Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse
5811 Heritage Landing Dr., 2nd Floor
East Syracuse, NY  13057
(315) 632-5698
May 14, 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

Our Hero Wears Scrubs!

Annette Digby, a member of the Board of Deacons and treasurer of Mexico First Presbyterian Church, is a hero in scrubs. 
Digby and two of her co-workers from St. Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse were sent to McNeal Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois, to help out in their ICU for two weeks.

On April 24, Digby arrived home to see her driveway lined with signs welcoming her home. She was very surprised and appreciative of the gesture.

May we keep all healthcare workers in our prayers and remember that some heroes don't wear capes, they wear scrubs!
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...   
  • Please pray for the Rev. Ed Kang (Honorably Retired) and his wife Mae who have both been diagnosed with cancer.
  • Prayers of celebration for Shavonn Lynch and Kim Patch as they celebrate their graduation from Northeastern Seminary on Saturday, May 16th. Shavonn is a Candidate under Care and Kim is an Inquirer in our presbytery.
  • Prayers for the Class of 2020.
  • 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: minister members of the Presbytery who are engaged in specialized ministries, who are at-large members, or who are retired
If you'd like to share a particular joy or concern with the Presbytery, please contact:

Photo of the Week
First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles gave out Masks for Moms on Mother's Day.
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!
In the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale of the Little Mermaid (not to be confused with its Disneyesque counterpart), the little mermaid forfeits her life under the sea for one on land. She is promised not only two legs, but also the possibility of an eternal soul should the prince fall in love with her. She's warned that if the prince should marry another, she will instantly die of a broken heart and turn to sea foam.

The cost for this promise: Her voice and her ability to sing.
I've made this deal.
In May of 1993 I suffered damage to my vocal chords during a failed external cephalic version (an attempt to turn an upside-down and backwards daughter in utero in order to avoid a c-section). I screamed throughout the entire process. I have no idea if the medical folk every regained hearing (I'm a trained soprano) ... but I lost three of my four octaves and didn't claim them again for years.
Not being able to sing, especially in worship, was emotionally and spiritually painful but the resulting gift of my daughter was worth everything. I'd do it again in a heartbeat for her.

Losing my voice to gain a life? Absolutely, if painful and heart-wrenching.
In the original version of the Little Mermaid, the prince marries another. Just before dawn the next day and her dissolution into seafoam, the mermaid is told that if she kills the prince who betrayed her love with a special knife and allows his blood to drip into the sea, she will regain her mermaid form and will live out her remaining years with her family.
This too is a familiar choice.
As congregations around the world determine if they will gather in worship, and gather voices in song they are making a similar choice. We can go back to singing, go back to our old forms of worship with one another. We can ignore the warnings about the effectiveness of singing in spreading the virus and belt out beloved hymns. We can make the choice to return to the sea in our original form and rejoin our family.
Of course, the difference in our story and that of the little mermaid is we don't have the option of determining who might die from that choice.
In the end, she can't do it. Dawn comes, and instead of dissolving into seafoam she is transformed into a Daughter of the Air because of her selflessness. She is told that if she does good deeds for the next 300 years she will be given an immortal soul and go to heaven.
Now, obviously, this isn't gospel. It's also not Disney. It does, however, provide a cautionary tale on the choices we make and the sacrifices we may need to consider in order that others might live.
It might be Gospel after all.

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: 
If you are unable to participate in worship, or know someone who would appreciate a liturgy that can be used at home, please use the following link: 
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  
Please register at

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   
Dates to Remember
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.)
Becoming Presbyterian
The Holy Spirit is at work  
in the PC(USA)'s 1001  
New Worshiping  
Communities movement
By Paul Seebeck
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - Nick Pickrell, organizer of The Open Table KC, has never set foot in a seminary.  But after five years co-leading this new worshiping community in Kansas City, he's going through the process of becoming a commissioned ruling elder. "I wanted to be more connected to the PC(USA) denomination," he says in the new 1001 Worshiping Communities video, "Becoming Presbyterian."

Before starting The Open Table KC, in partnership with Second Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Missouri, Pickrell lived in a Catholic Worker House run by a PC(USA) minster.

Wendie Brockhaus is curator at The Open Table KC. She found out about the new worshiping community on Second Presbyterian Church's website. "They had a position opening," she said, "and suddenly I was co-pastor of a new worshiping community."

Brockhaus grew up in conservative evangelical denomination. She didn't see herself as a woman in ministry, thinking it wasn't an option for her. Despite that she went to seminary and also completed her clinical pastoral education (CPE) residency.  "Even though I have (a Master of Divinity degree) I don't feel a call to ordained ministry in the traditional sense," she says. "But I do feel a call to this community. I found a home."

Continue reading...
Navajo Nation suffers from one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in U.S.
Lack of social distancing capability, limited access to running water are contributors in the sprawling reservation

By Gail Strange
Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - As scientists work at a furious pace to find answers and a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus, the death rate from the pandemic continues to take its toll on this country, having taken the lives of more than 81,000 people as of Tuesday. Statistics tell us that in the U.S. this pandemic is killing black and brown people at a disproportionate rate in communities across the nation.

And, because this novel virus does not have a preference for where or whom it strikes, it appears to be taking a sizable toll on the rural Navajo Nation and its people. The Navajo Nation includes 27,425 square miles of land that extends into New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, and borders Colorado, which makes Navajo the largest American Indian reservation in the United States.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census there are 332,129 Navajos identified as "Navajo tribal grouping alone or in any combination" (Navajo in combination) in the U.S., with 173,677 people living on the Navajo Nation.

Of the more than $2 trillion coronavirus federal stimulus package approved more than a month ago, $8 billion in relief - less than 4/10ths of 1 percent - went to the 574 federally recognized tribes. Tribal advocates say far more is needed to adequately protect indigenous people from the spread of the virus.

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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