Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
July 16, 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
 I n our prayers together this week...   
  • Pray for all those who seeking healing due to decisions made about Vanderkamp.
  • Pray for school leaders who work to prepare plans to safely allow students to return to school.
  • Please pray for James Russell, a member of Westminster Syracuse. His esophagus cancer has returned.
  • 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 our leaders and officials as they continue to make difficult decisions regarding social distancing and 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
Onondaga Hill Presbyterian Church in Syracuse held it's first in-person service
since the shutdown on Sunday, July 12, 2020. The service was held in the yard outside
 the church. Members and guests sat with their families and maintained social distancing as three members of the praise team performed behind a taped off area.
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.
From the Resource Presbyter 
Dear Friends,
And just like that, a vote is cast and it is the end of an era.
Whether our vote is to close a church, end a marriage, choose hospice or to sell a camp there is always a mix of emotions and second-guesses. We wonder what would have been. We find ourselves thinking of all the "should haves" and "could haves." We cast blame on others, as well as on ourselves.
There should be finality to it, but there's not. Even if something should happen that suddenly offers the opportunity to reverse the decision -- everything is forever changed.
And so we grieve.
We grieve not for what we've lost, but for what might have been. Perhaps with the right pastor, or an infusion of cash ... perhaps with more counseling or an effective treatment things could have been different. We mourn the past as well as the future.
At last night's Presbytery meeting we voted to sell Vanderkamp. It was the sort of vote that cut to the heart of many even as we recognized that there were no other options. In order to purchase the camp from the other two partners, we'd need to spend every cent we had ... and find another 300K. The necessity of the sale doesn't make it any easier, or more palatable.
The good news is that we are a resurrection people. We know that the end is not always the end.
Last night spoke a great deal to who we were as we made that decision ... what happens next speaks to who we will be as God's people after this decision. The funds from the eventual sale will echo the values of Vanderkamp (as per NYS non-profit law). Because of this, there will be a legacy that honors those who first had a vision for that sacred ground as well as those who laughed and cried there and those that gave time, talent and treasure to its mission.
There are other ways to continue the legacy. Rita Hooper is coordinating the "Friends of Vanderkamp." If you'd like to join their efforts, you can find them on Facebook or by emailing her at I'm also working on developing a website that celebrates the camp in stories and photos. It's still in the rough stage (it won't be quite right until you send me your own story!) but you can find it here: We will also try to find time to gather safely at the camp for one last campfire.
Prayers for us all during this difficult season and particularly at this difficult time --
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  
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: 
Password: 798822
"Allegiance to Empire" is a series of seven films featuring Walter Bruggemann, Miguel De La Torre, Reggie Williams, etc. providing ways in which the Christian community can serve the world and at the same time be faithful to God's vision of  the  Peaceable Kingdom.
We will meet Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. for seven weeks.  Each night begin with worship, followed by the viewing of a short film and discussion.  Come and go as you like!
  If you are unable to participate in worship, or know someone who  
would appreciate a liturgy that can be used at home, please contact Karen at 
From the Stated Clerk
Stated Clerk Open Office Hours

Greetings friends! In order to keep some consistent communication and to offer you the best service possible, I am posting the following as the "official" office hours for the Stated Clerk:

 Mondays: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
 Wednesdays: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
 Fridays: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

When you send communication to, please be mindful that emails and calls will generally be answered during these times.  If you have an urgent matter, please text or call (814) 249-3331 and I will respond ASAP.  

Also, in order to foster more personal connections and fellowship, please feel free to request a Zoom meeting during the office hours to discuss any issues of process, polity, etc. with your friendly neighborhood Stated Clerk.

I hope you are well and send you peace!

Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye 
Stated Clerk
From the Committee on Ministry
We all acknowledge that these are unprecedented times. Everyone has been impacted by the pandemic, including clergy. The Committee on Ministry encourages pastors and Sessions to read the following article and to reflect on how we might encourage one another:

I don't want to be a prophet of doom, but as a minister in touch with many ministers, I see a coming pastoral crash. And I'm not sure we can stop it. The impact of the world response to COVID-19 will be felt for many years to come. It will be felt in every career field and in every home. This post does not diminish the hard work and adjustments being done by first responders, law enforcement, health care workers, and the educational structures. But from my perspective, those who serve in ministry are, in my thinking, in particular danger for several reasons.
They are serving in ways for which they have no training or experience. At first, this is energizing and sparks our creative thoughts. This energized feeling does not last, however. It is neither exciting for the minister nor the congregants after a month or so.
They are doing their best, but unable to keep it up. Frankly, it is draining. Ministers fall into the comparison trap. Some ministries were already online and have everything they need in place. Many of us, however, did not. We look at what other churches are producing and that makes our efforts feel not worth it.
They are worried about ministries that are unable to operate, and if they will be able to operate later. Some of the ministries that are very important such as support groups, specialized Bible classes (ladies, mens, teens), and Bible camps and retreats are unable to meet. The people who utilize those kinds of ministry need the support still, they are just unable to be in the same room together. Young people are missing out on the fellowship that can strengthen their young spiritual walk. The mental and physical health of our congregations is a huge concern.

