Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of August 2, 2015 
Prayer Petitions

Each Wednesday morning the synod staff meets for devotions and prays for the congregations and people of our synod. You are invited to join us.
  • Pastor R. Brooks Anderson, retired in Duluth
  • Oak Lake Lutheran, Kerrick, Trinity Lutheran, Bruno, and Mr. Nathan Anderson, SAM
  • Hope Lutheran, Toivola and Mr. Michael Anderson, SAM
  • St. Peter's Lutheran, Canyon, St. John's Lutheran, Saginaw, and Mr. Larry Anderson, SAM

Online Evangelical Mission



I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. - John 6:51



Last week I was able to attend the ELCA Worship Jubilee in Atlanta, Georgia. Aside from being held in the deep south in the middle of the summer, it was a very enjoyable and encouraging event. During the Jubilee, we participated in daily worship in a variety of styles and formats and we heard from a great mix of speakers, including our Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, Southwest California Synod's Bishop Guy Erwin, and Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. Here's a link to her sermon from Thursday's Holy Communion:


A recurring theme of this event was the Lutheran Reformation and its upcoming 500 year  commemoration. We were reminded how Luther and the other reformers were rather "wordy" people. Not only were they focused on the Word, but on words ... lots and lots of words. If you have a set of Luther's Works taking up a few levels of a bookcase somewhere in your library, you understand. This emphasis on words is especially noted in our attention to preaching and teaching.


Many of our presenters, all of whom were no stranger to wordiness themselves, made an important observation: in our focus on sermons and lectures and studies and forums, we must realize that what people are longing for is an experience with the mystery of God in sacred space, liturgical action, beautiful music and sacramental participation. In one presentation, Pr Maggi Dawn talked about our modern desire for "magic," noting the popularity of the Harry Potter phenomenon. "Magic," she meant - not in the hocus-pocus of spells and flying broomsticks - but in the communal and liturgical experience of grace that is undefinable yet really "real."


I love John chapter 6 because Jesus is talking about this very thing - difficult to understand, or perhaps impossible to understand - and yet, it connects us to him - and to one another. The miracle of the real presence, never fully explained, is what draws so many people to worship.


How do we as presiders and worship planners and council members make sure that our Holy Communion is just that - a holy communion - and not simply a hurried recitation of the words of institution? How might we help people experience the liturgy of the meal as more than an occasional addition to the liturgy of the word? Can we leave room in our worship for the mystery of the Bread of Life to feed us?



Pastor John Dietz

Assistant to the Bishop

Director for Evangelical Mission

[email protected]

From our Presiding Bishop


No secrets here. In her August column for The Lutheran, Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton says rumors and politics on three issues before the ELCA are at odds with true discernment. There are no schemes, she says, just time and space for a process of talking together, praying together and listening together as a church-time for discernment.

Read her column at



Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The hard but undeniable fact of deeply embedded racism in American society has come to the fore in painful ways this past year through high-profile occurrences of racial discrimination, hatred and violence - including racially motivated killings. As Lutheran Christians, what should be our response and witness? As members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, how are we called to confront the sin of racism?


Through our church's social statement - "Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture" - the ELCA collectively has expressed its calling to confront racism and advocate for justice and fairness for all people. You can read this social statement here. In addition, I have made several public statements on behalf of the church recently on this subject. Those statements are available here.

God's intention for all humanity is that we see the intrinsic worth, dignity and value of all people. Racism undermines the promise of community and fractures authentic relationships with one another. As Christians, though, we live in the conviction that the church has been gathered together in the joyful freedom of the reign of God announced by and embodied in Jesus. That reign has not come in its fullness, but the message of God's "yes" to the world breaks down all dividing walls as we live into that promise


Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America





CHICAGO (ELCA) - In an effort to continue understanding the complexity and implications of racism, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), invites the 3.8 million member church to participate in a live webcast Aug. 6 at 8 p.m. (CDT).


William B. Horne II, a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Clearwater, Fla., and a member of the ELCA Church Council, will serve as host. Eaton and Horne will have an on-camera conversation about the church's efforts in defining and confronting racism, advancing racial justice and more.


"Talking about race and racism is hard work for most of us," said Horne. "Our Christian witness compels us to confront our sinfulness in all forms from within and outside of ourselves. It is more beneficial if we do it together."


