Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
May 7, 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
Hyeyoung Lee and Kurt Esslinger, mission co-workers in South Korea since 2013, serve with the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) and the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK). Hyeyoung serves as the site coordinator for the ecumenical Young Adult Volunteer program, a ministry of the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA). Kurt's experience as a YAV helped prepare him for his role with the NCCK Reconciliation and Unification Department, which works with the Korean Christian Federation in North Korea. Kurt and Hyeyoung are familiar to many of us in Cayuga-Syracuse. For those who are not acquainted with them, they share a clear and insightful introduction to their ministry in this video from the PMA.
Watch: "Hyeyoung Lee and Kurt Esslinger 2020" on Vimeo:  

Hyeyoung Lee and Kurt Esslinger 2020 
Hyeyoung Lee and Kurt Esslinger 2020
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
I n our prayers together this week...   
  • A prayer of thanksgiving to all teachers and support staff during this Teacher Appreciation Week.They are doing a phenomenal job during this unprecedented time.
  • Please pray for the Class of 2020. Give them strength to focus on the positive in the face of disappointment.
  • Please pray for the Rev. Ed Kang (Honorably Retired) and his wife Mae who have both been diagnosed with cancer.
  • Please pray for our presbytery's partners in Pyongyang Presbytery who wrote this week to say they are "deeply concerned" about Cayuga-Syracuse and hope that Covid-19 "did not harm [Cayuga-Syracuse] severely," and that "everyone is doing well." Our Korean brothers and sisters pray for us and "for this pandemic to pass" and ask that we pray also for them.
  • 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 all those who feel lonely and disconnected during this time of social distancing.
In the cycle of prayer our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals: Taunton, Syracuse; Westminster, Syracuse; First, Weedsport; Whitelaw
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, grandmas and mother figures in our lives!  
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week

Pastor Bob Langston at Onondaga Hill Presbyterian Church in Syracuse offered a "virtual sermon" from his canoe in the Adirondacks for Sunday's service. The title of the sermon was "Water Words." It's available on the church's YouTube 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 Resource Presbyter 
Hello, Cayuga-Syracuse!
This is the dangerous time.
If we as a society move too quickly, we'll need to return to our isolation because the virus has regained a foothold. This is a dangerous time because we're itchy to get back to our lives and our jobs and our churches and to get on with all of our plans. (We're even willing to go to extremes of personal sacrifice, say, giving up sitting in OUR pews, if only we can come together again.) We need to move slowly and deliberately even as we deeply desire to reopen our lives.
This is the dangerous time ... but not just because we may rekindle the rate of infections and deaths.
This is a dangerous time because we desire to go back to a place and time that no longer exists.
We're anxious and impatient. Like the Hebrews fleeing Egypt, we are tired of waiting in lines at Wegmans for manna and want to go back to normal. We want to go back to Egypt -- to what was familiar and known -- and we're bitter and discouraged toward any leadership that suggests we can't do that tomorrow.
We can't do that. Ever. You know that. Things cannot be the same.
I'm not suggesting we are heading to a new Promised Land. We are, however, heading somewhere new, and there is a promise -- but that promise isn't about the land but about Who is with us.
The church has struggled with the burden of its glorious history and traditions for years. This is nothing new.
What is new is that we've been the Church without Walls for a few months now and what we really value has become clearer. We've learned a bit about who we really are, as well as what we are not.
What is new is that the needs of the community outside our walls (what walls?) have changed to include extensive unemployment and pervasive trauma.
What is new is we have discovered that we are far more flexible than we thought, and that this new world needs us to proclaim the transformative love of Jesus Christ in new ways.
Dangerous times indeed ... especially if we try to return to what was.
Blessings -
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.  
or call 
One tap mobile 
+16465588656,,839671809# US (New York) 
+13126266799,,839671809# US (Chicago)
All church leaders are invited to participate in a Book Group to discuss "Disaster Spiritual Care" by
Stephen Roberts and Willard W. C. Ashley.
Although the book is aimed at Clergy, those serving as Elders and Deacons may also find it helpful.   
The meeting will be held at noon on Thursday, May 7.
Pastoral leadership is invited to a Thursday morning Virtual Coffee for connection, support and fellowship.  
The Zoom meeting will start at 10 a.m.  

Join Zoom Meeting: 
Meeting ID: 510 749 428
Interactive Worship Service for all: 
Karen and the Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye, our stated clerk, will hold an interactive worship service on Zoom every Sunday evening at 7 p.m. Register in advance for this meeting: 
 Download liturgy for Sunday HERE. 
PPresbytery Gathering  
Our next scheduled Presbytery meeting is June 9th.  For those who will be commissioners to that meeting, as well as guests who are interested, we are hosting a Presbytery Gathering on May 12th from 7-8:30.
This Gathering will give everyone a chance to learn how to use Zoom as well as practice those skills.  It will also give us a chance to see one another... and hopefully to have a bit of fun.
You'll need to pre-register for this event:  

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Looking forward to seeing you on May 12th!
From the Stated Clerk

