Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
October 15, 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 pray for the Rev. Ed Kang and the Kang family. Ed's wife Mae passed away at home Tuesday morning after a two-year struggle with cancer. After cultivating a lovely garden this summer (gardening was one of Mae's passions), she became weaker and spent several weeks in the hospital, returning home Sunday with hospice care. Ed and Mae were recently visited by their son from Seattle and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Sunday. Expressions of sympathy may be sent to Rev. Ed Kang, 759 Ivory Foster Road, Owego, NY 13827.
  • Please pray for the Rev. Jenna Heery, her husband Patrick and son Emerson. Jenna was hospitalized this past week for complications following her gall bladder surgery of a few weeks ago and is now recuperating at home.
  • Please pray for James Russell, a member of Westminster Syracuse. He is battling esophagus 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: 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:

Photo of the Week

Isaiah's Table crew recently helped with the neighborhood cleanup. See more photo's on Isaiah's Table'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.
Resource Presbyter's Message   
Dear friends,
In one of the churches where I served there was a woman who upon being asked about her health and well-being would respond that she was still buying green bananas.
I'm not certain if I'd share her sentiment these days. Frankly, I'm not certain, period.
There's so much unknown out there. It's not just the pandemic, but also the election (and potential fallout) that has me wondering if I should buy green anything.
Of course, my faith tells me that God's got the big picture, and although I'm not quite convinced my breakfast fruit of choice fits that category, knowing that God remains in the middle of it helps to ground me a bit. Hairs on my head are counted, and lilies in the field have far nicer clothes than I do ... but I also know that some of this stuff, although known fully by God, is our work.
And, I guess that is what worries me. We were tasked with loving one another and caring for this beautiful world ... and our track record in these areas isn't great. Those "good old days" were only good for some, and we've got a habit of romanticizing history in a way that glosses over the nasty parts.
I suppose my deepest concern about all of the upheaval (and potential upheaval) is the fear that we get through all of this unchanged: that churches return to their buildings will forget those new connections they've made with folks online and that we will return to ignoring the needs of those whose experience of this country is different than ours because of the color of their skin. I worry that we won't take this moment in time to examine our values as faith communities and as society to see where we are out of alignment ... and then to come together and to repair that breach.
I've read the end of the book. I know Love wins. Until that day, I worry and hope, and hope and worry that we will do the work God tasked us with.

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.

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

When: 7 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, November 4, 2020
Leader: Bonnie Marden
Even small churches need to have regular financial reviews. This is a great webinar for church leaders of all skills levels to learn how to prepare for and schedule an audit/review.
Register: Click Here 

What: Lenten Resource Round-Up
When: 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 19
Leader: Sharon Pearson
Hear about a wide variety of resources, studies, worship series, themes, projects and more that you might want to use for Lent 2021.
Sharon Pearson is an author and editor with vast experience in resourcing churches. You can see more of her work at
Register: Click Here

Cayuga-Syracuse churches are active in three different Refugee ministries. Each church is being sent a packet of information about these ministries to share with members of their congregations. 

Interfaith Works (IFW) is familiar to most of our congregations as we have been in partnership with them for many years. Recently IFW has received two grants from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) for a total of $40,000. These funds will help IFW continue their work with refugees in spite of income loss due to the pandemic. Support for PDA comes from congregational gifts as well as the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.  We're grateful that IFW also works closely with the second refugee ministry in our midst - Cazenovia Welcomes Refugees (CWR).  CWR has also received a grant from PDA which will help fund a partnership between the local college and CWR to rehab a college building into a home for two refugee families. Visit IFW and CWR here: and

The newest refugee ministry in our midst is in Oswego and has support from the Oswego congregation. Read a bit more about their work HERE.

Explore the good work that these ministries are doing throughout the Presbytery and challenge your members to support them with time, talent and treasure!

On Tuesday, October 20th you're invited to attend a viewing of the short film: "Facing the Human Tragedy in Syria." We'll follow the film with discussion.  Register in advance for this meeting: Click Here

