Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
September 17, 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
Amboy Presbyterian Church is celebrating  
its 175th anniversary 
By Sue Milliman
Amboy Belle Isle United Church 
In December of 1845, a group of people met to form the Amboy Presbyterian Society. The land was donated by the Hinsdale family where the church still stands today.  
Many years have brought us to this important date in the life of our church, with several exciting events along the way, including: a 100th anniversary celebration in 1945; becoming a Yoked Parish with the Belle Isle Methodist Church in 1962; a 150th anniversary celebration in 1995; officially becoming "Amboy Belle Isle United Church" in 1998 (after the Belle Isle church building burned in 1991).
The 175th Anniversary Committee had planned several events to be held during the month of September, to commemorate this milestone. Unfortunately, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of plans, not only in our area, but throughout the world.
The committee has decided to postpone the public events until 2021, for the safety and health of everyone. We will continue making plans and deciding on dates, dependent upon the status of the pandemic in the spring of 2021.

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 Monica Styron and her mother in your prayers. Monica's mother suffered a stroke recently in Massachusetts. Her condition has improved and has been transferred to rehab. Please keep the family in your prayers. 
  • Please pray for the Rev. Ed Kang and his family. Ed, his wife Mae and daughter Michelle are all being treated for various cancers, and Mae and Michelle are recovering from recent surgeries.
  • Please pray for James Russell, a member of Westminster Syracuse. He is battling esophagus cancer.
  • 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.
Anne Doss, a health care worker, delivered the message at Onondaga Hill Presbyterian Church recently. Please continue to keep our health care workers in your prayers. 

In the cycle of prayer our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals: Isaiah's Table, Syracuse; Korean Church of Syracuse; Park Central, Syracuse; Robinson Elmwood United Church, Syracuse; South Valley, Syracuse
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week
Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn moved its outdoor service inside the sanctuary on Sunday with all the precautions: masks, social distancing and no singing or food.

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,
What does failure look like in a church?
Is it when the building shows noticeable deferred maintenance, or when the membership number dips below a certain level? Has a church failed when there are no more children running up the aisles or when the choir is made up of only a few sopranos (why yes, I am an alto!)?
I'm not sure our answer to that question changes due to a pandemic. The church isn't a failure when it no longer occupies its building or because we can no longer sing hymns together. I don't believe we are only successful when our pews (and plates) are full. Certainly, the New Testament church didn't have tall steeples and large fellowship halls in which to accomplish its mission. Our metrics for success, however, don't seem to work in this pandemic season.
Six months in we're starting to ask "what if this is it"? What if we can't return to our buildings? Can we still be the church?
Throughout the life of the church we've made changes and adapted and reformed our ways of doing things. I'm not talking the small stuff (although kudos to the church that moved from donuts during coffee hour to also offering fresh fruit!). I'm referring to all the times in history where we've adapted to our changing context. As products of the Reformation, we hold to the belief that we are reformed and always being reformed!
I think we forget how difficult those changes were in the moment. The day that grandma showed up in pants to serve Communion was no doubt followed by several heated meetings and a few folks leaving the church.
Or, perhaps we remember all too well how difficult those changes were, and we want to avoid potential conflict. The day we ordained LGBT folks was no doubt proceeded by several heated meetings and a few folks leaving the church.
The reality is that a massive change in our context has occurred. We will either continue to find ways to respond to it faithfully ... or we don't.
What does failure in the church during a pandemic look like?
The same as it does during "normal" times.
The church has failed when it forgets its purpose and its calling and is no longer working toward the Great Ends of the Church: The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind; the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God; the maintenance of divine worship; the preservation of the truth; the promotion of social righteousness; and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.
Here's the thing ... the church has found ways to be the church in spite of world wars, natural disasters, the Great Depression and huge economic fallout. And pandemics. In other words, this isn't our first rodeo. More to the point, it won't be the coronavirus that causes the church to fail. It will be our inability to remember our baptism, our calling and our purpose.
Yes, this is difficult work. It's also the work we've been called to accomplish ... faithfully. The good news is we don't do it alone. Our God is in the middle of it all, and we have our siblings who walk alongside us as well.
Grateful for you, and for this difficult and challenging work.
Resource Presbyter's Announcements
Thinking about what Christmas might look like in 2020? The PRC is offering webinars entitled "Let's Talk about what Christmas Pageants will look like this year". These webinars are free to our congregations due to our members with PRC:
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 30, 2020 
Register in advance for this webinar:

Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications:
The Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications are now being accepted through Nov 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 Leadership Team Chairperson, Lynn Jacques, at 

Thinking of doing Interim Work? The Center for Healthy Churches has developed an online version of their S.T.E.P. interim training and is offering it both in October and November. Contact Karen for more information.

