Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of April 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.
  • Pastor James Nelson, retired in Duluth
  • Pastor Lawrence Nelson, retired in Backus
  • Pastor Victor Nelson, retired in Duluth
  • Lord of Life Lutheran, Baxter and Pastor Erika Nilsen and Steven Rye
  • Our Saviour's Lutheran, Two Harbors, and Pastor Henry Noordzy
Bishop Aitken's Reflections:
Our Christian journey through life is often full of twists and turns, sometimes goodness and pain happen side by side within a few days. This past week and week-end were an example of this for me.
1) I was honored to participate as a Reader for one of our Deans, Pastor David Carlson, who defended his thesis paper for his Doctor of Ministry at Luther Seminary: Earth Stewardship and the Mission Die: Participating the care and redemption of all God has made. This experience was incredibly positive and brought me into a deeper appreciation for both the topic, the pastor and the good work of those who go deep into faith and its implications in our lives. Pastor Carlson's work was engaging, challenging, hopeful, and thoroughly researched. His topic is vital to our world and our faith.
2) I had to make a "Disclosure" this past Sunday concerning a Sexual Misconduct by a pastor in our Synod. These are always painful. I will report out appropriate information at a later time concerning this. Our ELCA has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct on the part of any of our Rostered Leaders. We investigate every allegation of sexual misconduct and there are consequences. We offer regular Power and Boundary Workshops in this synod, as all synods do and my announcement here to you is a reminder of our solid commitment to accountability in this church; Accountability to God, to our colleagues, to the whole church and to each other as members of the Body of Christ.
I am reflecting on Paul's words in Philippians chapter 4: "Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worth of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you."

+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA
Evangelical Mission

Called Forward Together in Christ aims to explore and find answers to some big questions. It is not about reinventing the ELCA - but rather looking to the future and asking whether we are clear about who we are and what is most important as we journey together as a church in today's world.
  1. What is distinctive about our identity as a Lutheran church?
  2. What kind of church do we believe God is calling us to become?
  3. How do we become an inclusive, diverse church that is inspiring and relevant in different communities?
  4. What is God calling us to do in a world that is facing unprecedented levels of poverty, conflict and violence, inter-religious tension and massive displacement of people.
  5. What do we expect from our church leaders? And how do we recruit, invest in and support them to lead this church into the future?
Were you there sitting at your computer filling out the Portico Health Assessment on-line before Holy Week? If not, now after Easter and before April 30 is a great time to do so! 
Full Disclosure Here: It is on my calendar to complete it this weekend. I had misplaced my Dr.'s report with all those important numbers but now the lost has been found! I also found out that if there is a question you or I may not have an answer for, Portico's Assessment has a handy box to check that says, "I don't know." Alleluia!
It is so important to take care of your health. We need healthy leadership in all of our congregations. It is also important to take advantage of the discount we receive through Portico just for taking the time to fill out the Assessment. Please make the time to fill yours out today.

Our Synod will receive a 1% health contribution discount if we exceed 65% participation in the Health Assessment. As of March 1st, the NE MN Synod was at 31.6% participation. The next update is expected April 9-10. Help us reach our goal of 100% participation!

Brenda Tibbetts, AiM
Assistant to the Bishop

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

Dr. Anna Madsen wants your Questions!

Members of the NE MN Synod are invited to submit questions about forgiveness to Rev. Dr. Anna Madsen for her to address at our 2016 Synod Assembly. To submit a new question, visit the link below and "Start a New Topic", or comment on one of the questions that has already been asked.

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

Congregation Observers at Churchwide Assembly
Churchwide Secretary, Rev. Wm. Chris Boerger

Each congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America may register one congregation observer for the Churchwide Assembly prior to May 31 in the year of a Churchwide Assembly. 


a. Provision shall be made for such an individual to have reserved seating in the observers section of the plenary hall. Such congregation observers will receive a copy of the report of recommendations for assembly action and also materials distributed on the plenary floor to voting members, advisory members, and non-voting members during the assembly. Such observers shall have neither voice nor vote in plenary sessions of the assembly.

b. A registration fee shall be established by the secretary of this church for registration and related costs, including enabling observers to receive the same meals as are provided for voting members. 

c. Transportation costs, housing, other meals, and related expenses shall be the responsibility of the registered observer or sending congregation.


The registration fee for congregation observers is $100. Please note the meal package is not included in the registration fee, but may be purchased separately when registering. Online registration will open in April at Please contact the assembly hotline at 800-638-3522 ext 2911 or the registrar via email to if you have any questions.

ALT Year OpportunityFor Young Adults, ages 18-25
Sites: Toledo, OH and St. Paul, MN
ALT year is an intentional, Christian gap year for young adults to discern what's next for them vocationally and how they want to live out their lives as Christian disciples in a changing culture and a changing church. Participants live in intentional community as a full-time commitment for 9 months while they experience Service, Mentorships, Community Faith Practices (Bible Study, Spiritual Practice, Worship), Common Content around monthly themes (conversation about texts, speakers and visits to community organizations and cultural centers), and Community-Based Focus Areas utilizing local resources, mission opportunities, justice issues, and interfaith and ecumenical partners. ALT Participants will gain a greater self-awareness, lifelong learning practices, leadership skills for fully engaging community, and an ability to see and invite others into God's mission in the world. - Applications are due April 15. For more information: 

You are invited to take the NE MN Synod Youth Ministry Survey!
NE MN Synod youth ministry teams will be doing some re-visioning work in the coming months in order to continue to support synod congregations in faith formation with middle school and high school youth. Your input in this process is invaluable! Leaders from all of our synod congregations are invited to fill out the survey. Whether your congregation is large or small, has a vibrant youth ministry program or if you wonder what youth look like - we need your story to have a complete picture! More than one leader from a congregation can take the survey - the more perspectives we have, the better! The survey closes April 6, 2016.
The survey is in a Google Form at:
Please share this URL with others in your congregation. If you have trouble accessing the online form, email Catherine <> for a hard copy. Thank you in advance for sharing your congregation's youth ministry story with us!

EcoFaith Youth Camp
June 26-30, 2016 - Duluth, MN
Grades 9-12 (at time of registration)
Cost: $100 per person if postmarked by April 1st.
$125 per person if postmarked April 2nd or after

The EcoFaith Youth Camp is a week long day camp for high school youth and their adult leaders that explores the intersection between environmental, economic, and racial justice in a faith context. Each day will include field trips, activities and conversations with different local groups including organic farmers, canoeing the St. Louis River, and meeting leaders from local indigenous communities. There will also be one night of camping along the north shore as we visit an "off the grid" home!
The EcoFaith Youth camp is sponsored by the NE MN Synod, in partnership with the NE MN Synod Creation Care Task Force and Peace United Church of Christ. For groups outside the Duluth area, free housing options at local congregations are available. Contact Catherine Anderson for more information.
More information can be found at
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Northeastern Minnesota
Synod, ELCA

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The purpose of our

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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

Landscape for water quality by avoiding the use of phosphorus and pesticides on lawns, pointing down spouts away from paved surfaces, and if possible, installing on-site storm water retention.  Replace outdoor hard surface paving with permeable surfaces to prevent water run-off into storm sewers and wetlands.  Collect rainwater from gutters to water plants, build rain gardens, and plant native drought-resistant plants.

Story Starter 
Question of the Week

What faith practice do you find most helpful?