Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
April 2, 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
I n our prayers together this week... 
  • A prayer of thanksgiving as Jim Russell was told by his doctor his cancer is in remission. His family thanks everyone for the prayers.
  • 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.
  • Pray for everyone in self-isolation or quarantine.
  • Please pray for Annette, wife of the Rev. Larry Bell and member of Westminster Presbyterian Church (Auburn). Annette's ovarian cancer is recurring just three months after completing frontline chemotherapy. Please pray for strength and endurance for Annette and Larry and for the doctors who are treating her.

In the cycle of prayer our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals: United Church of Fayetteville; First United Church of Fulton; God's Vision Christian Church, Hannibal; Jamesville Community Church; First, King Ferry.
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week

 The latest church sign at Columbian Presbyterian Church in LaFayette was inspired by the  
mother of local news anchor Farah Jadran.
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 
Dear Ones,
We've been here before.
Oh, the terrain is a bit different and certainly some of the obstacles are new, but this isn't exactly unfamiliar ground. We can't gather together ... that's a bit new. We can't bring casseroles and share hugs of comfort. We can't sit shiva with each other or hold hands in prayer. It's different, but it's not new. We've been in this dark valley before.
This is why we've told the stories from one generation to the next:  

Stories of Exile.

Stories of the Passover told around the family table.

Stories of the disciples in disarray and despair following the crucifixion.

Stories of the early followers of Jesus meeting together in spite of the fear of persecution.

Stories of the Great Depression.

Stories of victory gardens and air raids.

We've been in this dark valley before.
We respond ... with courage and creativity and a new openness to being adaptive.
We respond ... with a sense that we are in this together, even as we must remain physically separate.
We respond ... with hope. Even though we know the worst is yet to come, we know how this story ends. Easter follows Good Friday. We've read the end of the Book.
Love Wins.
We've been in this dark valley before.
And just like before, God is with us. Our Rock and our Redeemer.
In Christ,
Vanderkamp Update
Background: At our November Presbytery meeting, we created an Administrative Commission (AC) to respond to the request of the Ecumenical Camping Association (ECA) to consider creating a stay on a sale of the property for two years. That AC met and concurred that if the Presbytery were to grant a two-year stay it would not create hardship or liability for the Presbytery.
Utica and the ELCA, our two other partners in Vanderkamp, responded to the question about a stay with motions to cease the camping operation and to close the camp. According to the Bylaws, if one (or more) partners chooses to opt out of the relationship, the remaining partner(s) are asked to purchase their share(s).
As the next step -- either our Presbytery purchasing our partner's shares or joining them in the sale -- required detailed information on the assets and liabilities, the three judicatories each contributed two individuals to create a Team of Six. This Team will determine what debts remain as well as the value of the camp. At our February Presbytery meeting we voted on sending Bob Davenport and Victor Jenkins as our representatives and authorized up to $50,000 for professional expenses (lawyers, auditors, etc.).
Update: COVID-19 added to the challenges facing the future operation of Vanderkamp and made future operations untenable. At the ECA's meeting on March 27 it voted to close the camping operation at Vanderkamp effective April 20, 2020. The Directors will be laid off, but will be allowed to live at camp for the foreseeable future. The Team of Six will work toward making certain back wages and taxes are paid as well as addressing other debts that have been incurred. Until we've established the ultimate value of the property, our Presbytery will not be able to vote on purchasing the other shares.
Obviously, this was a difficult decision. Although this Presbytery has had different views about the camp over the past years, we join together in giving thanks for the many hands and hearts that have invested much energy and love into the camp and its program. Camp has a way of becoming "sacred geography" for many of us. Let us continue to hold the directors, Bill and Penny, as well as those who grieve this tremendous loss in our prayers.    

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)
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 Palm Sunday liturgy HERE   
Download Maundy Thursday liturgy HERE
Download Good Friday liturgy HERE 
Karen can be reached at 315-632-5698 (option 1) or
From the Stated Clerk
On our own, but we're still together

We find ourselves in unique and anxious times. People are frightened, people are unsure, and people are isolated. Quarantine and social distance have become common vernacular for us as we wait and watch for increased numbers of infection, for the COVID-19 virus to take hold of our own families. Being community has become a challenge.

