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.
Preaching the Gospel in season and out of season
With God's grace and protection, the Korean Church of Syracuse was able to host "the Drive-Thru Lodi Summer Camp" this summer -- an adapted version of the tradition summer camp.
The Lodi Mission is a ministry for refugee children, which the church has held every year since 2010. The ministry is held every year from the end of June to early July for five days on Lodi street on the North Side of Syracuse. Many volunteers who have trained through the ministry's orientation, workshop, Bible study and prayer meetings have served as teachers, assistant teachers, staff, shuttle drivers and cooks.
Every year the camp has about 150 children who attend and almost 100 children accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by the last day of camp. These children share gospel with their families and friends and lead them to the church.
COVID-19 changed the church's plans for this summer.
"We never expected that we could continue the ministry this year, however God has given us great wisdom to find new and exciting ways to continue this ministry," the Rev. Dr. Yong Ju Jee said. "The new idea was to have a Drive-Thru Lodi Summer Camp."
The Drive-Thru Lodi Summer Camp was held from June 29 to July 3 this year with the theme, "A Light to the Gentiles" (Acts 13:47).
"We prepared packages with facial masks (for adults and kids), flour, pasta, cooking oil, sugar, dish soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and other essential goods for each family and goody bags for kids with handwritten cards from our junior staff members on behalf of our church family," Ju Jee said. "We then visited the families who we contacted in advance, put the package at their front door, called them, and prayed on the phone for them. We shared God's love and encouraged them with God's gospel."
This year's Lodi Summer Camp is a new mission strategy that broke the church's fixed ideologies and methods of the past, Ju Jee said.
"Through the Lodi mission this year everyone who participated experienced God's love, completed God's mission, so we could enjoy wonderful joy given by God," Ju Jee said.
The adapted summer camp helped the church connect with 47 families and more than 200 people, who came from 12 different countries, including Haiti, Tanzania, Congo, Nepal, Cuba, Somalia, Burma, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Central Africa Republic, and Pakistan.
"The Great Commandment is loving God, and loving our neighbors," Ju Jee said.
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: CaySyrNews@gmail.com.
Deadline is 12 p.m. on Wednesdays for the current week's edition of
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 the Rev. Ed Kang and his family. Ed, his wife Mae and daughter Michelle are all being treated for various cancers, and Mae and Michelle are recovering from recent surgeries.
Please pray for the Presbyterian Peace Network for Korea (PPNK), which just concluded a two-day Zoom conference with participants from across the US and Korea, as they discern ways to educate and advocate for a peace treaty to replace the armistice signed in July 1953 that left Korea divided and the North and South in a state of war that has lasted 70 years.
Please pray for James Russell, a member of Westminster Syracuse. He is battling esophagus cancer.
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.
Lord, we know you hold the future and walk with us even now on this unpredictable path of the pandemic. We trust you work through the most difficult of seasons and never abandon us to navigate life's challenges alone.
As we look to a new school year, we worry about the ongoing impact of COVID-19. It seems to be a time of no right answers, no clear good choices and no comprehensive way for parents, educators and administrators to meet the pressing needs of students, teachers, staff and families. We do not want children to fall further behind in their learning. We do not want to put caregivers in the position of choosing between going to work or tending to their children. We do not want to endanger the health of any in our community. Already stretched resources are pushed to the limit as we attempt to reduce class sizes, expand the ways content is delivered and seek to enact needed safety precautions.
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: CaySyrNews@gmail.com.
Photo of the Week
Isaiah's Table displays its new "Black Lives Matter" signs.
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.
Resource Presbyter's Message
It's not exactly what we signed up for.
I mean, we were called to this work and knew it would require intelligence, imagination and love (and energy, so much energy!). Many of us learned how to fix lawn mowers as well as the details of correct concrete application to avoid spalling. We dove deep into scripture for Sunday morning and researched games for youth group for Sunday night. We adapted and adopted and some of us even started wearing shoes (it's a long story).
But this? Doing ministry from a distance?
We've met the technical challenges of our work with grace. Researched new sound and light equipment and figured out how best to be heard in parking lots and on the side lawns of our buildings. We've done adaptive work as well and taken the balcony view to try and figure out what is really happening, and how it will impact ministry for the next generation. We've held hands virtually with those who are grieving and have conducted funerals via Zoom. Within moments we changed how we worked, worshipped and ministered.
We did so because we were called to this work ... but this isn't what we signed up for, and frankly, this is hard.
Teachers returning to the classrooms might say the same thing.
Those in the healing and helping professions...
Grocery clerks. Librarians.
The list goes on and on.
If there was ever a time for deep compassion and patience, it is now.
Your child's teacher is juggling more than they have ever dealt with, and that is saying a lot. The guy at the register just had to put up with several customers upset about the lack of (fill in the blank with this week's item of scarcity). The scheduler at the doctor's office has to ask those questions, even if you think it's obvious you've not been out of the country.
And your pastor? Well, there are days when your pastor is ready to quit.
Thom Rainier breaks it down in his article "Six Reasons Your Pastor is About to Quit" where on top of the general weariness felt by all of us, he lifts up congregational infighting (in-person vs. online, mask vs. unmask, etc.), increased workload and criticism as well as the concern for the future of ministry (not just financial concerns, although those are also very real in many congregations).
He doesn't offer a solution.
I also don't offer any solutions to all of the above, except the reminder that none of us signed up for any of this ... and yet we are still called to be people of grace and peace. We are still called to love one another deeply and sacrificially. We are still called to bear one another's burdens. We are still called to be the Church.
We are still called. All of us.