Eaton said the webcast conversation serves in part as "a call to action" to guide members' efforts to address "the sin of racism."  "We are part of the body of Christ, and we belong to each other. As part of the body of Christ, we need to examine how we live in relationship with one another," said Eaton.


In several public statements, the ELCA presiding bishop has called for deep conversations about racism and racial justice, particularly in response to several events across the United States, including Charleston, S.C; Baltimore; and Ferguson, Mo.


"God's intention for all humanity is that we see the intrinsic worth, dignity and value of all people. Racism undermines the promise of community and fractures authentic relationships with one another. We need to talk and we need to listen, but we also need to act," Eaton said in a June 24 statement.


"Each of us and all of us need to examine ourselves, our church and our communities. We need to be honest about the reality of racism within us and around us," said Eaton in a June 18 statement in response to the shooting in Charleston that killed nine people. Local authorities called the killings racially motivated.


Information about the webcast is available at, where a link to the live webcast will be embedded. A live stream also will be available at Twitter handle is #ELCAConfrontRacism. ELCA members are invited to submit a question to be considered during the live webcast at [email protected] 

Macedonia: Stewardship Event


You are invited to the upcoming Macedonia Project workshops on Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, October 11. This is a great opportunity for leaders to learn how to grow faithful stewards in their congregation and community. The workshop is free to everyone in the synod.


What: In his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul praises the spirit of the Macedonians. He talks about them being enriched in every way for great generosity producing thanksgiving to God.

The Macedonia Project will help you:

            + Embrace the spiritual principles of giving

            + Connect faith with Christ's call to mission

            + Invite people to grow toward a tithe

            + Grow regular giving in your congregation

Find out more about the Macedonia Project at:


Initial Session 1

Where: Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Hibbing

When: Saturday, September 12; 9:00 am - 1:00 pm


Follow-up Session 2

Where: Bethesda Lutheran Church in Malmo

When: Sunday, October 11; 1:30 - 5:30 pm


Who: Pastors, AiMs, SAMs, Treasurers, Finance Committee Members (at least two people from each church are encouraged to attend)


How: Register at or by clicking the link below:


Eventbrite - Macedonia Project Workshops - Sept 12 & Oct 11

PV for Phebe - Solar August


Solar August has arrived, so consider having a conversation with your friends and family about how you will be joining in the celebration of this life-giving and life-saving ministry next month! Are you a Thrivent Financial customer? You can direct your Thrivent Choice dollars to RREAL to support Phebe! Check out for more information on this giving opportunity. Have you downloaded the Solar August Giving Calendar yet? Find this fun way to give (and think) a little every day of August and raise up to $50 for renewable energy at Phebe on the Resources page at Or take the Killowatt Challenge! Powering Phebe costs roughly $0.66 per kW/hr. The PV for Phebe project aims to reduce that by 1/3. Consider challenging others to donate $66 to power for Phebe for 100 hours - or match their August electric bill! 


P.S. Let your pastor know that additional texts and hymns are now available online on the Resources page at to help with worship service planning for the entire month of August!


Taylor Stevenson

RREAL Program Development Specialist

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
Clergy and adults that work with youth are encouraged to attend.
Electronic registration is open at, or by clicking on the registration button below.

Eventbrite - Boundaries Workshop

Alternate Event
If you are unable to attend the August 18th event, the SW MN Synod will be hosting a Boundaries Workshop on November 5th in Spicer. Registration for that event is not yet open. Additional details will be available in October.

Marriage Retreat

August 30 - September 1

Clearwater Forest, Brainerd Lakes Area

Cost: $200/couple rostered in NE MN Synod; $300/couple for non-rostered participants

Presenter: Pastor Ron Hunt

brochure available on synod website:


Jesus' Teachings on Love

August 22 - 9:00 am - 7:00 p.m.

Click here for more information

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

Important Tax Rules


Some sponsoring employers reimburse their employees for the cost of health care coverage purchased outside an employer-sponsored group health plan, or for out-of-pocket health care expenses. If the reimbursements are not part of a group health plan as defined by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), such as a health reimbursement account (HRA) or health flexible spending account (FSA) plan, these employers are subject to tax penalties if they continue these reimbursements.


Portico recommends that sponsoring organizations take advantage of our bundled benefits plan, which includes tax-advantaged health accounts such as an FSA, HRA, or health savings account (HSA).

