Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
October 29, 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
Helping out during the pandemic

Churches in our Presbytery are helping out during the pandemic in a variety of ways.

Morrisville Community Church hosted the recent Madison County Health Department's COVID-19 testing drive-thru. At the site, 89 people were able to be tested.

Our missions may look different in 2020, but the goal remains the same: Help others in anyway that we can!
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 pray for Elder Linda Russell as she recovers from surgery on her right hand.
  • Please pray for the Rev. Ed Kang and the Kang family. Ed's wife Mae passed away recently after a two-year struggle with cancer. Expressions of sympathy may be sent to Rev. Ed Kang, 759 Ivory Foster Road, Owego, NY 13827.
  • Please pray for James Russell, a member of Westminster Syracuse. He is battling esophagus 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.
In the cycle of prayer our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals: United Church of Fayetteville; First United Church of Fulton; God's Vision Christian Church, Hannibal; Jamesville Community Church; First, King Ferry

If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week
Members of Collamer United Church recently participated in the Adopt-A-Highway cleanup.  

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 in Christ,
Several years ago the Presbyterian Church did a deep dive into scruples. If you missed it, the gist of the nationwide discussion was how to provide clergy an opportunity to declare if they had scruples regarding the Constitution of the PCUSA. The idea was that they would be able to state their scruples up front when being examined by the Presbytery. This would provide transparency as well as the ability for a pastor to attend to their own conscience.
You've got to love a denomination that provides an opportunity for someone to say, "I disagree with this" and still be accepted by the larger body. Bonus points for us deciding to use a word like "scruples".
Part of the discussion regarding scruples was to determine if there were some lines that could not be crossed. What were the essential tenets that were, well, essential? As a church we are encouraged to practice mutual forbearance in those areas that are "scruplely" (my word), understanding that "there are truths and forms with respect to which men of good characters and principles may differ." (F-3.0105). You've also got to love a denomination that uses a phrase like "mutual forbearance".
This moment in our nation feels like a battle over essential tenets without the benefits of a bonus word.
I've seen friendships fall apart over the last few months, and the conversation goes like this:

            "You can't vote for A and say you love me"
            "I can vote for A and love you because I'm capable of doing both"
            "No, you can't vote for A, because what A stands for threatens my existence"
            "Friends can have a difference of opinion ... right?"
What's happening here is that one person believes this is a conversation about scruples, whereas the other individual believes this is about essential tenets. For one individual this is about philosophy (or theology) for the other it is about the direct impact this will have on their lives. It's hard to have a conversation about something when we can't even agree what the conversation is actually about. One party walks away from the friendship shaking their head at how narrow-minded the other is, and the other walks away wondering if they were ever actually seen by this person in the first place.
Both. Grieve.
By this time next week the election will be over and the waiting for results will have begun. Regardless of what the result is, we've changed as a nation and there are things we can't unsee. We have work to do as the church, not in pretending the divisions don't exist and worshipping (again) at the idol of niceness, but in building the kin-dom.
Here's the thing ... you'll be hard-pressed to find a list of essential tenets on the denominational website. There's no checklist, but we do have the Book of Confessions which is a witness to the Reformed faith. We may not be able to walk around with a list, but we can agree to how we will talk about difficult topics together.
My suggestion? Listen deeply enough to understand if what you are disagreeing about is a scruple or essential. Listen deeply enough to hear not only WHAT is that line in the sand for the other, but WHY it is a "bridge too far". You may not find agreement, but do not fall into the trap of discounting the other's belief as non-essential (only they know what is essential for them). Finally, do not ask them to lay aside something that is essential in order for you to be more comfortable. Understand that your essentials deserve the same level of care, but know that you may need to model that behavior first.
These next few weeks and months (and years) require us to be the folks God has called us to be, and to serve not just the church but also the world with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.
Blessings -

