Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
October 8, 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
        In our prayers together this week... 
  • Please keep Robert Conine, Elder with Westminster Church in Syracuse, in your prayers. Robert is battling cancer.
  • Please pray for James Russell, a member of Westminster Syracuse. He is battling esophagus cancer.
  • Pray for all those who are battling cancer and those who are grieving the loss of loved one to cancer.
  • Pray for our divided country as Election Day nears.
  • 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: our Presbytery (the Leadership Team, Work Groups, Committees, and Mission and Ministry Teams), the Synod of the Northeast, General Assembly staff  

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

Photo of the Week
Scipioville Presbyterian Church held an outdoor, socially distanced, super safe worship  
on Sunday! It was a crisp but beautiful morning and a great boost to be together as the church continues to navigate these difficult times. The church will return to Zoom for  
service on Oct. 11th. Check out their Facebook page for more photos.  

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   
Hello, Cayuga-Syracuse!
We've been heading north to our camp for a few hours every weekend, spending almost as much time driving as we do puttering about the place. It's worth it -- garlic and alliums have been planted as has the narcissus, and we've begun the work of making our cabin weather-tight.
It's a simple thing to get to our cabin once you get to Camden. Just head up Van Buren to the last electric pole on the road and go a bit beyond that. We're the first cattle gate on the right, and then just up the ridge to the meadow. Easy as pie, once you get to Camden.
Getting to Camden, however, has had some minor challenges. The western route takes you up Interstate 81, which had been undergoing much needed construction. There were several weekends when we avoided the traffic cones and the single lane in preference for the congestion in Sylvan Beach. It's lovely to have options -- to know what challenges are ahead and to make choices that mitigate the danger or frustration and help you to avoid the rough roads.
Then there's the Fall of 2020.
My calendar shows several upcoming holidays preprinted on the page, like tattooed names of former partners. They remind me of all the plans that will need to be revised to accommodate a virus that is insistent on being accounted for. There are various work assemblies and meetings that will all be translated to zoom affairs where everyone continues to try and do their best, but without the actual sharing of space feels lifeless.
These are events that are known to me. I can therefore plan for them and find decent work-arounds to avoid the rough roads. I know where I'll need to slow down and will prepare accordingly. It won't be the same drive as in previous years but somehow I know I'll get there. Some things escape the ability to peg with a date and time -- we may need to close church doors again if the virus flares up in our communities (see Cuomo's new guidelines HERE). Still, we can plan for these particular rough roads as we've been down them before.
The November 3rd election is a road we need to travel with no available detours. It is an unknown stretch ... but there are some suggestions that it may be more than a bit bumpy. There are no creative work-arounds and no waiting for the construction to be complete (in fact, we may actually be part of the construction crew!). So, what do we do when there is potential rough road ahead?
  • We make certain what we're driving is sound. Check the tires and the frame, look for rust.
  • We pack snacks to share. Yes, I'm serious. We make sure that there is good nutritious stuff to ingest and we share it with those on the journey with us.
  • We travel together ... that way, if one of us breaks down the others can provide a lift.
  • We turn the dial on the radio (hah ... remember dials?) to good music, and we surround ourselves with sounds of beauty.
  • We tell stories that remind us of our courage and strength, and we find reasons to laugh.
  • We pack a good map that reminds us of the big picture and that we're not alone in the universe (let's make it a world atlas, shall we?)
  • We keep our eyes focused ahead ... and on what matters.
Friends, the best thing we can do to prepare for this road we must go down is to prepare for it faithfully ... and now is the time to begin doing that work. I know it feels like it's all out of our control (and much of it is!) but we still have some agency. Let's do that work together.
Resource Presbyter's Announcements
At a recent press conference, Governor Cuomo introduced a new "cluster action initiative" to address potential surges in COVID-19 cases throughout the state. The intent is to clamp down on activity within an area that shows potential for a resurgence of the virus by imposing limits on restaurants, business, schools and places of worship. These limitations will not be by region, per se, but will impact smaller areas. Please become aware of this policy, and know that although it presents challenges for our congregations it is in place as a means of providing care for all of those in our communities. Your reopening plans SHOULD include information on how you communicate the potential return to all-online gatherings.

Read more about this HERE.

When: 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 8
Leaders: Debbie Kolacki and Karen Smith
Learn about different Christmas Pageants that are well suited for online, zoom, "Covid-era" adaptations. Debbie Kolacki and Karen Smith are church educators and PRC consultants.
Register: Click Here

More webinars from Practical Resources for Churches: 
When: 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 22
Leaders: Debbie Kolacki & Elizabeth Christie 
Jesus loves the little children and so does the church! How do we share the love of God with babies and families when nurseries and play and pray groups are functioning differently? Join us for webinar full of great resources for families that will work in all seasons.
Register: Click Here

What: Small Church Christmas Eve
When: 1 p.m. on Friday, October 23
Leader: Rev. Karen Ware Jackson 
Join us for a webinar focusing on at-home and online ideas for small congregations to connect on Christmas Eve.Karen Ware Jackson is the webinar coordinator for PRC, but she's also a PCUSA pastor. She spent six years as the (part-time) pastor of a small congregation and knows well the holy beauty and intimacy (and sometimes the overwhelming work) of pastoring in a small church.  
Register: Click Here

NEW Weekly Sunday School Office hours: We are planning for the first one on Thursday, October 15th at 2:00 p.m. You can drop in and ask questions and even meet other Christian Education people from around the country. If you would like to be included in the list of people who get a link to Office Hours send and email to

Forty Day Focus

This past Tuesday night several of us watched the video "To Breathe Free", which tells the story of a Syrian family that was resettled in Maryland with support of the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church.  Our conversation afterward focused on the role that congregations have played in resettling refugees. That process has changed significantly in the last few decades, but several of our congregations have stories to tell of times when they chose welcome.

