Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of November 29, 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 Michael Fossen, On Leave from Call, in Cloquet
  • Pastor William Fossum, retired in Duluth
  • Messiah Lutheran, Mountian Iron, and Pastor Kristin Foster
  • First Lutheran, Little Falls, and Pastor Henry French, retired, under contract
Bishop Aitken's Reflections

Job Opening
Northeastern MN Synod
Office Communication and Support Person
All of you are aware that Marilyn Hull will retire Dec. 31, 2015. This creates a new job opening, with a new job description, worked out by our Personnel Committee. I post this position below so that if you or someone you know is qualified, they make contact me at 218-724-4424.
Position Description:
Communications and Office Support
Reports to: Bishop

Office Support
Answer telephone providing information, responding to inquiries and/or requests, directing phone calls
Greet synod visitors and provide hospitality for meetings
Office support/secretarial tasks to assist other synod staff as needed
Serve as point person for synod mailings, both electronically and through the USPS

Prepare brochures and flyers as needed
Maintain website, social media, and Constant Contact as needed
Arrange event preparation as assigned by the bishop, working with location liaisons (including Synod Assembly)
Assemble the Bulletin of Reports for the Synod Assembly

Maintain and update Pulpit Supply list
Maintain current rosters of all synod committees and task forces
Process information submitted by committees to the synod office
Arrange annual meeting of the Nominating Committee as directed by the bishop
Prepare nomination information for the Nominating Committee and Bulletin of Reports
Terms of Employment
This is a half-time position for 4 hours/day five days a week. Additional hours need to be pre-authorized by the Bishop. Hourly rate is according to synod guidelines for hourly support staff and commensurate with experience.
Vacation time, personal days, and holidays are granted according to Personnel Policy of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod of the ELCA in accordance with guidelines set forth in the Synod Compensation Guidelines.
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA
Online Evangelical Mission
I was recently going over my job description in preparation for my annual performance review. Job reviews for the pastor aren't always a normal practice in the parish, but they should be. If you don't have one, ask your executive council for the opportunity. I look forward to being able to talk with the people I work for and with to assess my work (and our work together), to get helpful feedback and constructive criticism. I want to know how I can I have a deeper impact for the gospel, and then be supported and held accountable by others in making that impact in the future. 
Near the top of the list of requirements in my job description as Assistant to the Bishop and Director for Evangelical Mission is this: "Preach on a regular basis in the synod, eventually in all our congregations."
Outside of synod assembly, fall theological conference, and a few retreats, I have preached at 38 different congregations in our synod since October 2014. Most of the time I am preaching and the pastor of the congregation is there to preside, which is our standard practice. A few times, though, I have been in congregations where the pastor was unavailable for a legitimate reason, or  in places where there was no called pastor. I am so grateful to those pastors or councils who have invited me, and even more so to the congregations that have received me so warmly. We are church together.
At the rate I'm going, it will take about five years to fulfill the expectation that I preach "in all our congregations." I am up for the challenge and I am extending the invitation: call or email me if you would like me to preach in your congregation. I am happy to use the revised common lectionary, the narrative lectionary, or a specific text to support your stewardship or missional emphasis. I look forward to the opportunity to worship with you.
Here are some available dates: December 13, January 16 & 24, February 21 & 28, and March 6 & 20.
Pastor John Dietz
Assistant to the Bishop
Director for Evangelical Mission
218-724-4424 ext 125
Give Hope With Good Gifts
In their book "A Path Appears," Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn have a chapter called "The Power of Hope". They write about a study among the poorest of the poor in a village in Bangladesh. The families were offered a pair of cows, a small herd of goats, or a flock of chickens, and helped to build a small business. They studied the impact of this program and discovered something puzzling: it was too successful. It produced wealth even in areas seemingly unrelated to the livestock. The families in the study earned seven times as much money from livestock as they had before. They also earned 50 percent more from nonagricultural businesses, even though these weren't part of the program. They earned three times as much from tending their fields, which also hadn't changed. The magnitude of the improvement in living conditions couldn't be explained by the value of the gift of goats or a couple of cows. The people reported significant improvement in mental health.
The studies authors hypothesized that previously the recipients were victims of the "poverty trap" which brings with it depression and hopelessness. Kristof and Wudunn conclude that many successful aid programs work not so much because of the gifts such as the cows and goats but because they create hope that turns passivity into action. (Krista and Wudunn, p. 124) The ELCA Good Gifts program is a perfect way to give HOPE this Advent and Christmas season. Check it out at You can order catalogs and make them available to your parishioners. This year there are ornaments representing many of the Good Gifts. People can choose to purchase a gift and then take the ornament as a remembrance of their gift(s).
Check it out and offer people the opportunity to give HOPE.
Larry Nelson
Member of Synod Hunger, Justice and Rural Concerns Team

A message from the Synod Task Force on Immigration and Refugees
Linda Hartke, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) writes:
"The protection that the United States offers to a very small percentage of the world's refugees must not be foreclosed for Syrians who themselves are fleeing the terror of ISIS. The US refugee program has built up rigorous and multilayered security screenings to ensure that those we admit as refugees do not mean us harm. To close the door on resettling Syrian refugees would be nothing less than signing a death warrant for tens of thousands of families fleeing for their very lives. We are a nation and people that stand up to those who slaughter innocents. We stand with the most vulnerable who seek safety and a future. And we 'Stand for Welcome'."
"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

Luther Crest Christmas Cookies
Celebrate Christmas with Luther Crest Cookies. Welcome in the Christmas Season with some yummy Christmas Cookies, Candies, Nuts and Breads! No need to stress about not having enough time to get everything done on your Christmas to do list!  Let Luther Crest help you do all of your Christmas baking for you! For more information call 320-846-2431 or email Bonnie Praska. CLICK HERE TO ORDER ONLINE NOW!
Area Drop Offs in Twin Cities, Fargo, Battle Lake, Fergus Falls, Alexandria, and St Cloud. Make Your Order Today or by December 4th, 2015.

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.  

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.

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  
In This Issue
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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

Over 80 percent of the oil we consume in Minnesota is bituminous crude, or Tar Sands, from Alberta, Canada, which require open-pit operations comparable to mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.  Large tracts of boreal forest are cut, wetlands drained, layers of soil and peat moss removed, and important habitat lost.  Four tons of northern forest are destroyed, along with all the wildlife and habitat it supports, to produce a single barrel of oil.

Story Starter 
Question of the Week

What relationships are you thankful for? (friends, family, work, church...) what are you thankful for in those relationships?