Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698

September 5, 2019
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...
  • Pray for Jim Russell as he continues his fight esophagus cancer.
  • Pray for the family of Dick Tuttle who passed away on August 20. A celebration of Dick's life will be held on Saturday Sept. 7 at Caz Presbyterian Church. His obituary can be found here.  
  • Please pray for Charles Vollmer, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Chittenango, and his siblings. Charlie's mother passed away at the end of August and he will soon be traveling to Pennsylvania to lead his mother's memorial service.
  • Pray for the Rev. Benjamin Fitzgerald-Fyeand and Linda Russell as they travel to Louisville next week for Stated Clerk training.
  • Pray for all teachers, school staff, parents and students as they prepare to head back to school.
  • Pray for all those in the affected by Hurricane Dorian. Pray for the families of those who lost their lives and pray for all those who lost their homes and businesses.
  • Pray for all those affected by mass shootings in this country. May we find an end to these senseless tragedies.
In the cycle of prayer for our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals: Columbian, LaFayette; First, Liverpool; First, Marcellus; First, Mexico; Morrisville Community Church
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week
Isaiah's Table had a great time passing out Matthew 25 Farm vegetables
recently to neighbors on the Near Westside.
See more photos on Isaiah's Table'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 

By the Rev. Karen Chamis
Hello Cayuga-Syracuse!   
I heard someone use the "you know what happens when you assume..." line the other day and cringed (and y'all know it wasn't for the vulgarity!) The thing is, in order to get up each morning we need to have a certain number of assumptions lined up. Imagine what would happen if you didn't assume your car would still be in its parking space each and every day? 
Our lives are based on a series of assumptions.
Where we run into trouble is when we set assumptions that have not been validated ... especially in assuming causal relationships. All of the below  may be true but that can only be determined if they are tested:
  1. A pastor with a young family will bring in young families.
  2. Unless we have a drum set in worship, we aren't relevant to younger generations OR everyone loves old hymns.
  3. The denomination started losing members because it became too social justice oriented OR because it didn't address social justice issues soon enough.
  4. Growing deeper spiritually as a congregation is the best way to grow numerically.
  5. We aren't attracting new people because a) our pastor's preaching/personality/spouse; b) we no longer have __________.
Again, any of the above may be true ... but the only way to determine that is to test the validity of the statement. The problem is, what may be true for one congregation isn't necessarily true for another. Context is highly individualized.
So how do you go about testing the validity of your assumptions? External sets of eyes and ears can help when looking at the assumptions within a congregation - including the use of benchmark survey tools (Holy Cow! Consulting offers an excellent tool that also requires good interpretation).
Testing the assumptions about the needs of the community outside the walls can occur with demographic information, but the most important thing you can do to test your assumptions about your community is to spend real time in it. Walk around the neighborhood of your church. Talk with folks you meet about their needs and hopes (and don't immediately start suggesting they need the answer to their problems is to staff your committees!)
Of course, it's not just churches that need to challenge assumptions. Part of the work that I continue to do is to learn the song of this Presbytery, and that involves conversations with many different folks in different places. I'm still new enough that I'm not sharing the established collective assumptions y'all have been using ... although I know this state of 'assumptive innocence' won't last long!
Some assumptions are essential, and without them we couldn't function. Others need a good poke from time to time! As we enter into this new season together, let us challenge our own assumptions, knowing, well ... you know what happens when you assume!
Blessings -
Resource Presbyter's Mobile Office Day 
Our Resource Presbyter, the Rev. Karen Chamis, will be working remotely at the following locations: 
Date: Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Time: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.  
Place: Westminster Church in Auburn, 17 William St., in Auburn
Date: Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Time: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  
Place: Broadway Cafe and Arctic Island, 210 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse 
Date: Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  
Place: First Presbyterian Church of Chittenango, 118 Arch St., Chittenango 
Date: Thursday, October 3, 2019
Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  
Place: Park Central Presbyterian Church, 504 E. Fayette 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 
From the Leadership Team
You're invited to attend the installation of the Rev. Karen Chamis as Resource Presbyter for the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse. The service of installation will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5 at First Presbyterian Church of Cazenovia. The service of installation will be followed by a reception. All are invited, welcome and encouraged to attend.
Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications:
The Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications are now being accepted through Nov 1, 2019.   

