Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of November 22, 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 Gary Fehring, retired in Milaca
  • Pastor Gerald Flathman, retired in Pine City
  • Bethesda Lutheran, Carlton and Pastor Cheryl Fleckenstein, Interim
  • Grace Lutheran, McGregor and Pastor Erika Foss
Bishop Aitken's Reflections

I write this online from Cragun's Resort, where over 900 of our middle-schoolers and their pastors and adult leaders are learning about the Ten Commandments under the theme "Provide, Promise and Protect." It's been powerful. This annual Northeastern Minnesota learning event brings together youth, Confirmation teachers, LYO youth and adults from all over our synod, reminding them that we work together as congregations in our synod to grow in faith and discipleship, fellowship and service. The offering taken at the closing worship goes to help build the Lutheran Social Service Center for homeless children in Duluth, a place where homeless youth, just a little older than Middle School kids will find the love and grace of God and live in safety. (120 youth in Duluth alone - are homeless each night in Duluth). That's not acceptable, that's just plain wrong.
  Pr. Mike Carlson
Pastor Mike Carlson, former pastor who has served in 7 of our NE MN SYNOD congregations, now lead pastor at St. Andrew's, Mahtomedi, an amazing keynote speaker with a clear Lutheran emphasis on God's amazing love for each one of us, led us in understanding the theology of the Commandments and their practical application to our lives. He focused on Luther's Catechism and the way Luther taught us how the Thou Shall nots are balanced by the Thou Shall side of Christian life. I appreciate that Pastor Carlson speaks the truth, and isn't afraid to help us see the connections of faith to the realities all around us. For him this includes how the Commandments deal with what's going on at school, in the home, and the current immigration and refugee crisis with the darkness of pornography, stewardship of the earth and personal temptations. I always enjoy both the "Chat with the Bishop" opportunities and preaching and presiding at the closing worship.
When you get a chance, thank your youth mentors, pastors and other Rostered Leaders who participated in this powerful growing in faith
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

Middle School Youth Gathering 2015
ELCA Presiding Bishop Encourages the Support of Refugee Resettlement

CHICAGO (ELCA) - In response to the terrorism around the world and people displaced from their homes and seeking refuge, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), issued a statement Nov. 18 to the 3.7 million member church:
"We are shocked and dismayed by the terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, but also in Nigeria, Kenya, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Senseless acts of terror will maim and forever have an impact on innocent victims and their families. Our hearts and prayers go out to all whose lives have been shattered and are grieving the loss of loved ones. We know all too well the frightening memories of terrorist attacks in the U.S. and the uncertainties of possible future attacks.

LSS MN Resource on Islam

Dear neighbor,

We are almost all a nation of immigrants. As LSS of Minnesota celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, we remember the enormous wave of immigration at the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th that built the State of Minnesota, our churches and communities, and Lutheran Social Service of MN.

After World War II, that first wave of immigrants turned to welcome new waves of "displaced people" from Europe. Our congregations welcomed refugees from Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War, as Minnesota gathered the largest settlement of Hmong people in America.

In recent years, civil wars in Somalia, Liberia, and Burma caused refugees from those countries to immigrate to the welcoming State of Minnesota. Now many of our new neighbors are of the Muslim faith.

While tensions between Christians, Jews, and Muslims have been a reality throughout history, since 9/11 and American deployments in the Middle East, the American popular press has been filled with news of the "war on terror" with negative characterizations of Muslim people. Though devout Muslims have tried to counter the media with reminders that Islam is a religion of devotion to God and peace among neighbors, those voices are sometimes hard to hear.

Minnesotans will certainly welcome more Muslims to our communities. At LSS we are offering a resource to our churches, and anyone else who would like to use it, to help learn the basic tenets of Islam and understand our new neighbors.

We are grateful to Dr. Todd Green, Associate Professor of Religion at Luther College, who has offered insight from his extensive writing on Islam as a starting point for discussion. Many thanks to several faculty members from Luther Seminary, and Yusuf Abdi of LSS Refugee Resettlement, who added their responses and study questions for what promises to be a rich, seven-session introduction to Islam.

I am also deeply grateful to Imam Hassan Mohamud of the Da'Wah Center in Saint Paul, who not only reviewed the study for an accurate reflection of Islam, but also plans to use it to distinguish the Islam of the Qu'ran from the Islam of the media in his own community of faith.

Our intention is simply that this resource will open doors, minds, and hearts and dispel stereotypes and myths about Muslim neighbors just enough to start more conversations. I am touched by the stories of Minnesotans who are inviting Muslim imams into dialogue, accepting the invitation to participate in iftar dinners during Ramadan, and hosting community multicultural celebrations.

This study is available for download along with a fact sheet. They are free to use and copy without copyright restriction. We would be glad to answer any questions that arise about refugees and resettlement.

LSS staff and volunteers are always available to preach or speak in your congregation or community group. Please let us know how else we might be helpful by contacting [email protected].

