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Welcome! - The First Presbyterian Church of Skaneateles


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OUR WEBSITE IS CURRENTLY UNDER RE-CONSRUCTION! While the information here is current, true and accurate, we are creating new ways of using the website. In the future, we anticipate having video clips to demonstrate what is described here in words; we anticipate having Christian Education Lesson plans available as a teaching tool and as opportunity for those unavailable some Sunday to remain current. Please check back with us soon and often for the latest technology and ideas. In the meantime, our Facebook Page is updated as things happen. Like us on at All of the most recent Sermon Videos and Photos are available on our Facebook page.

Join Us!

Our congregation by Skaneateles Lake
Our congregation by Skaneateles Lake

Worship is at 9:30 AM every Sunday at 97 East Genesee! As you approach the Church (sun, rain or snow - worship, weddings or memorials) the Pastor is out front, greeting and welcoming the Village. Dr. Lindsey welcomes and receives those coming to worship God, as well as greeting and blessing those going past. In the words of our Pastor: "People have made an effort to come to the Church, it seems the least we can do, to go out and welcome one another inside." Several new members have commented, "The Pastor greeted us each Sunday as we went by, so when we were looking for a Church, we knew we were welcome here." This is the embodiment of this Church's identity: We meet you where you are and welcome all to God's house. The Church has ample off-street parking, ramped access to the air-conditioned Sanctuary, an elevator to all classroom, meeting and fellowship spaces.

When we come to Church, we come seeking to be spiritually inspired. This is the sacred space of Vows, Weddings, Memorials, Ordinations and Baptisms. Hanging in the air, you can witness generations of laughter and tears and faith of the cloud of witnesses. Entering the Sanctuary, is an historic sacred space, beautiful in the craftsmanship of stained glass and wood, open, bright, with the centrality of pulpit, table and font. This is a dramatic inspiring space with a new 40 rank Cassavant pipe organ, whose golden pipes seem to reach all the way to heaven; bell choirs reverberating in the trinitarian ceiling arches, chancel, handbell and children's choirs that inspire and delight. Rebuilding this sacred space over the last 15 years, we have been intentional to preserve the aura of what is sacred and beautiful, while correcting problems and addressing 21st Century concerns. This Sanctuary as designed in 1890 has no specific cross or icon, instead there are crosses embedded in the structure of ceiling and doors, wainscoting and windows; in order that when we each go out into life, we will not identify The Cross as only being available in the Sanctuary Sunday mornings, but we will seek to find "the Cross in life" throughout the structures of our world.

This is a very real, open, community of faith, called TO BE The Church in this place at this time, where the worshiping body listen, enjoy laughter, share tears, surrounded by the Spirit of God. Children are a vitally important part of our weekly worship, and actively contribute to our spiritual growth as they pursue their own. The loud whispers of children are heard to be the sound of angels in our midst.

Worship begins with the Chimes and Organ Prelude, as the Acolyte (a child representing The Light of God entering the world) and the Beadle (the Bearer of the Word of God) enter the worship space, followed by the Pastor and lay leader. When the prelude music concludes, the preacher takes a Pitcher of Water from the Table to the Font. The written words in the Bulletin read: "We come overfilled with life, with need to pour out so as to be able to receive. Then to listen to the sound of silence, to know emptiness and searching. Then, in reverence to be replenished by God alone."


This Week's Sermon

Weekly Sermon Blog

More sermons... | Subscribe with your RSS reader.

You can also find a recent sermon given by Larry Weiss on his website here: The Real F Words: Focused, Fearless, Forgiving


After working together for over a decade, having resolved all the presenting issues (the low-hanging fruit), our leadership recognized that the historic identity of this Church as "a Traditional Village Church" was juxtaposed against current realities. We are an actively growing traditional 700 member Church, which is swimming against the societal currents, with all the earmarks of what you want in a Church: Hand Bell Choirs and Chancel Choirs of over 25 in each, singing with skill as well as meaning, an incredible Pipe Organ now only 10 years old, played by a master organist, jewels of stained glass, which sparkle in the sun creating points of light, marvelous celebrations for all ages. We are "THE Church" in this place, at this time. We are a sacred spiritual body: visible as a community center whenever there are current issues, as well as hosting community resources. We are multiple generations worshipping and learning from one another: believers honestly struggling with their faith, leadership making a difference transforming the world. We are also known locally and internationally for personal involvement in Mission, having created a local low-density, affordable residence for healthy seniors; and creating the first sustainable County Health Hospital in South Sudan giving sight to the blind and dramatically changing the infant and maternal mortality rates, as well as vaccinating whole villages. As the Body of Christ in this place, we are a Community patron providing Arts and Music to CNY, home to the offices and month-long Concert series of an Internationally recognized Chamber Music Festival, Art Shows and gifted musicians. We have redesigned and created a dynamic worship space of faith and nurture, with soaring arches, visual arts, symbolism, poetry in prayers, challenging ideas and laughter in sermons. In our fellowship space, used regularly by the community, we created a Labyrinth in the floor, following your own spiritual journey to the Cross. Our Session was then led to establish "A year of learning the background and realities of this Church in this Community, so as to be intentional in nurturing the blossoming and growth of fruit that has never before blossomed."

