Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698

August 22, 2019
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.
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...
  • Pray for all those who are struggling due to the loss of a loved one.
  • Pray for all those in our Presbytery who are entering new roles in their professional and personal lives.
In the cycle of prayer for our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities,and individuals: 
First, Cazenovia; First, Chittenango; United Church of Collamer; Pebble Hill, DeWitt; First United Church of East Syracuse  
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week
The United Church of Fayetteville had a very special service on Sunday to say  
"au revoir" to Gail and Danny. See more photos on the church'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.
From the Resource Presbyter 

By the Rev. Karen Chamis
Hello Cayuga-Syracuse!
I've got some significant quirks. For instance, my reading list is intentionally varied. I have several books going at once, but generally I try a literary diet that is comprised of non-fiction, "books I should have read in high school/college but didn't" and candy. The latter generally takes the form of Science Fiction and Fantasy (I'm currently re-reading "Harry Potter" which is against my rule of never reading a book twice).
I just finished "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion," by Jonathan Haidt. It's going back in the reading pile to be read again... and soon. There was such a banquet of information that I know I've not begun to digest it all. I also have the sense that reading it a second time will help me to make some of the connections between his theory and my theology.
One of the central points to his thesis is that people's beliefs are intuitively-based. It's only after that initial gut reaction that we form reasoned rationale to substantiate what we've felt. Furthermore, much of that intuition is genetically based. We're not hardwired to believe a certain way, but the science of DNA bears out that there are genetic preferences that are linked to evolutionary development. Liberals generally have the code that shows a preference for new experiences, whereas conservatives have a preference for stability. From an evolutionary perspective, there's a need for both.
Ultimately, what does Haidt suggest will bridge the gap?
Relationships. For Haidt, what we need to pay attention to is not individuals, but rather, the space between individuals.
Conflicts bubble up in society, and often comes to a full boil within the church. We argue about critical things as well as spend time debating the color on paint chips. What if Haidt is right (I'll admit, I'm persuaded!) and therefore much of what I believe about morality begins with my genetic code? Because if that is true for me, it's also true for the person who I'd really rather not sit next to in choir rehearsal. Let's not begin to talk about the Imago Dei - that we are all made in the image of God!
Church, we've become so good at debating, demonizing and distancing when what we need to do is to come together around the Table. I'm not suggesting we dial down the conversation but rather that we find ways of having difficult conversations that are embedded in meaningful relationships.
I'd love to hear what your church is doing to create these kinds of relationships within your congregation as well as outside the church walls. What kinds of relationship are you building? How might the Presbytery partner with you in creating space for all God's people?
Resource Presbyter's Mobile Office Day 
Our Resource Presbyter, the Rev. Karen Chamis, will be working remotely at the following locations: 
Date: Wednesday, August 28, 2019 
Time: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Place: Shamballa Cafe, 11 W. Genesee St., in Baldwinsville.
Date: Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Place: Fayetteville United Church, 310 E. Genesee St., in Fayetteville 
Date: Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Time: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  
Place: Westminster Church in Auburn, 17 William St., in Auburn
Feel free to drop in for a conversation - or just to say hello
Karen can be reached at 315-632-5698 (option 1) or 
From the Leadership Team

Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications:
The Benevolent Care Fund Grant applications are now being accepted through Nov 1, 2019.   

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 Leadership Team Chairperson, Lynn Jacques, at

From the Associate Stated Clerk
Call for Special Presbytery Meeting

The Rev. Tom Oak, moderator, has called a special meeting of the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse for Saturday, October 5, 2019 beginning at 2:00 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Cazenovia for the purpose of installing the Rev. Karen Chamis as Resource Presbyter for the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse. The service of installation will be followed by a reception. All are invited, welcome, and encouraged to attend.
Peacemaking Offering

While every season is a season for peacemaking, this is the time of year that the PC(USA) sets aside to bring focus to the urgency for Christians to actively embrace the call to be peacemakers. World Communion Sunday, celebrated this year on Sunday, October 6, is traditionally the day churches collect donations to the Peace and Global Witness Offering (PGW, one of four denominational special offerings). Monies collected for the PGW offering are shared between the national, mid-council (synod/presbytery), and local levels of our denomination (50%, 25% and 25% respectively).
However, Cayuga-Syracuse is unique. Ordinarily, the Presbyterian Mission Agency would receive 50% of what a congregation collects, the congregation would retain 25% of the donations, and 25% would be split 50/50 between Synod and Presbytery. Several years ago, the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse made the decision to allow congregations to retain Presbytery's half of the 25% allocated to mid-councils.  This means that churches in our presbytery get to retain 37.5% of the Peace and Global Witness Offering to support a mission or ministry of their choosing.
Blessings to all who pursue paths of making peace.
Call to Service

