we go back to what was?
Decades ago I took the advice of preaching professor Fred Craddock and crafted a small sign for my desk out of an index card. I've never made a permanent sign ... it's always been my generally unreadable scrawl on a scrap of paper or a post it note. Every so often it will fall and get lost in the shuffle of my desk, but I've never been tempted to make it permanent. There is something about realizing it has gone missing and then recreating it ... somehow ritually rededicating myself to its exhortation in doing so.
In two words it provides me a much-needed focus for my own sermon work. It simply reads: So what? Useful for the preacher, but it's also become a bit of a mantra for the rest of my life as well.
This global pandemic is a grand "so what?" moment for the church (the effects will last far longer than a moment) especially if we ask this question not of ourselves, but of God.
Things will never be the same, nor should they.
What happens next in our churches, communities and in our own lives should be based not on what was normal for us, but rather on discerning where God is calling us now as those who bear witness to the transformative love of Jesus Christ.
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.
One tap mobile
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Pastoral leadership is invited to a Thursday morning Virtual Coffee for connection, support and fellowship.
The Zoom meeting will start at 10 a.m.
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 510 749 428
Interactive Worship Service for all:
Karen and the Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye, our stated clerk, will hold an interactive worship service on Zoom every Sunday evening at 7 p.m. Register in advance for this meeting:
Download Sunday's liturgy HERE
The Salon was developed in the 16th century as a way for individuals to share ideas.
You are invited to exchange ideas at a modern-day virtual Salon.
"Yes...and?": How does our current reality in a time of global pandemic shape tomorrow's church?
Register in advance for this meeting:
(No cost... but registering helps to limit zoombombing!)
Monday, April 20th at 1 p.m.
Join us for a conversation and imagining the impact of our current context on the church. We know Whose we are, but how does that change what we do (or how we do it?)
Karen can be reached at 315-632-5698 (option 1) or
From the Associate Stated Clerk
94 years of memories and a lifetime of service
Esther Brinkerhoff Rounds will be 94 years old on April 26. Esther had been on my mind for the past several weeks and on Saturday morning, April 18, I was thrilled to enjoy a delightful one-hour phone visit with her.
During this visit we chatted about the current pandemic restrictions, the challenges and advantages to learning to worship and share sacraments online, news of family members, and life in general. We also swapped stories about our respective ministries in Christian Education and in this presbytery. As we did, I was reminded of Esther's remarkable life of service and have attempted to capture some, but definitely not all, of her story for the record.
Esther has been a Presbyterian since infancy, and she has served God and her church her whole life. She graduated from Bob Jones University with a degree in Christian Education and immediately went to work for the National Board of Missions of the United Presbyterian Church of North America as a Presbyterial Worker called to resource small congregations.
In the six years she worked for the National Board of Missions it often seemed as if she was "living out of a suitcase" as she served 18 churches in three different presbyteries in two different synods in the states of Colorado, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. In the 1950's she left the National Board to serve as the first Director of Christian Education for a church in Dayton, Ohio, an assignment of which she was particularly fond.
In 1957 she married Earle Brinkerhoff and moved to Jamesville, NY where she and her husband lived for seven years. At this time Esther went to work for the Syracuse Area Council of Churches which focused mainly on churches in Onondaga County and which she described as the forerunner of the organization we know as InterFaith Works of Central New York. The Brinkerhoffs had connections with Jamesville and Howlett Hill before joining the church in Marcellus where Esther was a member for 20 years.
After Earle died, Esther remained single for seven years before marrying Ralph Rounds. In 1982 Esther moved to Baldwinsville where she served as Director of Christian Education for nine years and where she has remained an active member.
Esther's faith in God is exemplary. After Ralph died and being widowed twice, she has often been heard to declare that she was truly blessed to have two such wonderful marriages. When I was a new widow, Esther called me to express her love and support. During this call she gave me one of the most helpful, healing pieces of advice I received during those early months of grieving. Esther asked me, "Did your husband have a favorite chair that he always sat in?" When I said he did indeed, the blue recliner, Esther counselled me: "Be sure you sit in it. You don't want to sit in the room and look at his empty chair." So I sit in the chair and embrace the memories.
