Monday in Ministry

September 29, 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

Worship resources

Christians in Iraq

From the Stated Clerk/Communicator

Around the Presbytery

Around the Synod

Around the PC(USA)



World Communion Worship Resources


This next Sunday, October 5, is World Communion Sunday.  It also is the day when congregations are encouraged to receive the annual Peacemaking Offering.  Worship resources abound for these special emphases.  However, a new resource has just been published and provided by our Church staff in Louisville.  You may explore and/or download this valuable resource for free.  Just click here:



Christians in Iraq


Once numbering over 1,000,000, Christians in Iraq have been fleeing by the thousands. This has increased with the persecution of Christians by radicals of IS (the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, or ISIL).  A large group of Muslim scholars recently published an open letter to the head of IS, "accusing the self-proclaimed caliph and his army of heinous war crimes and violation of fundamental principles of Islam, illiterate use of Islamic scripture torn from the context and perversion of the rules of morality and Sharia law."  (To read their letter, you may find it at  Warning: there are some disturbing pictures on this website, so please use discretion.)


A CNN video report about the persecution of Christians in Iraq, published a month ago, may be viewed here:


Let us remember to pray for our sisters and brothers who are undergoing severe persecution.



From the Stated Clerk/Communicator


"Blessed are the peacemakers," taught Jesus.


I don’t know about you, but to me those words seem sometime to be quaint or naïve at best, anachronistic or irrational at worst.  I mean, could peacemakers have stopped Adolph Hitler?  Could peacemakers stop Boko Haram extremists in Nigeria or Islamic State extremists in Iraq?



"Well, but it was a simpler time in Jesus' day," we might be tempted to say?  Really? Rome ruled Israel/Palestine with an iron fist in Jesus' day.  Anarchists and revolutionaries sought whatever means they could find to subvert Roman authority.  Public executions were horrific and commonplace.  Religious extremists encouraged public stonings for those they identified and labeled as "sinners."  People seen as collaborating with Romans were ridiculed and outcast from their communities.  People with leprosy were shunned and isolated, and people with mental illness were labeled as demoniacs.


"Blessed are the peacemakers," taught Jesus.


I confess I don't know what to do with this statement of the Lord's.  It stays with me.  It troubles my conscience.  It echoes in my head when I'm in church meetings that sometimes are less than cordial.  And I confess I don't know how to reconcile what often appears to be a conflict if one works for peace while at the same time advocating for justice.  It reminds me of one time when I was leading a training event for newly-elected ruling elders and deacons.  We were going through the questions for ordination/installation, and got to the seventh question:  "Do you promise to further the peace, unity, and purity of the Church?"  One of the candidates asked, "But what happens if working for the Church's purity disrupts its peace and threatens its unity?"  Good question.  I didn't have an answer then.  I guess I still don't.


"Blessed are the peacemakers," taught Jesus.


This coming Sunday is recognized in the Church as World Communion Sunday, reminding us of our Lord's prayer that we might all be one, be united, be at peace together.  Although I'm not sure all the ways this could/should be evidenced in the life of the Church and our witness in and to the world, what I know is that I'll be spending some time thinking, praying, reflecting about the need for peace:  in our congregations... in the Presbyterian Church... in the Church across the world... in places rocked by war and violence, whether in Mosul, Iraq or Ferguson, Missouri... in areas where Christians are persecuted... in my own life.


"Blessed are the peacemakers," taught Jesus.


And I don't believe he was kidding.


Blessings and, yes, peace to all,




Around the Presbytery


Ufford-Chase to be in Fayetteville

Former General Assembly Moderator, ruling elder Rick Ufford-Chase, who currently is the co-director of Stony Point Center, will be at the United Church of Fayetteville two different times in the next couple of months.  On Sunday, October 5, Rick will lead the Adult Forum, where he will discuss  "Justice, Peace and Genuine Security in Palestine and Israel."  Come at 8:45 am for coffee and fellowship, the program will start promptly at 9:00 in Beard Lounge.  November 8-9, Rick will return to UCF with members of the Community of Living Traditions where we will provide  occasions for them to connect with local leaders in the multi-faith community.  Find out more information on UCF's website:


Fall PW Gathering

The Fall Gathering for our Presbytery's PW group will be held on October 9 from 10:00-2:00 at the First Presbyterian Church of Baldwinsville.  The Keynote will be by Larry Hollar from Bread for the World.  Mable Wilson from the Food Access Task Force also will be at the gathering.  You can read the flyer with all of the information about this special event by going to on our website.


Calvin's Commentaries available

Retired teaching elder member of our Presbytery, Dennis Doerr, is continuing to cull his library.  He mentions that he has the complete set of Calvin's commentaries, some 21 or 22 volumes, and is willing to give them to anyone who would like to pick them up from him.  Feel free to email him at if you're interested in this bargain.


Elmwood Church news

The congregation of Elmwood Presbyterian Church has voted to sell its building, and that sale is in the process of being approved by the court.  Rather than dissolve, the remaining members of the congregation have voted to "nest" with the good folks at Robinson Memorial Church.  A combined worship service welcoming the Elmwood members to Robinson Memorial will be held on Sunday, October 26, followed by a luncheon.



Around the Synod of the Northeast


New Synod Staff member coming on board


The Synod Council is pleased to announce the addition of Amaury Tañón-Santos to the Synod's staff as Synod Networker. A teaching elder member of Elizabeth Presbytery, and parish associate of Nuevas Fronteras Presbyterian Church in Plainfield, NJ, Amaury joins the synod staff from Princeton Theological Seminary where he served as Director of Programs of Continuing Education. As the networker of the Synod of the Northeast, Amaury will work with Harold Delhagen - the Synod's Transitional Leader, the synod staff, and the Synod Council's Networks Working Group, in the continued development of a key component of the New Way Forward - the formation of Synod-wide networks of passion in ministry and mission.


Amaury is passionate about church ministry, intercultural engagement, and an active public Christian witness. He pastored two congregations in transition before joining Princeton Seminary's continuing education to oversee programs in intercultural and urban ministries, public social engagement, and Latina/o leadership.



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


Presbyterians helping in Iraq


Violence spread rapidly as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) began to take over portions of northern and western Iraq in August 2014. As many as a million people are displaced, fleeing Mosul and other cities.  Iraq was already responding to the ongoing crisis where almost 220,000 Syrian refugees had sought refuge in the same region.


The Presbyterian Disaster Assistance program is supporting our partner The National Evangelical Church of Iraq in providing food, water, clothing, fuel, hygiene items, and bedding to those most in need and in helping those who are displaced to find housing and employment.  PDA will also respond in cooperation with and as a member of ACT Alliance, which has already been working in informal camps to provide hygiene and sanitation kits, food packages and emergency shelters.


Please remember the three key words about our ministry through the Church's PDA program:  Give.  Act.  Pray.  You may find out more at



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


Copyright © 2014. All Rights Reserved.