What is your congregation's story?  Has there been a time in your history when you welcomed a family from another country? Within the last few years this region has seen an influx of refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Many years ago we chose welcome for those from Vietnam. Some of our churches sponsored or co-sponsored families, whereas others extended hospitality by providing furniture or other goods.

I'm collecting these stories so that they might be shared. If you'd be willing to be interviewed or if you're willing to write up your congregation's story, please let me know! (

If you're interested in the movie "To Breathe Free" for yourself or your church, CLICK HERE for the links to the movie as well as a study guide.

Trailer for
Trailer for "To Breathe Free"

Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications:
The Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications are now being accepted through November 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. 

The application form can be found on the our website. Completed applications can be submitted to Jackie Murphy at

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 
Please be aware that you also need have your congregation's policy on file. Information can be found HERE

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 
Attention Cayuga-Syracuse Clergy: On Tuesday, October 13th, 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: 875 6084 2497
Passcode: 576427 
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!
We will meet Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. Please note that there is NO meeting on Monday, October 11, 2020.  The discussion will return on Monday, October 18. 
Dates to Remember
November 14    Presbytery Stated Meeting, TBA
Around the Presbytery
Welcome, but first quarantine!

The Marcellus First Presbyterian congregation is thrilled to welcome their new pastor, the Rev. Brian Copeland. Pastor Brian arrived here from North Carolina on Friday, October 2 and has been quarantining since then. He has bought a house here and has been able to live there before closing. God has certainly had a hand in the entire search, vetting and moving process! There has been challenges, but Brian is here and eagerly waiting to get started. And the church is excited about its future.  
"Brian brings a wide variety of skills and experiences to us and we believe he is equipped to walk with us through the challenges ahead," according to a statement from the church. "Brian will be a great asset to our church, the Marcellus community, and the Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery. We can't wait for you to meet him!"
Pebble Hill Church is seeking a Christian educator to provide energetic leadership for the children's programs. This position will foster positive relationships with children and their  families in helping them develop their faith and further their involvement in the life of Pebble Hill Church.  
The educator will work together with church staff and volunteers in reaching out to families in the community. This position will be a virtual one until further notice.   
Read full job description HERE. 
Please send resume and cover letter to
The Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye (he/him/his) is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Prayers for the Nation
Time: 7 p.m. on November 3, 2020
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 853 3838 1499
Passcode: peace2all
Dial-In Information:
Dial:  1-929-205-6099
Meeting ID:  85338381499
Password:  098570513#
Some members of the book study group, "Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism," smile for the camera!
JoAnn Burrell, co-chair of Presbyterian Women Churchwide Racial Equity Co. leads the discussion. The group meets at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, and there's always room for more. Contact Rita Hooper at for more information.  
You don't have to be a Presbyterian Woman to join ... brave men always welcome!  
  .  _______________________________________________________________ 
   What: Chicken BBQs Saturdays 
   When: 11 a.m. until gone on 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:
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Called to account:  
white Christians and white supremacy

Author Robert P. Jones to speak with J. Herbert Nelson, II and other national faith leaders during Oct. 13 webinar

By the Rev. Cynthia Campbell
Special to Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE - "Whatever the explicit public proclamations of white denominations and individual Christians, the public opinion data reveal that the historical legacy of white supremacy lives on in white Christianity today."

So writes Robert P. Jones in his new book "White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity." Jones, the CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute, is a nationally-recognized social scientist who also studied for the ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2019, his previous book, "The End of White Christian America," won Louisville Presbyterian Seminary's Grawemeyer Award in Religion. It explored the impact of America's changing racial demographics on American Christian institutions and affiliations.
Together with national religious leaders including the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Jones will speak via Facebook and YouTube from 6:30-8 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, Oct. 13. The dialogue, sponsored by Empower West Louisville, a coalition of Black and white pastors and church leaders, will be broadcast via Simmons College of Kentucky's Facebook page.

"White Too Long," which takes its title from the writing of James Baldwin, calls white American Christianity to account. Jones explores the topic of the link between white Christianity and white supremacy on three fronts. First, he documents the teaching of Christian theologians and church leaders during the time of slavery that explicitly argued in favor of slavery on the basis of the innate inferiority of Black persons.

Panel explores emotional toll of pandemic 
Presbyterian Mental Health Network hosts first major event  
By Darla Carter
Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE - The psychological weight of living through today's challenges, from COVID-19 to racial oppression, was acknowledged during a panel discussion this week hosted by the Presbyterian Mental Health Network.
"It's been sustained trauma for all of us now for months but also acute trauma for each of us at various times," said Dr. Valerie Lipscomb, a literature professor at the University of South Florida and clerk of session at Kirkwood Presbyterian Church in Bradenton, Florida.
The Rev. Dr. Bridget Piggue of Emory University Hospital Midtown said people may enter into grief and depression during the pandemic. (Screen shot)
However, not everyone responds to crises in the same way, noted the Rev. Dr. Bridget Piggue, director of spiritual health at Emory University Hospital Midtown in Atlanta. For example, some people might view being quarantined as an annoyance while others might find it deeply disturbing.
Piggue also noted that there are people who feel out of sorts because they're used to having conversations with adults but are now spending time with children.
"There's a disorientation occurring in your body and so based on past experiences you may enter into grief, you may enter into depression," she said.

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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