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

From the Associate Stated Clerk
Planning Calendars

The 2019-20 planning calendars have arrived! Most of the churches will have theirs delivered in the next two days. If you are unsure about the plan for your church, contact Linda Russell at 315-632-5698, option 3.  

Session Records Review
Session records reviews will be conducted in October.

Clerks of Session are asked to RSVP to Linda Russell, associate stated clerk, by emailing m and make an appointment by October 21 for one of the following dates and times:
  •  Tuesday, October 22 at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. @ Liverpool
  • Thursday, October 24 at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. @ Auburn-First
  • Tuesday, October 29 at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. @ Fayetteville
Please write "Records Review" in the email subject line and include the name of the church and the name of the clerk of session in the email.
Note: Sessions are expected to be open for 2 hours; however, the evening session may be extended to accommodate clerks who work until 5:00 p.m. If that applies to you, please register for the 5:00 p.m. session and indicate "late arrival" with an approximate time for your arrival.
Around the Presbytery
The First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles is looking for a lectern to be donated to the church. The church will pick up the lectern, which needs to be large enough to hold a Bible, etc. The church is also seeking the donation of a Bible stand for the lectern. If you can donate, please contact the church by calling (315) 685-5048.
What: Pancake Breakfast 
When: Saturday, Sept. 7 
Where: King Ferry Presbyterian Church, 8813 State Route 90, King Ferry 
Cost: Adults are $5
          Children 6 to 12 years old are $3
                                                  Children 5 years old and under are free 
The pancake breakfast features local products of New Hope Mills pancakes, Owasco breakfast sausage, Edwards eggs, local maple syrup, as well as orange juice, coffee and tea.  
What: Baked Chicken Dinner  
When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 
Where: Amboy Belle Isle United Church, 6190 Airport Road, Syracuse 
Cost: Adults are $10
          Children 5 to 12 are $5
          Children under 5 are Free 
Take-outs available
What: Pancake Breakfast 
When: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7 
Where: Federated Church of Port Byron at 35 Tex Pultz Parkway, Port Byron 
Cost: Adults are $6
          Children 5 to 12 are $3
          Children under 5 are Free  
The church will serve pancakes, eggs to order, sausage, bacon, fried potatoes, toast, baked goods and beverages.

Eat-in or take-out available. 

What: Blood Drive   
When: Wednesday, Sept. 11 
Where: Onondaga Hill Presbyterian Church, 4797 Makyes Road, Syracuse
What: Blood Drive   
When: 1:30 to 6:30 p.m.  
            Thursday, Sept. 12
Where: King Ferry Presbyterian Church, 8813 State Route 90, King Ferry
Appointment: Call Neil at (607-273-6697 
  • 1 donation can save up to 3 lives
  • Every 2 seconds someone in the US needs blood
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
For more information or to make an appointment, visit the Red Cross website.   
What: Collamer United Church's annual rummage sale 
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20
            9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, Sept, 21
Where: Vollmer's Greenhouse across from the cemetery on Route 298 in Collamer (2 miles east of Carrier Circle; or ½ mile west of Exit 7 off from Route 481.
This "gigantic and awesome" sale will offer a wide variety of great bargains from nearly new to nearly antique. There will also be a food counter and a bake sale so shoppers can snack while searching for treasures.
What: Spaghetti dinner to benefit Blessings in a Backpack program 
When: Dinner starts at 12 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6 
Where: Robinson Elmwood United Church, 126 S. Terry Road, Syracuse 
Robinson Elmwood United Church has supported the Blessings in a Backpack program, which helps feed hungry elementary school students nationwide during the school year. Proceeds will benefit our program at Delaware Elementary School in Syracuse, where the church helps feed more than 500 children, 10 months out of the year.   
Important Announcement from the Resource Presbyter 
Dear Ones in Christ,

The following information is URGENT and needs to be shared with your congregation's leadership immediately.  

