Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
November 5, 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
Westminster Presbyterian Church:
From Protestantism to protest

By The Rev. Patrick David Heery
Special to The Citizen
Some have wondered why a church of God has a sign declaring, "Black Lives Matter." Some have wondered what business a church has in hosting a vigil for racial justice, or a discussion on immigration, or an action on poverty, or a day in solidarity with domestic violence victims. Some have wondered why this sacred space should be so marred by the contention and discomfort of public issues. Why can't this just be a nice place to be at peace?  
It is not a bad question. And we are not the first to ask it.
Daniel arap Moi, former president of Kenya, once quipped, "How could subversive documents come from the house of God?" In 1980s postcolonial Kenya, it was a reasonable question. The Kenyan church had never been a source of social change before. With its eyes firmly fixed on heaven, it had ignored the violence, corruption and white supremacy on earth. The church's role was to worship and save souls. Social change was not in its jurisdiction.
So when Timothy Njoya, a Kenyan pastor of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, preached a sermon on the Gospel of Luke, calling for genuine democracy and the release of prisoners of conscience, he was labeled a "subversive," banned from radio and television, and eventually detained without trial and tortured.

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 family of Maurine Robles McTyre who passed away on October 26. Maurine is the mother of the Rev. Andrew McTyre, the pastor at Park Central. 
  • Pray for our country as we navigate the outcome of presidential election. Help our divided nation heal.
  • Please pray for Elder Linda Russell as she recovers from surgery on her right hand.
  • Please pray for James Russell, a member of Westminster Syracuse. He is battling esophagus cancer.
  •  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: Columbian, LaFayette; First, Liverpool; First, Marcellus; First, Mexico; Morrisville Community Church

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

Photo of the Week
Liverpool's Enneagram Journey cohort engaged on Zoom in the spiritual transformation work of the enneagram for several months. The group is planning a second cohort starting in the new year. Contact the Rev. Anderson at for more information.   
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,
The family I married into has strong genes. At gatherings of the Chamis clan there is no mistaking who carries similar genetic code. There's some hint here and there of other families and their stories (my daughter absolutely has my mouth) but generally you know that Chamises come from the same stock. Our daughter looks so much like her father that when she was born good friends arrived at the hospital to greet our new arrival and asked Bill if he was certain I was the mother.
It's like the time when the Pharisees approached Jesus and asked him about taxes, and Jesus responded by asking for a coin. Now, he may have done so to see what was in their pocket (or, rather ... whose pocket the Pharisees were in!) but when they showed him a graven image of Caesar instead of the local imprint of wheat ... they showed Jesus who they most resembled.
Jesus then responded to their question about taxes. The word he used wasn't simply "give" but "give back." Give back to Caesar what belonged first to Caesar (and if you think Jesus didn't get political, consider what these words implied during a time of occupation!)
I write this the morning after the election and like many I find myself wondering what the results say about our own family resemblance. What does this election say about what drives us as a people and what does it say about Whose we are? I think about our churches here and throughout the country that are unpacking the impact of this on their communities and wonder at the work ahead. How do we even begin to relate to one another ... let alone believe that we are related?
I think we do so in part by sharing the family story. We tell the version where Jesus and his parents were refugees and fled the wrath of a tyrant. We tell the story of how he addressed the powers and principalities of his day (and got all up in the politics of what was happening) and how we broke down walls in the ways that he broke bread. We talk about how he spoke about the oppressed and we don't leave out those stories that are uncomfortable. We tell the version of the Gospel that doesn't gloss over the sacrifice and the crucifixion to get to the chocolate bunnies and the egg hunt. We preach Christ.
We make this story OUR story ... because it is in the telling and the hearing that we are challenged to resemble the one we claim to follow, and then as disciples we call others to join us at this work and in this fellowship.
As I sign this, the results of the election are still unknown but the work ahead of us is clear. Let us begin by remembering Who we belong to, and work towards resembling that side of the family.
Prayers for us all.

Resource Presbyter's Announcements
Webinars from Practical Resources for Churches:   
What: Christ in a Time of COVID: How Churches Can Support Those Living with COVID-19
When: 1 to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Leader: Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath 
Register: Click Here 

What: Lenten Resource Round-Up
When: 7 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 19, 2020 
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

 What: Should you do a "Second Annual" Pledge Drive?
When: 1 to 2 p.m. on Thursday, December 10, 2020
Leader: Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Why do we do an annual campaign just once a year? Don't a number of people forget to turn in a pledge card in the fall? Or some might not realize the first time that giving is a spiritual discipline - they need to hear it again.
Join us as we consider having a second "soft" campaign in February. Learn best practices for running this type of campaign, asking for new stewardship pledges from people who didn't pledge in the fall, and communicating more about your ministry.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced "CC Delv Sherman," yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at or on Facebook or at
Register: Click Here

