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

Dec. 13, 2018
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
Bringing Christmas Joy to Children in Need
The First Presbyterian Church in Mexico takes part in Operation Reindee r
MEXICO, N.Y. -- The emotions of the day are hard to describe in words, but the love could be felt in the air.  
For the past 17 years, The First Presbyterian Church has taken part in Operation Reindeer, a community program that serves hundreds of children, from infant to 18 years old, in the Mexico Central School District. This year was the 34th year for the community-wide holiday project.  
The goal has been the same for more than three decades: To brighten the Christmas for families and children in need.   
The small congregation of the First Presbyterian Church in Mexico unites with other churches, individuals, civic organizations, school groups, school staff, local businesses and corporations to brighten the Christmas for children in need with throws, hats, mittens or gloves as well as educational toys and other gifts.  
This year the high school students, teachers and individuals were guided by the Operation Reindeer Team to pack for 146 families, which includes 410 children.  
"We are blessed to be able serve the Lord in serving others," said Pastor Karen Green. "It is an awe inspiring event to see so many people come together in Mexico to help their neighbors."  

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...
  • Pray for all those who are facing the holiday season without a loved one. The first Christmas after a death of a family member or friend is extremely difficult. Please be with these people to comfort them and to feel the joy in the season -- to see the light in the darkness.
  • Pray for Jack Santee who had major scoliosis surgery putting a rod from his neck down his back. Jack is the 20-year-old grandson of Amboy Belle Isle United Church Pastor Gail Banks. Recovery will be slow but Jack's family is grateful for the wonderful surgical staff. 
  • Pray for all those who are still recovering around the country and around the world from natural disasters.
In the cycle of prayer for our Presbytery, please pray for these congregations, faith communities, and individuals: Port Byron Federated; First, Scipioville; Sennett Federated Church; First, Skaneateles  

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

Photo of the Week
Weedsport First Presbyterian Church held its Children's Christmas Program 2018. See more pictures 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 Leadership Team

Attention Clerks of Session:
It's Annual Statistics Time!
Deadline: Feb. 1, 2019
Everything you need for completing the annual statistical report for your church is online and available now. Click here. That will take you to "Statistical Reporting and Frequently Asked Questions." Click the link for "Go to the Online Statistics Entry System" to enter the Church Statistics System. 

The deadline to submit your report is Feb. 1, 2019. More detailed information can be found here; and watch for a separate Clerks of Session email. Thank you so much for your service. Last year all but three churches were able to submit their reports on time. Let's try for 100 percent this year.  We can do this. Please let me know if you have any questions. I will try to answer them, or I will put you in touch with someone who can.
Linda Russell
Leadership Team chairperson

Resource Presbyter

At its regular meeting on Nov. 29, 2018 the Leadership Team approved a position description for a full-time "Resource Presbyter" to serve as a colleague in ministry, facilitate community building, and support the ongoing initiatives of the Presbytery as we continue working with our sister presbyteries in Central New York to discern new possibilities for our missional structure(s). The team set aside Dec. 6 through Dec. 20, 2018 as an "open comment" period for members of Cayuga-Syracuse before officially posting the position on other sites. Based on responses received, a determination will be made as to whether advertising and the search process can begin the first of January or if we need to wait for further discussion at the February presbytery meeting. The position description can be found here. Comments should be directed to Rev. Tom Oak at We welcome your comments and look forward to hearing from you. Visit Presbytery's website for more information.
Peace and grace,
Linda Russell, Leadership Team chairperson

The Leadership Team has not yet been able to confirm a Triennium Registrar for Cayuga-Syracuse. If you are willing to serve in this role from now through July 2019, please contact Linda Russell at If you have students who are interested in attending this mountain-top experience for youth entering 9th grade through graduated 12th grade, please send the name of your church, the approximate number of eligible students, and the name and email for a contact person in your church to Linda as well. Triennium dates are July 16-20 and information can be found here.
Call to Service
Presbytery Treasurer, ruling elder Gordie Howard, has informed the Leadership Team that he plans to retire May 31, 2019 (one year early.) Please forward names of potential nominees for the Office of Treasurer to Donna Hunt, chair of the Nominating Committee, at Self-referrals are also welcome. Nominees must be either a ruling elder or a minister of Word and Sacrament.
Other opportunities for service include openings on the Leadership Team, at-large members for the Nominating Committee, one at-large member of the Committee on Representation, and a representative for the Synod Mission and Ministries Commission.(In 2019 the Synod M&M Commission meets January 25-26, May 3-4, and September 27-28.) Names and self-referrals for these positions should also be sent to Donna Hunt.
Around the Presbytery

What: "Holiday Voices in Concert," an acapella and choral performance for all ages
Cost: Tickets are available at the door for $8 to $12 (sliding scale)


What: "Nepion," the children's choir of the Korean Church of Syracuse will perform at a service of "Lessons and Carols" hosted by Colgate University Chapel
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 14
Where: Colgate Memorial Chapel
             13 Oak Dr. in Hamilton

The annual candlelight service tells the Christmas story through nine biblical passages and favorite carols. "Nepion" will sing hymns for this event.


What: Annual Cookie Walk
When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 15
Where: First United Church of East Syracuse
             823 Franklin Park Dr. in East Syracuse
What: Longest Night Service 
When: 7 p.m. Dec. 21 
Where: Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn, 17 William St.
More information: Visit the church's Facebook event 
The expectation of joy in the Christmas season can overshadow the pain and hurt many experience during this season, when the world's merriment puts their grief and sorrow in stark relief. One of the gifts that Westminster offers to its members, friends and the community is a service that acknowledges that Christmas can be both a time of pain and a time of hope. The Service of the Longest Night takes place on the longest night of the year, Dec. 21. It is a time to recognize, in the midst of all the gaiety of the holidays, that many are experiencing loss, darkness and doubt. The hope offered in the Service of the Longest Night is that in every succeeding day there will be a little more light. Guests of the Service of the Longest Night will hear a message of hope, expressed in the light which came to live among us in the form of a baby called Emmanuel "God with us."   

Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
In memory of Sandy Hook, an Advent prayer to end gun violence
National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath is Dec. 13-16
By Rich Copley
Presbyterian News Service
If you Google "Sandy Hook," the search engine's "People also search for ..." menu offers these grim options: 2012 Aurora shooting, Stoneman Douglas High School, Columbine High School massacre, 2014 Isla Vista massacre, Orlando nightclub shooting.

And it could go on.

Friday marks the sixth anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a tragedy that took the lives of 20 first grade students, six school staff members, the shooter and his mother. But it is far from an aberration in 21st century America, which is why National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath has become part of Advent observances in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

In a post on the Presbyterian Mission Agency's Mission Yearbook for Dec. 13 , Presbyterian Peacemaking Program coordinator Carl Horton describes the Dec. 13-16 observance as an "Advent-tide 'Sabbath,' a set of days when people of faith add gun violence prevention to the waiting and watching of this season."


Native American women 'breaking barriers' within the PC(USA)

Presbyterian Women board member says intentional effort needed to reach young people
by Gail Strange
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - With Native American women installed as  executives in such places as the Synod of Lakes and Prairies, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is becoming a more diverse denomination - but there's still work to be done, said the Rev. Danelle Crawford McKinney, a Presbyterian Women board member.

McKinney, whose great-grandfather was one of the first Native American Presbyterian pastors in Dakota Presbytery, is a student rights specialist at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, and an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Ovate tribe.

"We don't need to take the young people from the reservation, but take people to the reservation," she said.

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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