Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
January 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, supportive. In other words, we hope that these things will matter. Your input is valued, and your comments are always welcomed.
Happy New Year
The staff of Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery wishes you a happy and healthy new year. 

Here's a look back at some of our "photos of the Week" from 2019. See complete gallery on our Facebook page. 

Mission Stories

Helping provide basic needs

Two of the many angels from First Presbyterian Church in Baldwinsville who recently delivered Samaritan Center's "MYPlace Boxes." The donations are  f or the Center's basic needs closet and wish list.

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 all those who are struggling as we enter 2020. 
  • Pray for all those who are sick, battling cancer and fighting silent diseases. 
  • Pray for Jim Russell as he continues his fight with esophagus cancer.
In the cycle of prayer for our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals: Minister members of the Presbytery who are engaged in specialized ministries, who are at-large members, or who are retired.

If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week

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!
I have several rules of engagement when reading online news articles. One is to not read the comments, as they will almost always lead to despair and frustration with humanity in general. The second rule is to never respond to those comments. Ever.
See, I know there is danger in looking at things you don't want to see. It can change how you perceive the world.
Christmas day I read a piece by CNN reminding those who believe in the Christian narrative that Jesus was a refugee. I looked at the comments. I responded. Here is what I learned:
1) Those rules for online engagement (see first paragraph) are smart.
2) Many people who comment on articles do not actually read the article.
3) People (myself included) are often more interested in proving how right they are than in learning from others.
I also learned that there are a number of folks across this nation who attend church regularly who have never heard the story of how Mary, Joseph and Jesus fled Herod's wrath and sought refuge in Egypt. (As an aside, the word used here in the Greek is pheuge ... which is the root word for the English refuge/refugee).
This story is important because it tells not only of the flight to Egypt, but it also bears witness to what occurred under Herod's rule. It speaks of the meaningless slaughter of innocents who were killed because they were Jewish boys of a certain age in a certain region (see Matthew 2.)
This story is important because it continues to occur in various iterations in our time - be it the attack on Jews celebrating the last day of Hanukkah at their Rabbi's home, the incarceration of people of color at disproportionate rates, the rising numbers of school shootings or the number of LGBTQ suicides. Indeed, Rachel continues to weep for her children.
All too often we end the story of God's incarnation with the shepherds wandering back to their sheep, or the wise ones showing up at the door bearing gifts and we look away from what happens next. We look away from the refugees, and from those persecuted and grieving as we put away the decorations for next year and make lists of goals for the next year. We prefer our Bible stories to be quaint and not filled with violence. We prefer our faith to not challenge us, and we prefer that our faith not be challenged.
What happens in Matthew 2 is a startling reminder that there have always been unjust rulers and violence. Grief and pain were not solved by the birth of Jesus. At the same time it is a reminder that God isn't distant from what is occurred. God Incarnate is in the midst of this madness as a child who fled persecution to another country with his parents. Here we recall that Jesus wasn't born into a world that looks like a Hallmark movie, perfect family dinners or calm and gentle nights. Jesus was born into a world of strife. He was born into our world.
If you've peered over the shoulders of shepherds this Christmas, if you've looked in the manger ... don't look away now. You can wisely choose not to look at the comments, but as people of faith, do not look away from the unfolding story of the incarnation. This is God in the middle of all of it. This is God with (all) of Us.
Resource Presbyter's Mobile Office Day 

Our Resource Presbyter, the Rev. Karen Chamis, will be working remotely at the following locations: 

Date: Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Time: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Place: Onondaga Hill Presbyterian Church, 4797 Makyes Road, Syracuse
Karen is looking for invitations to other places in the coming year!

Feel free to drop in for a conversation -- or just to say hello
Karen can be reached at 315-632-5698 (option 1) or
Around the Presbytery
What's happening in your church? Events coming up? Fundraisers? 
Special announcements? Celebrations? Milestones? 
Send them to 
Dates to Remember
February 15                 Presbytery Stated Meeting at First Presbyterian Church of Weedsport
February 24                 Leadership Team meeting  
March 23                      Leadership Team meeting
April 27                         Leadership Team meeting  
May 12                          Presbytery Stated Meeting 
July 23-24                    Thrive Seminar (for clergy aged 50+) by the Board of Pensions  
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
A year of change and opportunities
J. Herbert Nelson reflects on 2019

By Rick Jones
Office of the General Assembly 

As the year draws to a close, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has been doing some reflection on 2019. For the Office of the General Assembly, it meant the loss of some long-term personnel. But he says it's also been a year of encouragement across the larger church.

Nelson says he's been encouraged by efforts to bring congregations closer together through events or onsite visits. He credited the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann and Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly, for their efforts to reach out to congregations far and wide.

"I think it's significant that we had two Co-Moderators who basically took the opportunity to go global in their relationship to the rest of the world and the church," said Nelson. "I think Cindy and Vilmarie really opened some major doors and allowed us to be able to have conversations that we had not had with individuals in a long time, particularly in relationship to the ecumenical movement."

Nelson referred to the LGBTQ struggle that polarized a number of churches within the denomination over the years. He said he believes healing has begun.
"We're struggling internally now with what is going to be our posture going forward. And maybe there's something we can learn in this and maybe there's a partnership that can be rebuilt that helps us do some mutual learning and developing some expectations around that," he said.

"There have been individuals who have just publicly dressed down some of our congregations after leaving. There have been congregations that had some great standing in the life of their community at one time, and now they are struggling to try to figure out how to regain that, and in some instances, may never regain it," said Nelson. "But they're at least pushing to try and see what they can do now to be significant."


A community youth group that works
Teens thrive when 
churches join together

By Eugenia Johnson-Smith
Presbyterians Today

Like many pastors, the Rev. Mary Seeger Weese of  Midway Presbyterian Church in Midway, Kentucky, had a vision of starting a youth ministry. And, like many pastors, she realized she couldn't do it alone.

"The major thing I had to come to grips with was that a youth ministry wasn't meant for one church," she said. "It would be something to make followers of Jesus, not something to make more Presbyterians."

Midway member Bud Ratliff suggested that the pastor include all churches in the area in talks concerning the community's youth. Many of these churches, he said, have a longstanding relationship of working, worshiping and serving the community together. Many also face the same struggle as to how to best serve youth when they do not attend the same church as their friends, or perhaps any church at all.

In the summer of 2015, with a personal invitation from Midway member John Davis, clergy from varying denominations sat down together. By the time the meeting was over, seeds for a new cooperative youth group - Locally Grown - were planted.

According to the group's website, this name was chosen because "all of us are shaped by our local community - the family, friends, neighbors and mentors who surround us every day. ... As with anything that's growing, conditions are everything! ... We will strive to create the best possible environment for young people to grow in their faith - right here, right now. By fostering this development today, it is our hope that we are planting the seeds for an authentic faith that will continue to grow for a lifetime."

Five years later, the youth group, a ministry of Midway Presbyterian, Midway United Methodist, Midway Christian, Historic Second Christian, St. Matthew African Methodist Episcopal and Midway Baptist, has become deeply rooted in its community.

The goal of the diverse group is threefold: to boost the existing youth ministries, to assist churches that don't currently have a youth ministry and to reach out to youth who don't attend 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
Copyright © 2018. All Rights Reserved.