Monday in Ministry

July 21, 2014



Dear Friends of Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery, welcome to this week's edition of our e-letter, Monday in Ministry.  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.).  Your input is valued, and your comments are always welcomed!



In This Issue


Upcoming Presbytery meetings

From the Stated Clerk/Communicator

In Memoriam

Around the Presbytery



Upcoming Presbytery meetings


Special meeting reminder

This is simply a reminder that there will be a special meeting of the Presbytery tomorrow, July 22, at 6:00 p.m. at Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church.


October Stated Meeting

The Leadership Team, in accordance with our Bylaws and Standing Rules, has set the October Stated Meeting to take place on Tuesday, October 28.  We would love to have one of our sessions offer to host that meeting.  The responsibilities would include providing a meal, which can be as traditional or as casual as the church decides to do.  Sometimes, a church will partner with a neighboring church to co-host the meeting.  If your session would like to offer to host the Oct. 28 meeting, please contact Steve Plank at (315) 632-5698, or  Thanks for considering this.



From the Stated Clerk/Communicator


Lessons from the Civil War, or War of Northern Aggression, or Recent Unpleasantness, or...


Our daughter--in-law lent us book a while ago, and I've slowly been working my way through it.  It really is a fascinating read.  It's written by Pulitzer-prize winning author Tony Horowitz.  The book is titled, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War.


As a student of history, there were many things in the book that I already knew.  It still is an astoundingly sobering fact to me that more Americans were killed in the War Between the States than in the totals put together from all of the other wars in which we have been involved!  But Horowitz wrote many things that were new to me.


He wrote that many southerners feel that the Civil War amounted to little more than a continuation of the long-standing conflicts between the English and the Celtic peoples; the north was settled predominantly by English immigrants, the south by Scots and Irish.


He wrote that the War is still so vivid to so many people in the south because of casualties and immigration patterns.  To quote:

"Roughly half of modern-day white Southerners descended from Confederates, and one in four Southern men of military age died in the War.  For Yankee men, the death rate was about one in ten, and waves of post-War immigration left a far lower ratio of Northerners with blood ties to the conflict."


Those were new things to me, and I'm still pondering those ideas.  But Horowitz also wrote about one particular town that he came across in the sojourn - really, in the pilgrimage - he took through the South.  He told the story about the small town of Fitzgerald, Georgia.  It is the county seat of Ben Hill County in south-central Georgia, and in 2012 had a population of 9,048.  Some of the streets in this village are named Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan, and others are named Lee, Jackson, Longstreet, and Bragg.  In other words, many of the streets are named after both Union and Confederate generals.  The town was developed by a Midwestern newspaper editor, Philander Fitzgerald, in 1895.  He had been a drummer boy for the Union army, and, in the midst of a severe drought in the early 1890's in the Midwest, concocted the idea of starting "a soldier's colony in the Southland and get all those old boys away from the bitter winters and drought."  He approached the governor of Georgia at the time, a Confederate veteran, and the two began to share the dream of a town that could be a place of refuge from the bitterness that still existed about the War.  Cautiously, the town planned its first veterans' parades, scheduling two of them: one for Union vets, the other for Confederates.  But when the band started playing, veterans of both armies "spontaneously joined and marched through the town together.  Thereafter, they merged to form Battalion One of the Blue and Gray, and celebrated their reconciliation annually."


Just imagine... After the tremendous bitterness and the losses inflicted during that dreadful time in our nation's history, people in this little village in southern Georgia, located less than 15 miles from the spot where President Jefferson Davis was captured on May 10, 1865, simply decided to put it all behind them, and to march - together - into a new future!


Wouldn't it be refreshing if even a small group of Republicans and Democrats simply decided to move beyond partisan politics and join together to forge a new way forward?  Wouldn't it be redeeming if even a small group of anti-abortion and pro-choice individuals could move beyond their impassioned rhetoric and see how they might work together in a new direction?  Wouldn't it be a sign of hope if some of the Shiite and Sunni Muslims throughout the Middle East could move forward in peace, holding on to the many things about their faith that unite them rather than going to war over the things that divide them?  Wouldn't it be a sign to the world if the Christian Church could stop our bickering over... fill-in-the-blank... marriage, ordination, property, denominational loyalty or denominational desertion, etc., etc., and instead find ways to forge partnerships in mission and service, in compassion and peace, in justice and grace that would be a fulfillment of Jesus' prayer that his followers be united?


I think that when I get discouraged about the many signs of division and hurt, of conflicts and fights in our world and in our society, I'll remember the folks in Fitzgerald, Georgia, who one day, long ago, simply decided that, in that place deep in the heart of Dixie, they would move forward together.


Blessings and peace,




In Memoriam


The Presbytery was notified by the Board of Pensions of the death of one of our retired teaching elders.  The Rev. James R. Hughes died on May 19, 2014.  Please remember James' family and friends in your prayers.


"Blessed are those who die in the Lord, says the Spirit.

They rest from their labors, and their works follow them."

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."



Around the Presbytery


Open House

On Sunday, September 7, there will be a special Open House to honor Ed and Jane Thornburg.  The Thornburg's recently have decided to move to Kalamazoo, Michigan to be near their family, and Northminster Pres. is setting aside the day to provide opportunities to say "farewell."  Ed will be preaching at the worship service at 10:00 that morning, and then the congregation will be having a special luncheon in their honor.  Then there will be the Open House from 1:00-3:00, held in the church's library.  If you'd like to attend the luncheon, please RSVP to the church by Sept. 3:  458-0393.


Overseas Mission Trips

The Presbytery group visiting South Korea has arrived safely, and Robinson Memorial's

group trip to Uganda has been going well.


New Interim Pastor at Westminster, Auburn

The Session at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Auburn is pleased to announce that they have invited the Rev. Dwain Lee to serve as their Interim Pastor, and that the Committee on Ministry has approved the contract.  Dwain will be starting August 20, with his first Sunday there being August 24. He will be moving to Auburn from the Columbus, Ohio area, where he has been the Pastor for Congregational Care and Youth at the Worthington Presbyterian Church. Dwain is a "second career pastor," and was an architect before attending seminary.  We give thanks to God for this new pastoral relationship, and look forward to welcoming Dwain to our Presbytery.



The Rev. Steven W. Plank, Stated Clerk/Communicator

P. O. Box 6010

Syracuse, NY  13217-6010

(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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