Resource Presbyter's Announcements
There are several congregations that are welcoming new leadership in the coming weeks. Please welcome the Rev. Sam Pendergast who will be serving as the Interim pastor at the Cazenovia church.
Sam's a member of the Utica Presbytery, and will retain his membership there ... even as he works within our bounds. Sam recently served the Rome church, and we're grateful that he took a retirement of only a few short weeks in order to meet the needs of Cazenovia. Welcome, Sam!
Thinking about what Christmas might look like in 2020? The PRC is offering webinars entitled "Let's Talk about what Christmas Pageants will look like this year". These webinars are free to our congregations due to our members with PRC:
We have just a few more spots for the Let's Talk about what Christmas pageants will look like this year on Sept. 23 so we have scheduled a second date. These are free for Judacatory members.
The Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications are now being accepted through Nov 1, 2020.
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.
Thinking of doing Interim Work? The Center for Healthy Churches has developed an online version of their S.T.E.P. interim training and is offering it both in October and November. Contact Karen for more information.
Did you know that Sexual harassment prevention training is required for all employees of churches (from pastors to day care workers and sextons and all in between) in NYS on an annual basis? We're grateful that our new partnership with the PRC means access to their webinar on this topic which fulfills NYS's mandates.
To register, click on the date below. For people watching as a group only one registration is needed. Send a list of those in your group to email@example.com
We're beginning to set up a database through Realm, a software package that is created for churches. In the next week or so you will receive an invitation to update your information on the system. Please let Karen know if you have any issues with signing in. This is a wonderful way for us to maintain correct contact information for anyone involved with the work of the Presbytery. Thanks for your cooperation!
Several folks are working on creating a Celebration of Vanderkamp event this fall. If you'd like to be a part of the planning team, OR if you want to make sure you receive notice of the details of this event, please contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Apologies from the Resource Presbyter to any and all who attempted to join Virtual Office hours this past week. The problem has been corrected!
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.
On Monday nights you are invited to a discussion revolving around a series entitled: "Covenantal Restoration: A 12 session film series on Faith and Race. The films include James Forbes, Bryan Stevenson, Jim Wallis and Simone Campbell, etc. Join in at any time!
November 14 Presbytery Stated Meeting, Westminster-Auburn
Around the Presbytery
REQUEST: Presbyterian Women is asking our churches to send at least one name/contact person (preferably a woman) to send information to about Presbyterian Women. Please send name and email address/contact info to Susan Silliman Smith at email@example.com.
The United Church of Fayetteville seeks an organist or pianist to provide worship music virtually for its streamed services and intermittent in the sanctuary Sunday services. This position exclusively for music could transition to the Director of Music Ministries when choirs can safely participate in the worship service. Candidates must be an experienced organist or pianist and technology savvy. Yearly salary range during the pandemic is $9,100-$10,400.
For more information about UCF see www.theucf.org. Send a letter of intent, résumé, and a link to a recent video with you playing church appropriate music to: firstname.lastname@example.org
When: 11 a.m. until gone on September 19 & October 10
Where:Columbian Presbyterian Church, corner of Routes 20 & 11, LaFayette
Cost: Half chickens $6 or full dinners $11
Have a question for our Bookkeeper? Paula Lamberson is generally available on Mondays, and can be reached via email at: email@example.com
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The risky business of singing
Churches face new worship challenge
By Erin Dunigan
Since the beginning of time, people have turned to song to express joy's heights and grief's lows. In Exodus 15, Moses' sister, Miriam, sang after crossing the Red Sea. Her song of praise is considered to be one of the oldest pieces of biblical literature. Later, David composed songs of praise and lament that would fill the Psalms - a treasured hymnbook for thousands of years used by Jews and Christians alike. Centuries later, singing both in the home and in public worship became one of the defining marks of Reformation worship. According to the Rev. Dr. David Gambrell, associate for worship in the Office of Theology and Worship in Louisville, Reformers especially emphasized singing the Psalms because it was a way to sing God's Word together. "If you think about a time before we had projection screens or copy machines, singing was a way for the whole people of God to participate," he said.
Lifting voices together in song is an essential part of who God's children are. And yet, as more is learned by the medical community as to how COVID-19 spreads, one thing has become increasingly clear: Communal singing poses potential health risks.
Recently, a number of singing groups, including the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the American Choral Directors Association, hosted an online panel, which included medical experts and epidemiologists, to discuss the science of singing. They came to the conclusion that there is currently no safe way to rehearse or sing together until there is a widely available COVID-19 vaccine and a 95% effective treatment.
"We are in uncharted territory," Gambrell said of yet another challenge added to an already long list of challenges the worldwide pandemic has brought. Gambrell was hard pressed to think of another era in Church history that communal singing has been such a risk. "Singing, of course, is all about the breath, and we are dealing with a respiratory illness. The breath is how it attacks and spreads. So, what do we do now?" Gambrell asked.
LEXINGTON, Kentucky - Whenever a disaster strikes, the Rev. Erica Rader does three things: she gives to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), she gives to a food bank in the impacted area, and she prays.
Now she is finding out what those gifts to PDA are supporting.
Rader is the Stated Clerk of Presbytery of San Jose, which like many places in California is in the midst of responding to wildfires that are once again ravaging the Golden State.
"Our presbytery is probably a good example for others that haven't had a task force at the ready to work with PDA," Rader said last week. "I've just been so impressed by Jim Kirk and his team, Suzanne Malloy, that they've just met us where we are. ... They've been so knowledgeable, so grace filled, with the fact we haven't had a ready-to-go team."