Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
February 15, 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!
Lent begins!
Many of our congregations gathered for worship yesterday on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Jesus' journey to the cross and God's journey to us. Many of us received the sign of the cross in ash and oil. But what does that sign mean? What does this Lenten journey promise? Below is a poem by Jan Richardson that movingly answers that question.

Blessing the Dust
For Ash Wednesday

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial---
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

~ from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Joys and Concerns around the Presbytery
Watch the Facebook Live video recording of Jenna Heery being examined for ordination to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament this past Saturday. Jenna was happily approved!

In our prayers together this week...
  • Pray for Collin, the nephew of Roberta Palmiotto (member of Sennett Federated Church), who was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. At this time he is improving but remains in the hospital.
  • Pray for the mission trip to Puerto Rico, leaving next Tuesday, led by Shawn Reyburn.
In the cycle of prayer for our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities, and individuals: Amboy Belle Isle; First, Auburn; Westminster, Auburn; United Ministry of Aurora; First, Baldwinsville.

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

From your e-letter author
Saturday's stated meeting was a powerful testament to the movement of the Holy Spirit in and among our presbytery. If you've come to think of presbytery meetings as dry business, you should give a presbytery meeting another try. We worshiped. We received Communion. We ate together. We listened to a beautiful bell choir. We heard a stirring sermon about breaking the stained glass barrier and serving the unchurched. We explored the calling of a new minister for the gospel, by examining a candidate for ordination. And we had an important conversation about the future of the presbytery---a conversation that should not end with that meeting but should extend to our Lenten journey as congregations.

Our question for you is: What does it mean for us, as the presbytery, as the body of Christ, in this time and place, to follow Christ?

Just as Jesus went into the wilderness to listen for God and discover his purpose, so too do we enter these next forty days by sitting at the foot of God and listening for what God wants of us. This is no abstract question. We don't want generalities. God has called us as a presbytery to specific work and specific values in this time and place. What is that work? What are those values?

Share this question with your Session and Deacons, with your congregations and prayer groups. Reflect on it. We hope that you'll share the gleanings of your discernment with us at the next presbytery meeting. But before then, we invite you to send brief snapshots of what you believe God is envisioning for the presbytery. We will share your reflections in a kind-of graffiti board in this e-letter.

While we pursue this Spirit-listening, the presbytery will be hard at work to take urgent action in creating a viable structure for our collective work---and in hiring staff to equip us in that work.

Other Voices from the Presbytery
Mission Trip Report

Douglas G. Russell, elder and session member of Westminster Church, Syracuse, writes...

During January 2018, I was blessed to take part in a clinic at a children's camp in Panama. This being run by the Panama Lions now for 75 years,
I was invited to go there with my equipment of the Syracuse Lions Club to screen the children's eyes. I accepted and screened 440 children with a 10% referral rate.

Let us join in celebrating God's good work!

Around the Presbytery
One Great Hour
of Sharing

Most congregations receive "OGHS" on Easter Sunday, Passion/Palm Sunday or both, while many receive it throughout Lent. A gift to One Great Hour of Sharing enables the church to share God's love with our neighbors-in-need around the world by providing relief to those affected by natural disasters, provide food to the hungry, and helping to empower the poor and oppressed.

The Office of Special Offerings is hosting a Webinar to discuss the 2018 One Great Hour of Sharing Offering, its themes and resources, and ways to encourage your church to participate! Wed. Feb. 21 at Noon (EST) - Register here.

Each Presbytery---usually through the Stated Clerk---has been sent a sample package of this year's OGHS materials. Any congregation with a standing order for supplies should have received those by now.

If more supplies are needed, visit and look under "Church Resources", or reach out to us at Congregations should also be seeing year-end Special Offerings giving reports by March 15.

Next Presbytery Meeting

The next stated meeting of the presbytery will be Saturday, May 12, starting at 9 am, at Vanderkamp Center, 337 Martin Rd, Cleveland, NY 13042. Please note that this is a change from what was previously posted on the presbytery website.

Presbytery Youth
Summer Mission

Camillus/Syracuse, June 24 to June 30, 2018

We will join 400+ youth from around our country. Youth and leaders will help with home repairs at no cost for elderly, disabled, and disadvantaged people living in the Camillus/Syracuse area. Work crews will typically serve the same resident for the entire trip, creating an environment where meaningful relationships can develop. Most projects will be designed to be completed during the trip, allowing your group to experience the satisfaction of a job well done. Youth will serve the needs of others through projects such as interior and exterior painting, building or repairing porches and wheelchair ramps, building or repairing steps, weatherization, and other home repairs. No skills are needed, just passion!

Read more about the project and how you can get involved!

You always may keep abreast on happenings in and around the Presbytery by
checking the Presbytery events calendar ( and the

Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Spiritual disciplines deepen faith

By N. Graham Standish | Presbyterians Today

I walked away from the church at age 15. I wasn't unique. Many teens walk away from the church, although it's more common today than when I did it in the mid-1970s. No matter what the year, teens walk away from church for many reasons - spiritual laziness, lack of inspiration from worship services, worldly distractions, peer pressure (it's not cool to go to church), the attraction of other beliefs (including agnosticism and atheism). But I walked away for reasons that were a bit different from those of many of my friends.

I wasn't seeking less. I was seeking something more than I thought was available from the church. I was seeking an authentic, experiential spirituality - although I never would have said it in that way back then. In short, it felt as if there was nothing spiritual about the church of my youth.

Continue reading, and find some recommended spiritual disciplines...

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.