Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of March 6, 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.
  • Nashwauk Lutheran, Nashwauk and Pastor Aaron Lofgren
  • First Lutheran, Duluth and Pastor Dianne Loufman and Pastor Gregory Garmer
  • Pastor Donald Ludemann, On Leave From Call in Little Falls
  • Bethany Lutheran, Onamia and Pastor John Lundberg
  • Pastor Nathan Lundgren, retired in Brainerd
Bishop's Online Reflections
Just a few updates from the Conference of Bishops in Chicago so far:
The Conference meets daily, all day, from March 3-March 8. Not only the 65 Bishops, Vice President and Secretary are here, but much of the Churchwide Staff, and a number of guests are present.
- Together as a Region (The Dakotas and Minnesota) the 9 Bishops worked out pastoral candidates for congregations in our synod: I received two. I've already contacted them. They are pleased to be assigned to the Northeastern MN Synod!
- We have had good conversation with all 8 Seminary Presidents about the future of ELCA theological education - and how all of our Seminaries could create networks that allow more efficient use of our resources, and provide lower tuition and/or more grants for those entering Seminary. We talked about the number of Seminaries: Do we have too many now that we see how low enrollment is in all of our Seminaries: Two Pennsylvania Seminaries, as you know, have already consolidated; Philadelphia and Gettysburg. I spoke with President David Lose for some time about this.
- We are working hard at figuring out how to live into the paradox that exists in the ELCA since 2009, regarding marriage rites for GLBT folks, and how all of us can share resources so that we respect the convictions across the church. In our synod, I've helped several congregations begin those conversations which will always involve the Council and Pastor. This falls under the Document we as a Conference and also the Church Council with a task force worked on since last fall called "Ministry to and with Same Gender Families.
- We bid farewell to 6 beloved Bishops who are either retiring or ending their terms early.
- I thanked the Conference for their prayers for Gloria Dei and the tragic fire and gave them an update.
- We discussed Mission Support across our church; Percentages, dollar amounts, how it is working, how it isn't ( 6 synods are halfway through a "pilot project" in how they are now giving to our churchwide ministries, we will see how it pans out).
- We heard the Presiding Bishop, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer's Reports.
- We spend large blocks of time thinking forward - on the future Directions and priorities of our ELCA: What is most important, what will we need to let go?
- We engaged in conversation with the task force on the new Assignment Process for First Call candidates as Rostered Leaders in this church, one that we hope to make more equitable and helpful both for congregations of this church and for First Call Candidate Leaders. That report will be open to our input through the October Conference of Bishops.
- We have worshiped together each day.
The Conference lasts through Tuesday noon - so there will be more to report out later.
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA
Extra Mile Giving

We move our Synod Council Meeting location around our Synod each time we meet. Our last one (You may have seen our Facebook picture) was at First Lutheran in Aitkin. It was a good meeting, filled with great discussion and reporting out. One of the things I've wanted to do is share a kind of "best practices" piece online with you on this online - and/or Website.
Below is a description of what First in Aitkin does to address stewardship of the ministries they do in addition to the Mission Support money that is sent in each month through the Synod for our common synod ministries. I hope it is helpful for you, and sparks some conversation about what might be some new ideas in your congregation.

First Lutheran in Aitkin has developed an Extra Mile Giving program for use in supporting non-budgeted mission work. Sometimes it seemed that every Sunday we were asking for donations for a different cause. Some were heard to remark, "Every time I come to church they're asking for more money." These were always good causes, but sometimes seemed to overwhelm the fact that we were gathering weekly for worship, not just to see what the latest need was. Our new plan has been very well received.
Each month of the year has been assigned a particular mission. An example would be March Foodshare. During this month we join in collecting food and cash for our local food shelf. Our December emphasis is Global Barnyard. In February we lift up Camperships. This way only one cause is emphasized per month. In November we do "Catch Up" and use offerings to close the gap between regular offerings and expenses prior to year-end. We generally present the cause early in the month and people can donate any time they want during the month. If they don't have a passion for Camperships, for instance, they can still give to Foodshare. There is also a line for "Crisis" which allows donations for floods, local fires, etc. They don't hear about these emphases every Sunday. Rarely do we solicit donations for causes not listed on our envelopes. (That can be a shortcoming of this process.)
When we started this program, there were concerns that this might negatively impact our regular giving to the budgeted mission of the church or to our building fund. We have raised thousands of dollars by way of our Extra Mile Giving and our regular and building fund offerings have continued to rise and even exceed our expectations at the same time.
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

Year-End Report Time!

