Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
October 1, 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 pray for James Russell, a member of Westminster Syracuse. He is battling esophagus cancer.
  • Pray for all those who are battling cancer and those who are grieving the loss of loved one to cancer.
  • Pray for our divided country as Election Day nears.
  • Please continue to pray for all those who lost a loved one due to COVID-19.
World Communion Sunday:  
One Bread, One Body -- No matter how it looks in 2020!
"This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me" (1st Cor 11:24) 

In the cycle of prayer our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals: minister members of the Presbytery who are engaged in specialized ministries, who are at-large members, or who are retired
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week
 It was a beautiful morning for a contemplative hike in the Bear Swamp State Forest in Sempronius, led by Pastor Patrick of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn. As the trees shed their leaves around us, we let go of concerns and burdens as we hiked silently in this majestic forest. See more photos on the church's Facebook page.

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,
A week or so ago I was introduced to the idea that during any crisis there at about the six-month point individuals "hit the wall". Dr. Aisha Ahmad who is an associate professor at the University of Toronto tweeted about her own multiple experiences in disaster zones stating that at this six-month mark, people enter a slump. She points out that in this particular crisis, there's no option to run away ... and that this wall is real and normal and expected.
It's strange, isn't it, to find that this lack of feeling that anything will ever be normal again is in itself, normal?
She doesn't stop there. She goes on to share that after a few weeks, we will again find our energy and creativity and begin to tackle the next period of adaptation.
I found this profoundly comforting. Not only is what I'm experiencing (and seeing elsewhere) normal and expected but there is promised end. The pandemic may last many more months, but the feeling of weariness that some of us are experiencing will not last forever.
Her suggestion is that instead of attempting to storm the wall, that the more productive course is to ride it out. Do what must be done but allow the wall to break apart naturally in 4-6 weeks. Until then, she advocates being good to yourself and to others.
That action? Hitting the wall and deciding to rest instead of blasting it with the full force of our will?
That's called faith.
It's not just faith in the words of a teacher from Toronto, it's faith that this isn't all on our shoulders and that Someone else is also in the mix. It's an act of faith to simply stop and trust that there are some things we can't power through ... and to allow the gift of sabbath to wash over us and heal our weariness.
My hunch is that just as there are individual walls, there are organizational ones and that our congregations are running into them with gusto. These walls aren't ones that can be solved with technical abilities and solutions (new microphones, a bit better lighting and everything is better!) but instead require adaptive responses. The problem is it's hard to think adaptively when up against the wall. It's hard to dig down to the root of an issue and to look at it creatively when everyone in the room is exhausted.
After months of changing and figuring out what this new context requires of God's church and our congregations, our best decisions and actions will come after we've broken through the wall. I realize some decisions cannot wait - but those that can? My prayer is that we have the collective wisdom to realize it may be time to claim some sabbath time, and that wall is a great place to lean against and rest for a bit.
Blessings -
Resource Presbyter's Announcements
If you've received an invitation from the Presbytery to join Realm ... please do! We're using this software to create a Presbytery directory. You get to control the information that is shared (as well as its accuracy!)  If you'd like to be included, but didn't receive an invite, please reach out to Karen at

When: 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 8, 2020
Leader - Debbie Kolacki and Karen Smith
Learn about different Christmas Pageants that are well suited for online, zoom, "Covid-era" adaptations. Debbie Kolacki and Karen Smith are church educators and PRC consultants.
Register: Click Here

Forty Day Focus

Ministry to new immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and migrants has been interwoven with being Presbyterian for decades. As Christians, we reach out with compassion to those who have been displaced as well as those who seek better opportunities for their families.  
We remember how after the birth of Jesus, the holy family fled to Egypt as refugees. "When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up,' he said, 'take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him'" (Matthew 2:12-14).  
It is in the spirit of welcoming the Christ-child that we open our hearts and doors to those who arrive in this country. Whether they arrive after seeking asylum on our shores or are resettled here as refugees, the church chooses welcome. 
Throughout the next forty days, you are encouraged to pray, learn and serve the strangers in our midst.  
Action Items for this week: 
  1. Include refugees throughout the world in your prayers 
  2. Learn about how our church responds to the needs of refugees and asylum seekers: 
  3. Watch the Trailer for  "To Breathe Free" and plan on joining us as we watch the film together on October 6th at 7:30 p.m.  
Trailer for
Trailer for "To Breathe Free"


If you have stories about how your congregation has chosen welcome in the past, please let Karen know!

Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications:
The Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications are now being accepted through November 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

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
What: Columbian Presbyterian Church Apple Pie Sale!
Where: Columbian Presbyterian Church, corner of      Routes 20 & 11, LaFayette
Cost: $12 each - Frozen, unbaked, crumb-top and double-crust pies
When: Special evening hours this week ONLY.
  • 6 to 8 p.m. Today - Thursday, Oct. 1
  • 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. & 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2
Pies available (until sold out) during church office hours, Tuesday-Fridays, 9 a.m. -12 p.m.
 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.)

Presbyterians remember  
Breonna Taylor with a vigil for justice
Hour-long prayerful event punctuated with music, shouts of "Amen!"

By Mike Ferguson
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - "We are here holding up the life of Breonna Taylor, one who gave her life not intentionally, but a life that will be remembered for the movement she has now created," the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II said during a vigil Sunday honoring the woman killed in her apartment March 13 at the hands of Louisville police.

Nelson, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), spoke to nearly 100 socially distanced worshipers outdoors at Beulah Presbyterian Church in Louisville Sunday. Musicians sang and played, the words of the prophets Jeremiah and Micah were read, and the crowd prayed and shouted "Amen!" many times during comments by Nelson; the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency; and the Rev. Dr. Angela Johnson, Moderator of Mid-Kentucky Presbytery and pastor of Grace Hope Presbyterian Church in Louisville.

Nelson said many Americans have lost the kind of hope that buoyed prophets like Jeremiah and the Reformer John Calvin, "the belief that things will get better and that we can bring about change. They were people with stouthearted vision, an unrelenting desire to transform people and the world."


'Although we are scattered, we can gather around the communion table'
World Wide Worship Kit  
now available for World Communion Sunday
By Kathy Melvin
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - The desire to gather around common prayers, shared music and the communion table brought several Presbyterian Mission Agency ministries together to create a World Wide Worship Kit, launched in time for World Communion Sunday, October 4.

Print and video resources are available for download here.

"Although we are scattered, we can gather around the communion table," said Rev. Cathy Chang, mission co-worker serving in the Philippines. "We saw this as an invitation for churches to renew their commitment as the global church, as the worldwide body of Christ. Together, we can lift up the gift of prayers and music from our partners. When many churches are still preparing online worship services because of COVID-19, there is a working group of World Mission co-workers who are collecting and curating resources for this World Wide Worship Kit."

The resources are flexible so they can be tailored to each individual context. Churches can choose which pieces fit best in their needs and add their own scripture reading, sermon and other worship elements. For congregations unable to make use of the video resources, there is also a text version of the liturgy.

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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