Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
December 3, 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
Face Masks For Meals

Barb Winegard, a Deacon at Baldwinsville's First Presbyterian Church, began making face masks earlier this year. The variety of prints as well as the quality of her sewing have made them a very popular item.

After outfitting her family and most of the members of the congregation, she decided to sell them for $5 and donate every penny to the local food pantry. She is now approaching the 2,000-completed-mask mark! 

So far, Barb has donated $5,200 to the Baldwinsville Food Pantry and $1,250 to BeeFull. BeeFull is Baldwinsville High School's pantry, which provides weekend food for students who receive food assistance through the weekday lunch program.

We salute Barb for her limitless energy and generosity. Those individual five dollars have made an enormous impact on the local community.

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 all those who are battling COVID-19 as the virus worsens in CNY and around the country.
  • Keep all those who battling cancer in your prayers. Please ask God to be by their side and to be with their doctors and families.
  • Please pray for James Russell, a member of Westminster Syracuse. He is battling esophagus cancer.
  • 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: Taunton, Syracuse; Westminster, Syracuse; First, Weedsport; Whitelaw

Advent Week 2: Let Us Light Candles
Advent Week 2: Let Us Light Candles

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

Photo of the Week
Just a reminder that the Christmas season may look different this year, but the reason for the season hasn't changed! This photo was captured when the First Presbyterian Church of Cazenovia recently filmed its Christmas pageant. (Photo by to Kelly Hyatt)

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
This year will be different.
I'm determined to not lose the game. I've been on high alert since Thanksgiving evening and have carefully curated my choice of streaming music. Some years I've lost early in December which, although disappointing, brought a certain amount of freedom. Other years I've been frustratingly close.
The game likely began simply enough - I imagine a few friends were comparing notes regarding their least favorite Christmas songs and decided they'd create a game to avoid listening to one of them. Over the years it morphed and developed various rules. Parodies were considered exempt due to the "blurred lines rule," and ambushing others went from being part of the game to being discouraged to eventually being ruled out of order. There are regional differences to the rules as well as the times allotted for the game.
Isn't this how traditions begin? A simple thing, which is fun and often a bit ridiculous becomes central to our experience. Years from now, my descendants may wonder why "The Little Drummer Boy" isn't in the family song book, and someone will remember the game. Undoubtedly you have your own traditions - the way certain decorations are hung and what food lands on your family table during this season. These small things are the ways in which we create our own microcultures; a place filled with symbols that help us to remember who we are. Rituals including grandmother's turkey platter and dad's light display; church pageants and even avoiding hearing the Little Drummer Boy until it's actually Christmas help us to mark the holiday and make it our own.
Usually, the biggest challenge to our holiday traditions comes with the transitions that are also part of our lives: newlyweds may argue over ham or goose for Christmas dinner and with the death of the patriarch there is some confusion at the table trying to figure out who will carve the beast. We manage these challenges with tears and debate, just as surely as we welcome the other changes that come with marriages and births and new friends welcomed to the table.
This year will be different.
In these pandemic times we're adapting our traditions as best as we are able to accommodate smaller tables and fewer options. We're already grieving not gathering in candlelight to hear the story and to sing words that have become sacred. We wonder if it will feel like Christmas.
Years ago, a young pastor was faced with a similar challenge. The organ had been damaged and would not be available for Christmas Eve, so he asked someone to write a piece for two voices and guitar. This decision wasn't just non-traditional. At that time, guitar had not been approved for worship, so being the crafty church leaders that they were, they elected to offer this new hymn at the very end of the service. This beloved hymn was created because two people of faith realized that they could not celebrate Christmas in a way that had been the tradition of their community.... and they found a way to still bring meaning and joy to that night. The result, Silent Night, has been a gift to all of us for over 200 years.
Like Gruber and Mohr who wrote Silent Night, we will adapt to this difficult new reality out of necessity. We figure out how to tell the Christmas story on Zoom or Facebook, and we will sing beloved carols in our pajamas. We will do this because even though the world has changed, our Savior has not.
Nothing can stop us from singing at the manger (although ... not the Little Drummer Boy until Christmas Day ... that's the rule).
Blessings -
Resource Presbyter's Announcements
Webinar from Practical Resources for Churches:   
What: Should you do a "Second Annual" Pledge Drive?
When: 1 to 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 10, 2020
Leader: Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Why do we do an annual campaign just once a year? Don't a number of people forget to turn in a pledge card in the fall? Or some might not realize the first time that giving is a spiritual discipline - they need to hear it again.
Join us as we consider having a second "soft" campaign in February. Learn best practices for running this type of campaign, asking for new stewardship pledges from people who didn't pledge in the fall, and communicating more about your ministry.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced "CC Delv Sherman," yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at or on Facebook or at
Register: Click Here