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 
Virtual Office Hours for our
Resource Presbyter, the Rev. Karen Chamis,
will return in December.
Attention Cayuga-Syracuse Clergy: On Tuesday afternoons, 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: 810 4159 6870
Passcode: 435913
 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.  
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 TODAY - 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
Stated Meeting
The Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse will hold a stated meeting on Saturday, November 14, 2020 online via the Zoom platform. The pre-meeting special gathering with Property and Finance will begin at 9:00 a.m. and the stated meeting will begin at 10:00 a.m. Karen Chamis and Ben Fitzgerald-Fye will be available on Zoom to help with technical issues.
Things to know:
This gathering will be recorded for informational and accuracy of minutes purposes only.
Things to anticipate:
  • Coffee and Donuts with Finance and Property to discuss the financial future of the presbytery
  • Final Action of the Proposed 2021 Budget
  • "Good News" from our congregations and worshipping communities
  • Recognition of retirement and service to the presbytery
Papers for this meeting can be found here, and include:
Register in advance for this meeting: 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Dates to Remember
November 14    Presbytery Stated Meeting
Around the Presbytery

Our website is down.
We are working on fixing the issue.
Stay tuned for updates. 
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
Scipioville Presbyterian Church will be launching an online confirmation class in November that will be open to youth in the wider presbytery.  
If you have youth who would like to participate, email Rev. Ben Fitzgerald-Fye at to sign up and receive more info. Start date will be announced soon.
What: 4th Annual Great $5 Sweater Plus Sale - 2 days ONLY 
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 14  
            1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, November 15 
Where: Columbian Presbyterian Church at the corner of routes 11 & 20 in LaFayette  
700+ Sweaters & Shawls, Christmas Sweaters & Sweatshirts, SU & Sports Apparel, Wool Coats, Ski Jackets, Suede and Leather Jackets & Coats, Vests, Wool Coats, Snowpants & Accessories
Proceeds Benefit the LaFayette Outreach Food Pantry
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.)
'This is a time of pause'
The Stated Clerk of the PC(USA)'s General Assembly offers words of hope to a nation anxious over election uncertainty

By Mike Ferguson
Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE - The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) had a pastoral message Wednesday for Presbyterians anxious about the outcome of Tuesday's presidential election even as ballots are still being counted.

"I am convinced the Lord has given us this moment of pause to think through who we are in this present age," said the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, during a virtual chapel service put on by the PC(USA)'s Office of Public Witness and attended by more than 90 people. "How will we respond? How will we conduct ourselves in ways that will remind the world that God, through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit" fills God's children with love "even among the hatred and bigotry out on the streets of the United States of America."

We're in a period of waiting not unlike Jesus experienced when he asked his disciples to stay awake and pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane hours before the Lord was crucified. Instead, the disciples fall asleep.

Nelson said we're being asked to pray "to the only wise God we know ... This is a time of pause, of deep contemplation, over how we conduct ourselves in the midst of what seems to be a great deal of tension ... I believe God has given us this moment for justice, to prepare ourselves to represent the peaceable kingdom, to an openness to God even though we don't get the outcome we were looking for - or maybe we do."


Unwrapping our God-given gifts
It's time to let go of doubts and start shining

By Donna Frischknecht Jackson
Presbyterians Today

A lone candle in the middle of a darkened room greeted the small-group participants.

They had gathered for an evening of identifying their gifts - not the spiritual kind of prophesying or speaking in tongues as Paul talks about in the letter to the Corinthians. Those sometimes perplexing and seemingly elusive gifts to the average Christian would require a more intense workshop. Rather, the gifts to be unwrapped were those disguising themselves as talents, passions, interests and even vocations, which could do much in building God's kingdom.

After taking their seats in the circle of chairs, the facilitator began with a reading from Matthew 5:15: No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. Then, a moment of silent reflection was broken by a much harder question: How often do you hide your light, and what good has it done you or the world around you?

In her poem "Our Deepest Fear," whose lines are often miscredited to Nelson Mandela, author Marianne Williamson writes about how we were all meant to shine in the world and that "we were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us."
"We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world," she writes.

Yet playing small seems to be the default button many in the church hit for a variety of reasons, among them the ingrained Christian virtue of humility, says the Rev. Lynn M. Portz, associate pastor for parish life at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh.
"We can't compare our gifts to others, thinking ours are not as helpful or good as someone else's. Nor should we downplay what we have been given because of this sense of being humble. There are a lot of gifts out there that are needed in building God's kingdom. We need to use them, and that can only start by people coming forward and using his or her gift. And that starts by being invitational," she said.

Continue reading...

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.