Greetings Presbyterians! I don't need to tell you that we are living in unusual and anxious times. We continue to pray for those who are affected by the Covid-19 virus and we mourn for each life taken in this pandemic. We are offering love to our neighbors by staying home and staying safe and we are exploring new ways to do both our individual work and our communal work. In so many ways, life moves forward and still needs our attention. The leadership of the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracus e rightly determined that having an in-person presbytery meeting would be a dangerous and unnecessary risk to our well-being. So, we will be having an online presbytery meeting instead on June 9, 2020. Soon, the precise information and registration links will be coming your way.
As your stated clerk, it is my job to make sure this meeting is as efficient and as effective as possible. In order to do this, the following pre-meeting items will go in to effect:
  1. ALL requests for time and ALL items for the docket MUST be submitted by May 25. No submissions will be granted beyond that date. Please send all submissions to
  2. ALL motions are to be submitted in writing along with docket submissions by May 25. This applies, of course, to motions that are known in advance of the meeting and in no way shuts down the ability to make or consider motions and amendments in the actual meeting. That said, if your committee, your church, you know that you wish to make a motion at the June meeting, it would be much more efficient to have the written motion ahead of time.
If you discover the need to make a motion after May 25 and before June 9, please consider sending it in writing ahead of time.

Motions can also be emailed to
  1. Materials submitted to any other email address or individual will not be considered received until they are submitted to
  2. If committees are making reports, it would be super great if you could also send that report ahead of time.
  3. You probably notice a theme developing here ... if you can send an item by May 25, please do!
  4. The number of commissioners/representatives each church can send will not change from existing guidelines. You would send the usual number based on existing calculations.
There are also a few guidelines that we can look to as we work to make an online meeting successful:
  1. Commissioners to this meeting will need some level of comfort with technology; so, if you have commissioners in need of assistance or a crash course, feel free to reach out to me. You may also with to choose representatives with some degree of comfort with online meetings.
  2. Please seriously consider attending the online gathering on May 12 as a sort of test run for the official meeting. (See Above)
  3. If you are able to send me the names of your chosen representatives ahead of time that would be great too.
If you have questions, do not hesitate to email me at

Pastor Ben Fitzgerald-Fye

Around the Presbytery  
First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles

97 E Genesee St, Skaneateles, NY 13152

Sunday, May 10, 2020   
11 a.m. 
Bookkeeper needed
Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church is looking to hire a bookkeeper to work 10 hours a week. Those hours can be flexible.Candidates will need experience in Quickbooks and be comfortable working in a church environment. The church is looking for someone with over 3 years of experience. This is an immediate opening. Interested candidates can reach Pastor Elizabeth Lyman at   
Food drive to support food banks
Please drop off your donation to Pebble Hill Church, which is located at 5299 Jamesville Road, DeWitt, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, May 9.
Dates to Remember
May 12              Presbytery Gathering (Zoom) Learn more...
June 9               Presbytery meeting (Zoom)
June 20-27       General Assembly 
July 23-24         Board of Pensions Thrive Seminar (for clergy age 50+)
August 11         Presbytery Stated Meeting, TBD  
November 14    Presbytery Stated Meeting, Westminster-Auburn
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Returning to public worship
New PC(USA) resource offers theological and practical guidance for those deciding on when and how to worship in public again
By Paul Seebeck
Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE - The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has just released " Returning to Public Worship: Theological and Practical Considerations" for congregations and leaders in the midst of making decisions about how and when to return to public worship in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
While strongly encouraging churches to follow state and local rules, regulations and guidelines as minimum standards for re-opening, the resource includes:
  • a pastoral statement on reentry to public life and worship
  • PC(USA) constitutional considerations and risk evaluation
  • a provisional timeline for resuming public worship
  • general considerations for returning to public worship
  • specific guidelines organized around the order of worship
  • links to additional resources that may be of interest.
According to the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), this resource will help churches make faithful and responsible decisions about reopening for public worship.
"We are a church in transition changing each and every day," he said, "truly reforming to keep up with contextual realities of our day."
The Rev. Dr. David Gambrell, associate for worship in the PC(USA)'s Office of Theology and Worship, worked on the resource with the Office of the General Assembly and colleagues in Theology, Formation & Evangelism.
Acknowledging this is not a one-size-fits-all document, and that sessions and presbyteries will make decisions based on the latest COVID-19 developments and local circumstances, Gambrell said one of his primary concerns was to provide resources to help church leaders think theologically and pastorally about their decisions.
Presbyterian group finds a casual place online for serious conversations
Gatherings from online journal Unbound & Young Adult Volunteers tackle  COVID-19 issues 
By Rich Copley
Presbyterian News Service
LEXINGTON, Kentucky - Just after New Year's Day, before COVID-19 turned life in the United States and around the world upside down, Destini Hodges and Lee Catoe of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) national office went to the annual college conference in North Carolina.

"We had a listening session for young adults around justice things that they want to see grow out of the church and move in different directions," Hodges, Associate for Recruitment and Relationships for Young Adult Volunteers (YAV), says. "After that initial workshop that we did together at Montreat, there was a lot of energy around it. The young people, young adults, were excited that they had two young adults from the national office in Louisville to listen to their concerns and bring it back during a GA (General Assembly) year."

Hodges and Catoe, associate for Young Adult Social Witness for the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) and managing editor of the online journal Unbound, were wondering how to continue harnessing the energy they found at Montreat. Then, as the spread of the coronavirus made physical distancing necessary, they noticed friends having online hangouts and meet-ups to keep some semblance of connection and social life going.

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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