Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

A weekly e-mail from

Plymouth Congregational Church


232 E. Onondaga Street, Syracuse NY | 13202 | 315 474 4836

Welcoming All, Growing in Faith, Working for Justice and Peace

Preparing for Sunday’s Worship

Sunday Morning Bible Study has resumed. This is a weekly examination of the following week’s preaching text(s). Grab a cup of coffee (but don’t worry about a Bible, we’ll provide those!) and join us downstairs in the Scout Room at 11:15 a.m.

Sunday’s music:

Our reading this Sunday is about the lack of faith amongst the Israelites as they wander in the desert. The choir presents two anthems – one by Bach, and one by contemporary composer Lloyd Larsen – admonishing faith in God. The organ prelude is Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in e minor (“The Cathedral”), and the postlude is a movement from Handel’s Water Music.

 Focus Scripture Exodus 17:1-17

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”


      Focus Questions

1. Is it unfaithful to question God? Why or why not?

2. What should Israel have done in its thirst?

3. Does God feel more present in good times or in bad?

4. Has “wilderness” been a positive or negative faith experience in your life?

5. What are the mirages that we have wandered toward as a culture?

 Reflection by Kate Huey

Can a faithful people question God?

What was really going on when the Israelites grumbled and questioned Moses’ leadership? What does it say about them, their faith, and even about God? Walter Brueggemann says that when the people complain, they’re hoping to “mobilize Yahweh to be Yahweh’s best, true self”: they know who God is, so their complaints actually express a “deep confidence” that their God is the kind that helps when the going gets rough. (Why else would one pray?) In a sense, then, even complaining to God in frustration and fear expresses some kind of faith, a kind of hope grounded in what one trusts to be true about God.

That’s one way to read it. But it’s also possible that the Israelites were doing the testing just as much as God was: “If you really are God, you would….” Or, “If you really loved us, you would….” Gerald Janzen draws our attention to a simple phrase in the first verse, about the people journeying “by stages” through the wilderness, questioning and grumbling about God (and their leader, Moses). Delivering one kind of “ultimatum” after another, they set themselves up as the ones who could judge whether or not God was with them, and whether God was doing what God was supposed to do. Janzen wonders, “[I]f we are the ones to decide what shall count as evidence of God’s good presence and activity among us, does this not make us like God in respect to ‘knowing good and evil’?” Of course, we already know what happened before, when humans tried for such knowledge.


- The Reverend Kathryn Matthews Huey serves as Dean of the Amistad Chapel at the national offices of the United Church of Christ in Cleveland, Ohio. To read her entire reflection, go to


     In Our Church Community

Young Adults Meet Tuesday

The next gathering of Plymouth Young Adults will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Beer Belly Deli & Pub, 510 Westcott Street. For more information, get in touch with Kelly Tooley at This will be a chance for us not only to hang out, but to make plans for the fall as well.


Living the Questions

The next series of Living the Questions will begin on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. at the home of Menno and Ellen Heinrichs. For more information, contact Menno at or 656-3449.

       What Is Joy?

The 9th-12th-grade learning community class is exploring the theme of joy as it prepares to deliver the reflection during the service on Youth Sunday, October 19.

They would like your input! Please answer (you and/or others in your household) the following three questions and send the answers to youth teacher Kathy Ferro at by Saturday, October 4. Your answers will be kept confidential.

            1)  What is joy?

            2)  What gives you joy?

            3)  What is your age range:  0-12, 13-21, 22-30, 30-50, 50-70, 70+ (we’d like compare perspectives across the ages)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with our youth.


Plymouth Women Meet

The Plymouth Women will have their first fall meeting on Monday, October 6, at noon at Bellevue Manor (4330 Onondaga Boulevard, Syracuse). Please bring a dish to pass and your summer stories to share. All women are invited to attend.

Small Groups

This initiative, focusing on “life’s big questions” now has its own special name –  “Covenant Communities.” It also has a planning committee composed of Sue Bogucz, Mark Hartman-Souder, Cindy Ostuni, Kathy Tryon, and Elaine Wolf. Last Sunday 17 people joined us in the Parlor for an informational meeting. There we presented the history of this initiative, described our vision for its future, and fielded lots questions and comments from those who attended. If you didn’t have a chance to participate but are interested in finding out more about plans for the Covenant Communities, contact a member of the planning committee directly or leave a message for one of them with Plymouth’s office administrator (474-4836). You are also welcome to participate in one of the open meetings that will be held on October 19 and November 9, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in the Parlor.