Annual Rostered Leaders to the Bishop

Synod Nominating Committee
Nominations requested for Synod Council and Committee on Discipline. See form below for details.

Congregation/Parochial Report
Congregation ID and Password are found on the paper form sent by the ELCA

2016 Bishop's Convocation

Lutherans: Reformed and Reforming - an educational offering for the entire Northeastern Minnesota Synod as we gear up to the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation.

There will be two identical opportunities to attend this year's Bishop's Convocation:

Saturday, April 2, 2016 from 1-4 pm 
at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Hibbing
Sunday, April 3, 2016 from 2-5 pm 
at First Lutheran Church, Aitkin

Keynote Speaker: Bishop David Zellmer, South Dakota Synod
"How the Heck Did We Get to the Reformation?"

Topics of 2 Workshop Sessions:
  • Lutherans and Creation Care
  • Lutherans and Immigration
  • Lutheran Teaching at School of Lay Ministry
  • Lutheran Theology: God at work in the world (Led by LYO Youth)
  • ELCA Today: Grounded and Changing
  • The Global Lutheran
  • Lutheran Philosophy at Portico Benefits for Rostered Leaders (Saturday session only)
  • Picture the Reformation: Luther, Cranch and the Power of the Visual
Reproducible Poster

Eventbrite - 2016 Bishop's Convocation

2016 Synod Assembly
April 29 - May 1 at Breezy Point Resort
Theme: Living Forgiveness

Synod Photo Directory

Hello Ordained Ministers, Associated in Ministry, Deaconesses, and Synodically Authorized Ministers!

Bishop Aitken would like every Rostered Leader to have their picture taken (free of charge) for an updated Synod Directory. It's been seven years since the last one and we are overdue.
The Synod Pictorial Directory helps us all stay connected. Plan on taking a few minutes and getting your picture taken. Collars on pastors are encouraged.

Lifetouch Studios will be holding 2 photo sessions during the Synod Assembly. Friday from 2pm-5pm in the Pelican Room. Saturday 8am-6pm in the Pelican Room.

Please stop by and have your photo taken. You will receive a free 8x10 photo. No Appointment Necessary. Take a 5 minute break and get your photo taken.

What do we need from you? Your smiling face of course! Also, the name, location and address where you serve, phone number and email. We will have a list on hand, you will need to verify for accuracy.
Now is the Time to Reinvest in our Camps
Over the last century, the congregations of the NEMN synod invested in the future of our church - by investing in the future of our camps.
These amazing pieces of property come to life as the Spirit moves through the relationships between children and their faith mentors. Flashlight conversations in bunkbeds, paddling through challenges together, and songs of praise lifted up from campfires help give our children the faith language they need for the future. These youth are unleashed on their congregations with faith filled energy.
Healthy camps have a symbiotic relationship with healthy congregations. When camps and churches work together the result are ministries that are:
  • spiritually healthy
  • financially healthy
  • emotionally healthy
  • and physically healthy
It is our role as a synod, the people and the local congregations, to support the work of OUR outdoor ministry sites through our response to annual support requests, sending campers, canoeists, and retreaters, and investing in capital and equipment improvement initiatives. We are living in an age of abundance, the dollars are in our pockets. God has great resources to effectively support our churches and our camps in time.
The camps are extensions of our own places of ministry and how we invest in them today will determine how ministry will happen in the future. The opportunity is here. Right now there are Christ-centered foundations being built:
  • New dining halls and retreat spaces to gather all ages at Camp Vermilion and Camp Hiawatha
  • New youth cabins for kids to gather in community at Luther Crest
  • Remodeled gathering centers for people to relax and focus on their faith at Camp Onomia
  • Upgrading camping gear, retreat and hermitage housing at Camp Amnicon.
The timing is right for our church to continue to offer great services and opportunities, however the facilities to support those great programs need renewal. Your investments in these projects are essential to successful ministry.
So please join me and my wife Beckie, in making a generous and joyful gift. It is an investment in the health of our whole synod by participating in the capital campaigns and annual fund work of our camps.
+ Bishop Tom Aitken
Connect with and invest in your camps today! Watch them Flourish Appeal to complete the Tend and Nourish Campaign and open up camp to all ages and all abilities. Joel Abenth, [email protected] Help people relax and focus in the Northwoods Room and the Garden of Eatin'. Jim Schmidt, [email protected] Positively impact the physical and spiritual lives of campers through the Prepare the Way Campaign. Dave Holtz, [email protected] Invest in the staff that invest in our kids by supporting the new Staff Housing construction! Alana Butler, [email protected]
NE MN Synod Men's Retreat
Friday & Saturday, April 1 & 2
Bethlehem Lutheran in Brainerd, MN 