Jodi Harpstead

"Confronting Racism: A Holy Yearning" Webcast

As racism remains an enduring crisis in the United States, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), is continuing her call to the 3.7 million member church to address the complexity and implications of the issue in "Confronting Racism: A Holy Yearning" - a live webcast Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. (CDT). This is Eaton's second live webcast on the topic of racism.

Among other topics, the January webcast will raise the question of the racial disparity in the U.S. criminal justice system, emphasizing the ELCA's commitment to pray for the incarcerated, their families and communities, and those wrongly convicted, as well as to pray for law enforcers and those who work in the system. The webcast will also underscore the denomination's declaration to name racism as a sin and highlight the ELCA's ongoing work to eliminate racial, ethnic discrimination in the church and society.

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].

Eaton's public statements are available at

The ELCA's social statement "The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries" is available at and its accompanying study guide.

January 16, 2016 - Duluth

February 5-8, 2016 - Anaheim, CA
Four, $100 scholarships are available through the NE MN Synod to assist leaders in getting to the Extravaganza! Please contact Catherine Anderson by December 1 to request a scholarship.
PV for Phebe Update

Thank you for your generous support in bringing solar power to Phebe Hospital. To date donations received at the synod office amount to just over $133,000. We are closing in on our commitment of $200,000, but I think we can exceed that. With RREAL expenses at $52,500, we have $81,000 on hand.
To reach donors beyond the church, a *fun* crowdfunding campaign started November 1st with a goal of $35,000; the cost of one month's fuel bill at Phebe. Here is the link to the crowdfunding campaign.  Please share this with your family and friends, and let your light shine so others may have light. If we can reach 60,000 people who donate just $10 each, we will have the funds to begin phase one. Together, we have the power to make a difference for Phebe Hospital!
Please follow the project on Facebook. The Facebook page is titled Skip The Grid

Mary Jo Mettler
Bulletin Board

Youth Director Position  
Lutheran Church of the Cross (LCC) in Nisswa, MN, is seeking a full-time Director of Youth and Family Ministry to revitalize the ministry to youth in grades 7-12 and their families. We seek someone who has the skills for relational ministry to both youth and their parents.  This person will also be part of a team that works on an integrated birth-to-graduation children's and youth ministry structure at LCC. Our congregational mission centering on the six  marks of discipleship (prayer, scripture reading, worship, service in Christ's name, stewardship and hospitality will be a central part of all youth and family ministry programming. Most importantly, a love and passion for Christ and youth ministry is essential. The person in this position will work closely with the Director of Children and Family Ministry and Associate Pastor. For more information or questions, please contact Pastor Andy Smith.  Resume can be sent to: Lutheran Church of the Cross, Attn: Pastor Andy Smith, PO Box 29, Nisswa, MN  56468.  Deadline is Friday, December 4, 2015.  

Organist Position
French River Lutheran Church is seeking a dynamic, enthusiastic person to fill our fill-time organist position. If interested please contact Sue at 218.525.5659 or
[email protected] FRLC is located at 5310 Ryan Road, halfway between Two Harbors and Duluth, MN.

Executive/Theological Director Position
Lutheran Braille Evangelism Association seeks an Executive Director and a Theological Director to lead the transition, continuation, and growth of this 63-year-old ministry for blind and sight-impaired individuals. Responsibilities include producing a monthly devotional magazine and other communications, developing and distributing biblical and catechetical resources, maintaining financial records, encouraging donations, and providing new direction in which the ministry might grow. We encourage interested parties to explore our website,, and respond via email to [email protected]

EQ-HR Workshop
January 4-8, 2016 - Joy Ranch, Florence, SD
The Center for Emotional Intelligence & Human Relations Skills EQ-HR Workshop is an intensive five-day session that revolves around the five keys of emotional intelligence: Self-perception, Self-expression, Interpersonal, Decision making and Stress management. For more information about this and other EQ-HR workshops, click here.

National Lutheran Choir Event
National Lutheran Choir Christmas Festival - "The Spotless Rose"  -  Friday, December 11, 2015 - 4:30pm & 8pm and Saturday, December 12, 2015 - 8pm  -  Basilica of Saint Mary (88 N. 17th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55403) - Call Brown Paper Tickets (800) 838-3006 or order online at

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary Events
Praxis: Lifelong Education for Faith and Practice - Online Continuing and Community Education - Spring Term begins January 18, 2016

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

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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 production of chocolate is often a story of child slavery, forced labor, unsafe working conditions, cruel beatings and imprisonments. In West Africa, a quarter-million children are forced to pick cocoa beans in brutal working conditions. Purchase Fair Trade (such as Equal Exchange) to ensure no child labor and a fair price for cocoa farmers and a better standard of living for their families. To learn more visit

Story Starter 
Question of the Week

What character in the Christmas story do you relate to the most? Why?