Learning Community Fall Mission Project

We are requesting school supplies for children in need. This is the best time of the year to pick up discounted school supplies at Target, Office Max, etc. Suggested items include crayons, pencils, highlighters, pocket folders, glue sticks, colored pencils, plastic pencil cases and safety scissors. The Learning Community children plan on filling 10 backpacks to be delivered to Syracuse City School students. Classrooms always need sanitizing wipes, tissues and construction paper, if you happen to see any on sale.

 Capital Campaign Update

A timeline is taking shape for our capital campaign. The next opportunity to participate will be a listening weekend with campaign consultant Renee LiaBraaten November 15-17. She will be doing one-on-one interviews with individuals and a number of focus groups. Stay tuned for your invitation from the Capital Campaign Steering Committee.
Toiletry Bags for Holidays

Plymouth Women will be assembling 75 toiletry bags for distribution during Food Pantry times in December. During the summer, the women will gladly accept financial donations to purchase shampoo, deodorant, soap, toothpaste and lotion. They are planning to buy the needed items in bulk. If you have any questions, contact Peggy Kinner at 492-0556 or 729-9470.


Ushers, Greeters, Liturgists and Community Time

Consider signing up! We’ll give you all the training you need, and great partners as well.  To sign up as a greeter, email Craig Greczyn at To be an usher, email Jared Titus at To proclaim the word and share your voice as a Liturgist, call Jackie Manier at 760-3177 and leave a message. To host Community Time, email Linda Milosky at

          Plymouth on YouTube

Did you know that Plymouth Church has a YouTube channel? You can find recordings of sermons given at Plymouth on it, along with some of the choir’s anthems. Our YouTube channel is one way that Plymouth is reaching out to folks who missed a Sunday or who want to listen again to a sermon or anthem, and letting the wider community and world know about us. You can search YouTube for Plymouth Church Syracuse or use this link:

You can also listen to any sermon since November 28, 2012, on Plymouth’s website at


Save the World with a Casserole

The Care Team is initiating a project to gather and store food at the church that can be taken to people as needs arise. The Plymouth Women have already contributed some soups and casseroles. The food (dated and labeled) will be stored in the freezer. When there is an illness or other emergency, we will be ready to provide a meal. If you wish to contribute to this effort, please contact Ellen Heinrichs. If you become aware of a need and/or would deliver a meal, please contact Quinn or any member of the Care Team.


Plymouth Is on Facebook

If you are on Facebook and you haven’t “liked” the church yet, please do!


Help Plymouth When You Shop

Want to help Plymouth when you’re shopping? Here are two ways.

Staples office supply store has a Rewards Program that allows Plymouth to benefit. When you purchase anything at Staples, tell the checkout person the church’s phone number (474-4836) to activate a reward and Staples will direct 5 percent of that sale to Plymouth. Joan Fogarty has copies of the church’s Rewards card if you would like to present that at Staples. Ask her for one.

And you can raise money by shopping with GoodShop and GoodSearch: has added a new feature to expand the ways you can shop and donate a percentage of each purchase to Plymouth. You can use Goodswipe, a credit card rewards program. By linking your card with one signup, you can earn donations to Plymouth for every in-store purchase at 50,000 stores. Goodswipe uses bank-level encryption to keep your information safe. To learn more about Goodswipe, go to

When shopping online, you can use and benefit Plymouth. For more information on that, go to, enter Plymouth Congregational UCC in the box labeled “Who do you GoodShop for.”


Pastoral Care

The Rev. Quinn Caldwell is available to respond to emergencies, to visit those with special needs, or for conversation and prayer about whatever’s on your mind or heart.  You can reach him at 315-474-4836 or In an emergency, you can reach him at 617-851-0158.


