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

Dec. 6, 2018
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
Connections with the elderly made 'One to One'
By Brianna Delaney, Colgate University intern
InterFaith Works of Central New York 

Nearly 50 percent of older adults living in nursing homes experience depression. Thanks to support from the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse Mission Initiatives Fund, volunteers in InterFaith Works' One to One Program bring joy and rekindle a sense of connection among the elderly in Onondaga County's nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Working with local elder care facilities, InterFaith Works' Senior Services office created One to One to serve about 2,800 long-term care residents at risk of isolation in the Syracuse area. The program matches nursing home residents who have no regular visitors with volunteers for personalized weekly visits.
According to staff at The Nottingham, a senior living community in Jamesville and a One to One partner facility, the program has been a valuable resource for residents.
"As we grow older, we lose our support systems and many of the family and friends that are integral to our lives," said Kara Gemmell, director of Lifestyles at The Nottingham. "The elderly are at risk of becoming socially isolated, and that isolation often leads to depression and anxiety. We can really see a difference when people are connected, even if it is for just an hour or two each week."
Cynthia Stevenson can attest to the program's benefits. She has served as a One to One volunteer for more than a year. Every Friday afternoon, she visits with Patricia Masten in her apartment at The Nottingham. Masten is in her late 90s and her family no longer lives in the area, so Stevenson is one of her only regular visitors. The pair usually spend their time together reading books and chatting.
"I truly look forward to my visits with her every week," Stevenson said. "She's very bright, so we have long conversations about the news, her past as a community leader and our travel experiences. We've become good friends. She's really enriched my life and brought me joy."
The feeling is mutual for Masten. Stevenson said that each time she calls to ask Masten if she'd like a visit that week, her response is always the same: "Oh, I would love that!"
Masten said when The Nottingham staff asked if she'd like to participate in the program, she was excited. "It sounded like a good idea," she recalled. "I look forward to Cynthia's visits each week."
As the program expands, One to One is seeking additional volunteers interested in dedicating at least one hour each week to visiting a nursing home or long-term care resident. All participants attend a two-hour training session.
"It's not the kind of commitment that demands a lot of a person," Stevenson said. "You just need an open heart."
For more information about the One to One Program or to volunteer, email InterFaith Works Senior Services Coordinator Toma Tracy at or call her at 315-449-3552, ext. 203.

Skaneateles Presbyterian Church honors veterans at men's brunch 

The Skaneateles Presbyterian Church had a wonderful men's brunch to honor and support all of our men and women veterans and their families who served our country.
With the assistance of Teresa Motz, the church invited Lynn Fox, community outreach director for Clear Path for Veterans, to take part. She gave members of the brunch an overview of their organization and mission, as well as their many support services and activities. They provide various services to more than 500 veterans at their retreat center, which is located on 78 acres in Chittenango.
Cindy Meili, veterans service outreach coordinator for the town of Skaneateles, also joined the group to discuss her role in helping and assisting local veterans.
On Thanksgiving Day, several members of the church went to volunteer and serve veterans at Clear Path to share and listen to stories of the men and women who served our country.
Looking back at a fun-filled Fall activity in Oswego
Faith United Church in Oswego held their first ever Trunk and Treat on the last Sunday in October in the church parking lot. Twelve members decorated their trunks and hatchbacks and gave out candy to 95 costumed children from the community. Despite the drizzling rain, a great time was had by all.


