Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of August 7, 2016
Bishop Aitken's Reflections from New Orleans

Where does your Mission Offering Go?
Surrounded by 1,000 fellow ELCA members worshiping, praying, receiving Holy Communion and planning together, I am filled with gratitude for the good and faithful work God does through all of us.  Please watch this video-then share it with your immediate family and your congregation  so that they can also love what their  faithful offering does in the real world God has placed us in. 

+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
 Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA
ELCA 2016 Churchwide Assembly gathers under theme 'Freed and Renewed in Christ'
NEW ORLEANS (Aug. 8, 2016) - Lifting up the central Lutheran theme of God's grace in action through God's church, members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are gathering under the theme, "Freed and Renewed in Christ: 500 Years of God's Grace in Action."
The assembly - the highest legislative authority of the ELCA - is meeting Aug. 8-13 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The assembly will also include preparations for observing the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
In her remarks at the opening plenary, the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop, said, "We have come here after a difficult summer overwhelmed by violence and heartache. Now more than ever, we are in need of the Holy Spirit's presence in our midst. I pray that we will surround one another in prayer and love while we are together to do God's work at this assembly."
A key action of the assembly is consideration of the Word and Service task force recommendations that the three rosters of church lay leadership be unified into a single body known as deacons. The Rev. William O. Gafkjen, bishop of the ELCA Indiana-Kentucky Synod, chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops and chair of the Word and Service Task Force, introduced the recommendation.
"The spirit of this common commitment of ours undergirds the recommendation from our Church Council that we combine three current lay rosters of Associates in Ministry, Deaconesses and Diaconal Ministers into one, new roster of ministers of Word and Service to be called deacons," said Gafkjen.
"This is an 'adaptive' change. It's rooted in what we believe and think about who we are and how we live and work together for the sake of God's mission in the world," said Gafkjen. "It's about how we are equipped and called to live and serve together as God's cross-marked Spirit-sealed believers, bearers and 'embodiers' of good news, the best news, in a torn, tumultuous and terrified world. This is about Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the life of the world."
During the plenary, the assembly received 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.
Christina Jackson-Skelton, executive director of ELCA Mission Advancement, reported that as of June 30, - 29 months into the campaign - the ELCA has received $92 million dollars in cash and multi-year commitments. In addition to these funds, Jackson-Skelton reported that members have made planned-gift commitments totaling $21 million - gift commitments that will extend the impact of this campaign many years into the future.
In closing her report, Jackson-Skelton offered the assembly "a word of deep gratitude to God for you. Your generosity and vision inspire us, and it is our privilege to be working beside you on behalf of this church to make all things new through Christ."
The Rev. Ronald T. Glusenkamp, director for the ELCA Campaign, told the assembly, "Since the last churchwide assembly in 2013, we have called upon many ELCA members, pastors, congregations, bishops, synods and lay leaders to join us in this journey to the finish line. Already, we have witnessed amazing generosity and support leading to incredible growth across our church."
Emphasizing that "together we can do more," Glusenkamp told those gathered about the ministries impacted by gifts from ELCA congregations and synods.
"These gifts come in all shapes and sizes - big, small and in between. We know that Jesus receives these, blesses them and the impact is multiplied," said Glusenkamp.
Among other key actions that the 980 voting members of the assembly will consider include:
  • Electing an ELCA vice president. Carlos Pea, the current vice president, has decided not to seek a third term. Pena has served for 13 years.
  • 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.
An assembly schedule is available at The assembly live-stream is available at

