News from the Presbytery of Western New York
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Presbytery of Western New York

Old Bergen Church making the most of New Beginnings – after 350 years

Neighborhood prayer walks help historic congregation experience new life

From Presbyterian News Service

To the Rev. Jon Brown the congregation he serves, which is about ten minutes away from the World Trade Center, is like “a treasure hidden in a field.”

He arrived in Jersey City at Old Bergen Church in 2010. Two years into his leadership the state’s oldest religious congregation—Old Bergen, established in 1660—was in transition. Their school, which had been the center of church activity for 15 years, was in the process of closing.

The school’s director, assistant director and administrator, who were also the church’s clerk of session, treasurer and secretary, all decided to retire in 2013.

“It was clear to our then 30 to 40 worshiping members this turnover of leadership would mark a change,” says Brown, “in both the pattern of life together in church and in our communication.”

During the transition time the Presbytery of Palisades was offering its congregations an opportunity to go through New Beginnings, a church transformation process sponsored by the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Using prayer, discernment and assessment tools it helps churches and presbyteries envision a new future for their congregations.

“It helped us clarify what values we wanted as a church moving forward,” says Brown of New Beginnings sessions Old Bergen went through in 2014. “It gave us a context to celebrate and treasure the heritage of our past as we considered what was next for us in our neighborhood.”

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Niagara/Northeast Branch Meeting

Join churches and clergy, including retired and at-large, on February 29, at 6:30 p.m., at North Church.
Food, fellowship, worship and connecting. Simple meal at 6:30 p.m. No charge.
We’ll eat, pray and get to know one another, closing by 8:00 p.m.
This is not a business meeting. Church members    attending can be church officers or not. For planning purposes, we ask that folks register by email or text by February 22 to
Stuart Buisch or Mary Beth Karr:   (716-713-6488)        (716-870-6276)

PYC Hunger Banquet

Sunday, March 6
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Orchard Park Presbyterian Church
(Fellowship Hall)
4369 South Buffalo Street
Orchard Park, NY  14127
RSVP by March 4 to:
(Linda Babcock ~ 863-2801)
PYC Youth and Advisors are cordially invited to enjoy - or not, depending on your “world” classification - a meal, activities and a speaker about hunger.  Be prepared to leave with a full tummy or the same empty feeling which 85% of the world’s population goes to bed with each night.
Admission = $1.25 per person which is the amount that 1.4 billion people in developing countries live on per day.  We will be passing a plate!
Guest Speaker: 14 year old Serene Shibly who visited a Syrian Refugee Camp in Lebanon over Christmas Break!
Special Worship at Crittenden Presbyterian Church

On Sunday March 13, 2016 at 10 a.m. Crittenden Presbyterian Church is having a special worship to honor and thanks those who have lead worship, been a member, or have needed our church through the 110 years of worship at Crittenden. 

How Presbyterians interpret the Bible

Disagreements about Scripture’s meaning abound, but some general guidelines can help.

The following article was originally printed in the January/February 2016 issue, "Children of God—not for sale," of Presbyterians Today.

“Presbyterians sure like to fight!” Whether recounting the war stories of the Scottish Highlanders or the political battles of the most recent General Assembly meeting, Presbyterians have engaged in many a high-minded, ideological argument. Many of those battles have been incited by disagreements on how to interpret and respond to the teachings of Scripture.

Presbyterians take the Bible seriously; it is the defining document for their faith. However, the diverse forms and content found within many passages of Scripture have generated a broad range of interpretations. 

Many ask, “How can documents written by humans be truly God’s Word?” For Presbyterians the best answers can be found not so much by speculating over the “idea” of biblical authority—which inevitably leads to many more questions—but by studying the Scriptures themselves. The “doctrine of inspiration” is best grasped as we practice the essential task of study—that is, reading the text.

Some guidelines

In recent decades, General Assemblies have provided essential guidelines for such reading and interpretation. To put those guidelines simply, “Read the text, in its historic and literary contexts, within the broader biblical context, and look for appropriate points of application in order to live it in the here and now.”