The Nominating Committee is seeking referrals - or self-referrals - for the following service opportunities in our Presbytery:
Leadership Team:
(1) member for the class of 2020 and (1) member for the class of 2021

Committee on Representation: 
(1) member-at-large

Permanent Judicial Commission:            
(1) member for the class of 2025

Nominating Committee:                            
(4) at-large members

Vanderkamp Board:                    
(1) member for service beginning January 1, 2020
If necessary, the Leadership Team could appoint someone to the Vanderkamp board on behalf of Presbytery. All of the other positions, however, must have candidates elected by Presbytery at a stated meeting of Presbytery.
General Assembly Commissioners: One pastor, one elder and one Youth Advisory Delegate, plus alternates, need to be elected at the November 2019 Presbytery meeting. Names are to be submitted to the Office of General Assembly in December. Click here to learn more.
Presbytery also needs to identify a new Treasurer. Ideally this person needs to be elected by the February 2020 Presbytery meeting to begin service no later than May 2020. This will ensure a time of overlap and transition with retiring Treasurer, elder Gordie Howard.
Names and self-referrals should be directed to Nominating Committee co-chairs Rev. Karen Green ( or elder Nancy Wind (
  Session Records Review
Session records reviews will be conducted in October.

Clerks of Session are asked to RSVP to Linda Russell, associate stated clerk, by emailing m and make an appointment by October 21 for one of the following dates and times:
  •     Tuesday, October 22 at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. @ Liverpool
  • Thursday, October 24 at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. @ Auburn-First
  • Tuesday, October 29 at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 @ Fayetteville
Please write "Records Review" in the email subject line and include the name of the church and the name of the clerk of session in the email.
Around the Presbytery
The First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles is looking 
for a lectern to be donated to the church. The church will pick up the lectern, which needs to be large enough to hold a Bible, etc. If you can donate one, contact the church by calling (315) 685-5048.
After service there will be a hot dog roast. Guests are encourage to bring a dish to share, their own picnic ware and a chair. Farmers and friends in the community are welcome to attend.

What: Blood Drive   
When: Wednesday, September 11 
Where: Onondaga Hill Presbyterian Church, 4797 Makyes Road, Syracuse
  • 1 donation can save up to 3 lives
  • Every 2 seconds someone in the US needs blood
  • Approximately 36,000 units of red blood                                                                       cells are needed every day in the U.S.
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
How safe is your church?
As gun violence escalates, churches wrestle with how to protect worshipers

By Donna Frischknecht Jackson
Presbyterians Today
The pastor glumly ordered a salad with dressing on the side. Her lunch companion wondered whether her friend would rather have had a greasy hamburger instead. The pastor's sour mood, though, wasn't about healthy food choices. It was about the choice her session had made to lock the doors during Sunday morning worship.

After two decades of guiding the congregation to be welcoming to its community - one that elders had noticed becoming riddled with drugs and crime - the soon-to-retire pastor felt defeated. She wondered about the message that locked doors would send.

"I feel my time there has been for nothing," she admitted.


Repentance and forgiveness

Races, faith traditions come together during moving ceremony remembering those enslaved

By Mike Ferguson

People of many races and representing several faith traditions gathered Tuesday to commemorate Angela, the first African to arrive in the American Colonies 400 years ago for the purpose of enslavement.

Put on by Simmons College and held at St. Stephen Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., the Angela Project Liberation Ceremony included moving responsive readings in which white people acknowledged and apologized for sins during the slavery era (1619-1865), the Jim Crow period (1877-1969) and their aftereffects (1970 to the present). In turn, black people in the crowd - some who had entered the church in chains, reading brief accounts of people who'd been enslaved - responded by forgiving and then repenting of hatred and unforgiveness for any number of sins committed by whites, including kidnapping, tearing families apart, violently depriving blacks of their voting rights, crafting the theological rationalization of black inferiority and dehumanization, disinvesting in the black community, designing redlined neighborhoods and continuing to incarcerate a disproportionate number of black men (there are more black men in prison in the U.S. than the number incarcerated in nine countries combined: India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel and England, nations with a total population of 1.71 billion people, about five times that of the United States).

"Slavery created brokenness and pain that still exists today," prayed the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Bound together in chains aboard slave ships, "they were thrown overboard when they died from famine or disease," Nelson said. "For those who made it, who thought they were coming to a new possibility," Nelson told the Almighty, "your help was eclipsed by those who used them for monetary means."

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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