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...
  • Pray for Jack Santee who had major scoliosis surgery putting a rod from his neck down his back. Jack is the 20-year-old grandson of Amboy Belle Isle United Church Pastor Gail Banks. Recovery will be slow but Jack's family is grateful for the wonderful surgical staff. 
  • Pray for family and friends of Elder Ruth Anderson who passed away on Dec. 1. Ruth's memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church, Skaneateles at 10 a.m. on Dec. 8. She was the wife of the Honorably Retired Rev. Peter Anderson who also has passed away.
In the cycle of prayer for our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities, and individuals:
Northminster, North Syracuse; Onondaga Hill; Faith United Church of Oswego; Presbyterian Church of Otisco; New Hope, Parish
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week
Sunday marked the beginning of Advent. The Hannibal Community Church celebrated with its annual "Hanging of the Greens" See more pictures on the church'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 Leadership Team
At its regular meeting on Nov. 29, 2018 the Leadership Team approved a position description for a full-time "Resource Presbyter" to serve as a colleague in ministry, facilitate community building, and support the ongoing initiatives of the Presbytery as we continue working with our sister presbyteries in Central New York to discern new possibilities for our missional structure(s). 
In May 2018, at its annual meeting held at Vanderkamp Center, Presbytery authorized the Leadership Team to develop a position description for a presbytery leader "using new and previous input from Presbytery members to include such things as serving as the "face" of the Presbytery; building relationships with and among congregations and neighboring presbyteries; being a pastor to pastors; and, working with the Leadership Team, help articulate, model and implement presbytery's vision and ministry."
During the summer, guided by the Rev. Tom Oak, the Visioning for the Future Work Group prepared a first draft. Based on feedback from members of the Leadership Team, and taking into consideration information received this fall from our Synod colleagues who are helping to facilitate a new level of conversation with our CNY sister presbyteries (Northern New York, Utica, and Susquehanna Valley), the position description was adjusted accordingly. Various position titles were considered before the Team chose "Resource Presbyter." The position is full-time with benefits for a term of service of two years with the possibility for renewal. It should be noted that this position will require the use of additional endowment funds of approximately $30,000 to $40,000 per year as discussed at the August Presbytery meeting.
The Leadership Team has set aside Dec. 6 through Dec. 20, 2018 as an "open comment" period for members of Cayuga-Syracuse before officially posting the position on other sites. Based on responses received, a determination will be made as to whether advertising and the search process can begin the first of January or if we need to wait for further discussion at the February presbytery meeting. The position description can be found here. Comments should be directed to the Rev. Tom Oak at We welcome your comments and look forward to hearing from you.
Peace and grace,
Linda Russell, Leadership Team chairperson
Click here to read job description for Resource Presbyter or visit the Presbytery's website.  
Call to Service
Presbytery Treasurer, ruling elder Gordie Howard, has informed the Leadership Team that he plans to retire May 31, 2019 (one year early.) Please forward names of potential nominees for the Office of Treasurer to Donna Hunt, chair of the Nominating Committee, at Self-referrals are also welcome. Nominees must be either a ruling elder or a minister of Word and Sacrament.
Other opportunities for service include openings on the Leadership Team, at-large members for the Nominating Committee, one at-large member of the Committee on Representation, and a representative for the Synod Mission and Ministries Commission.(In 2019 the Synod M&M Commission meets January 25-26, May 3-4, and September 27-28.) Names and self-referrals for these positions should also be sent to Donna Hunt.
Benevolent Care Grants
The Benevolent Care Grant Fund policy states: "The purpose of this fund shall be to provide benevolent grants to institutions that assist in the care of elderly persons within the bounds of Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery."  
At its meeting in November the Leadership Team approved the following Benevolent Care grants:  
  • Amboy Belle Isle received $400 for food gift cards
  • Health Tapestry received $1,500 for health and wellness needs
  • InterFaith Works received $2,000 for MUSIC & MEMORY program for elder orphans in nursing homes
  •  Presbyterian Manor (Skaneateles) received $2,000 toward safer driveway turnaround and improved heating
  • Weedsport Presbyterian Church received $100 for senior lunch program
  • Westminster Manor (Auburn) received $2,000 for new, safer dining room chairs.
Office of Public Witness Director to Visit CNY
The Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins, director of the Presbyterian Office of Public Witness (OPW) in Washington D.C., will be in Central New York in June 2019. Cayuga-Syracuse is making plans to host him on Monday, June 10. The OPW is the public policy information and advocacy office of the General Assembly of PC(USA). Its task is to advocate, and help the church to advocate, for the social witness perspectives and policies of our denomination which has maintained a public policy ministry in the nation's capital since 1946. Tentative plans are to hold one gathering in the Syracuse area in the afternoon, and another in the evening in Aurora. To help plan this visit contact Linda Van Buskirk at  
Around the Presbytery
What: Soup and Dessert Café
When: 5 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 
Where: Meeting house of First Presbyterian Church of Cazenovia, 27 Albany Street, Cazenovia NY 13035 (Entrance to the Meeting House is on Sullivan Street.)
Gourmet soups include a loaded potato soup, a seafood frogmore stew, cheddar broccoli, shrimp bisque and buffalo chicken wing. In addition we will have "holy cow chili" made by the church's pastor, the Rev. Tom Oak.
Come early; the soup goes quickly, and the desserts are wonderful. Eat in or take out.  For more information, call (315) 655-3191
What: 2018 Christmas Cookie Café
When: 9:30 a.m. to noon Dec. 8 
Where: Columbian Presbyterian Church, Session Building at the corner of routes 11 and 20 in LaFayette 
Cost: $10 per pound  