Resource Presbyter's Announcements
We continue to explore ministry to Refugees and others in our midst by watching the film "Locked in a Box".  "Locked in a Box" is an award winning short documentary that follows the stories of individuals held in the U.S. Immigration detention system and those who visit them. The film traces the lives of individuals who fled their homelands in search of safety and freedom only to end up in U.S. prisons under a mandatory bed quota system run by Immigration Customs & Enforcement (ICE). Since the 1990's there has been a massive expansion of the immigration detention system up to 34,000 immigrants in detention on any given day in approximately 200 different facilities, many of which are for-profit prisons. "Locked in a Box" helps strip away the political rhetoric to see the human cost of detention.
November 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Register in advance for this meeting: HERE
Trailer for  
Trailer for "Locked in a Box"


NEXT Church is a dynamic national gathering that explores how Presbyterians can help their congregations thrive ... and how we might be innovative in our work. This year's conference will be online and FREE. 

Register: HERE 

Webinars from Practical Resources for Churches: 

When: 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Leader: Bonnie Marden
Even small churches need to have regular financial reviews. This is a great webinar for church leaders of all skills levels to learn how to prepare for and schedule an audit/review.
Register: Click Here  
What: Christ in a Time of COVID: How Churches Can Support Those Living with COVID-19
When: 1 to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Leader: Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath 
Register: Click Here 

What: Lenten Resource Round-Up
When: 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 19, 2020 
Leader: Sharon Pearson
Hear about a wide variety of resources, studies, worship series, themes, projects and more that you might want to use for Lent 2021.
Sharon Pearson is an author and editor with vast experience in resourcing churches. You can see more of her work at
Register: Click Here

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 
Attention Cayuga-Syracuse Clergy: On Tuesday afternoons, you are invited to attend a gathering event from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Zoom. Bring a beverage of your choice and catch up with what is happening with colleagues throughout the Presbytery.  
CLICK HERE to join Zoom meeting

Meeting ID: 810 4159 6870
Passcode: 435913
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
UPDATE:  Friends, churches have been starting to sign up for our "buddy system" of records reviews. I have several on the list so far. We all know that these are unusual times and most of our processes and procedures in life and in church have been disrupted in many ways. I say this because we all need to recognize that the records review WILL NOT take place in the same timeframe as previous years. My goal is to get "buddies" assigned by early to mid-November and to allow extra time for the process to occur.
If you have signed up, I have your info and will be in touch.   
If you have not signed up, registration will remain open until November 5, 2020.  
Please, if you want to participate, let me know as soon as possible at Also, please be patient with me as this process unfolds.  We are in uncharted waters and I am confident we will get through this together. Our presbytery has the best clerks of sessions anywhere; so, we will overcome the moment and do our work as the church. My thanks to you and God's peace be with you.
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. 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
Stated Meeting
A stated meeting of the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse is scheduled for Saturday, November 14. All requests for time on the docket and materials to be sent out in advance must be submitted by 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3. Materials and requests after the deadline will not be included in the packet.
Send requests and materials to
Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye
Stated Clerk
Dates to Remember
November 14    Presbytery Stated Meeting
Around the Presbytery
Westminster Church, Auburn, is looking into a new security system for its church buildings. If any churches in the presbytery have a system installed, would you be willing to share your experience with the folks at Westminster? What works, what doesn't, what would you do differently, what local companies did you use, etc?  
Email, with "security system info" in the memo line.

Pebble Hill Church is seeking a Christian educator to provide energetic leadership for the children's programs. This position will foster positive relationships with children and their  families in helping them develop their faith and further their involvement in the life of Pebble Hill Church.  
The educator will work together with church staff and volunteers in reaching out to families in the community. This position will be a virtual one until further notice.   
Read full job description HERE. 
Please send resume and cover letter to
In a time of division, uncertainty, and during an emotionally charged  election cycle, we will gather twice to pray for the nation and the peace of God that transcends our politics.
Prayers for the Nation
        Monday, Nov 2, 2020 @ 7:00 p.m.
        Wednesday, Nov 4, 2020 @ 7:00 p.m.