ELCA approves Lutheran-Catholic ecumenical document
NEW ORLEANS (Aug.10, 2016) - The 2016 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Churchwide Assembly took several significant steps Wednesday moving forward the mission of this church as a church for the sake of the world.
By a vote of 931 to 9, the assembly overwhelmingly accepted the "Declaration on the Way," a unique ecumenical document that marks a path toward greater unity between Catholics and Lutherans. Following the vote, an emotional assembly stood to applaud the momentous decision.
At the heart of the document are 32 "Statements of Agreement" that state where Lutherans and Catholics do not have church-dividing differences on topics about church, ministry and the Eucharist. More tentatively, the document also explores differences that remain.
"Dear sisters and brothers, let us pause to honor this historic moment," said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton addressing the assembly following the vote. "Though we have not yet arrived, we have claimed that we are, in fact, on the way to unity. After 500 years of division and 50 years of dialogue, this action must be understood in the context of other significant agreements we have reached, most notably the 'Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification' in 1999."
"This 'Declaration on the Way' helps us to realize more fully our unity in Christ with our Catholic partners, but it also serves to embolden our commitment to unity with all Christians," said Eaton.
To honor the occasion, Eaton presented a gift of communion ware made especially for the assembly to Bishop Denis J. Madden, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and co-chair of the 'Declaration on the Way' task force. ELCA Presiding Bishop Emeritus Mark Hanson served as co-chair from the ELCA. The task force had gathered and presented to the church agreements reached in dialogues between Lutherans and Catholics.
"I feel so privileged and so grateful to have spent these few days with you. Speaking with you, sharing time with you, and praying with you," Madden said. "I thank you for allowing me and my colleagues to join you in the Eucharist celebrations which have been a great joy and always a remembrance that soon we will be celebrating these together as one body."
The assembly expressed gratitude for the pioneering ecumenical text and commended the declaration (together with other ecumenical texts) as a resource "for the common life of the church as we approach 2017 and beyond." Concerning the Statement of Agreements, the assembly's action to receive the 32 common affirmations "recognized that there are no longer church dividing issues' between Lutherans and Catholics with respect to these statements.
In another major consideration, the assembly voted 921 to 11 in favor of AMMPARO - the ELCA's strategy to Accompany Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities.
The ELCA developed this strategy based on commitments to uphold and guarantee the basic human rights and safety of migrant children and their families; to address the root causes of migration in countries from Central America's Northern Triangle and Mexico and the treatment of migrants in transit; to work toward just and humane policies affecting migrants in and outside the U.S.; to engage as a church with all of its companions, affiliates and partners to respond to the migration situation and its causes; and to advocate for migrant children and their families.
The assembly also voted 895 to 23 to accept the 2017-2019 budget proposal approved and recommended by the ELCA Church Council. The budget proposal includes:
  • a 2017 current fund spending authorization of $65,296,005 and a 2017 ELCA World Hunger spending authorization of $24.8 million;
  • a 2018 current fund income proposal of $64,057,220 and a 2018 ELCA World Hunger income proposal of $25 million; and
  • a 2019 current fund income proposal of $64,151,175 and a 2019 ELCA World Hunger income proposal of $25 million.
The assembly - the highest legislative authority of the ELCA - is meeting 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.

synod logo"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 7 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
Bulletin Board
October Honduras Trip Openings
There are still a few openings on the synod's October trip to our Companion Synod, the Honduras Lutheran Church. The trip will be October 11-20, 2016 and the cost is $1700 which includes airfare, lodging, and all meals in the country. The team will be hosting a Worship & Learning Workshop for the lay leaders of the Iglesia Cristiana Luterana de Honduras (ICLH), the Honduran Lutheran Church. The team will also visit the Lutheran Pre-Kindergarten in La Canada as well as visit congregations and accompany Honduran church leaders on home visits to parishioners. Knowledge of Spanish is not necessary as there will be translators with the group. For more information or an application, contact Pastor Dave Mesner at [email protected]. Our Honduran brothers and sisters are Spirit-filled and welcoming ... you are invited to walk together with them and the rest of the team in faith!
As the 2016 Churchwide Assembly nears, you are invited to participate in 6 weeks of prayer prior to the Assembly, Daily Prayers for each day of the Assembly, and a Prayer for the Sunday after the Assembly.

