Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
October 22, 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
 In our prayers together this week... 
  • Please pray for the Rev. Ed Kang and the Kang family. Ed's wife Mae passed away at home Tuesday morning after a two-year struggle with cancer. After cultivating a lovely garden this summer (gardening was one of Mae's passions), she became weaker and spent several weeks in the hospital, returning home Sunday with hospice care. Ed and Mae were recently visited by their son from Seattle and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Sunday. Expressions of sympathy may be sent to Rev. Ed Kang, 759 Ivory Foster Road, Owego, NY 13827.
  • Please continue pray for the Rev. Jenna Heery, her husband Patrick and son Emerson. Jenna continues to cope with pain from complications following her gall bladder surgery of a few weeks ago.
  • 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: 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:

Photo of the Week

Members of the Pebbly Hill Church gathered on Sundays at 5:00 p.m. (weather permitting) for an outdoor, socially distance vespers service. 

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   
Hello, Cayuga-Syracuse!
When my usually sweet cat's whiskers move forward, and the shape of his muzzle becomes square I know he's had enough play and our next interaction may involve something sharp. Our interspecies communication isn't at Dr. Doolittle levels ... but it works for us. Mostly. We don't share a common vocabulary, but we do have a language of sorts.
Language is such a remarkable tool. With words we can express emotions, describe beauty, build each other up and tear injustice down. Words help us to inspire, comfort and sometimes amuse. I'm the sort that appreciates not only a good turn of phrase but also feels that puns are an art form (your mileage may vary).
Of course, words are only part of our communication toolkit. We convey our thoughts using body language and grimaces, and pitch and tone have a place here as well. We also communicate with silence -- from that meaningful quiet that occurs between grieving friends to the "silent treatment" offered to those who have tread on our last nerve.
Language can fail us for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there is a dissonance between what we are communicating verbally and our actions. I've thought for some time now that it would be helpful to have a dictionary that provided definitions alongside appropriate behaviors. A church that describes itself as friendly on the website but ignores the folks that have been visiting for weeks is a potent example reminiscent of one of the great lines in the "Princess Bride" when Vizzini says "inconceivable" for the nth time and Inigo responds: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
Sometimes language fails because we choose to not to hear. Language only seems to work when there's a willingness to hear and understand, and I have learned that I ignore my cat's communication of his annoyance with great peril.
In this season, it is all too easy to pay attention to presidential debates and Facebook pages that are teeming with miscommunications. I wonder what would happen if we focused instead on the conversations happening just outside the walls of our churches. What are the deep fears and concerns (and joys!) spoken about around the dinner table, or at the conference table of the office on the corner? Where are hearts breaking ... and does the church have the capacity and the desire to hear those stories? Do we have the words (or the Word?) to respond?
Let those who have ears to hear...
Blessings -
Resource Presbyter's Announcements
The Finance and Property Workgroup invites you to a Presbytery gathering on Tuesday, October 27th at 7 p.m. to have an open conversation about the Presbytery's budget for 2021 and beyond. Concerned about sustainability and future projections for our work together? Not quite sure what the Presbytery does with your per capita? Join us for some conversation about how we fund our ministry: 

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: Oct 27, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting: HERE

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

This is an open gathering -- Commissioners and non-commissioners are invited to attend.

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 Thursday, October 22
Leaders: Debbie Kolacki & Elizabeth Christie 
Jesus loves the little children and so does the church! How do we share the love of God with babies and families when nurseries and play and pray groups are functioning differently? Join us for webinar full of great resources for families that will work in all seasons.
Register: Click Here

What: Small Church Christmas Eve
When: 1 p.m. on Friday, October 23
Leader: Rev. Karen Ware Jackson 
Join us for a webinar focusing on at-home and online ideas for small congregations to connect on Christmas Eve.Karen Ware Jackson is the webinar coordinator for PRC, but she's also a PCUSA pastor. She spent six years as the (part-time) pastor of a small congregation and knows well the holy beauty and intimacy (and sometimes the overwhelming work) of pastoring in a small church.  
Register: Click Here

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: Lenten Resource Round-Up
When: 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 19
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: 875 6084 2497
Passcode: 576427 
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
Dates to Remember
November 14    Presbytery Stated Meeting, TBA
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
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.)
Worship in a pandemic world: no singing, no problem
Give your worship a boost by discovering other ways to engage the senses 

By Anne Russ
Presbyterians Today

If you are gathering for a masked and socially distant in-person worship during the Advent season, it's obviously going to be very different. Advent without singing? Without our responsive liturgies? Will it even feel like Advent?

Even though we are called the "frozen chosen" for good reason, this season is an excellent time to introduce some movement into worship. Consider adopting a different prayer posture for each Sunday of Advent. Worship leaders can choose postures that best suit their particular congregation and context, but here are some suggestions:

Hope: Hands stretched up above the head and eyes to the sky in hopeful anticipation.
Peace: Arms reaching out in front with palms up-stretched, ready to receive God's peace.
Love: Arms crossed over one's chest.
Joy: Jazz hands! Or maybe just a single fist jabbed up at the sky, à la "The Breakfast Club."

Did you know there's probably a lot you don't know about voting?
Presbyterian Voting Campaign uses social media to highlight challenges to marginalized  communities 

By Rich Copley
Presbyterian News Service
LEXINGTON, Kentucky - To many United States citizens, voting has been a fairly easy proposition. They take some time on Election Day to go to a polling place near their home, maybe stand in line for a while, cast their vote and get a sticker.
That's the way it should be. Right?

But for millions of Americans, voting is not so easy, which is why part of the Presbyterian Voting Campaign has been offering a steady stream of "Did You Know" posts on the church's social media channels, including Facebook and Instagram, describing challenges many voters face in the U.S., particularly people in marginalized communities.

"This moment is critical because of the two pandemics that are happening in our country, with COVID and the racial uprising," said the Rev. Shanea D. Leonard, Associate for Gender & Racial Justice in the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Racial Equity & Women's Intercultural Ministries. "Folks need to realize that racism continues to happen in covert and overt ways. And one of the ways we really can challenge the status quo is to shed light on injustice. When people in the suburbs see what's really happening on their televisions, like they did in the civil rights movement and subsequent uprisings, is when people who are directly affected begin to help shift the narrative."

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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