Not-Your-Average Boundaries Training
Welcome to LeaderWise's boundaries training, where we believe that boundaries training doesn't have to be boring!
It's our experience at LeaderWise that pastors, church staff, and other leaders who transgress boundaries by-and-large are not predators. In fact, not even close. Most people in ministry who violate boundaries are individuals who know and follow the rules most of the time but whose judgment may be impaired due to an unusually stressful time in their lives.
 With that in mind, Not-Your-Average Boundaries Training is tailored to focus on strategies to foster mental health, emotional resiliency, and well-being. While we still cover the essentials-"Don't sleep with a parishioner unless you're married to them" and "Don't borrow money from the church board president"- we believe the best prevention is to encourage clergy to take steps to manage their stress in order to maintain balance and perspective when temptation arises. We further teach a 3-step strategy to help stop them in their tracks before they commit a boundary violation.
LeaderWise's online boundaries training workshop is lively and highly interactive, full of reflection and conversation-and even laughter. Attendees have given us the feedback that our boundaries training was a great experience, AND caused them to re-evaluate some of their own practices.
Online Boundaries Training Design
This training has three components (total time commitment approximately 5 hours):
  •  The online course, which is 2.5 hours
  • Post-course reading: you will be sent two readings on which to reflect, and
  • Post-course responsive writing to the two readings
Your boundaries training will take place online and will be conducted via secure Zoom video conferencing.
Cayuga Syracuse and Northern NY Presbyteries Live Online Boundaries Training Options:
January 19th 6-8:30 p.m. OR January 28th 2-4:30 p.m.
To register please use one of the following links:
Please contact your Resource Presbyter:  
Rev. Karen Chamis -  
Rev David Bennett -

Our website is down.
We are working on fixing the issue.
Stay tuned for updates.  

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. on 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: 810 4159 6870
Passcode: 435913
Around the Presbytery
Eastman Fundraising Concert 
Date: December 5th, 2020

Time:7:30 p.m.
Link (You can choose language)
Korean version:
English version:


Liverpool First Presbyterian Church is hosting a panel discussion on racism at 7 p.m. on December 7th.

The panelists:
  • Lillie Fields, a former LCSD administrator
  • Sonya Catalino who raising three daughters in a inter-racial marriage
  • The Rev. Marcus Jackson, co-chair of the CNY Poor People's Campaign
The panelists will speak of their history and experience of being Black in America and what they see as the challenge to white people of faith in addressing racism.  

You can register for this Zoom forum at the following link:
This will be an online event via Zoom
Join Zoom Meeting: 
Password: enough!
If you would like to volunteer to login to Zoom and read psalms in shifts of 15 to 30 minutes, please contact Pastor Ben at Any help is greatly appreciated!
Virtual Syracuse University Brass (and Bells) Holiday Concert featuring the United Church of Fayetteville!
When: 7 p.m., Saturday, December 19, 2020 
Where: Facebook Live 
United Church of Fayetteville, its Handbell Choir and the Haiti Educational Partnership (HEMP) of the Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery are pleased and honored to partner with the Syracuse University Brass Ensemble to present this virtual concert of favorite holiday pieces! UCF and the SU Brass Ensemble have teamed together for over 30 years to bring joyful music to the community. The concert raises money for the Haiti Partnership.
Join the Non-Presbyterian Women's Book Club hosted by Cayuga-Syracuse Presbyterian Women
The next series will begin Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. via zoom.
The book is "The Person You Mean to Be" by Dolly Chugh. It might be a good book to put on your Christmas Wish list!  
Though Presbyterian Women of C-S are hosting this Zoom gathering, you don't need to be a Presbyterian Woman to join.  
Interested? Contact Rita Hooper at to receive the Zoom information. 
Christmas 2020

  Click here for Advance Registration to receive a Zoom invite
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.)
Stated Clerk urges  
churches to stay the  
course on virtual worship
J. Herbert Nelson, II, says now
is not the time to return to
in-person gatherings

By Rick Jones
Office of the General Assembly

The Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, II speaks on June 27, 2020 during the 224th General Assembly (2020), which was held online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  
The debate between state governments and churches over in-person worship during a pandemic reached a new level last week when the U.S. Supreme Court sided with religious leaders in New York state. The high court ruled that New York's efforts to control the COVID-19 virus in churches and synagogues by limiting the number of people attending religious services was much harsher than the restrictions imposed on businesses and other locations that draw a number of people.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Brooklyn, along with several congregations of Orthodox Jews, had taken legal action to block Governor Andrew Cuomo's orders.
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), says that regardless of where other denominations stand on in-person worship, he's still urging PC(USA) churches to stay the course with online gatherings.

"People are dying. We should choose life and life more abundantly as our Scripture requires. We recognize that church is not a building. It is a place of worship," he said. "We are able to worship remotely, and we've found opportunities to have worship through other venues that do not require us to leave our homes."

Last spring when the virus began infiltrating the U.S., Nelson urged churches to move toward virtual worship to protect members and their communities. In addition, the entire 224th General Assembly (2020) of the PC(USA) was moved to an online format.

Continue reading...

New program gives faith leaders mental health skills
Pittsburgh seminary pilots 'Hope and Healing' program

By Darla Carter
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - A continuing education program at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary is teaching rural faith leaders how to better respond to mental health crises.

The first iteration of the program - "Hope and Healing: Mental Health First Aid Training" -wrapped up last month. It included about 20 participants who took part in a three-session course offered by the seminary's Continuing Education office, with assistance from the Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute.

The course included case studies as well as first-aid training, which taught participants how to quickly assess mental health issues and make appropriate referrals.

"What we wanted to do was to equip these pastors to be the equivalent of spiritual and mental health EMTs," or first responders, who could step into a situation and know what to do, said Dr. Helen Blier, project director.

"From our first to our third session, we were able to notice an observable change in the confidence and comfort level participants had in responding to issues of mental health," said Blier, the seminary's director of Continuing Education.

"Healing and Hope" was envisioned as an in-person course but had to be moved online because of the pandemic.

"We redesigned the whole curriculum from the ground up," Blier said.

Continue reading...

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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