Food Pantry Offerings

The Food Pantry requests your participation is its “toiletries of the month” collection. Contributions of shampoo are being gathered in October. The Food Pantry is also in need of large paper bags and is happy to receive personal products. If you stay at a hotel and don’t use the shampoo, soap, lotion or other complimentary products, please save them.


The Week Ahead

Mon. Sept. 29              Senior Conversation, 10:30 am, home of Polly Cadwell

Tue. Sept 30                Young Adults gathering, 7 pm, Beer Belly Deli & Pub, 510 Westcott St., Syracuse

Wed. Oct. 1                 Living the Questions, 12:30 pm, home of Menno and Ellen Heinrichs

Thur. Oct. 2                 Food Pantry, 10 a.m. to noon, Parlor

                                         Handbell Choir Rehearsal, 6 p.m., Sanctuary

                                         Choir Rehearsal, 7 p.m., Memorial Hall

Sun. Oct. 5 – Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

                         Worship – Communion and Learning Community Chapel Time, 10 a.m.

                        Learning Community Classes, 11 a.m.

                        Bible Study, 11:15 a.m.

                        Forum: Nicaraguan outreach, presented by Enrique Gutierez and Sonia Rojas of Mision Christiana in Nicaragua, 11:15 a.m.

                         Refugee Resettlement Team Meeting, 11:15 a.m.

                        Downtown Syracuse CROP Walk Registration, 12:15 p.m.

                        Downtown Syracuse CROP Walk steps off from Columbus Circle, 1 p.m.


In the Wider Community


CROP Walk Is Coming

The Downtown CROP Walk is set for Sunday, October 5. Registration will begin at 12:15 p.m. at Plymouth on that day and the 3.4-mile walk will step off from Columbus Circle at 1 p.m. You are encouraged to participate in this event, either by being one of the walkers or by sponsoring someone who is walking.


Coats for New Americans

Interfaith Works Center for New Americans is collecting coats of all sizes (for toddlers, youth, women and men) as well as gloves, scarves, and boots – all new or gently used, clean with no stains, no holes, no tears. When a new refugee family arrives during the fall and winter months, the center welcomes them at the airport with new friendships and warm coats. It’s cold outside and most have never experienced winters like ours! For more information about how you can help the center in this effort, contact Daryl Files at dfiles@interfaithworkscny.or or 474-1261 (ext. 208).


The People’s Climate March

The UCC reports on Sunday’s event in New York City.


Survey: Religion’s Influence in Society Declining

Respondents also say they want a greater role for religion in public life, politics.


Hard-Line Bishops Challenge Pope’s Moderate Views

They speak out in new book, “Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church.”


Soul Hungry?

How to take care of your spirit the six days of each week you don’t go to worship? The UCC has launched a new area of its web site designed to support people in their individual spiritual journeys: Feed Your Spirit. Daily prayers, a biblical personality test, advice column from God-lovers, and magic 8-ball await. Check it out at

 God in Your Inbox

The Stillspeaking Daily Devotional is written by UCC pastors and leaders, including Quinn Caldwell. Subscribers are sent a daily email containing a Scripture passage, short reflection, and a prayer. Sign up at

Joys and Concerns

In the week ahead, you are invited to pray for ….

Thanksgiving that Anneke Peereboom successfully passed her ordination interview and is in the process of being assigned a congregation to serve in the spring …

      Linda …

      Robbi …

      Joan …

      Betsy and Don …

      Jack and Alice Allen …

      Linda Kraemer’s sister, Marcia, undergoing a series of diagnostic tests …
Marc Kolber, son of friends of Linda and Scott Kraemer, who recently returned to work in Erbil, Kurdistan/Iraq …

Chris Johnson, son of Dawn Franits, as he begins a two-year commitment teaching English in Taiwan …

      Noni and Harold Bristol …

      Larry Kinner, in rehabilitation after ankle surgery at Loretto’s Fahey Building Room 257, where he is glad for visitors …

      Stan Reeves …

      Dorothy, a dear friend of Joan Fogarty …

     Jamie Shavers …

      Cath and Barbara …

      Lee Dreamer, continuing with cancer care …

      Michelle Diegoli …

      Pat Partridge and her husband, Kent, as he cares for her at home …

Comments are closed.