  • We offer a bundled benefits plan, which includes health, retirement, disability, and life insurance, in accordance with the ELCA Philosophy of Benefits.
  • When you provide ELCA benefits through Portico, you can be assured that the benefits you're providing are in compliance with the ACA.
  • When you sponsor your employees in ELCA benefits, you must sponsor them in all of the benefits as part of the bundled plan.
  • Your sponsored employees must enroll in ELCA health benefits, unless they're eligible to waive health coverage. If sponsored employees don't have a valid waiver and do not enroll in ELCA health benefits, their participation in the entire bundled plan will end.


  • This rule applies to reimbursements, whether for insurance premiums or for out-of-pocket medical expenses, which must also must be reported to the IRS as taxable income for the employee.
  • This rule also applies to reimbursement for premiums for Medicare Part B and Medicare Part D.

 Potential Penalties

  • If you don't meet the exceptions and continue with reimbursements, the IRS may assess your organization $100 per employee, per day, per violation.


  • Employers contributing to coverage for only one employee are exempt from the penalty.
  • Employers reimbursing employees for only stand-alone accident, dental-only, and vision-only plans are exempt from the penalty.
  • Contributions to your employees' ELCA health savings accounts (HSA) are exempt from the penalty, because it is part of the ELCA health plan.


View IRS Notice 2013-54 LINK for more details about the exceptions and penalties.


Note: Portico Benefit Services cannot give tax advice. If you have specific questions, please consult your tax advisor or payroll vendor.

Bulletin Board


RiSK Healing Connections Retreat

Confidant and Leadership Training

A Journey of Grace, Healing and Wholeness

for Veterans and the Whole Church

Sunday, 16 August - Friday, 21 August

at Camp Vermilion

2555 Vermilion Camp Rd., Cook, Minnesota

Click here for more information.


The Music of Forgiveness Concert

Wednesday, August 19th - 6:30 p.m.

Our Savior's Lutheran, Virginia, MN

Click here for more information.


Custodian Position

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd is seeking a full-time custodian to care for our building and grounds and to welcome the community to the mission of our congregation. Responsibilities include janitorial work, building and equipment maintenance, grass cutting/snow removal and set up for use of church facilities. Successful candidates will possess a positive attitude, ability to work cooperatively and a commitment to excellence. The position involves a flexible 40 hour per week schedule, including some weekends. Salary and benefit package included. Apply in person or submit resume to

[email protected]

1325 N. 45th Avenue East, Duluth, MN 55804 (218-525-1922). Deadline August 11, 2015.


Director of Music Ministry
Messiah Lutheran Church, Mt. Iron, is looking to hire a part-time Director of Music Ministry to direct and recruit the vocal choir (currently 11 voices), plan music for performance in worship and special events, and foster the participation of student musicians, including Messiah's new youth-initiated hand bell choir, the Bell Fire. The Director of Music Ministry will work with musicians of all ages and levels and in cooperation with the pastor and principal accompanist. Starting salary range: $4,500 - $6,000 based on education and experience.

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


CORE Godly Play Sunday School Curriculum Training


August 14-16, 2015
Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Superior, WI
Nancy St. John, Godly Play Foundation Trainer
Registration Brochure

LSS Center for Changing Lives/Northshore Inline Partnership 

Each night, 120 young people in the Northland have no place to call home. LSS is developing the Center for Changing Lives in Duluth which will create new transitional and permanent housing for young people, as well as bring together many of LSS' at-risk youth programs in the area under one roof.

Create or join an LSS team for the Northshore Inline Marathon (September 19th) and raise funds for the Center for Changing Lives! Team members may participate in any of the Inline Marathon, Wheels off half marathon (running event) or Tunnel 10k (running event). Inline skating clinics will be offered across the Twin Ports area for participants who are interested in learning how to skate or whom need skates.

Informational Flyer

Questions? Contact Robin Maxwell at 218.302.6837 or

[email protected]


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


Notice of Job Posting - Assistant to the Bishop for Youth, Young Adult and Spiritual Formation - SE Pennsylvania Synod

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


The Clean Air Act of 1970 has saved millions of lives and protected rivers, lakes and forests from untold damage.  Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began implementing the Clean Air Act, emissions have dropped by 55%, while the economy has more than tripled.