Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of September 27, 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 A. David Bolstorff, retired in Bigfork
  • Pastor Duane Bottjen, retired in Ely
  • Pastor Vern Broughton, retired in Aitkin
  • Faith Lutheran, Isle, and Pastor Paul Brown

Online Evangelical Mission
When I was called to the work of Director for Evangelical Mission in this synod, the bishop gave me - and all of us - a clear goal: to have at least twenty congregations each year until the end of his term in 2020 be involved in mission planning. The goal is to get as many congregations as are in this synod either starting, redeveloping, or finalizing a mission plan. The bishop's goal became my work, and I can report that I have worked with at least 20 congregations in this process in 2015 already. And many more are already doing this work without my involvement. Mission planning is happening in the Northeastern Minnesota Synod.
Some pastors are still unsure what "mission planning" is. It can be confusing, because we use the word "mission" so frequently and in so many different ways. What does it mean to plan a mission?
Simply stated, developing a mission plan means we figure out what gospel work we need to be focused on in our own context, and how to organize ourselves and our resources to accomplish that work.
There are a number of ways to go about this work of mission planning. I have developed some resources that might help you if you are considering getting started with mission planning in your congregation. I am also willing to meet with your leaders to discuss how to develop a mission planning team, how to organize their work and give them the permission and courage to do the work entrusted to them.
As Director for Evangelical Mission, I am also available to meet with congregations to describe the process so that any questions might be answered or anxieties might be addressed. I encourage pastors to invite me to help them, their mission planning teams, or their councils begin, redevelop, or finalize your mission plan so that it can be used to help guide your congregation's goals, organize its resources, and focus its energies around the gospel work God is calling it to be about.
Pastor John Dietz
Assistant to the Bishop
Director for Evangelical Mission
Northeastern Minnesota Synod | ELCA

Dean's Report - Laurentian Conference
Pastor Brendan Johnston

To the family of God in Northeastern Minnesota,
As the newly 'minted' Dean of the Laurentian Conference, I have been asked to talk a bit about life, ministries, challenges, and joys in our branch of the north woods that I find myself so fortunate to reside in. Pr. Joel Rova-Hegner's departure for Norway this year left me with big shoes to fill (as I lack his experience, persona, and his authoritative goatee).
The main excitement to report is that our conference submitted a grant to the Campaign for the ELCA - as a conference, we are hoping to hire a youth coordinator for our region, to provide youth meetings and lead youth trips - most churches cannot have their own youth pastor, but our hope is that a shared youth ministry will bless all congregations in our area.
Other people and happenings in our conference:
  • I (Brendan Johnston) am blessed to serve in an "Improvised-Ecumenical-Four-Point" in Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, and Palo. We are a three point of ELCA congregations, who share our (Methodist) associate pastor with her UMC congregation in Aurora.
  • Messiah in Mtn. Iron (Pr. Kristen Foster) - completed a discipleship planning process, which has resulted in a team based Sunday School, parish nursing renewal, a student musician program, and a new green house!
  • Gethsemane in Virginia is working on the "Growing in Grace Christian Preschool". Their Pr. Nathan Sagar is reading Uncommon Good by Jim Wallis and Roadtrip Leadership by George Wood
  • At Grace in Ely, Pr. Katie Slack is one of our recent first call pastors, who finds herself thinking about disruptive ideas, like Cross Generational Worship, the Narrative Lectionary, and her 34th week of pregnancy (!!!).
  • Another of our recent first call pastors, Pr. Ben Schori, is teaming up with Pr. Kevin Olson for a shared confirmation program between Hibbing churches that once worked independent of one another. Pr. Kevin is reading: The In-Between Church: Navigating Size Transitions in Congregations by Alice Mann and Leadership on the Line by Ronald Heifetz & Marty Linsky.
  • Pr. Liz Cheney in Immanuel in Tower is another of our recent first call pastors, though she is no stranger to our conference! She notes: "We easily worship 50-65% of our membership each Sunday [with a membership of ~150]." She is reading Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans and Rising Strong by Brene Brown.
  • Evangelical in Babbit and Hope in Embarrass have been pleased to welcome Pr. Evelyn Weston in the last year. She has had fun downsizing her theological library by selling books on Amazon (87 books for $888 so far!). But more importantly, Pr. Evelyn and Pr. Stephen Weston (the new interim at United in Christ in Eveleth) are finally serving in calls close to one another!
  • In the far north of our conference, the congregations around International Falls have a vital and mutually supportive ministry in a geographically remote region of our conference. Reflecting on the region, Pr. Andy Berry from Littlefork notes: "We are a very isolated community. This makes our community very tight, supportive, strong, counter cultural, sometimes closed, and unique." It would be worth a visit though, as he notes: "I am going to be brewing lots of beer."
  • In International Falls itself, Zion Lutheran is developing a new mission statement to reflect their context and their goals in ministry. Pr. Stephen Olson has been with them for ten years now, and is a faithful servant of the Synod as a part of the Synod Council, with a focus on Finance, Budget Development, and Personnel.
As you're looking at this, please take a moment to pray for those of our congregations presently in transition: Iron, Faith United Lutheran Church; Hibbing, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church / Chisholm, Faith Lutheran Church; Buhl, First Lutheran Church; Eveleth, United in Christ Lutheran Church; Virginia, Our Savior's Lutheran Church; International Falls, First Lutheran Church; Buhl, First Lutheran Church.
With that, I want to say that I am looking forward to hearing what the other Conference Deans have to say about their regions in future months. God is on a mission! May the Spirit help us keep up.
Pr. Brendan Johnston
Dean of the Laurentian Conference
LSS Center for Changing Lives

Our heartfelt thanks goes to all who have contributed to the campaign to build the Center for Changing Lives in Duluth. The private giving portion of the campaign has passed the halfway point. We need your continuing financial support to make it a reality in 2016!