We began by using the Apostle Paul's metaphor of the Church being The Body of Christ, to plot life-cycles on a timeline, not as accomplishments but stages of life and spiritual transitions of the Church. We recognized that life has births, aging, and differing phases with differing abilities and wisdoms, and a mortal death, all as identifiable stages of life. But as Christians, we actually Believe in Resurrection to new life! In the 1990s, this Church experienced the death of an era, begun in the 1920s. Through an Intentional Interim, followed by an Intentional Transformation, this Church has been resurrected, "reborn from above." The process was not easy, and was costly. We not only did Capital & Building Programs, we were challenged to rebuild our Faith Commitments& Relationships, Redeeming the Lost, Struggling with Forgiveness & Change. Having rebuilt, we used "the Church building anew" as a resource for Music and the Arts and Education. We reached out into the community and world in mission, witnessing real miracles. We opened our hearts to make the resources of this Church available to others whenever they need the Church. There are new problems and the growing pains of a +213 year old body, that beginning the second decade of the 21st Century now sometimes has the spiritual maturity of a 15 - 20 year old! There is also a new and vibrant faith and hope and conviction, all related to our trust of God and our trusting one another. We intentionally claimed: where this Mission Study will lead no one but God knows, but the Church will be better aware of what we have done, what has gone undone, what might be possible, and how to have fun with one another, sharing the blessings of Jesus Christ.

At the completion of the first year of this Mission Study, the Session chose as The Church's Mission Statement what is said at every celebration of the Sacraments: "This is God's Work. All are welcome, invited and encouraged to take an active part. The leadership of the Church intentionally try to make the resources of the Church available to all seeking and wishing to receive." We also had re-read and reconsidered all the many studies that had been done in our past (which was no small undertaking); correlating demographics of our community & Spiritual Issues of our membership, changing cultural issues in the world, building needs-assessments, financial changes, investment strategies and missions. Along the way we published a narrative history of our Church as well as a visible time-line of how things developed, and here we recognized when the Church had condoned practices that we now wish we had not.

We came to recognize that this congregation had over the most recent 50 years repeatedly and consistently met, studied and discussed needs arriving at the same conclusion: We need to Call an Associate Pastor. Yet, we had instead tried every other alternative: volunteers, more staff, different staff, Christian Education Assistants, Christian Educators, Certified Christian Educators, CoPastors, Parish Associates, Specialists in Spiritual Nurture and Small Groups. The Elders re-assessed and took time to pray, then spoke to this need from the pulpit, and in discussion groups. The Session became convinced of the need to Call an Associate Pastor, and having made this decision, the Session stopped to consider: where, we as a church are not ready; what would prevent this flourishing? We addressed those hard circumstances and personnel issues. Suddenly God surprised us with whole new possibilities we had never before considered. April 27, 2014 the Congregation Called Mario Bolivar as our Associate Pastor.

Dr. Lindsey (Craig) continues to our serve as Senior Pastor, accountable for Worship and Preaching, Pastoral Care, Session, Administration, and the Ministry of the Church. Rev. Bolivar (Mario) our Associate Pastor is responsible for Christian Education for all ages, especially Youth; but also for technology and ever expanding evangelism of social media communication tools; as well as outreach to those who may not be members and those who may not reside year-round in this community. We discover that because of Weddings and Baptisms, Retirements and Job Transfers, this congregation has members living in Chittenango and Pennsylvania who attend regularly; we have members in Boston and SF California who could be more motivated in their faith if we could meet them through regular communication and pastoral care. We hope that this will serve as an innovative model for ministry, as one is Called to serve as Senior Pastor, and another as Associate Pastor to further extend the spiritual nurture of the people of God!

Children @ 1st Pres

Our active youth program involves students of all ages, pre-school through Senior High. Children participate in worship each Sunday - bringing the Bible forward, lighting the candles, learning the order of worship, leading as choirs, singing the service music, giving their offerings to God, sharing in the Lord's Prayer. (Nursery Care in our beautiful new facility is always available during worship for our littlest ones, birth through age 3.) After the Children's Sermon, young people may depart for Church School, where we offer interactive story-based instruction for Pre-school children, and follow the reformed curriculum, Walk With Me, for students in grades K-12; while others choose to remain in worship for the sermon. A conscious effort is made to include the children regularly in celebration of the Sacraments.

