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We are a growing, passionate, Christ-centered Presbyterian church serving the Northern Syracuse area.

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At Northminster Presbyterian Church in Syracuse, New York, our diverse group of believers seeks to follow the Great Commission, "... go therefore and make disciples of all nations..." by inspiring love, faith, and giving through Christ. The members and friends that make up the church hope their history becomes a legacy of hope to the community, its neighbors, and the world. We are pleased that you are considering joining our family of faith.

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Grace in Destruction: Upstate NY Church Mission Trip Brings Help to Puerto Rico

By April Rink,, Contributing writer

A group of Upstate New York residents recently witnessed the devastation incurred by the string of hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in September 2017.

Nine people from Presbyterian congregations in Upstate New York traveled down to San Juan, Puerto Rico earlier this year as part of a Latin American Mission Partnership trip.

Upstate New York Crew

The Upstate New York crew helped with clean up, food and clothing distribution, and infrastructure repairs. (Todd Laidlaw)

Bringing Food

One volunteer delivers food to a Puerto Rican woman at her home.

For 14 years, Latin American Mission Partnership has connected the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse and the Campeche Presbytery Church of Mexico. This partnership sends a handful of people on an annual mission trip each February, typically to Mexico.

This year, the group decided to bring its service to a church community in Puerto Rico. They left Feb. 20, exactly five months after Hurricane Maria hit the island, and spent a week cleaning up debris, restoring churches, and handing out necessities.

"We just thought (Puerto Rico) needed our help more than Mexico did at this time," said Rev. Shawn Reyburn of Columbian Presbyterian Church in Lafayette, who has been on three mission trips.

Reyburn and others also felt an urge to visit Puerto Rico because they felt the U.S. government wasn't doing enough to help and U.S. mainstream media stopped reporting on the devastation. And with the Atlantic hurricane season set to begin June 1, Puerto Rico has very little time to prepare.

"I expected Puerto Rico to be in complete devastation with a lot of crime and almost no houses," said Trinity Liddle, a 16-year-old high school student from Old Forge who went along for her first mission trip. "I wasn't completely off track. The communities are more like big families in most parts of the island, it seems like everyone helps everyone when they can."
Reyburn said he saw random wires halfway torn down, broken telephone poles, damaged street signs, almost no working traffic lights, and piles of sand waiting to be returned to the beach.

One particular image has stayed with him: a highway exit that had turned into a dumping ground of rubble and broken items, like refrigerators that hadn't been opened in five months.

A woman walks by a house that barely stands, with debris and garbage surrounding it.

To help those still in need, the group offered FEMA packs with additional nutritional foods and clothing. They also helped to restore a Levittown church, which was flooded with three-and-a-half feet of water.

Damaged House

"You could see the watermark on the walls," he said. "That's everything. Seawater, fresh water, and sewage water all mixed and mingled in the building."

While the Upstate NY crew was repainting the damaged walls, the church received notice that the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance agreed to grant $200,000 for rebuilding the church's roof.

"The clergy, some of them haven't had a day off since the hurricane and sometimes we take the well-being of our parishioners personal," Reyburn said. "So, these folks have been trying to help facilitate for their church members and aren't taking care of themselves."

While passing out waters and other necessities, the group found themselves listening to the experiences of the gracious recipients. A University of Puerto Rico professor shared the stories of students who stayed during school breaks because they didn't want to go home where there was no power.

"It's nicer to stay at school, even if you're sleeping in the hallway," Reyburn said. He also recalled every time people would see one another again, the first question that came up was "Do you still have power?"

For the last two days of their trip, the mission group itself lost access to running water. It was a true taste of life in Puerto Rico: although utilities like water and power have returned to some areas of the island, they aren't completely reliable.

"That's just the way it is," Reyburn said. "The infrastructure is that bad. It was bad before the hurricane hit and now it's just worse. It will take years to get to perfect."

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Since our founding in 1961, we have remembered that Jesus is always with us and have grown our faith. We love God with all our heart, mind, and strength and love others as God loves us. We welcome all who seek to be closer to God through Jesus Christ and those seeking something unnamed in the mind but yearned in the heart.

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(315) 458-0393

7444 Buckley Road
Syracuse, NY 13212

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Serving North Syracuse, Clay, and Liverpool, New York