Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of August 7, 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.

This week the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly is in session in New Orleans. Please remember all those who will be attending this important meeting, including the following voting members from the NE MN Synod:
  • Bishop Thomas Aitken
  • Mrs. Brenda Wagner
  • Pastor Craig Carlson
  • Ms. Sonja Carlson
  • Pastor Liz Cheney
  • Pastor Paul Leslie
  • Ms. Karen Leslie
  • Pastor Kari Williamson
  • Mr. Austin Nelson
  • Pastor Chris Hill
  • Ms. Sheri Fossen
  • Pastor Mark Wagner
  • Ms. Adrianna Carlson
  • Mr. Bjornstjerne Anderson
  • Mr. Immanueli Magomolla
ELCA members to gather in New Orleans for 2016 Churchwide Assembly
CHICAGO (July 13, 2016) - Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will gather Aug. 8-13 in assembly at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Meeting under the theme "Freed and Renewed in Christ: 500 Years of God's Grace in Action," the assembly's business will include preparations for observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
The assembly - the highest legislative body of the ELCA - will be comprised of 980 voting members serving on behalf of the 3.7 million members of the ELCA. The ELCA's 65 synods elect voting members to serve at churchwide assemblies.
"Churchwide assemblies are a combination of legislative sessions, worship, Bible study, theological reflection and fellowship," said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop. "We deliberate and discuss and vote. Some would say that it is a messy way to do the work of the church, but [it] is a wonderfully open process."
As part of planning for the Reformation observance, non-voting members are invited to attend the Grace Gathering, Aug. 10-13. Participants will experience the assembly proceedings and also prepare for 500th anniversary observances within their congregations and synods. "God's Grace in Action Afternoon" will offer experiential learning on several topics to inspire participants to take action back home, including: Music, Justice and Peace; From the Doctrine of Discovery to #BlackLivesMatter; Human Trafficking; Care of Creation; and Food Security.
"Often members of congregations are not aware of the scope of the wider church," said Eaton. The Grace Gathering will give even more of our people the opportunity to see the whole church at work. We can do a lot more together than we can do separately. And, close to 2,000 Lutherans singing is a heavenly sound."
Key action items at the assembly include:
  • Electing an ELCA vice president. Carlos Pea, the current vice president, is stepping down after serving for 13 years.
  • Considering the Word and Service task force recommendations that the three rosters of church lay leadership be unified into a single body known as deacons.
  • Voting on the recommendations for the ELCA Strategy to Accompany Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities (AMMPARO).
  • Considering the "Declaration on the Way," a document that draws on 50 years of Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in preparation for the Reformation anniversary.
Voting members will also receive:
  • An update on the ELCA's first major fundraising campaign, Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. Approved by the 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the campaign seeks to raise $198 million to help extend the ministries of this church.
  • A report from the presiding bishop and officers of the ELCA.
  • Reports on ELCA churchwide ministries, including ELCA World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response.
  • Proposals (known as memorials) from the ELCA's 65 synods, which include: repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery; deepening of relationships with historic black churches; a responsible energy future; supporting military personnel, veterans and their families; and peace with justice in the Holy Land.
  • Budget proposals for 2017 to 2019.
  • Greetings from ecumenical guests, global partners and others.
Along with voting members, hundreds more will participate in the assembly as ELCA congregational observers, special ecumenical guests and global leaders, presidents of the eight ELCA seminaries and 26 college and universities, advisory and resource members, staff and others.
ELCA members and others not attending the assembly can access live video of plenary sessions at
The ELCA's newsroom will be at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in Room 227. Two news conferences are scheduled during the week. On Aug. 10, Eaton and others will discuss the "Declaration on the Way" consideration by the assembly. On Aug. 12 a news conference will introduce the new ELCA vice president. Reporters are welcome to participate in person or through teleconference. More details about the news conferences will follow. To register as press and for other news and media information, contact Candice Hill Buchbinder at [email protected].
"Welcome to the Synod" Event
Welcome to the Synod is an opportunity to meet other people who are relatively new to service in the synod, the bishop and the synod staff, your conference dean, and others involved in the mission of the church in the Northeastern Minnesota Synod. Welcome to the Synod is a time for leaders to introduce themselves, their work, and the many ministries of the synod including: outdoor ministries, campus ministries, hunger, justice, rural life, creation care ... and many more! Following lunch, there will be an open house at the synod office across the street from First Lutheran Church: come to take a tour of the building or to sit down with a staff member to begin or continue a conversation!
If you are within the first five years of serving in the synod as a rostered leader; within the first five years of serving as a synodically authorized minister; the dean of your conference; a lay youth and family minister working in a congregation of the synod; or a candidate/ seminarian/ intern in the territory of this synod, then you are invited to the 2016 Welcome to the Synod event!
Join us at 9:30 am - 1:30 pm, Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at First Lutheran Church - Duluth (1100 E. Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802). Please call the synod office (218-724-4424) or email Pastor John Dietz at [email protected] to let us know we will be seeing you there! (Please RSVP by August 9th so we can order food - and let us know of any dietary restrictions at that time!)
Find more information on this link:
Pastor John Dietz
Assistant to the Bishop
Director for Evangelical Mission
Youth Ministry News

