Monday in Ministry

September 15, 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


Ordination on Thursday

From the Stated Clerk/Communicator

Around the Presbytery

Around the Synod

Around the PC(USA)



Ordination Thursday afternoon


Don't forget the Presbytery will be gathering in worship this Thursday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Skaneateles to ordain Mr. Mario Bolivar and to install him as the Associate Pastor of that congregation.  Pastoral leaders are invited to robe and to process together.  Please plan on being at the church by 1:45.  We look forward to this special occasion for Mario, for the Skaneateles congregation, and for our Presbytery!



From the Stated Clerk/Communicator



Within a matter of just about one month, our Presbytery will have the opportunity to celebrate the ordination of two individuals, and will have installed them to positions of pastoral leadership in two different congregations.  What a joy!


We talk about people "going into the ministry," "receiving a call," "becoming a Reverend," and many other things.  What does it really mean, though, to be a minister? Do you have to be "ordained" to do it?  Are only ministers "ministers"...what about ruling elders, deacons, Sunday School teachers, educators, health workers, youth leaders, plumbers, etc.?


Over the years I often have appreciated the pithy sayings that I've found in the writings of theologian and author, Frederick Buechner.  Here are some of his thoughts about what a "minister" is...from his wonderful book, Wishful Thinking: A Seeker's ABC (HarperSanFrancisco, 1993):


"There are three basic views (of what a Minister is):

  1. Ministers are Nice People. They preach good sermons, but they're not like those religious fanatics who think they've got to say a prayer every time they pay a call.
  2. Ministers have their heads in the clouds.  If you should ever happen to use bad language in their presence, you apologize.
  3. Ministers are as anachronistic as alchemists or chimney sweeps. Like Tiffany glass or the Queen of England, their function is primarily decorative.


"The first ministers were the twelve disciples... When Jesus sent the twelve out into the world, his instructions were simple. He told them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal (Luke 9:2), with the implication that to do either right was in effect to do both.  Fortunately for the world in general and the church in particular, the ability to do them is not dependent on either moral character or I.Q. To do them in the name of Christ is to be a minister."


Lorrie Cooney and Mario Bolivar didn't become "ministers" when we ordained them as teaching elders.  (Okay, Mario won't "count" until this Thursday afternoon... but you know what I mean.)  We simply recognized the gifts for particular forms of ministry that God already had entrusted to them, and we commissioned them to live out those ministries in Mexico, NY and Skaneateles, NY respectively. We Presbyterian and Reformed folks believe the each of us and all of us have been "called" to "ministry," and the symbol of that call was our baptism.  What form(s) our particular ministries have taken are as varied as are each one of us.


Have a good week, all you ministers out there... in other words, all of you.


Blessings and peace,




Around the Presbytery


Upcoming Mission Partnership Trip

The Latin American Mission Partnership is a working partnership between two presbyteries in Campeche, Mexico and two presbyteries in Central New York (Utica and Cayuga-Syracuse). The partnership has completed almost yearly projects in Mexico and the United States over its rich ten-year history. The group is now planning a mission partnership trip to Campeche, Mexico from February 17 to February 24, 2015. We hope to have 14 participants from Central New York who will join with our friends in Campeche in hands-on work projects at their seminary. The group participants will stay with members of churches in the city of Campeche. The trip will also include opportunities to worship and eat with church communities and to visit historic sites in the region.


Applications are available for those 14 years of age and older. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2014. There are scholarships in place to support those who feel called to go. Please contact Sandi Yingling, the moderator of LAMP, at, or 315-457-2259 for more information or to schedule a presentation about LAMP mission trips at your church gathering.  You may download the application and papers here:


Keep an eye out for this

The Confirmation Project seeks to learn the extent to which confirmation and equivalent practices (CEP) in five Protestant denominations in the United States are effective for strengthening discipleship in youth. Strengthening discipleship includes nurturing faith in Jesus Christ and facilitating youth encounters with Christian traditions (Scripture, creeds, confessions, and practices) to support lifelong Christian vocation. The five denominations in this project include: the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Methodist Church. This project is funded by the Lilly Foundation, Inc. and seeks to provide ministry leaders within the Christian church examples of strategies and practices that are effective in helping young Christians grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.


Churches in the PC(USA) will receive an e-mail link to our confirmation survey on October 1, 2014. By taking the time to fill out the survey, you can help us better understand the depth, breadth, and effectiveness of confirmation and equivalent practices in the PC(USA). We look forward to learning from you and your ministry!


To learn more, visit our website at



Around the Synod of the Northeast


Synod Council actions

The Synod Council will hold its next quarterly meeting this coming weekend.  They will be following up on several items of business that were discussed and decided at their last meeting, which was in July.  Among other things from that meeting are the following items:

  • The Rev. Harold Delhagen, who has been serving as Transitional Leader of the Synod, will be nominated to a four-year term as our Synod Leader.
  • Worship at the Synod Assembly this October will incorporate a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of Reformer John Knox.
  • Grants of almost $200,000 were approved from the Synod's Innovation Fund for the next 2-3 years.


Read the full report from the July meeting here:



Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


Faith formation starts in high school - and before

A recent survey of young adults who are active in a church concluded this:  "Teenagers who have adults of faith invested in their lives and actively participate in church are likely to become young adults who are present and active in their congregations."


When asked what led the survey participants to develop relationships with particular adults, several characteristics emerged as important: The adults were kind, caring, friendly, and interested in conversation and dialogue. As youth, the survey participants appreciated when they could bring questions to the adults and when adults brought questions of their own. They desired to feel as though they were not being judged, and appreciated being treated as equals. Trust was important, in two senses: trusting the adult but also feeling that the adult had trust in them. Here are some quotes about what drew youth to these adults:

  • "Instead of being the future of the church, they saw me as a part of the present of the church right beside them." -19-year-old female
  • "I don't want someone who is necessarily going to tell me what I should think/believe but rather someone who will listen to what I have to say, tell me what they believe and how they came to believe it, and let me come to my beliefs on my own. . . . I don't want the answers just handed to me." -21-year-old male
  • "They were kind people who really showed a persistent interest in my life. . . . They impacted my life in such massive ways just by being there and setting an example." -19 year old female


If you'd like more information... and who wouldn't want to learn more about what brings and involves young adults to a congregation?... you can read the entire survey results and the article about it here:



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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