As a new pastor, finding myself in this COVID-19 world is a challenge that they simply don't teach us in seminary. Faith leaders and faith communities have been hit hard by the imposition of crowd sized and quarantines. Our churches are closed and our people are scattered to their safest corners. For faith leaders, rebuilding community in a virus-shaped moment is a professional and spiritual requirement.
Caring for congregations and neighbors is not an optional task, it is a divinely mandated part of our work in the world. In times like this, we are minister, chaplain, spiritual guide, factual news provider and a non-anxious voice for those around us.

As we go digital to worship, many ministers are reaching out to offer connection. worshippers join us from their living rooms, we are "at home" together. We are reconstructing the home church that was the ancient genesis of our churches today. We are gathering in groups, as did early Christians, in our virtual homes. These gatherings aren't just an expression of religion, they are also a way to simple be with other people in intentional space. You needn't even be a Christian to encounter a newfound sense of community connection with us. You needn't be religious to find a willing listener and social contact in the ministers around you. Most of us are no longer concerned about shoving doctrine into your brain (some of us never were). We are learning one of the most important lessons of pastoral leadership in this crisis. We are learning to be lighthouse keepers keeping beacons of connection glowing in the dark and the fog. We are guardians of community.

Whatever your feelings on doctrine and dogma may be, no matter how you feel about churches and their leaders, please know that our most important proclamation these days is not a call to convert the masses, it is a call to sustain a sense of hope, to awaken the better parts of us. We are here for you working to follow a simple, gospel command to love our neighbors as ourselves.

The Rev. Benjamin Fitzgerald-Fye
Scipioville Presbyterian church

Around the Presbytery
  Church events across the Presbytery have  
been postponed or cancelled.
Events in May and June are up in the air.  
Baldwinsville First Presbyterian Church postponed their annual April rummage sale, but is hopeful for June. We all are hopeful!
Dates to Remember
April 27             Leadership Team Meeting
April 27             Docket items due for the May 12 meeting  
May 12              Presbytery Stated Meeting, Robinson Elmwood United Church
June 4               Spring Senior Fun Day at Vanderkamp 
June 20-27        General Assembly, Baltimore
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.)
Online Easter celebration to be released April 9
PC(USA) leadership shares a special Easter worship video filmed at the Presbyterian Center
By Mike Ferguson
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - Dressed in the white robes of Easter, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II and the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett - together with remote appearances by the Rev. Cindy Kohlmann and Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri, Co-Moderators of the 223rd General Assembly - leave little doubt in a worship video set for release April 9 that the good news of Christ's resurrection transcends the despair, economic deprivation and isolation brought on by the coronavirus.

With Nelson, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), offering up a thoughtful, timely sermon and Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, welcoming, praying and promising God's "peace, poise and power for this time and always" during her benediction, the video, recorded last week in the Chapel of the Presbyterian Center, is designed to unite Presbyterians in spirit during their Easter worship on April 12.

The link to the video, completed by Mike Fitzer of 180 Degrees, will be publicized on several PC(USA) outlets, including the denomination's website,

"You are welcome to use the video however you like," Nelson and Moffett say in a letter to Presbyterians. "We hope it is helpful for congregations that are unable to hold their own virtual worship. Even congregations that are already streaming worship may wish to watch. You may choose to create a sense of community by asking your congregation to watch the video at an appointed time."

Continue reading...
Stated Clerk lifts up health care workers 
J. Herbert Nelson calls them the "helping and healing hands" during COVID-19 outbreak
By Rick Jones & Randy Hobson
Office of the General Assembly
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb around the world, so does the impact on medical workers. Infected medical personnel are adding additional strain and stress to an already maxed out health care system.
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), offered prayer for health care workers this week.
Watch video message HERE 

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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