Enjoy a cup of hot cider and make a customized cookie tray from an astounding array of homemade varieties. Bring your own container or buy one. 
New York Bible Conference Fundraising Concert
Presented by  
Eastman Korean  
Christian Community
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 8
Where: Korean Church of Syracuse
1800 E. Genesee St. in Syracuse 
Cost: General Admission $15 Students $10 
More information: Call Korean Church of Syracuse (315) 474-8346
This classical concert is a fundraising event for the New York Bible Conference,
which will take place from Jan. 10-12, 2019 at the White Eagle Conference Center in Hamilton.
New York Bible Conference, going beyond all denomination, focuses on its mission for Christian students and adults to reestablish their faith in the Word of God through Jesus Christ. It is targeted for those in Upstate NY in areas such as Buffalo, Rochester, Binghamton, Ithaca, Syracuse and Albany.
What: Annual Cookie Walk 
When: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 8 
Where: Amboy Belle Isle United Church
             6190 Airport Road, Syracuse  
Cost: $10 per pound
  Annual SU Brass & UCF Bells Holiday Concert
Additional performers for 2018-The Syracuse Chorale
What: Come enjoy the sounds of Christmas 
When: 3 p.m. Dec. 9
Where: In the Sanctuary at the United Church of Fayetteville, which is located at 310 E. Genesee St., in Fayetteville   
Cost: A free-will offering will be collected to support education and clean water in Paulette, Haiti. Attendees are also encouraged to bring non-perishables for the F-M Food Pantry
Questions: (315) 637-3186 
Syracuse University Brass Ensemble, Syracuse Chorale and the United Church of Fayetteville Hand Bell Choir will perform. Reception to follow the concert.

What: "Holiday Voices in Concert," an acapella and choral performance for all ages
Cost: Tickets are available at the door for $8 to $12 (sliding scale)


What: "Nepion," the children's choir of the Korean Church of Syracuse will perform at a service of "Lessons and Carols" hosted by Colgate University Chapel
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 14
Where: Colgate Memorial Chapel
             13 Oak Dr. in Hamilton

The annual candlelight service tells the Christmas story through nine biblical passages and favorite carols. "Nepion" will sing hymns for this event.


What: Annual Cookie Walk
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 15
Where: First United Church of East Syracuse
             823 Franklin Park Dr. in East Syracuse
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Christmas Joy Offering gifts help student apply heart and mind to vexing problems
Recent graduate of Presbyterian Pan Am School wants to tackle issues that confront the developing world

By Pat Cole
Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE - Growing up in Rwanda, Joshua Karangwa often saw rural women and children carrying heavy cans of water on their heads for miles, just so their families could survive.

His memory of people engaged in this back-breaking endeavor pierces his heart and challenges his mind. Karangwa, a 2018 graduate of Presbyterian Pan American School (Pan Am) in Kingsville, Texas, wants to tackle water accessibility and other issues that confront the developing world. He is now a first-year engineering student at Presbyterian-related Schreiner University.

Karangwa dreams of the day when women and children will no longer have to tote large water cans, whose average weight exceeds 40 pounds when filled. The task is exhausting and can lead to strained backs, shoulders and necks.

Continue Reading...

A different kind of Christmas list
Advent stillness reveals the true gifts to be given

By Donna Frischknecht Jackson
Presbyterians Today

The turkey sandwiches were made, and hot chocolate filled our thermoses. We piled into the car and drove off for a family tradition: our day-after-Thanksgiving trek into the woods.

We were making good time until we found ourselves stuck in mall traffic. Brake lights flashing in the stop-and-go traffic were not my idea of a holiday light show, but a holiday light show it was, as shoppers made their way to pay homage to the retail gods on the unofficial pagan festival day known as Black Friday.

While I had no desire to be part of that crowd going to the mall, my 10-year-old self grew anxious, wondering: If those parents were at the mall and my parents were heading to the woods, when would my presents be bought?

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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