Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of January 3, 2016  
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.
  • Holden Lutheran, Isle, Zion Lutheran, McGrath, and Pastor Catherine Hedmark
  • Pastor Alan Hendrickson, retired in Hackensack
  • Pastor Larry Hendry, retired in Isle
  • Our Savior's Lutheran, Cloquet and Pastor Chris Hill
Bishop Aitken's Reflections
His Baptism and Ours
This coming Sunday is marked as "Baptism of our Lord."
Thank Godfor this church's ongoing re-discovery of the claim of baptism on our lives. There was once a time where baptism was simply a day to please Grandma, a quaint little ceremony where some ancestor's baptismal garment could be put on a cute baby, something sure to bring relatives to church that Sunday, or at least to the Open House afterwards. Or, in some families, baptism was seen as a kind of preparation for death - a kind of "fire insurance" so you when you died, you wouldn't go to hell. It still never occurs to some that baptism was a preparation for life.
But the texts for this Sunday aren't so cute or innocuous or other worldly. They speak of preparing for life - a life of connection to the will of God in this world and to Jesus who will burn out the "chaff" (verse 17 of the Gospel text) of our life so that a new life can be born in us. And in the process we are claimed as beloved, even as Jesus was as he rose up out of the water.
I don't understand those who walk into a Mall or workplace and kill innocent people. I don't understand how someone can father a child, and then leave that woman and child forever. I don't understand how a young Lutheran man can walk into a Bible Study in a black church in Charleston and kill 9 members point blank while shouting hate messages. I don't understand why people of all ethnicities and orientations are still not welcome in all our churches. But I can understand my own "chaff." I know too well what needs to be burned out of me by our Lord. Baptism is more than a cute ceremony. It's a burning, a destroying of something. It propels us into the real world where anything that holds us back from proclaiming and living the good news of Jesus is cut out, and Jesus' spirit put in. (Romans 6:3 "For surely you know that when we were baptized into union with Christ Jesus, we were baptized into union with his death, by our baptism, then, we were buried with him and shared his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from death by the glorious power of the Father, so also we might live a new life.")
This week, thank God for being baptized into Jesus!
Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
ELCA presiding bishop visits Syrian refugees in Jordan
CHICAGO (ELCA) -The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), met with Syrian refugees living in the Za'atari refugee camp during a Dec.12-15 trip to Jordan.
Eaton, who was joined by Archbishop Antje Jackelen of the Church of Sweden and Gloria Rojas Vargas, former church president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile, visited the camp's Peace Oasis, a compound operated by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF). While there, the church leaders talked with refugee families, listening to their stories about life in the camp. Many families are facing their fifth winter being displaced from their homes.
"The Syrian refugees are incredibly resilient," said Eaton. "We met a family where the father lost two of his sons in the Syrian war. He had worked 30 years to have his own farm and lost it all. A young girl was showing me images of burned bodies on her cellphone. And yet the parents are doing everything to keep their children engaged and out of trouble. Some have painted their houses, trying to bring some beauty to such a stark place. It's incredible."
According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees are housed at Za'atari refugee camp. At the Peace Oasis, LWF offers psychosocial support to the refugees through workshops, training, music and crafts. LWF is a global communion of 145 churches in the Lutheran tradition, representing over 72 million Christians in 98 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.
"The suffering of the people in Syria is real," said Eaton. "Bombs are falling on these people who just want to live their lives."
The church leaders also met with Jordan's prime minister, Abdullah Ensour, and several members of the Jordanian cabinet.
In their conversation, Ensour spoke of how important Christians are to Jordanian society. "God would not consider me a good Muslim if I didn't love Christ," he said.
Stressing the need for help from the Christian community in dealing with the influx of refugees, Ensour said of the 7 million people living in Jordan, 1.5 million are refugees and only 600,000 of those are registered.
"We believe that the cross of life is where there is suffering," said Eaton. "It certainly is in that camp in Jordan, and it's our calling in God's world to alleviate these people's suffering."
Celebration of Service & Retirement!
An Open House celebrating Marilyn Hull's 26 years of faithful service on synod staff was held Sun., Jan. 3 at Our Savior's Lutheran in Duluth.
Family, friends, co-workers and former synod staff members enjoyed an afternoon of sharing, laughter & hugs topped off with a light lunch, cake and chocolate fountain. (Marilyn loves chocolate!)
Catherine Anderson was the MC for the brief program which featured a heartfelt thank you by Bishop Tom Aitken and entertainment by Pr. Jeannie Megorden, "The Shondelle's" aka as Kathy Wimer, Pr. Janeva Stromberg & Catherine Anderson.
On behalf of the entire Northeastern MN Synod, Thank You Marilyn Hull!
May God bless you in your new adventure of "Retirement!"

Catherine Anderson, Karen Bockelman, Jeannie Megordon and Vicki Taylor

Marilyn with daughter Carrie and Janeva Stromberg

Year-End Report Time!

The links are up for the annual reports to the bishop for rostered leaders.

There are two places where these forms can be found.  
Under the second link you need to use the "Synod" tab.

"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
"One of the greatest skills in ministry is taking other people's experience and ideas and making them work in your context.
Stealing and copying is lazy. Stealing and adapting is genius. Learn from Recharge's workshop presenters-steal their ideas-make it work in your ministry.
A vital part of Recharge is the wide variety of workshops available.  You will be equipped, inspired and energized by these relevant, practical workshops. Experienced ministry leaders will share useful and motivational ideas to help you and your team be ready for the challenges of leadership and working with kids.  Some workshops are designed for a specific area of ministry while others will be applicable whether you work with children, youth or families" Click here to register. Registration deadline is January 13th.

February 5-8, 2016 - Anaheim, CA
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 [email protected] for more information.

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, January 22 or when the position is filled. 

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
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The purpose of our

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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 

Tammy Segel-Crilly - 127





1105 E. Superior St.,

Upper Suite

Duluth, MN  55802


FAX: 218.724.4393    

Online Reflections Editor

Anne Laechel

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NE MN Synod 
Creation Care Team 
Green Tip of the Week

When it comes to recycling, every community is different. Do some research to make sure you're recycling all the materials accepted in your community. Check with your local solid waste and recycling office.

Story Starter 
Question of the Week

"What is your favorite event or tradition in your congregation?"