NE MN Synod Youth Ministry Fall Resource Packet
The NE MN Synod Fall Resource Packet, with information for 2016-2017 Youth Ministry Events will be mailed to congregations this week. You can also download the packet contents on the NE MN Synod Youth Ministry Resource Page

Links to the individual pieces are:
Discipleship Challenge
Fall Theological Conference
Brochure and Housing

Middle School Gathering
November 18-19 OR 19-20, 2016
It's not too early to start inviting youth for the Middle School Gathering! More information and registration forms can be downloaded at
2016 Bishop's Fall Theological Conference

Dear Rostered Leader and Congregation Council,

Thank you for your good and faithful work as leaders in this synod and in this church, the ELCA. Each year Rostered Leaders (Pastors, AiMs, and Deaconesses), Synodically Authorized Ministers, and Interns are expected to be in attendance at continuing education events, even as professionals are in any other vocation. Directors of Youth & Family Ministry are also invited to participate. Christian education is life-long for all of us who are disciples of Jesus; and, it is especially so for those who have leadership roles in 21st century congregations.

All Rostered Leaders (spouses are welcome to attend as well) are urged to attend the Fall Theological Conference held September 25-27, 2016 at Ruttger's Sugar Lake Lodge near Grand Rapids as one way to fulfill this expectation (see our Northeastern Minnesota Synod's 2016 Compensation and Professional Expense Guidelines for background information on Rostered Leaders' Continuing Education expectations on pages 11-12). The Fall Theological Conference is a component for First Call Theological Education requirements. This annual event is rich in conversation, renewed encouragement, meaningful worship and fellowship as well as deep and practical theological education. If you have not already done so, please consider fully funding this conference for your Rostered Leader(s) and their spouse(s).

Please note that all program costs are covered by your synod budget and grants. Participants are asked to pay only for meals and lodging. In the past, some congregations have asked if their local Women of the ELCA or some other group/individual might be in a position to help defray costs. In some cases, these wonderful gifts have included the extra step to provide child care so that both pastor or other Rostered Leader and spouse may attend.

This year's theme is a timely one; "Faith and Firearms" presented by Dr. Michael Chan, Assistant Old Testament Professor at Luther Seminary. Dr. Chan's presentation, along with our conversation, will assist leaders in practical and biblical ways for listening and engaging our people in difficult conversations regarding faith, firearms, politics, etc.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Your congregation will benefit greatly from sending your Rostered Leader to participate in this event. I look forward to being with you at the September 25-27, 2016 Fall Theological Conference!

Carry on with the gospel of Jesus Christ, just as you've been taught (Colossians 2:6-7),

+ Bishop Thomas M. Aitken

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Staff Listing
Phone: 218.724.4424
Brenda Tibbetts, AiM - 122
   Assistant to the Bishop
   Call process
   Director for Evangelical Mission
   Assistant to the Bishop
   Youth Ministry 
    Communications/Office Support

   NE MN Synod, ELCA
1105 E. Superior St.,
Upper Suite
Duluth, MN  55802

FAX: 218.724.4393    
Summer Office Hours

This summer the synod office will have amended hours to accommodate the overlap of staff vacations. Staff will still fulfill their designated hours June-August, however, the phone will be answered by voicemail, and the office will be closed to meetings and drop-in visits on Fridays.

Online Reflections Editor

Anne Laechel

Online Reflections is a semi-weekly e-newsletter from the Northeastern Minnesota Synod.

Online Reflections Part 1 is published on Monday of each week and contains articles from Bishop Thomas Aitken, Synod Staff, and information from the ELCA.

Online Reflections Part 2 is published on Thursday of each week and contains late breaking news, information about events occurring in the congregations of the NE MN Synod, and job postings.

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Creation Care Team 
Green Tip of the Week

Gardeners know that millions of unseen microbes in the soil play a critical-but-complicated role in the well-being of plants.  These beneficial bacteria and fungi, known as the microbiome, boost growth, increase resistance to drought, disease and pests, and reduce gardeners' and farmers' reliance on fertilizers and pesticides.  The microbiome is created when we use our home compost and composted manure to build up healthy soils in our gardens.  The ancient wisdom of working with nature to build soils that are alive was left behind with the rise of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  Your garden will flourish when you make or purchase organically-based compost and manure.