Featuring Rev. Dr. Paul Nelson and Dr. David Cherwien
Breakout Sessions and displays include info about aviation, robotics, Social Media, Caring for creation, Classic cars, home-brewing, wildlife photography, metal art and woodworking. Click below for copies of the Retreat Poster and Brochure. 

Online registration now available at
 Pre-register by March 24th to double your chances of winning a Whitecap Custom fishing rod or metal art by Ironwood Designs.

Lyle Griner leading PLAN-IT Workshop

Sunday April 3, 1-7pm
Messiah Lutheran, Mountain Iron, MN
Brought to you by the Laurentian Youth Leadership Project

This guided day of planning will result in a 12-18 month outline for your youth ministry. Begin planning using three vital ministry lenses, learn from proven planning techniques, receive helpful program templates, and find plenty of time and space to work on your ministry design.

Bring a team of adult and youth leaders, a laptop, and the "sacred dates" you need to plan around (school, community, church, even your own family!) Borrow, exchange, even steal!- ideas from other participants. Learn tools you and your leaders can use again and again.

Workshop & meal are free for all Laurentian congregations.
Other churches are welcome: $25 if your church has one ministry professional, $50 if two, $75 if three (pastors, youth directors, etc), regardless of how many of you attend this workshop. RSVPs needed by Wed March 23. Fill out this Google Forms registration for you and your group. For more info, contact Pastor Evelyn Weston ([email protected]).
+Bishop's Visitation to Confirmation Students
Bishop Aitken continues to invite you to do a Visitation/ Teaching/Anointing on a Wednesday night (or whenever you meet) for your Confirmation Class. He encourages parents to come that night as well so he can meet them and include them in the teaching time. Pastors and Confirmation teachers are welcome of course to be there, but he will teach about Christian Vocation, the role of the Christian in our world, our call in Christ and end with Communion and Commissioning for service with Anointing oil from Palestine. It's best to gather a cluster of congregations for this - that has worked well in the past.
World Hunger Fundraising at Synod Assembly

Being Creative is Not a Hobby.  It is a Way of Life.
People who are creative are often driven by the joy of their crafts - quilting, woodworking, needle working, and more. Here's a chance for you to bring joy to the world: By sharing your gifts with the Silent Auction held during the Northeastern Minnesota Synod Assembly at Breezy Point Resort, you will help provide funds for ELCA World Hunger efforts!
The Marketplace & Quilt Silent Auction will be held on April 29 to May 1, during our Synod Assembly.
The Silent Auction has become a much-anticipated event in which people can enjoy bidding on beautifully hand-crafted items donated from members of the 138 congregations in the Northeastern Minnesota Synod. All proceeds - 100 percent - will benefit the ELCA World Hunger Appeal.
Are you gifted in making hand-crafted items? We are seeking people to make wooden items, doll clothes, table runners, gift baskets, needlework items, home décor items, quilts and more.  Are you able to provide special services such as fishing charters, massage, language lessons or more?  Donated services are also welcome!

Interested in providing crafts or services? Contact Pastor Sandy Berg-Holte ([email protected]) or Dorothy Dybvig ([email protected]). 
Interested in providing a quilt? Contact Amy Loken, 218-525-3933.
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 when the position is filled.

