Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of July 5, 2015 

Bishop Aitken's Reflections


Violence and Jesus, the Total Overhaul


O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son. Take away the arrogance and hatred that infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and, through our struggle and confusion, work to accomplish your purposes on earth; so that, in your good time, every people and nation may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne.


We are bombarded by continuous news releases of human produced violence: In Charleston South Carolina, Iran, France, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, small town America with its many after-hours shootings; drive-by or point blank, large city stabbings and shootings, boyfriends beating up girlfriends and killing their babies, people in the good old USA living out their ignorance, prejudice, fear, and hatred of an ever growing diverse America by shooting guns at innocent people. Violence as a way to solve problems has always been around. Today we seem obsessed with it to the point that we celebrate gratuitous violence on screen and in hand-held video "games" as we become more and more accustomed to understanding killing people as a way of life, even sport and entertainment.


God have mercy on us. Christ have mercy on us. 

Lord have mercy on us.


When Jesus started preaching and teaching he used words like "The time is right, the Kingdom is at hand, repent and believe the good news". Repent literally means "go beyond the mind you have right now." His preaching was not and is not in vain. His words, remember, do not return empty, but instead bear fruit. Even in times that seem bereft of the good fruit of grace and love and peace. How can we take Jesus teaching seriously in our day? In our homes, in our work places, in our congregations? What can we do with his words in view of food, water, security, population problems and fearful fundamentalist "solutions"? How do you and I, Lutherans in the ELCA, deal with his powerful message, 'Go beyond the mindset you now have, turn and give your heart to God's Good News that heals the world'? (My paraphrase)


It's nice to think about Jesus. It's nice to dream about Jesus. It's nice to see films on Jesus and to have a picture of Jesus, even one embossed on our slick leather-esque bible covers. It's even nice to write JESUS on our walls and car bumpers but isn't all this still kind of insufficient, even odd - in light of the exploitation and murder of people around us - often, sadly, in the name of Jesus? Or God? Or Religion? What did he mean? What is he asking of us? What did he die for? What is he empowering us with week after week, in the Word proclaimed, in the Word eaten and drunk among us? Is it not a total change in the way we perceive our "problems" and our "solutions"? Did he not proclaim a total overhaul in the way we pray, live, and work with the Word he has already planted in us?


Prayer is necessary. It is the starting point, but not the end point. If we aren't wiling even to face our problems by starting out in prayer, we are not yet following him - because he modeled that very clearly himself. So I offer each congregation a prayer and litany resource below that can be downloaded and used in your worship life called "A Service of Repenting and Mourning" from our own ELCA resources.


Let us live into the Word, not merely around it.


+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken

Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA


A Pastoral Letter on Violence - Conference of Bishops


A Service of Repentance and Mourning - Charleston, NC


Pulpit Supply Listing Updated


A new pulpit listing is now on the Synod website. Please use this list instead of any other listing you may have in that it may have pastors on it that are no longer available or interested in serving.


We are in the process of contacting retired pastors to see if they are interested in being on this list, so please check back often to see if the list is updated. Thank you!

PV for Phebe Update from NE MN WELCA President Lynda Lochner


Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,


In 2012, the Women of the ELCA organized a trip to Liberia. The goal of the trip was to visit and learn from the bold women of Liberia, as the mission of our Women of the ELCA is to "mobilize women to ACT BOLDLY on their faith in Jesus Christ."


The result of that visit has spurred a new outreach project in our NE MN Synod and beyond: it is called PV for Phebe. "PV" stands for photovoltaic, or solar electricity. The proposed solar modules would convert solar radiation into electricity to provide power for the Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing in Liberia.  It is our hope to spark each congregation in our synod to raise awareness and funds for this project.  