(1) First, in order to understand the meanings of Scripture, we need to be reading Scripture.

(2) Second, we need to read in context. Each of the Bible’s books was written in a particular genre by a particular person at a particular time for particular readers to provide particular information that addressed particular concerns. The first challenge for today’s reader is to try to identify as accurately as possible what those particulars were. 

Some books are written like history texts (such as Joshua and Chronicles), while others read more like memoirs (the four Gospels), letters (Romans), poems (Psalms), or sermons (Hebrews). Some writings assemble a mix of genres (such as the parables and miracle stories found in the Gospels). When reading such varying genres, common sense dictates that we “hear” the way the writer is writing, just as newspaper reading requires us to differentiate between the varying approaches of the news reporter, the editorial writer, the sports reporter, and the comic strip writer.  

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February 23
Clergy Celebrations

Happy Birthday!
Lowell Avery - 2/24
Angus Watkins - 2/24
Today in the
Mission Yearbook:
E-Newsletter Mailing List

Do you forward this weekly email to other members of your congregation when you receive it? Send those email addresses to and they will receive this newsletter directly each week!
Around the Presbytery

February 24
Lenten Suppers and Health Care Conversations Begin at Orchard Park Presbyterian Church

March 4-5
You've Gotta Have Art Festival at Clarence Presbyterian Church

March 6
Women's Mini Retreat at Hamburg Presbyterian Church

March 11
Lenten Fish Fry and Theme Tray Raffle at Maryvale Drive Presbyterian Church

March 20
Lenten Pancake Breakfast and Basket Raffle at Faith United Presbyterian Church

March 20
Chicken Barbeque Spring Dinner at Lockport Presbyterian Home

Submit your church events to be listed at
Volunteer Opportunities

Bethel Presbyterian Church is currently looking for volunteer musicians and vocalists to aid in their worship. Looking for all instruments, from accordion to zither and everything in between - contact Ben Pawlak via email.
Job Postings

Part-Time Secretary,
Bacon Memorial

Bacon Memorial Presbyterian Church, located at 166 59th Street, Niagara Falls, NY, is looking for a part time secretary (20 Hrs Mon – Fri 9 am-1 pm).  Please call the church at 283-5744 for more information or to get an application.
Shared Youth Director

Two Presbyterian churches in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY, (North Presbyterian and University Presbyterian) seek an enthusiastic Youth Director possessing good sense, tireless energy, and great organization to lead our youth in grades 7 through 12 in Christian fellowship.

The successful candidate will plan and supervise monthly fellowship activities with educational and fun programs that reflect our mission statement and maintain communications with all participating youth between fellowship activities in a way that builds a sense of caring Christian community.

Compensation will be $1,100 per month based upon an estimated need to dedicate 24 to 36 hours, with an average of 30 hours, per month to fulfill the requirements of the position.

Please contact Lee Broad at (716) 839-0767 or at for more information and/or position description. Resumes will be accepted until 5:00pm, Monday, February 15, 2016.

Part-time Christian Education Director (20 hours/week, salaried)

First Presbyterian Church of Buffalo is hiring a part-time Christian Education Director to facilitate growth and retention of Sunday school classes, serve as representative to the Christian Education Committee and moderate monthly meetings, help with the recruitment and training of volunteer Sunday school teachers and nursery staff, plan Adult Christian Education programs and facilitate classes when required, and assist with special ministries and events during the program year.

The ideal candidate will be organized, motivated, and visionary, with a passion for Christian Education ministry that nurtures the faith of its participants; and demonstrate the ability to prioritize, problem solve, manage change and multiple projects, and have an inviting and approachable demeanor and the ability to lead, engage, and encourage others.

Send resumes to First Presbyterian Church, One Symphony Circle, Buffalo, NY 14201 or

MacAlpine Presbyterian Church - Vibrant and diverse East Side congregation seeks pastor to preach and lead Sunday worship; moderate Session; provide visitation and conduct funerals.  30 hours per month.  Monthly compensation and mileage provided.
Contact Deborah Leeper, 834-1345.

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