EcoFaith Youth Camp
June 26-30, 2016 - Duluth, MN
Do you have high school youth interested in exploring the intersection between environmental, economic, and racial justice in a faith context? The NE MN Synod, in partnership with the NE MN Synod Creation Care Task Force and Peace United Church of Christ, invites you to be part of a new opportunity this summer.
The EcoFaith Youth Camp - This week-long day camp will begin on Sunday, June 26 and will end on Thursday, June 30. Our week will be spent exploring our role as God's people and understanding our call to care for all of God's creation and people. Throughout the week we will be in conversations with local indigenous communities and local farmers, learn the history and story of the St. Louis River, and explore the complexities of our food systems. Our week will also involve one night of camping, a morning of canoeing, and time to learn, play and grow together!
More information can be found at
Seminarian Debt Relief Fund
Bulletin Board

Honduras Trip Openings
The next synod-sponsored Companion Trip to Honduras will be May 25-June 2, 2016. This team of 8 people will be representing NE MN at the ordination of Rolando Martinez and visiting some of the congregations of the Iglesia Cristiana Luterana de Honduras as well as the Lutheran kindergarten in La Canada. Also on the agenda are home visits to some of the congregation members and the distribution of water filters. Cost of the trip is $1,600 which includes airfare, housing, transportation and meals while in Honduras. For more information or an application form, contact Brenda Wagner at
[email protected]or 218-341-1831. An initial deposit of $100 is due with the application. We'd like to have commitments from team members by March 31.

Campus Ministry Pastor Position
Campus Ministry Pastor position open at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington and we are asking you to let all of your clergy know about it. It's open to all interested ELCA pastors with a current RLP.
The PLU Campus Ministry Pastor position is now open and the Ministry Site Profile is posted on the Synod website for your review at
Clergy, if you are interested in this position, please submit your updated Rostered Leader Profile on the ELCA portal for activation no later than March 15th and notify our office of your interest at 253-535-8300 or [email protected]. No RLPs will be accepted after March 15th. Do not contact PLU or their faculty about the position. All inquiries must be made through the regular ELCA channels through the Southwestern Washington Synod Office at [email protected] or 253-535-8300.

Synod Creation Care Retreat
April 8-9, 2016 - Camp Hiawatha
"The Next Reformation: Gracefully Engaging Disciples for the Whole Earth," at Camp Hiawatha, from Fri 4:00 pm to Sat 3:00 pm.  The theme of the 4th annual retreat explores creation care in light of: Reformation 2017, the concept of Graceful Engagement, the Marks of Discipleship, and Holistic Systems Thinking. Participants will discover exciting creation care initiatives undertaken by congregations who received grants in 2015, will talk with other congregations practicing earth stewardship, will learn from Lutheran Advocacy MN about state and local decision-making for a more sustainable future, will encounter the 2016 Season of Creation (scriptural & liturgical resources for worship), and understand how to start or strengthen a congregational team to engage an earth-honoring faith in your context. Cost of $60 ($30 student) includes lodging, meals, and materials. Creation Care Retreat Brochure

Hand Chimes Wanted
First Lutheran in Brainerd is in need of expanding our Hand chimes. Hand Chimes are different than Hand bells.  We need chimes from G4 down and G6 up, an octave or two in each direction would be ideal.  If a church has a full set, including G4 -G6, we could purchase the full set. Contact: Jeff Lewis, 
First Lutheran Church, 
424 South 8th Street, 
Brained, MN 56401 or [email protected]

Peace Not Walls 
NE MN Synod Young Adults Justice Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
July 7-17, 2016
This is a Pilgrimage - one that will be move beyond merely "sightseeing" and "tourism." It will be powerfully spiritual and deeply meaningful to your own life as you discern how faith, love, peace and justice belong together. It will renew your faith and enlarge your understanding of God's love for all people. For more information, click on the links below. Questions may be directed to Laura or Bjorn Anderson at 
Informational Flyer
Application Form

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

Take it outside whenever you can. Instead of increasing your energy consumption via home and gym exercise machines, take advantage of hiking and biking trails in your area. One big advantage to the great outdoors - it's 100% free and always interesting!

Story Starter 
Question of the Week

What is your most memorable Synod/ELCA/Lutheran Ministry Event? (Middle School Gathering, Synod Assembly, week at camp or retreat, workshop, ministry fundraiser, etc.)