The Issue - Anti-Sexual Misconduct Policies and Training

  • NYS has put into place mandatory anti-sexual harassment legislation that includes training requirements for all employers - including churches.
  • "Employee" includes all workers, regardless of immigration status.  Employee also includes exempt or non-exempt employees, part-time workers, seasonal workers and temporary workers.  
  • ALL employees must complete the model training (or comparable training) that meets the minimum standard by October 9, 2019.
  • This training must be completed annually.
  • In addition, every employer in the New York State is required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy.  A model of what this looks like is here.
  1. The NYS website has the standards of compliance
  2. NYC has developed a training video that can be used. Please note that the resources and information for NYC are not the same as those for NYS, however this video is in compliance with both.
Next Steps

  1. Ensure all employees have taken the training and have received a certificate of completion. This needs to be kept on file.
  2. If your Session has not adopted a Sexual Harassment Prevention policy, it must do so. A record of this decision should be in your Session Minutes.
  3. Please note that you need to not only have this policy in place, but your congregation needs to abide by it.

All - I'm grateful for your work on this. Let me know if there is anything I can do to assist with complying to this mandate.


From the Synod of the Northeast

Click here to register or for more information.
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Labor Day Story: Workers' Dignity and Prophetic Voices
A passionate commitment to help workers get their rightful back pay

By Lee Catoe
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - As some of us take our rest on this day we call Labor Day, may we ponder the meaning of what it means to labor.

Labor creates productivity that then (with skills and tools) creates the means to capitalize on that productivity. Labor is physical, mental, emotional and yes, spiritual, because our work and how our work is valued play into the ways in which we see ourselves and experience the world. Labor is often hierarchical when business suits, uniforms and "big deals" are placed above the harvesters, the builders, the store workers, the servers and all the people and professions that create the foundation of the labor force. Labor is plagued with racism as much of this country was built without reparations on the backs of enslaved peoples, an oppressive history carried forward in the racialized inequality of U.S. capitalism. These oppressions even penetrate the places that teach us to fight against oppressions.

Vanderbilt Divinity School recently went through a much-needed remodel of its facilities. This remodel required contracting out work that came to include an act of injustice. This injustice was resisted and reversed, not without strained relationships and much sacrifice of time, yet to the ultimate benefit of Vanderbilt, its Divinity School and the larger community of Nashville.

Light of Hope Presbyterian answers Matthew 25 call

Church feels called to  
life of service

By Kathy Melvin
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - The Rev. Edwin Gonzalez Gertz says Light of Hope Presbyterian Church in Marietta, Georgia, didn't hesitate to become a Matthew 25 church. It provided them the language to articulate who they are.

When he began an 8-week series of sermons on Matthew 25, church members were energized and began to see their mission purpose in new ways. They didn't hesitate to share it with their pastor. At a recent service, for the invitation and moment of confession, they used this:

"All: God of the people, you have called us to walk humbly before You and to share in the struggle with the least of these, yet we have failed to live up to this call.

"Today, we come to You asking Your Spirit to empower us to be agents of transformation for the world. Make us a vessel from which all the oppressed can find food and the living waters of God, who calls us to live a life of service with a tender and compassionate heart. In Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen!"

One Church member wrote Gonzalez Gertz later to share his reflection. " 'God, who calls us to live a life of service.' That just hit me so strongly. I went back and read the whole thing again and again. And saw all of it. That's why I love our pastor. I'm ready to be part of a Matthew 25 church."

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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