From the Bookkeeper
Churches should mail their checks to
Paula Lamberson, bookkeeper of Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery, at the following address:

Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Drive, 2nd floor
East Syracuse, NY 13057

Please DON'T write "c/o Synod of the Northeast" on the envelope due to it causing confusion at the post office. Thank you!
Around the Presbytery
Isaiah's Table seeks partners  
to help families in need
Isaiah's Table is partnering with PEACE Inc. to supplement their weekly food distribution on the Near Westside of Syracuse. Each month they hand out toiletries. In their first distribution in June, they supplied 66 family units totaling 171 children and adults with toilet paper, soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorant and activities for youth and Spanish speaking adults. Isaiah's Table wants to continue this distribution once per month while the neighborhood is in such tremendous need. Each family pack costs from $5-$10 depending on the size of the household.

Isaiah's Table is hoping that some folks in the Presbytery might want to partner with them in this endeavor. Any donation would be appreciated -- it will directly support families in need in the neighborhood of Isaiah's Table. Donations can be sent to: Isaiah's Table, 223 Marcellus Street, Syracuse, NY 13204 or can be made through its website. Please contact Nancy Wind at for more information.

Call 4 Care Cards! 
Calls for justice, peaceful protests and rallies to end racism are happening all over the nation. People living alongside and inside the grim realities of racism, structural poverty, pandemic isolation and demoralizing violence need to know you care!
Could you/would you?....                      
Write and send along a Care Card? A simple sheet of paper with a note of encouragement? A prayer for peace? A wish for safekeeping? A hope-filled drawing? All caring needed! Adult to adult, kid to kid, people to people. 

Send to:             The Syracuse Peacemaking Project
601 Tully St.
Syracuse, NY 13204
The Syracuse Peacemaking Project is envisioning Care Days with care packages, care circles and care-filled conversations and hopefully, your Care Cards -- one or two in each package for each participant.

Get your children involved! No "Caremaker" is too young or too little. 
People Promoting More and More Caring
Dates to Remember
July 23-24         Board of Pensions Thrive Seminar (for clergy age 50+)
August 11         Presbytery Stated Meeting, TBD  
November 14    Presbytery Stated Meeting, Westminster-Auburn
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Reimagining public safety

Union Presbyterian Seminary panel talks about how a just society looks and acts

By Mike Ferguson
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - Last week, a panel convened by Union Presbyterian Seminary discussed how Christians can respond to unjust policing, On Tuesday, a different panel sought to reimagine what public safety might look like in a just society.

The Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler, an associate professor of Bible at the seminary and the director of its Center for Social Justice and Reconciliation, moderated the panel, which also included:
  • The Rev. Nikia Smith Robert, founder and pastor of Reverend Daughter Ministries in Pasadena, California. Robert also serves on the ministerial staff at First AME Church in Pasadena.
  • Dr. Rubén Arjona, assistant professor of Pastoral Care at the seminary and an ordained minister in the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico.
  • Robert Dawkins, political director of Action NC and the state organizer of SAFE Coalition NC in Charlotte, North Carolina. SAFE Coalition NC is a grassroots coalition working to build public trust and accountability in law enforcement.
  • Tarah Stewart, a drug and alcohol counselor who serves residents in western Pennsylvania.
Sadler opened by asking panelists for two things they'd do to reimagine the current system of public safety. Arjona said he'd embrace the prophet Isaiah's vision of universal disarmament and "envision a system that prioritizes the well-being of all people, including those in charge of public safety." Stewart said she'd like to see universal health care and the decriminalization of all drugs. Dawkins said that until the nation addresses white supremacy, "we are only moving pieces around on a chess set." Robert proposed establishing "a new system governed by community values" and "holding churches accountable" for, among other things, "the ways in which our ecclesiology and theology don't allow us free spaces to discuss" possible solutions.


Next online Matthew 25 event planned for July 29
With a focus on dismantling racism, churches can take steps to bring about racial justice
By Melody K. Smith
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - The Matthew 25  invitation continues to be embraced by congregations and mid councils, even through a pandemic and times of social unrest. Or, just maybe, because of those things.

The three focuses of the Matthew 25 vision are to build congregational vitality, eradicate systemic poverty and dismantle structural racism. In view of the current unrest and protest in our nation, the call to be a Matthew 25 church is more compelling than ever. The first Matthew 25 event was held on June 10, with over 500 churches registering. The event facilitated sharing and dialogue that was so well received, more events were requested. With this in mind, the next online event - Matthew 25: Dismantling Racism - is scheduled for July 29 from 2-3 p.m. Eastern Time via Zoom.

This event will feature mid council leaders who will share how they are using Matthew 25 to impact their ministries and communities around the focus of dismantling racism.

This online event is open to all Matthew 25 congregations, groups and mid councils that have made the commitment to embrace the Matthew 25 vision, as well as anyone interested in learning more about Matthew 25.

"We are inviting all those who are still discerning the commitment to Matthew," said the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. "This may very well be one of the first ways that churches can take steps to bring about racial justice."

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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