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

REALM is here!
We're beginning to set up a database through Realm, a software package that is created for churches. In the next week or so you will receive an invitation to update your information on the system. Please let Karen know if you have any issues with signing in. This is a wonderful way for us to maintain correct contact information for anyone involved with the work of the Presbytery. Thanks for your cooperation! 
Several folks are working on creating a Celebration of Vanderkamp event this fall. If you'd like to be a part of the planning team, OR if you want to make sure you receive notice of the details of this event, please contact Karen at

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  
Coffee with Clergy  
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
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.  
Special Meeting
In accordance with Article V of the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse Bylaws and with the concurrence of two elders and two ministers, the Moderator has called a Special Meeting of the Presbytery for 7 p.m. on September 23, 2020 on Zoom.
Things to know:
This gathering will be recorded for informational and accuracy of minutes purposes only. This is a special meeting called for the disposal of specific items of business.
Only motions and actions related to the items of business are in order.
Things to anticipate:
  • Election of remaining representative to the Ecumenical Camp Association
  • Formation of Administrative Commission for Westminster, Syracuse
Papers for this meeting can be found here, and include:
Zoom information:
Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
If you are dialing in you can raise your hand to speak by dialing *9.  You can also use this function to vote -- simply wait for the Moderator's prompts. If you would like to speak, raise your hand (*9), and when recognized, unmute yourself using *6.
Dates to Remember
September 23   Special Meeting
November 14    Presbytery Stated Meeting, TBA
Around the Presbytery
The United Church of Fayetteville seeks an organist or pianist to provide worship music virtually for its streamed services and intermittent in the sanctuary Sunday services. This position exclusively for music could transition to the Director of Music Ministries when choirs can safely participate in the worship service. Candidates must be an experienced organist or pianist and technology savvy. Yearly salary range during the pandemic is $9,100-$10,400.  
For more information about UCF see Send a letter of intent, résumé, and a link to a recent video with you playing church appropriate music to:  
What: Order Pies Now  
When: Pre-order for pick-up at the end of September
Where: Columbian Presbyterian Church, corner of Routes 20 & 11, LaFayette
Contact: Call 315-677-3293  
Cost: $12 
Frozen, unbaked - ready for your holiday table or mid-winter cravings. 
What: Chicken BBQs Saturdays 
When: 11 a.m. until gone on September 19 & 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.)

Want to impact racism in this country? Have the hard conversations, says Street-Stewart
Co-Moderator of the 224th General Assembly (2020) addresses Wyoming Interfaith Network

By Rick Jones
Office of the General Assembly

Standing in solidarity with those who have been impacted by racism and hate is good, but making a real difference will take time, understanding, and some tough conversations. That was the message from Ruling Elder Elona Street-Stewart last week to members of the Wyoming Interfaith Network.

The Co-Moderator of the 224th General Assembly (2020) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was a guest speaker for the network's annual conference. The topic of the conversation was "Restoring Hope: Combating Racism Through Interfaith Work." The conference highlighted diverse voices around issues such as race, equality, religious freedom, the environment, and interfaith cooperation.

"My work in the PC(USA) has shown me that we all want to defeat racism, end poverty, raise our children's children in a world where Black lives matter and treaties matter, where leaders say no to oppressive security and nationalism, where the Earth is protected," she said. "But in order to build communities, we have to walk carefully and deliberately down a path to restore and repair what has been broken before we can run to that goal."

Street-Stewart said people can't talk about justice if they can't imagine a truth and reconciliation process.

"We're called to build integrity in our relationships by creating trust. When we care about people, we form trust and trust builds hope," she said. "Think of hope as a genuine gift of purpose, directed beyond ourselves to the next seven generations. It feels like hope is buried beneath the pandemic, but it will rise."

Street-Stewart told the group that hope is in the solidarity of truth-telling about the brokenness of communities.

"When we repent about what caused the real loss and pain deep in the core of our humanity, when we walk together as faith communities and we offer restoration together, then we can proclaim hope," she said.


COVID-19 delayed her disaster ministry. Then a disaster came to her

By Rich Copley
Presbyterian News Service

LEXINGTON, Kentucky - The Rev. Kristin Hutson's road to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance's (PDA) National Response Team started as a college chaplain.
At Coe College, a historically Presbyterian college in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Hutson served as chaplain from 2003 to 2017, she led a few PDA-sponsored trips, starting with a journey to Gulfport, Mississippi the spring after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.
But there was also a quieter aspect to her calling.
"One of the things when you're a college chaplain is you're on the crisis response team," Hutson said. "So, when there's the death of a parent, a significant injury that comes up on campus, or the death of a student - those types of traumatic events were something I was routinely involved in, so I feel like I was equipped with that 'ministry of presence' in the wake of trauma."
When Hutson decided to leave chaplaincy in 2017 and start a new chapter in her life and ministry, she looked to PDA's National Response Team (NRT) as a place she could possibly use her experience and gifts to serve the denomination.
The door did not immediately open. On her initial application in 2017, Hutson was told there were no openings on the NRT. But about a year later, she got a call asking if she was still interested and inviting her to go through a discernment process.

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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