Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of December 13, 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 George Gilbertson, retired in Grand Rapids
  • Bethlehem Lutheran, Aitkin and Pastor Cynthia Gray
  • Faith Lutheran Swanburg, Pine River and Pastor Joan Gunderman
  • Our Savior's Lutheran, Outing and Pastor Michael Gustafson
  • St. Paul's Lutheran, Hackensack and Pastor Judy Gustafson
Bishop Aitken's Advent 4 Reflections

"Hail Mary, full of grace"
We're getting close to Christmas. It started with that messenger from God, saying "Hail Mary, full of grace."
But what is grace? Grace is not a commodity. It is not a thing. It does not get weighed or quantified in order to be evaluated. It' can't be fully explained, but we know when we "see" it. As Lutherans we sometimes define graces as undeserved merit especially when we are teaching new members and Confirmands about it. But that kind of definition is not enough. Grace is something like the wind, an invisible power you can't see coming and recognize it only after the fact. Grace is God's unconditional gift to give as God wills and when it is lived into, ends up being more powerful than ideologies, wealth, armies, or Empire. It creates new possibilities and brings new life where before there was none. It blesses as it is received and lived out.
Mary was chosen to get caught up in this grace, something that would change the course of the world. She was told she would play a part giving birth to Jesus. She got up - full of grace - and went to see her old aunt Elizabeth was also to have a child, even in her very old age. Mary's response found expression in simple ordinary, believing action. And isn't this what grace does to us? It overpowers us, it fills us, it moves us into the ordinary gracious activities that honor God and bless others.
Too many of us are waiting only - Waiting for others to respond to God's call in their life. Some wait to see if getting caught up like Mary into grace will be reasonable, or will pay off in some way. We may wait to see what the next election will bring, or wait for more signs, or wait for proof to show up or a time that will seem safer to respond to God. God's message came to Mary, we know, when she was very young, barely sixteen years old. God did not wait to shower her with the gift and power of grace until everything was "safe" or reasonable. You might say it was very unsafe; her relationship to Joseph was far from perfect in the eyes of many, she didn't hold prominence in terms of family, income or status. Yet she walked into grace with profound trust. At any moment, in the ordinary reality of your life, God will call you into a new day of grace to be, as Mary was, an instrument of blessing to the world. Be ready, and let Mary be your example.
+Bishop Thomas M.  Aitken

An Open House in Honor of Marilyn Hull!

Sunday, January 3, 2016
Our Savior's Lutheran Church,
4831 Grand Ave, Duluth

2:00-4:00 pm - Open House with light desserts
3:00 pm - Short Program

Come celebrate Marilyn Hull as she retires from 26 years serving the Northeastern Minnesota Synod!
Your presence is the only gift that is needed. However, if you do wish to honor Marilyn with a gift, she has requested donations be made to the Center for Changing Lives "From Here On" campaign. You can make a donation directly to the LSS website at (there is a place to mark "In Honor of") or send checks to the NE MN Synod, 1105 E Superior St., Upper Suite, Duluth, MN 55804 (mark "In Honor of Marilyn Hull" in the memo line).

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. - Bishop Thomas Aitken
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.
A Time of Waiting: Advent and the Call Process
Reflections from Brenda Tibbetts, Assistant to the Bishop
We are mid-way through the Advent season awaiting the celebration of Christ's birth as well as looking forward to His second coming. Many of our congregations are also in a time of waiting and discernment with the Call Process. For those Call Committees and Councils mid-way through the Call Process, I would encourage you to keep each other in the loop as far as confidentiality allows. Transparency as to where your Call Committee is in the process is key to building on good interviews with potential candidates.
Advent is indeed a time of hope-filled expectation. It is my prayer that our Call Committees are in a similar mindset. I would encourage all of our Northeastern MN Synod congregations to uphold their rostered leaders, musicians, Youth and Family Directors, secretaries/office administrators, staff, councils and other church leadership in their prayers during this busy season. And please, remember to keep your sister congregations in your prayers, especially those who are waiting to extend a call or are awaiting the arrival of a newly called pastor. In the coming years, we will see more congregations exploring new ways of doing ministry together.
Being synod together, we are called to walk with each other and to encourage one another in our various ministries. We can all grow in faith and love by working together as well as praying for one another that the Holy Spirit would strengthen us all to be the lights of hope and peace. This is where God calls us to be and to share God's gift of love in a world which very much needs to experience the gracious gifts of Christ's hope, forgiveness and peace.
Blessings to all in this holy time of waiting.
Brenda Tibbetts
Call Process Administrator 
Assistant to the Bishop, Northeastern MN Synod

"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

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 - Do It In the Dark

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

Part-time Organist Position
Concordia Lutheran, Duluth is seeking a part-time organist. Please contact the church office a t 218-728-4229 or for more information.

ELCA Good Gifts
Do you ever feel like you're shopping for people who already have everything they need? Or that you want to give and receive something a little more meaningful?  
Rethink the tradition of holiday gift-giving with ELCA Good Gifts. With more than 50 gifts to choose from - from goats and chicks, to clean water and education - there's something for everyone on your list And if you've given ELCA Good Gifts before, you might want to check out some of our new gifts. Might we suggest the latrineGiving is fun and easy. With each donation, we'll send you a free card with information about your gift to help you share the news. Print them online anytime. Please join us in celebrating God's greatest gift by sharing God's love with others. Thanks, and happy shopping. 
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Important Message From Church Mutual Insurance Co. Concerning The ELCA Endorsed Insurance Program:
"Church Mutual is proud to be selected as your ELCA-endorsed insurance provider. As a reflection of our commitment to helping you achieve your goals under an umbrella of protection, security and partnership, we are excited to offer all ELCA congregations and synods a 5% discount when they select us as their insurance provider, effective January 1, 2016. As the largest single insurer of the ELCA church-wide offices, regional offices, synod offices and congregations, we look forward to our continued partnership. Learn more about Church Mutual by downloading our brochure. If you'd like us to provide a quote, simply go to and click on "Request a Quote," or call (800) 554-2642, selection Option 1.

LSS Resources for your Congregation
Happy New Year! Looking for study group resources for your congregation in the coming year? Check out The Lutheran church has done so much to support our ministry, now we want to support you as a faith leader in your community. Our small group studies focused on youth homelessness, aging abundantly and the Muslim faith are available for your congregation's use - free of charge. Download at the link above! 
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  
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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

Each year, U.S. drivers buy more than 50 million new or used cars. We can help cut America's oil use and rein in automobile-related emissions for years to come by choosing the most fuel-efficient model that meets your usual transportation needs. Visit  a website maintained by the federal government, to see the fuel economy ratings and annual fuel costs (which you can personalize based on your individual driving habits) of each model you're considering..

Story Starter 
Question of the Week

Where do you see "God with us"?