The prayer for Week 7 (August 14 - Sunday after the Assembly) is:

Holy One, you formed the church to announce the words of eternal life to the world. Equip the Evangelical Church in America, which concluded its Churchwide Assembly yesterday, to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Gather the church together into one body for the sake of our shared mission to tell of the love of God. Filled with your word, turn the church inside out so that we might live lives that proclaim your freedom and renewal to all the world. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Northeastern MN Synod's School of Lay Ministry!
Are you hungry to learn more about scripture and the Lutheran tradition? The School of Lay Ministry offers a wonderful 2 year opportunity to dig deeper for personal spiritual enrichment.  See the website for more info and for an application form.  Deadline for applications and a $50 registration fee for the 2016-2017 year are due by Aug. 15.
Events Around the Synod

We have recently changed the policy regarding the inclusion of congregational fundraising events in the Online Reflections. If you would like to have your event included, please send a brief press release, including the Who, What, Where, When & Why of your event, in an email to [email protected] No PDF flyers please
. Only the text information will be included.

Benefit breakfast at Bethany, Cushing
The public is invited to a benefit pancake breakfast beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, August 7, at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cushing. A free will offering will be taken, with pancakes, sausage and eggs, plus beverages, being served in the Bethany dining hall. All proceeds from the breakfast will benefit the Iringa Hope micro-financing cooperative in Tanzania's Iringa province. Four members from Bethany, Lois Brenner, Tom Crawford, Norm Siekman and Peggy (Edeburn) Howell are among the Tanzanian 10 mission group, which will be headed to Tanzania in October.  One of several projects they will be working on is continued growth of the micro-financing co-op within the several villages that make up their sister parish in Tanzania. Bethany is at 25430 Bison Road (County Road 11), Cushing, just south of Highway 10.  For further information, contact Tom Crawford at 218-575-2845.
Employment Opportunities

NE MN Synod's School of Lay Ministry Coordinator
The Northeastern MN Synod's School of Lay Ministry Advisory Board is now accepting applications for the position of SLM Coordinator. Requirements: Must have completed the 2 year SLM program, good organizational & communication skills,work with the Advisory Board and attend 2 Advisory Board meetings, plan & host 2 yearly retreats, keep track of student progress & payments, order materials, promote & recruit students for the School of Lay Ministry at various Synod events. Modest stipend. Interested persons may send a Letter of Intent along with a resume to Brenda Tibbetts, Assistant to the Bishop, 1105 E. Superior St., Duluth, MN 55802. Please include the date of completion of the SLM program. Deadline for applicants is August 31, 2016.

Youth and Family Minister
First Lutheran Church in Little Falls, MN is looking to fill a position for a full time Youth and Family Minister. The Youth and Family Minister of First Lutheran Church will develop and carry out ministries of faith formation for children, youth and families to live a life centered in Christ.The Youth and Family Minister will lead by example, work creatively and collaboratively, and provide dynamic leadership, vision and organization. Experience in youth ministry is preferred but not required. Previous experience in a similar role could apply. Intended start date is September 1, 2016. For more information, contact Pastor Jake Dyrhaug at [email protected]
or (320) 632-6667.

Director of Youth, Families & Christian Education
Faith Lutheran Church in Staples, Minnesota is seeking a full time position as Director of Youth, Families and Christian Education. The position includes coordinating high school, middle school (including participation in Confirmation) and elementary school groups and vacation Bible school and Sunday school as well as providing intergenerational opportunities for the entire congregation. It is desired that the applicant be prepared to take initiative, become involved in sharing the faith with youth and their families at church, school and in the community, and be a vital participant in the life of the congregation. Support and mentoring will be available for a person filling this position. For a complete job description and application form you may contact our church office at: Faith Lutheran main office (218-894-1546); [email protected]. For other question or more information about the job and compensation, please contact: Joyce Anderson (218-894-1574); [email protected]

High School Ministry Leader
St. Mark's Lutheran Church in North St. Paul, MN is looking for a High School Ministry Leader! This position encompasses leading a ministry of accompaniment, compassionate action, and faith formation with high school youth. You must be able to coordinate a year round ministry to foster an atmosphere of faith and learning with a diverse group of young people and dedicated adult leaders as well as collaborate with other staff on inter-generational events. Part-time-25 hours/week. For more information contact Pastor Ivy Huston at 
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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 
 Kathy Wimer - 126
Tammy Segel-Crilly - 127
   Communications/Office Support

1105 E. Superior St.,
Upper Suite
Duluth, MN  55802

FAX: 218.724.4393    
Synod Office Summer 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

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