Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
March 19, 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, 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...
  • Please pray for Annette, wife of the Rev. Larry Bell and member of Westminster Presbyterian Church (Auburn). Annette's ovarian cancer is recurring just three months after completing frontline chemotherapy. Please pray for strength and endurance for Annette and Larry and for the doctors who are treating her.
  • Please pray for Shavonn Lynch, Candidate under Care, as she devotes herself to preparing for ordination exams the end of April and graduation from seminary in May.
  • Pray for all those who are struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.
  • Pray for Jim Russell as he continues his fight with esophagus cancer.

Prayer for wisdom and peace as the coronavirus spreads
God of all that is seen and unseen, our anxiety rises as the invisible coronavirus spreads. We worry about the impact of this illness on healthcare workers, older adults, those already physically fragile, the vulnerable among us and people whose livelihoods are tied to the regular movement of people and commerce. We recognize in this moment how inextricably connected we are to one another and we hope that this unmistakable realization will shape all our actions in ways that foster the common good, increase compassion and expand communal care.

As people is positions of leadership in religious communities, educational institutions, hospitals, government and local communities face difficult choices about how to address the complex challenges this virus brings, grant them wisdom and courage. Knowing that we are flawed and that our knowledge is incomplete, make us humble in our judgment, patient with one another, and gracious toward those tasked with the burden of making hard decisions in the days ahead.

Bring healing to the sick, strength to the caregivers, comfort to those who mourn, peace to those in quarantine and mercy to all of your beloved creation. Amen.

In the cycle of prayer our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals: Amboy Belle Isle; First, Auburn; Westminster, Auburn; United Ministry of Aurora; First, Baldwinsville.
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week
   First Presbyterian Church of Cazenovia elder Matt Allen delivered a message Sunday about trusting in God. Maddie did a great job being a willing volunteer during Children's Time. 

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 
Hello, Cayuga-Syracuse!
My cat is confused. Although I'm often working from home, my spouse is usually at work. These last few days he's been home. The cat seems content enough - the birds have begun to sing again, and neighbors still walk their dogs outside our window (for his amusement), but there is confusion in that furry little brain.
I get it. I'll confess to some confusion myself. This all seems so surreal.
My news feed is filled with numbers of tested, and the numbers who have died; borders closed and shops shuttered. I hear that life will be 'disrupted' for months. The situation is more than fluid - it is torrential. It feels sometimes like a swift-running current that will sweep us all away.
I've chosen to focus on the things that haven't changed.
We still have one another. This new reality provokes us to find new ways of connecting with each other - keeping a physical distance has increased the urgency to be more deliberate in our connections. I take heart in hearing how church folks are checking in with one another, and how the role of Deacon is one we've all begun to claim.
We still have the church. For decades the focus of being the church has been morning worship, but in this new reality we're finding not just other ways of worshipping ... but also new ways of being the community of faith. Churches are reaching out to their community to find ways of providing food for school children, and extending the support network for seniors.
We have God. My prayers have been filled with descriptors like Rock, Fortress, Redeemer, Immutable, Refuge and Strength, Unchanging, El Shaddai (evoking mountains), Alpha and Omega, Everlasting One ... for if the change around us is torrential I need to remember the One who is my foundation. Our foundation.
If there is any way that I can help you navigate these waters ... please do not hesitate to reach out. We've always been in this together (that has not changed!) but the reality of those words seems somehow more vital and more true today.
Praying for us all...
Resource Presbyter's Virtual Gatherings 

Our Resource Presbyter, the Rev. Karen Chamis, will be holding virtual office hours on Wednesday mornings.

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.  
or call  
One tap mobile 
+16465588656,,839671809# US (New York) 
+13126266799,,839671809# US (Chicago)
Interactive Worship Service: 
Karen and the Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye, our stated clerk, will hold an interactive worship service on Zoom every Sunday evening at 7 p.m.  
Register in advance for this meeting:
Daily updates are being sent Monday - Friday to Pastoral Leadership.  If you'd like to receive a copy of this email, please let Karen know (
Karen can be reached at 315-632-5698 (option 1) or
Around the Presbytery
  Church events across the Presbytery have  
been postponed or cancelled.
Events in May and June are up in the air.  
Baldwinsville First Presbyterian Church postponed their annual April rummage sale, but is hopeful for June. We all are hopeful!
Around the Synod
Applications are being accepted for the Wurffel-Sills Scholarship and Interest-Free Student Loan Program now through April 1, 2020. Members of any church within the Synod of the Northeast, who are pursuing full-time undergraduate or seminary studies leading to a Masters of Divinity (MDIV) or Masters of Religious Education (MRE) are welcome to apply.  Part-time studies, non-credit or certificate courses are not eligible to apply.