Additional discipleship and educational opportunities include our Confirmation Classes, Adult Education Forums, Bible Study, Family Fellowship Programs and Youth Choir. See the Spiritual Nurture page for more info.



JOIN US AT COFFEE HOUR to enjoy fellowship, refreshments and celebration!

NEW & PROSPECTIVE MEMBERS meet Tuesdays at 7pm in the Conner Room.

WEDNESDAY EVENING BIBLE STUDY is weekly at 7pm. For those living faith in a secular culture, this is a powerful discussion, whose curriculum is The Bible. Everyone who comes is valued for their opinion and interpretation. The group's attendance varies from 5-12. Currently we are savoring the prophecy of Isaiah. Please join us.

SODERBERG SCHOLARSHIP application can be downloaded here: Mary H. Soderberg Scholarship Application The award will be a minimum of $500 and no more than $1000.

OUR CHANCEL CHOIR welcomes all interested singers, both young and old. A trained voice is not required, neither is church membership, or the ability to read music. For more info, speak with any choir member or simply come sing on Thursday nights at 7:30pm. Our Vocal Choirs Director is Stephanie Mowery.

WORSHIP PREPARATION some people enjoy rereading the passages from this week and rereading the Sermon on the Pastor's Blog through this website. Others enjoy reading next Sunday's passages in preparation for Worship of God. To aid this, the full Bulletin is sent out in advance, on line, on Thursday of each week, and in the Bulletin are noted the Scripture passages for this week and the following week.

WORSHIP COMMITTEE In the Presbyterian Church, our Pastor is responsible for the CONTENT of Worship, the selection of Hymns, writing of prayers and the Sermon, while the Session are responsible for the CONTEXT of Worship. The Worship Committee is being formed anew to reflect on worship and offer the pastor ideas of what we might find challenging and comforting and spiritual.

MISSION COMMITTEE at First Presbyterian Church is about empowerment to change the world. We financially support the Presbyterian Church Missions in Syracuse, throughout the Northeast and Missionaries throughout the world. We actively support Church World Service responding to crises, making "health kits" walking for CROP, and sending wool blankets throughout the world. But also, about 5 years ago, we shifted from mission programs being run by the church to empowering these to stand alone beyond the church. Over the years we have created, supported, and continue to have relationship (not control) with The John Dau Foundation for Health Care in South Sudan, Presbyterian Manor a local residence for Seniors, The Skaneateles Early Childhood Center, The Skaneateles Food Pantry, Skaneateles Festival, Masterworks, etc.

OUR WORSHIP STAFF meet to coordinate anthems and choirs with the Pastor's selection of themes, Scriptures and hymns.

COLLECTING YARN - new and leftover!  Our knitters will again be making hats and mittens for holiday giving; please don't forget them.

PRESBYTERIAN MANOR Rooms Available - click link at left for more info. To make an appointment to view the rooms please contact Phyllis Clark, 685-5027.


NURSERY VOLUNTEERS please see Lori Sheriff to sign up to help.

SIGN UP FOR FLOWERS on the chart in the Simms Room. Pick a date to honor or celebrate a loved one or occasion. Call the church office to let Peggy know what to put in the bulletin, then PLEASE call Anna's 497-2874 to order. Anna's will bill the Church, or Laxton's Floral Gardens at 685-6427, and the church office will bill you. Cost is normally $45.

FOOD PANTRY REQUESTS The Skaneateles Ecumenical Food Pantry requests cookies, pudding, Jell-O, mustard, relish, ketchup & mayo. Thank You!

FOOD PANTRY NEWS - Volunteers to stock shelves, deliver dinner baskets, or help during open hours are always welcome. Please call the church office if you can help.

PRAYER CHAIN CONTACT: If you are interested in joining the prayer chain or have a concern you would like them to pray for, call Claudia Lambdin at 224-1880 or 253-3678.

FLOWER CANS NEEDED by the Deacons, V-8 Juice size.

THE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS above the South entrance were re-installed recently. For 120 years, these jewels have refracted the light in this Sanctuary, while bearing the sun, winds and squalls off the lake, the soot of the world going by, and the damage of time. Our thanks to those who have established Memorials to restore and repair these treasures. Have you remembered the church in your estate planning?



Back Issues, 12/10 - 8/12

Annual Report 2012 Annual Report 2011 Annual Report 2010.