Esther is a faithful disciple and a very wise and compassionate woman. I am one of many who have been blessed to know her and share some of life's journey with her.
Thanks be to God!
I'm the chair of the presbytery's Committee on Representation (COR).
One of the Book of Order guidelines for a COR is to encourage "full expression to the rich diversity of the church's membership."
I think most of you would agree with me in saying our presbytery's diversity in ethnicity probably wouldn't be described as "rich!"(The same might be said for age.)
However, there is a variety of other categories: female-male, clergy-laity, marital status, LGBT representation, and diversity in theological perspective. Others, no doubt, could be mentioned.
We wonder if you or any of your friends, keeping the above distinctions in mind, would be willing to serve in some capacity at the presbytery level. There are plenty of opportunities. As we've heard so often during this new era of the coronavirus pandemic, "We're all in this together." Well, that's always been true of the church!
Be healthy and be at peace!
Rev. James Mooe
Leadership Team Meeting
May 12 Presbytery Gathering (Watch this space)
Board of Pensions Thrive Seminar (for clergy age 50+)
August 11 Presbytery Stated Meeting, TBD
November 14 Presbytery Stated Meeting, Westminster-Auburn
Around the Synod of the Northeast
The Synod of the Northeast has two webinars coming up that may be of value to you:
Stewardship, Benefits & Finances During the Pandemic
with the Rev. Ellie Johns-Kelley of the Presbyterian Foundation and the Rev. Dr. Carrie Mitchell of the Board of Pensions.
2 p.m. Wednesday, April 29, 2020
or save link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87214483881
Online Giving with Rev. Ellie Johns-Kelly
Join us to learn about the online giving platform available through the Presbyterian Foundation. The presentation will provide a demonstration of what donors see when making a gift.
2 p.m. Wednesday, May 6, 2020
or save link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85710166959
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Scripture in a time
It's where to find hope
Union Presbyterian Seminary president has hope because 'I've read to the end of The Book'
By Sally Scherer
Presbyterian Foundation | Special to Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE - When asked how the current pandemic changes the way he interprets Scripture, the Rev. Dr. Brian K. Blount
speaks of hope
in the midst of struggle.
The question of theodicy - divine goodness in the presence of evil - comes to mind, he said, citing the Old Testament trials of Job.
He is also reminded of his recent experience as a guest lecturer in an Introduction to New Testament class at
Union Presbyterian Seminary
, where he serves as president. The students were discussing the book of Revelation.
Blount was teaching about the Christian belief that God is sovereign even in times like this, even when the world seems out of control.
"Last week I was telling the students, that's the question in the book of Revelation: 'If God is God, why are God's people being persecuted by the Romans? How does that happen? And how do you witness in the midst of all that?'"
Blount calls Job and early Christians "models of faithfulness in the midst of the question."
Old school, new school
Christian educators and other leaders are using every tool to reach children and their families during pandemic
By Paul Seebeck
Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE - When members of the Christian Education Committee at
Pisgah Presbyterian Church
in Versailles, Kentucky, met to discuss options for their children during the pandemic, they decided to try something radical.
Knowing most church families have at least one parent (sometimes both) working from home while trying to home school their children - and that if kids spied one more thing to study, they might run - the committee went old school.
Pisgah is sending letters in a packet sent to each child. Inside is a biblical story featuring a character who must overcome a great struggle. Included are optional family discussion topics, such as how the story relates to what family members are experiencing now.
Pisgah's director of Children & Family Ministries, Callie Northern, said they want each family member to know that "God is always with us." To help them believe and trust this, the letter also includes optional activities for families to build the story together - with playdough, drawings and ways to act it out.
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY 13057
"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