Dates to Remember
March 23           Leadership Team Meeting
April 27             Leadership Team Meeting
April 27             Docket items due for the May 12 meeting  
May 12              Presbytery Stated Meeting, Robinson Elmwood United Church
June 4               Spring Senior Fun Day at Vanderkamp 
June 20-27        General Assembly, Baltimore
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.)
In the midst of a worldwide health crisis, J. Herbert Nelson and Diane Moffett write a pastoral letter to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

LOUISVILLE - The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the President and Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency have written a pastoral letter to Presbyterians living with the rapidly-spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The letter, written by the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, and the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, is as follows:

Dear Siblings in Christ,

These are truly trying times for all of us as we face a rapidly spreading virus, panic buying that has left grocery shelves nearly empty and supplies in great demand. We have seen the worst in people and the best. Yet, through it all, we take hope in Christ and the promise to never leave us.

We are holding each of you in prayer. Like the rest of the country, our Presbyterian communities are physically separated, but we are still deeply connected through our common humanity, spirituality and strong faith in God.

We are not only with you in prayer and solidarity, we are also here to serve you. In response to increased anxieties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is committed to supporting mid council leaders and pastors who are on the frontline of preaching words of hope in these times. To assist you in that effort, the church has compiled special resources for pastors, congregational leaders and members. These resources include information about virtual worship services.

We are all in this together as we learn to cope with our new normal. Because the Presbyterian connectional system encourages us to learn from one another, we are encouraging "crowdsourcing" as a way of sharing ideas. What are your needs? What's working well in your church communities? We want to hear from you! Tell us what you need, offer suggestions or suggest resources. Please reach out to us at

We are hearing the concerns many of you have regarding stewardship. The Presbyterian Foundation offers access to an online giving system that allows congregations to accept secure online donations. We know that many people and congregations are experiencing economic hardship because of the coronavirus. However, for those who are able, we encourage continued support of your local church, and sharing God's love with our neighbors in need worldwide. We are grateful for those presbyteries who are providing financial assistance to congregations. We recognize that not all presbyteries are able to do so. We plan to meet with some mid councils to assess needs and discern ways in which we might be of assistance.

We are compelled by our faithfulness to Christ's charge to love our neighbors. During this crisis, we are mindful of our denomination's commitment to Matthew 25, and urge compassion for others by not purchasing more supplies than we need, and by speaking out against the racism being directed at some of our Asian siblings. Jesus makes it clear that how we respond to our neighbor is of paramount importance to him. These tough times call for the best of Christian character and actions.

Please note that we will hold an online Easter service from the chapel of 100 Witherspoon in Louisville for those of you who would like to be part of a national experience. Easter is a new way of life - in which we are "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:11) and called to "walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). There is much new happening in the world around us. We pray for God's comfort and grace as we walk forward together during these uncertain times.

Finally, the past week has been full of high anxiety and mounting fears. We have heard from government leaders and health experts. Now let us turn to the Scriptures to find out where biblical people found faith, hope and courage in the face of pestilence. Over 100 times the Bible tells us, "Don't be afraid." In Psalm 27:1, David tells us why:

"The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?"

Yours in Christ,

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett
President, Executive Director
Presbyterian Mission Agency

Easter's 50 days  
invite us to go from followers to believers
Our longest liturgical season

By Felipe N. Martinez
Presbyterians Today

I was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, where I was a member of a congregation in the Mexican National Presbyterian Church denomination. The worship life of our congregation noted the important days of the Christian calendar - Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. But I don't ever recall a mention of liturgical seasons.

In retrospect, this probably was an effort to draw a distinction between the minority Presbyterian denomination and the majority Roman Catholic Church. (Pew Research reported in 2014 that 81% of Mexicans identified as Roman Catholic.) The Catholics may have had their 40 days of Lent, but we didn't. The only multi-day "season" Presbyterians ever mentioned seemed to be Holy Week. It wasn't until I immigrated to the United States and joined a PC(USA) church that I became familiar with the liturgical seasons. Yet even in the PC(USA), we struggle with living into those seasons.

As a pastor, I can't ignore the grumblings from the pews during Advent that we should be singing Christmas hymns. Though we anticipate Christmas, when Christmas Day arrives it feels as though we've crossed the finish line like an exhausted runner. We don't seem to have the energy for the 12 days of Christmas. Besides being the title of a quaint song, those days are often misconstrued to be the 12 days leading to Dec. 25. In reality, the 12 days follow Christmas.

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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