Leadership 2014

Our Session is: 
Claudia Lambdin, John Dau, Barbara Connor, Jill Marshall, Donald Cross, Joe Grasso, Cindy Hinman, Tim Green, Peer Soderberg, Jon Soderberg, Kathleen Witter Rogers, Patrick Biver (Youth Elder), the Rev. Dr.Craig Lindsey as Moderator and Rev. Mario Bolivar as Pastor. Our Deacons are: Peggy Bennett, Atsje Biver, Joe Bernazzani, Steve Frackenpohl, Debra Covell, Kristen Bernazzani, Merrily Heyer, Diane Fellerman, Melanie Hensley, Kim Poppa, Julie Hartnett, Allison Hinman, Sandy Nichols, Kristen Pease, Chad Rogers, Mary Stevens, Carolyn Schwab, Donna Volz and Jonathan Hartnett (Youth Deacon).

Much more news...

The Labyrinth

The labyrinth in Dobson Hall
The labyrinth in Dobson Hall

There are limitless ways of humanity approaching God... Stimulated by Scripture and provoked in preaching; moved by rhythm and text when singing; staring into the colors and patterns of Stained Glass; quietly reflecting or meditating in prayer, grappling with understanding in education, witnessing service and commitment in mission, etc. Yet another ancient Christian method has been to go on a spiritual pilgrimage or journey; the local version of which for those who could not travel, was to walk a Labyrinth. In 2010 the Session recognized that the 1960s asbestos tile floor in the Fellowship Hall needed to be replaced, so sealed the tile beneath a new Labyrinth of the pastor's own design. When the space is occupied for a community dinner, adult forum, Vacation Bible School, or Tai Chi class, it is just a floor; but when the room is not otherwise in use, the Fellowship Hall becomes a Spiritual Labyrinth, open and available for all to use free of charge. There are problems and circumstances we can resolve through learning, and others through listening, but often we need to walk patterns back and forth, up and down through life, and round and round to unravel the core (which in this Labyrinth is the Cross). The intentional difference of a Labyrinth from an ordinary Maze, is that a Maze has deadends, cuttoffs, traps and short-cuts; while a Labyrinth is a journey without these obstacles, focused on working through the problem in faith. Constructing this Labyrinth empowered the Session to realize, our Call to Worship is like a meditation with deep cleansing breath; the singing of Psalms is an ancient Christian and Jewish form of Confessional prayer; the Assurance of Pardon is a Centering Prayer. While many of our Reformed Christian Worship elements follow a formula, they are also reminiscent of ancient faith practices common to the Human - Divine relationship.

About the Pastor

Rev. Lindsey greeting visitors on a cold snowy morning
Rev. Lindsey greeting visitors on a cold snowy morning
The Rev. Dr. Craig Lindsey came as Senior Pastor to Skaneateles, on Christmas Eve 1996, nurturing faith, hope & love. Trust has been forged as the church adopted "Big, Hairy, Holy, Audacious Goals" then surpassed these, growing new relationships and mission commitments. We have witnessed miracles through this church's involvement and prayer, locally and around the world. Worship with Rev. Lindsey is a seamless tapestry of poetry and music, of Scripture and the heart of Current Issues, woven together with faith and grace, and commitment, lived out no matter what.

Dr. Lindsey has challenged the church to be open to meeting people's needs, giving the resources of faith to all who desire to receive and sharing the building, providing weddings, baptisms, and funerals; consequently we joyfully celebrate a lot of weddings and a lot of baptisms! He has challenged us to expand what we believe ecumenically, making accommodations for others to be hosted. During the sermon, we never know whether Craig will leave the pulpit to cradle and comfort a squirming child while continuing to preach; or begin barking like a dog -- for us to laugh at ourselves -- for barking at our neighbors; or repair a bicycle, then ride it off the Chancel, down the aisle, out the doors to find new believers out in the community. But we Do Know, he will model meeting us where we are on the street, being one with us and praying for us, as we laugh and cry and continue to grow in faith commitments, and then when each responsibility is done, he will tell us: “Well Done!”

Being Presbyterian

We are a Presbyterian Church, members of The Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse, within the Presbyterian Church USA. While there are specific differences between Christian denominations (we are Trinitarian and Reformed, Protestant Christians) what is unique to the Presbyterian Church USA is our connectionalism. The local Church elect, ordain and install our Elders (decision-makers), our Deacons (Lay ministers), and our Pastors, from Presbyterian Congregations, for life. All of our PCUSA congregations accept one another's Church's baptism, and communion and ordination. Confident that together we can accomplish what individually could not be done. To learn more about the Presbyterian Church USA, visit the Website [1]. Every two years, there is a National gathering of the Presbyterian Church USA, to revisit changing social issues, governmental issues, and to connect with church leaders from around the world. To learn more about what happened at the 2010 General Assembly meeting visit [2].
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