Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
July 2, 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
I n our prayers together this week...   
  • Please pray for James Russell, a member of Westminster Syracuse. His esophagus cancer has returned.
  • Please pray for Annette Bell, and her husband the Rev. Larry Bell, as Annette faces yet another cancer diagnosis. Annette is an elder and beloved member of Westminster-Auburn; Larry served the church in Genoa and was active in our presbytery for many years.
  • 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.

In the cycle of prayer our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals: Port Byron Federated; First, Scipioville; Sennett Federated Church; First, Skaneateles.
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week
A screenshot from the children's sermon for Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church.  
The Rev. Elizabeth Lyman, transitional pastor, and Stormy pray with the church's children. Watch YouTube video HERE.  
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 
Dear friends,
Seemingly centuries ago I took classes at Buffalo State in the area of Creative Problem Solving. I loved the coursework so much that I ended up picking up a minor in it (isn't it cool that a state-run institution offers these sorts of classes? They still do... and they have a weeklong conference in Buffalo:
One of the most important things I learned in that program was how critical it was to determine what the problem is before trying to solve it. It may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how often we expend creative energy solving the wrong thing.
Currently, many of our churches are engaged in trying to solve the problem of how to bring folks back into the sanctuary for worship. I know there's incredible creativity taking place amongst the various Session meetings who have taken up the challenge of masks, distancing, music and disinfecting. We're also trying to manage expectations so that folks know that it won't be the same when they return. We're solving problems. Heck, we're solving those problems with creativity.
But are we solving the right problems?
Here are a few questions to ask leadership:
  • Why do we want to return to worship together?
  • What have we learned about the church during this season of physical distancing?
  • What have we discerned that needs to be strengthened as we move forward?
  • What might we let go of as we move into this new season?
My hunch is that the answers to these questions aren't as obvious as we'd like them to be.
Of course, there are parallel questions that the Presbytery needs to ask as we move into this next season. What have we learned during this season? What needs to be strengthened? What might we let go of?
Friends, let us not waste this crisis (these crises!). Let's do the difficult work of digging deeper so that we might better love our neighbors and our God. Let's do the wonderfully joyous and complex work of being the church.
Blessings --
Special Meeting 
In accordance with Article V of the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse Bylaws, at the request of two elders and two ministers, the Moderator of the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse has called a special meeting for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, 2020 for the purpose of discussing issues related to Vanderkamp. This will be the only business discussed at this meeting and no other business will be considered.

This meeting will be held on the Zoom online platform. Please choose commissioners to attend this meeting as soon as you are able.
Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
If you need to phone in, please contact Karen at (908) 217-7725 prior to 3 p.m. on July 14th (if possible!) so that she can make certain you are properly identified in the room.  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.
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  
Pastoral leadership is invited to a Thursday morning Virtual Coffee for connection, support and fellowship.  
The Zoom meeting will start at 10 a.m.   
 (Not meeting July 2nd) 

Join Zoom Meeting: 
Password: 798822
"Allegiance to Empire" is a series of seven films featuring Walter Bruggemann, Miguel De La Torre, Reggie Williams, etc. providing ways in which the Christian community can serve the world and at the same time be faithful to God's vision of  the  Peaceable Kingdom.
We will meet Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. for seven weeks.  Each night begin with worship, followed by the viewing of a short film and discussion.  Come and go as you like!
Beginning Monday, June 29th at 7:30 p.m. 
  If you are unable to participate in worship, or know someone who  
would appreciate a liturgy that can be used at home, please contact Karen at 
From the Stated Clerk
Stated Clerk Open Office Hours

Greetings friends! In order to keep some consistent communication and to offer you the best service possible, I am posting the following as the "official" office hours for the Stated Clerk:

 Mondays: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
 Wednesdays: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
 Fridays: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

When you send communication to, please be mindful that emails and calls will generally be answered during these times.  If you have an urgent matter, please text or call (814) 249-3331 and I will respond ASAP.  

Also, in order to foster more personal connections and fellowship, please feel free to request a Zoom meeting during the office hours to discuss any issues of process, polity, etc. with your friendly neighborhood Stated Clerk.

I hope you are well and send you peace!

Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye 
Stated Clerk
From the Bookkeeper
Churches should mail their checks to
Paula Lamberson, bookkeeper of Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery, at the following address:

Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Drive, 2nd floor
East Syracuse, NY 13057

Please DON'T write "c/o Synod of the Northeast" on the envelope due to it causing confusion at the post office. Thank you!
Dates to Remember
July 14              Special Presbytery Meeting
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.)
Going back to school during crisis
Youth and collegiate ministry leaders turn to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance volunteers for advice on resilience and self-care

By Tammy Warren
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - It's almost time to go back to school, to campus, to a new normal. What can leaders of youth and collegiate ministries do to prepare for success in the midst of COVID-19?

The Rev. Virginia "Gini" Norris-Lake, executive director of UKirk Collegiate Ministries, and the Rev. Brian Kuhn, executive director of Presbyterian Youth Workers' Association (PYWA), reached out to national responders with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to offer practical guidance for collegiate and youth ministry leaders.

Three National Response Team (NRT) members - the Rev. Pat Ashley, the Rev. Suzanne Malloy and the Rev. John Cheek, who have all served with PDA for about a decade  - recently led a Zoom conversation on the topic of resilience and self-care.
Kathy Riley, a member of the PDA national staff and team lead for Emotional and Spiritual Care, noted that PDA moved quickly to transform its resilience programs into a variety of virtual offerings to serve faith leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have been offering resilience webinars and faith leader support meetings to synods, presbyteries and other groups since the beginning of April," Riley said. "We're very happy to be able to offer this resource to UKirk and PYWA."


PC(USA) Office of Public Witness decries treatment of protesters
Statement issued against criminalization of protests and militarization of police

By Darla Carter
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - The PC(USA)'s Office of Public Witness has issued a statement decrying the use of heavy-handed tactics to control protesters and criticizing the passage of laws limiting the right to protest.

The statement by OPW's director, the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, and Langley Hoyt, a fellow for domestic issues, speaks against the use of police violence to silence protesters.

"In the weeks following the death of George Floyd, as protestors continue to fill the streets with largely peaceful demonstrations, police continue to retaliate with shows of force and militarization," the statement says. "The violence police use against Black Lives Matter protestors stems from a long history of police attacking marginalized groups advocating for their rights."

The statement likens 2020 strong-arming of protesters to examples dating back to 1917 when suffragettes were targeted and continuing through the Civil Rights Movement when hoses and dogs were set on protesters in the 1960s.

"This is the modern-day iteration of a historical pattern of police violence against peaceful protest," the statement says. "To protect the civil rights of the American people, the police must be reoriented to adopt more appropriate measures in response to demonstrations which pose no threat of violence."

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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