***NOTE: This meeting does not require per-registration; but, it is password protected. Please be sure to note the passcode in red when joining by computer and the passcode in blue when dialing in by phone.
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 853 3838 1499
Passcode: peace2all
Dial In Info:
Phone #:  1-929-205-6099
Meeting ID:  85338381499
Passcode:  098570513
Scipioville Presbyterian Church will be launching an online confirmation class in November that will be open to youth in the wider presbytery.  
If you have youth who would like to participate, email Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye at to sign up and receive more info. Start date will be announced soon.
What: 2020 Election Night Annual Roast Beef Dinner
When: 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 
Where: Columbian Presbyterian Church at the corner of routes 11 & 20 in LaFayette  
Cost: $12 for adults, $6 for children 6 to 12 years old and children 5 and younger eat free 
Take-out only
 Hot & juicy roast beef, mashed potatoes & gravy, vegetables, crispy coleslaw, our famous applesauce, fresh-baked potato rolls, and a choice of pie -- apple crumb, 2-crust apple or pumpkin. Everything is made in-house by Presbyterian church ladies and Chef Shawn
What: 4th Annual Great $5 Sweater Plus Sale - 2 days ONLY 
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 14  
            1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 15 
Where: Columbian Presbyterian Church at the corner of routes 11 & 20 in LaFayette  
700+ Sweaters & Shawls, Christmas Sweaters & Sweatshirts, SU & Sports Apparel, Wool Coats, Ski Jackets, Suede and Leather Jackets & Coats, Vests, Wool Coats, Snowpants & Accessories

Proceeds Benefit the LaFayette Outreach Food Pantry
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.)
Virtual worship service to be made available to congregations
PC(USA) leadership and staff record service based on the Matthew 25 vision

By Melody K. Smith
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - In time for Reign of Christ Sunday (Sunday, November 22, 2020), a prerecorded complete worship service will be made available for congregations to use on that day or any day. The worship service will be based on the Matthew 25 vision and draws from the Worship in a Matthew 25 Church resource available on the Matthew 25 website.

The worship resource opens with a nod toward the beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. And blessed is the church that serves with the love of God to eradicate systemic poverty."
The service will also include the new Matthew 25 hymn, "Jesus, Be With Us," sharing the vision of Matthew 25 through images and song.

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, will bring the sermon, and the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), will bring the blessing and charge.

"The Reign of Christ ends our marking of Ordinary Time after the Day of Pentecost and moves us to the threshold of Advent, the season of hope for Christ's coming again at the end of time," said Moffett. "This celebration is not just about what was, but what is to come and from where our life, our light and our redemption comes. May this worship help us to give our whole selves, all in for Christ's ongoing work of compassion, justice and peace."

Other participants will include the Co-Moderators of the 224th General Assembly (2020), the Rev. Gregory Bentley and Ruling Elder Elona Street-Stewart; and special music from Carter Anderson, William McConnell and Mondre Moffett.

The video will be shared at for viewing and downloading by Nov. 18, 2020. Congregations are welcome to use the video however and whenever they like. The planning team hopes that congregations find it helpful during a busy season of virtual and in-person worship services.

Continue reading...

Stated Clerk recognizes 
United Nations' 75th Anniversary
J. Herbert Nelson reflects on UN/PCUSA connection

For three-quarters of a century now, the United Nations, through its member states, has made significant changes in the lives of individuals across the world. What began on October 24, 1945, "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to [hu]mankind," [this is a quote from the preamble to the UN Charter] continues to this day. But what makes this special to me, is the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been there from the beginning, stressing the importance of an international community committed to preserving peace, maintaining international law, promoting economic and social development, and adapting to changing conditions. If there has ever been a need for the United Nations in our world, now is that time.

The PC(USA) holds special consultative status through the UN Economic and Social Council. This gives the church a global voice on the issues of peace and security, hunger, poverty, and human rights violations. Through the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, we are able to take part in advocacy by meeting with member states, attending conferences, and making oral and written statements.

Continue reading...

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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