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 19, 2020.  The discussion will return on Monday, October 26. 
From the Stated Clerk
UPDATE:  Friends, churches have been starting to sign up for our "buddy system" of records reviews. I have several on the list so far. We all know that these are unusual times and most of our processes and procedures in life and in church have been disrupted in many ways. I say this because we all need to recognize that the records review WILL NOT take place in the same timeframe as previous years. My goal is to get "buddies" assigned by early to mid-November and to allow extra time for the process to occur.
If you have signed up, I have your info and will be in touch.   
If you have not signed up, registration will remain open until November 5, 2020.  
Please, if you want to participate, let me know as soon as possible at Also, please be patient with me as this process unfolds.  We are in uncharted waters and I am confident we will get through this together. Our presbytery has the best clerks of sessions anywhere; so, we will overcome the moment and do our work as the church. My thanks to you and God's peace be with you.
Friends, we are approaching that most sacred and special time of the year when minutes are reviewed and statistics are entered. Is it the most wonderful time of the year? Well, maybe not totally, but still a close second! Anyway, here are some updates:
  1. Records Review In A Pandemic: Yes, it is still possible but not in the way we have always done things. This year, we will be setting up a church buddy system partnering churches in close proximity to one another for a contactless exchange and review of minutes. If you wish to participate in the review process (and you do) just email and I will get us rolling ASAP. I will send more detailed information once we have a roster of participants.
  2. Statistics! Statistics! Statistics! As we get closer to the opening up of the church data entry portals and what-not, I will send you all information and will publish said information in the newsletter. Just put it on your radar as yet another super fun thing you get to look forward to!
  3. Parity: Some folks may have noticed that a set of parity guidelines for presbytery meetings has not been issues yet. You would be correct. In our new world and based on some issues with past guidance, I am in the process of studying parity to issue more effective and balanced guidelines. That said, our online attendance has made it clear that we can indeed have better participation (online meetings have shown the widest range of participation in recent years) and parity will need to reflect that reality. Also, there has been some concerns raised over smaller churches not having fair representation and this is also being reviewed and considered. I am not going to give you a date of release for this guidance except to say it will come out when I am convinced that the Presbyterian and parliamentary standards of fair representation and the protection of equal voice has been achieved as much as possible.
God bless each of you, your communities, and our presbytery.
Peace be with you,
Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye
Stated Clerk
Dates to Remember
November 14    Presbytery Stated Meeting, TBA
Around the Presbytery
Westminster Church, Auburn, is looking into a new security system for its church buildings. If any churches in the presbytery have a system installed, would you be willing to share your experience with the folks at Westminster? What works, what doesn't, what would you do differently, what local companies did you use, etc?  
Email, with "security system info" in the memo line.

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
In a time of division, uncertainty, and during an emotionally charged  election cycle, we will gather twice to pray for the nation and the peace of God that transcends our politics.
Prayers for the Nation
        Monday, Nov 2, 2020 @ 7:00 p.m.
        Wednesday, Nov 4, 2020 @ 7:00 p.m.

***NOTE: This meeting does not require per-registration; but, it is password protected. Please be sure to note the passcode in red when joining by computer and the passcode in blue when dialing in by phone.
Join Zoom Meeting:
Meeting ID: 853 3838 1499
Passcode: peace2all
Dial In Info:
Phone #:  1-929-205-6099,,
Meeting ID:  85338381499
Passcode:  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!  
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.)
A step in the right direction

Pastor walks nearly 150 miles to raise awareness and compassion around issues of poverty and 'houselessness' 

By Tammy Warren
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - With a 30-pound pack on his back and a mission in his heart, the Rev. Zachary Morton, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Morgantown, West Virginia, set out Sept. 21 on an eight-day, nearly 150-mile walk to the state capitol in Charleston.

Although Morton's #Walk4WV was primarily a solo trip, he welcomed supporters to follow along on social media or to meet up along the route and walk with him. Several people, ages 8 to 84, took him up on his invitation to walk alongside during part of the trip, including Nikki Bryne-Hoffman, a deacon at First Presbyterian-Morgantown and a board member of the Presbyterian Child Development Center, who walked 14 miles, and Morton's mom, Kim Morton, who joined him for part of the last four miles.

"The road systems we were walking on were not meant for walking," Morton said. Most of the time there wasn't a sidewalk or enough room. "It put me in a headspace of it's not just the effort of walking, but the effort of listening for cars, dodging from one side of the road to the other to make sure that I'm not going to get hit and I'm not going to be in any more of a dangerous situation than I'm already in. That drains you, psychologically, to always be alert and always have that anxiety in the back of your mind." That's what unsheltered people in extreme poverty face on a daily basis as they try to navigate a system that is not built for them, Morton said.

Stated Clerk joins panel to discuss the legacy of white supremacy in American Christianity
Robert P. Jones' 'White Too Long' draws praise  
and spirited discussion from faith leaders  
By Mike Ferguson
Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE - For Robert P. Jones, Tuesday's webinar was a chance to discuss his significant book, "White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity." And for the faith leaders who appeared with Jones during the event put on by Simmons College of Kentucky and Empower West Louisville, it was a chance to enter into remarkable conversation about the future of an inclusive church - if only it will proclaim the authentic gospel of Jesus Christ.
In addition to Jones, webinar participants included:
Jones opened by laying the foundation for his book, which takes its name from a James Baldwin phrase in a New York Times op-ed he wrote months after the 1968 assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy. Baldwin wrote "in a moment of despair," Jones said. "He like King hoped white Christians would stand on the side of rights for African Americans and never quite got there."

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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