Even if you have already contributed to the campaign, please consider an additional gift before the end of 2015. A one-time gift of any amount or a multi-year pledge would be deeply appreciated. We do have a shot at ending youth homelessness in northeastern Minnesota, but we need your help to do it.

Make a gift online or contact Bob Sherman:
218.302.6876  [email protected]

Jodi Harpstead
CEO, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota
PV for Phebe - Solar August Update

I am so proud to belong to the NE MN Synod. You came through and made Solar August a phenomenal month. We raised almost $50,000 and there are several congregations and WELCA fall gatherings that have activities planned for September and beyond that will support this mission. As our Liberian friends told us "God is good all the time. All the time God is good."  Thank you

Mary Jo Mettler

"Provide, Promise, Protect"
Nov. 20-21 OR 21-22, 2015
Grades 6-9
Cragun's Resort, Brainerd
Speaker: Pastor Mike Carlson
Join nearly 1000 middle school youth and their adult leaders for a weekend of fun, learning, worship and friendships! This year's Middle School Gathering will focus on the Ten Commandments, and includes large group assemblies, learning clusters, hotel life, worship and much more. Click here for more information and to download registration forms. Registration opens October 1!
Opening Our Networks
A Gathering Of Region 3 Rostered & Lay Leaders

When & Where: November 12-14, 2015 in Fargo, ND
Who: Any one involved in or interested in: World Hunger, Global Mission, Disaster Response, Campus Ministry, Outdoor Ministry, Synod Stewardship, Synod Mission Interpretation, the ELCA Campaign, Youth and Young Adult Ministry.
Cost: $85 per person including meals, plus housing

Click here for a flyer of additional information.

Click here to register online.

Bulletin Board
Our Savior's Lutheran in Virginia to Host Special Climate Presentation - 
October 4, 2015
Physiological Ecologist Alex Gunderson, PhD,  who specializes in understanding how climate affects the natural world will give a presentation at 10:50 am on Sunday, Oct. 4.  Gunderson, formerly of Eveleth, MN is currently a post-doctoral scholar at UC-Berkley and at San Francisco University.  All are invited to attend.
Dr. Gunderson will also give a presentation on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 10:00 am in Duluth at the Natural Resources Research Institute, Miller Trunk Hwy., Duluth.

Office Manager Position
Lutheran Church of the Cross, Nisswa, MN, is seeking applicants for a full time Office Manager.
Working Conditions: Work duties are performed primarily in an office setting. The position is full time with hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Supplemental Information: This is a position with benefits. The successful candidate is subject to completion of a criminal history background check. Starting salary to be commensurate with skills and job experience.
To apply for this position please complete a job application and submit it to the Senior Pastor ([email protected]). An application may be obtained from the church office (218-963-2564).

October 10, 2015 - Gloria Dei Lutheran, Duluth, MN 
"On Earth As in Heaven: Scripture and Hope for Healing Our World" and 
"A Kairos Moment: Pope Francis, St. Francis, and the Lutherans"  
Informational Brochure
The promise of earth renewal in scripture and practice with Prof. Barbara Rossing. 8:30 am-2:30 pm at Gloria Dei, Duluth, co-organized by the NE MN Synod Creation Care Team and Lake Superior Conference WELCA. Dr. Rossing is Professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Known for her scholarship on the Book of Revelation, Rossing believes the scriptural witness speaks of God not abandoning the earth but of a vision of renewal where the New Jerusalem and the Tree of Life provide inspiration for ecological civilization. An active theologian for the Lutheran World Federation, Rossing also sees the 500th anniversary of the Reformation as an opportunity for Lutherans to embrace an Eco-Reformation for our times. Free will offering for lunch.
This free event coincides with the Lake Superior Conference WELCA Fall Gathering, but is open to all.

Two Faith Inkubator Events in One Weekend!
Life-Long Cross+Gen Faith Formation
Holding Your Family Together
With Speaker Rich Melheim
October 23-24, 2015
Grace Lutheran Church, Hermantown Friday evening begins with a visioning session for pastors, key leaders and spouses. Saturday morning. The training sessions listed above will be held Saturday. A free Family Comedy Event will be held Saturday night.
Sponsored by Grace Lutheran Church, in partnership with Thrivent Financial and the Lake Superior Conference.
Overview Flyer and Paper Registration
Online Registration
Contact Pastor Phil Berge for more information.

KAIROS/School of Lay Ministry
Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN
Dates: Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2015 - 10 contact hours
1) "No Other Name: The Power of the Good News According to Acts" w/James Boyce
2) "Luther's Small Catechism for Today: Part 2" w/ Dirk Lange, Steve Paulson and Walter Sandberg
Tuition:  $100
Course Hours: Monday 1:00-5:15pm; Tuesday 9:00am-4:00pm, Wednesday 9:00-11:00am

NE MN Synod Women of the ELCA Summer Gathering/Convention
June 9-10, 2016 (Thursday-Friday)
Sugar Lake Lodge, Grand Rapids, MN

2016 Synod Assembly
April 29 - May 1, 2016 at Breezy Point Resort  
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Northeastern Minnesota
Synod, ELCA

synod logo

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
Recycle your motor oil.  One quart of motor oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water.  If you get your oil changed, make sure they will recycle your oil.  If you change the oil yourself, take it to a gas station or oil-changing outlet that recycles oil.  They will take yours, but you will have to pay anywhere from a quarter to a dollar (the cost of having it picked up).

Story Starter 
Question of the Week

Who was your favorite Sunday school or confirmation teacher?