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, 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...
- Pray for the Rev. Patrick Heery and his family. Patrick's mother, Marberta Heery, died unexpectedly last week of a heart attack. Patrick, Jenna and Emerson traveled to Cincinnati to be with family where Marberta's funeral service was held on Monday. Patrick is the pastor of Westminster Church in Auburn.
- Pray for the destruction caused by wildfires in Australia. Pray for all God's creatures impacted by the fires. Click here for a special prayer.
- Please keep Suzanne Hoeldtke Wood and her family in your prayers. Susie is the daughter of the Rev. David and Thelma Hoeldtke, formerly of Howlett Hill Presbyterian Church. She has been diagnosed with limbic encephalitis at Dartmouth Hospital in New Hampshire. She and her husband, Dr. Steven Wood, live in Vermont. Spinal fluid was taken and sent to the Mayo Clinic for testing. They are awaiting the results.
- Pray for all our soldiers, at home and overseas, and pray for their families during this turbulent time in the world.
- Pray for all those who are sick, battling cancer and fighting silent diseases.
- Pray for Jim Russell as he continues his fight with esophagus cancer.
In the cycle of prayer for our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals:
First, Cazenovia; First, Chittenango; United Church of Collamer; Pebble Hill, DeWitt; First United Church of East Syracuse.
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:
The Syracuse Memory Cafe, a project of the Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church, celebrated their 3rd anniversary. The Syracuse Memory Cafe is a recent. recipient of one of the Presbyter's following Benevolent Care grants. To learn more about the memory cafe, visit the group'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
From the Resource Presbyter
This past Saturday, the Leadership Team met for a "Summit." Like many councils (Session, the Theater Board, C-Suite gatherings) our normal meetings are usually caught up in the fiduciary - or required - parts of our work. Bills need to be paid. Forms need to be filed. Stuff needs to be voted on. That work is critical to managing the life of the organization.
Sometimes we have time to do some strategic work, but not often.
We're managing an organization. It's time-consuming work.
As a Presbytery? We're managing. Just managing.
Leadership is the sweet spot between doing that fiduciary work, strategic planning as well as generative work. When we are able to do all three, we are leading.
If we're not doing all three, we're working only in a managerial capacity.
It can be helpful to understand the three different aspects of governance in looking at the questions they answer:
Fiduciary: What's wrong? Fix the problem, balance the budget...
Strategic: What's the plan? How will we do stewardship/worship this year?
Generative: What's the key question? Why are we here, and who has God called us to be?
In my experience, church boards often relegate the generative work to the brief Bible study or prayer at the beginning of the meeting ... and then it often serves as a reminder that God is in the room, and not a push to ask deeper questions. When we don't engage with generative questions, our organizations can lose touch with who they are. We forget our very purpose, and instead focus on maintaining the status quo.
Your Leadership Team set up a separate meeting in order to do generative work. We looked at the Consultant's report from 2015 (y'all remember that? Because most of us around the table weren't aware of it) as well as the report from the Missional Structures Team and some of my own reflections based on what I'm hearing from you. We looked at our values -- the ones we say we have, the ones we really have and the ones we aspire to. As we continue to do this work, and to carve out time to do the work of Leadership (fiduciary, strategic AND generative), we covet your prayers.
Interested in sharing ideas about how to spend time in the generative zone? Or how to reframe questions that move the conversation from fiduciary to strategic or generative and how to time that? Me too! I don't have all the answers, but I'd love to talk with others about this. Join me for a "Salon" on Thursday, February 13 at 11 a.m.
Chait, R. P., Ryan, W. P., & Taylor, B. E. (2011). Governance as leadership: Reframing the work of nonprofit boards. John Wiley & Sons.
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.
What is Generative work? How can we equip our councils to think more generatively?
11 a.m. February 13 .
Join us for a conversation and sharing of ideas and resources around the topic of Generative Thinking!
Join us as we celebrate the Installation of the Rev. Jeanine Haven as the pastor of the Baldwinsville Church at 2 p.m. on February 9.
The Clergy Book Group is currently reading "Fierce Conversations" by Susan Scott. In February we will talk about Chapter 2. We meet at the Robinson-Elmwood Church on the first Tuesday of the month at noon.
Bring a lunch, and join the discussion!
Resource Presbyter's Mobile Office Day
Our Resource Presbyter, the Rev. Karen Chamis, will be working remotely at the following locations:
Date: Thursday, January 16, 2020
Time: 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Port Byron Federated Church, 35 Tex Pultz Parkway, Port Byron
Date: Thursday, January 23, 2020
Time: 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Place: Salt City Coffee, 509 W. Onondaga St., Syracuse
Feel free to drop in for a conversation -- or just to say hello
Karen can be reached at 315-632-5698 (option 1) or
It is almost time again for the wonderful exercise of democratic and spiritual community that is a presbytery meeting. Our next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 15, which means I will soon be working to prepare the docket. In order to do so in an effective and timely manner, I will need (note the word "need") all materials, requests for time on the docket, consent agenda items, and so forth no later than close of business on Monday, Feb. 3. Please submit your submissions via the stated clerk email at
If you have questions or concerns, you may also call my church office at 315-364-5110.
Being a human being and acknowledging that life, as a rule, tends to "happen" from time to time, I realize that some folks may be down to the wire or have a pressing item come up a bit later than Feb. 3. If life "happens" to you, please call me and we can make arrangements as needed.
My thanks to you all for promptness and efficiency as we work together to make church happen!
The Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye
From the Associate Stated Clerk
Attention Clerks of Session, and/or Pastors...
Everything you need for completing the Annual Statistical Report of 2019 data for your church is available online.
The link for "Statistical Reporting and Frequently Asked Questions is:
On that page, click the link for "Go to the Online Statistics Entry System" to enter the Church Statistics System. The deadline to submit your statistical report is February 1, 2020.
For questions or assistance with either of these reports, contact Linda Russell, associate stated clerk, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-730-6930.
Elder Commissioners to Presbytery
The next meeting of Presbytery will be held on Saturday, February 15, 2020 at First Presbyterian Church of Weedsport beginning with registration at 8:30 a.m.
The number of elder commissioners currently assigned to churches through the May 2020 meeting is as follows:
a. Churches sending two (2) elder commissioners include: Amboy, Auburn-First, Aurora, Chittenango, Collamer, First United East Syracuse, Weedsport, Whitelaw
Churches sending three (3) elder commissioners include: Auburn-Westminster, Baldwinsville, Cazenovia, DeWitt-Pebble Hill, Fayetteville, Skaneateles, Syracuse-Park Central
All other churches and Isaiah's Table are eligible to send one (1) elder commissioner.
Necrology Report for 2019
The necrology report for 2019 will be presented during the presbytery meeting on February 15, 2020. Clerks of Session are asked to send the names of ruling elders and deacons from your congregation who died during 2019 to Associate Stated Clerk Linda Russell at email@example.com by February 1. Please list name, office, and date of death. Thank you.
Mission Highlights for February Presbytery Meeting
Churches and presbyteries have been challenged by our General Assembly to embrace Jesus' call in Matthew 25:31-46 to take our living faith into our communities and the world. The three areas of focus for being a Matthew 25 church are: building congregational vitality, dismantling structural racism, and eradicating systemic poverty. To celebrate mission initiatives currently supported by local congregations which specifically focus on systemic poverty, the Leadership Development Work Group is planning a Mission Fair display for the Presbytery meeting on February 15. The hope is that we may be inspired by what another church is doing, find a partner church for a shared or collaborative mission, and give thanks to God for the good works being offered within our bounds.
Your help is needed! Please send a photo and/or a brief paragraph describing
your ministry and its impact on your community if your church is involved in one of the following ministries:
Photos and descriptions should be sent to elder Neil Rotach, chair of the Leadership Development Work Group, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- a feeding program or food pantry
- a health ministry
- a housing ministry (Habitat, beds for children, homelessness, other)
- any other ministry which addresses local poverty issues.
| What: A Taste of Chocolate
When: 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8
What's happening in your church? Events coming up? Fundraisers?
Special announcements? Celebrations? Milestones?
Send them to CaySyrNews@gmail.com.
Leadership Team meeting (Synod Conference Room)
Jan 31-Feb 1
Synod Commission Meeting
Annual Statistical Reports due (online)
Necrology Report due to Associate Stated Clerk
Docket material due to Stated Clerk
Clerk's Annual Questionnaire due (online)
Presbytery Stated Meeting, Weedsport
Leadership Team Meeting
Leadership Team Meeting
Leadership Team Meeting
Presbytery Stated Meeting
General Assembly, Baltimore
Board of Pensions Thrive Seminar (for clergy age 50+)
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Racism, a 'spirit fueled by hatred
MLK speaker Mark Lomax: 'Would color matter
if we loved?'
By Mike Ferguson
Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE - Racism, the Rev. Dr. Mark Lomax told staff and guests at the Presbyterian Center on Wednesday, the actual birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is a spirit fueled by hatred and fear, a spirit born of a lie "that you and I, fellow Christians, refuse to address. You and I live into the lie to this very day."
"Race isn't out there somewhere. It's in here," he said, pointing to his heart. "It's a belief, and that belief trumps our belief in Jesus."
Lomax is the founding pastor of
First Afrikan Church
in Lithonia, Ga., and an associate professor of preaching at the
Interdenominational Theological Center
in Atlanta. His sermon and a subsequent question-and-answer session were part of a two-hour chapel service called "The Two Americas: Lamenting the Nightmare in the Dream" to honor the life and work of King, whose birthday will be celebrated across the nation Monday.
The choir from Peace Presbyterian Church in Louisville added two musical selections to the Wednesday worship service. (Photo by Rich Copley)
Lomax said his preferred mode of transportation is his motorcycle. He enjoys the back roads, because "that's where all the twists and turns are." But as an African American he also wonders about his personal safety while traveling those back roads. "Most times, I don't pull over for rest. I go from city to city," he said. "I know I could be killed and few people would care."
One critic's top 10
films for 2019
A few of these films could surprise you
By the Rev. Dr. Edward McNulty
Special to Presbyterian News Service
Top Ten Film list is usually different from most lists because ethical and spiritual values in the films carry more weight than aesthetics. That the latter is important, however, is shown each year by the fact that faith-based films seldom show up on the list, most of these being dramatized sermons rather than open-ended works of art.
The films chosen from the 200 or so films reviewed last year in the monthly journal are a mixed lot, ranging from a few in which Christian faith is a major component to a comic book-based film about the descent by a societal reject into criminal madness. This one was a surprise to me, because I had not considered it a candidate until the widespread praise for the film sent me back to read again my review, and I realized it should be included as an example of the classical doctrine of the Fall.
The titles have embedded links so you can click onto the reviews available on Visual Parable's website. The full reviews and the Scripture passages contain more details as to what the ethical or spiritual reasons were for selecting a film.
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