Click here for the continuation of Lynda's update on PV for Phebe
Boundaries Workshop
August 18; (9:30 registration) 10a.m. - 2:30p.m.
Lutheran Church of the Cross, Nisswa
Presenter: Pastor Karen Bockelman
Cost: $20/person
Electronic registration will open on the website soon at

Eventbrite - Boundaries Workshop

Marriage Retreat

August 30 - September 1

Clearwater Forest, Brainerd Lakes Area

Cost: $200/couple rostered in NE MN Synod

Presenter: Pastor Ron Hunt

brochure available on synod website:

Congregational Learning Event: 

September 15


Equip a team from your congregation to use Discipleship Challenge and Practice Discipleship resources in your congregation's ministries. These resources are useful for your entire congregation - not just youth ministry! Contact Catherine Anderson at [email protected] or 218-724-4424

Fall Theological Conference


"Living in the Promise of the Holy Spirit"

September 27-29, 2015

Ruttger's Sugar Lake Lodge


Registration materials will be mailed to rostered leaders and posted on the synod website this summer:

Speaker: Lois MalcolmProfessor of Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary

Youth Ministry Events


Middle School Gathering:

November 20-21 OR 21-22, 2015

Grades 6-9: Cragun's Resort, Brainerd


Cardia Deo: March 4-6, 2016

Grades 9-12: Big Sandy Camp, McGregor


Registration packets will be mailed in August and posted online at

Bulletin Board


Save the date! RECHARGE is coming to Duluth!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, January 16, 2016! RECHARGE is a one-day multi-denominational conference aimed to inspire and equip church staff and their volunteers for ministry with children, youth and families. The NE MN Synod is excited to partner with Youth Leadership to bring this premiere training event to our area! More information will be posted this summer at


ELCA Response to Nepal Earthquake

With monsoon rains expected to significantly impact earthquake recovery operations in Nepal, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) continues to work with partners there to address the immediate needs of communities rendered vulnerable to torrential rains, landslides and more. Click here for more information and how you can help..


Notice of Music Opening - Director of Music Ministry

Messiah Lutheran Church, Mountain Iron, is seeking a part time Director of Music Ministries to coordinate the music for worship and special events, recruit and direct the vocal choir, and develop a student musician program. Music is a key component of Messiah's ministry with youth, as evidenced by a new handbell choir started by two high school music students, in which youth are the majority. The Director of Music Ministry should have interest in working with musicians of all ages and levels. He or she will work in cooperation with the pastor and principal accompanist.

For more information about the position, contact [email protected], or call the church office at 741-7057 (Monday - Wednesday, 9:00-4:00p.m., Thursday 9:00 - noon).

2016 Synod Assembly

April 29 - May 1, 2016 at Breezy Point Resort  

Returning Speaker: The Rev. Dr. Anna Madsen

SAVE THE DATE: God's Work. Our Hands

Save the date and celebrate! On Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will again have the opportunity to gather together for "God's work. Our hands." Sunday and celebrate who we are as the ELCA - one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor. Visit for more information
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Northeastern Minnesota
Synod, ELCA

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The purpose of our

synod is to nurture a

Christ-centered climate

conducive to healthy,


congregations and

their ministries

throughout the world!

Staff Listing
Phone: 218.724.4424


Brenda Tibbetts, AiM - 122

  Assistant to the Bishop

Pastor John Dietz - 125

   Director for Evangelical Mission

   Assistant to the Bishop


   Youth Ministry 





1105 E. Superior St.,

Upper Suite

Duluth, MN  55802


FAX: 218.724.4393    

Online Reflections Editor

Anne Laechel

Latest Youth E-Chat

NE MN Synod 

Creation Care Team 

Green Tip of the Week


K-Cups from the Keurig coffee machine are filling landfills because they are not recyclable.  While the company reports it is working on a cup which will be 100% recyclable by 2020, in the meantime you can reduce the amount of waste by using the K-Cup reusable filter.  This filter allows you to fill a K-Cup filter with your own coffee grounds, then empty the grounds and rinse out the filter for reuse.