Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of September 11, 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.

Editor's Note: In the past we have listed the prayer names using the last name of active & retired rostered leaders. Unfortunately an unintended side effect has been that churches with more than one pastor are included more often, and churches without a rostered pastor or worship leader may have been left off the rotation. A new rotation has begun, and NE MN Synod congregations, Pastors and other rostered leaders will be listed separately, so each church and pastor/rostered leader will be included once during the rotation.
  • Bethlehem, Backus
  • Elim in Blackhoof, Barnum
  • Pastor Christine Anttila
  • Pastor P. Joy Armstrong, retired
  • Pastor Irving Arnquist, retired
  • Pastor Raymond Arveson, retired
Bishop Aitken's Reflections

As we begin Rally Sunday and our busy fall schedules, let me take a moment to share how much I respect and appreciate you as leaders in your congregations and in this synod. In the midst of sometimes countless demands on your time, plus the current cultural tensions and fears over changes happening everywhere, I witness over and over again how you make yourself available to be witnesses to Christ, to the integrity of your call, and the hope within you. I see and talk with pastors, youth leaders, council presidents and other leaders who manage to live by grace, love, patience and understanding - not an easy thing to do for most of us. Leaders deal with a variety of people each week who often have different opinions and ideas about a lot of things they believe the church should be. Yet I see and talk with leaders who live into it all, including the good and not so good encounters they may have during the week and still manage to fulfill their calling. I observe pastors who are not afraid to struggle with the difficult Bible passages they are asked to preach on (the next two Sundays Gospel Lessons are filled with challenging messages from Jesus about money!) I believe God calls this imperfect yet beloved church to practice grace and integrity, in whatever life hands us and I believe it makes a difference in our congregations, in our communities and in our synod.
This Summer I spent time in the New Testament book of Ephesians. It was powerful. Here is a passage that has made a very important impact on my life as a Bishop of this synod:
Ephesians 4:1-4
"...Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
with all humility and gentleness,
with patience, bearing with one another in love,
making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling..."
Carry on, good and faithful Servant of Christ,

+Bishop Aitken

Ministers of Word and Service

September 6, 2016
Dear colleagues in ministry,
This letter is to inform you of the changes to the rosters of ministers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America that were adopted by the 2016 Churchwide Assembly. The major change is that on Jan. 1, 2017, the current rosters of associates in ministry, diaconal ministers and deaconesses will be merged into one roster of "Ministers of Word and Service." Anyone currently on any of the lay rosters will automatically be listed on the new roster. We will be working to update the website and online records by Jan. 1, 2017. It may be that this part of the transition will continue into early January.
We have also changed the title of the rosters. Previously, one roster was referred to by its entrance rite. Now we will use the rosters' primary functions to describe them: "Ministers of Word and Sacrament" and "Ministers of Word and Service." Those on the roster of Ministers of Word and Sacrament will still be called pastors. Those on the roster of Ministers of Word and Service may be called deacons.
Russia Mission Trip Reflections

In June of this summer I traveled to Russia with Bishop Aitken and others from our synod to visit our companion church body, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria in Russia (ELCIR).  Our synod has had a longstanding relationship with the Lutherans in Russia, but this was my first visit.  I never expected to travel to Russia, nor did I think I would be representing our church on an official visit.  It never ceases to amaze me how God is at work in our lives.
Lutheranism in Russia dates back some 400 years.  But because of the restrictions of communism, the Lutheran church almost died out; only kept alive secretly by faithful women who hosted true "house churches."  Now that communism is over and Russians are free to worship, the Lutheran church is rebuilding.  In many ways, the ELCIR seems like a brand new church, with only one congregation in many cities around the country.  And those congregations are focused on ministry in their contexts.  During our one-week trip we visited 15 congregations, and each one of them had a specific ministry that they were passionate about.  Sunday School and Youth Groups were active as some.  One congregation worked closely with area orphans.  Another ran a ministry dedicated to Russian adoption.  Another used its building as a venue for concerts and art exhibits.  No congregation was there simply because they had always been there.  Each one was active in ministry by meeting a need in its community.
In faithful companionship, we brought things with us to give to the Russian church: money and resources and our understanding of how church functions.  And we also received much from our Russian hosts: housing and hospitality and a new understanding of how church functions.  I learned a few things that I will be putting into place in my ministry.  More than anything, we developed new relationships and strengthened relationships already in place.  God's church is active throughout the world!
For more information about our companion synod relationship with the ELCIR, contact me or Pr. David Carlson, Russian Task Force chair, or visit our page on the Synod's website.
Peace+ Pastor Peter Kowitz, Bethlehem and Immanuel Lutheran Churches, Proctor MN

Meet new ELCA Vice-President Bill Horne
Bill Horne of Clearwater, Fla., was elected to a six-year term as vice president of the ELCA at the 2016 Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans. His term will begin in November.

Horne, 67, is a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Clearwater, Fla., where he has served as city manager since 2001.

In this video, Horne shares about his background and goals as he begins his new role.

Meet ELCA Vice President Bill Horne
Meet ELCA Vice President Bill Horne
65 Bishops of the ELCA
August 2016, at Churchwide Assembly, New Orleans

2016 Bishop's Fall Theological Conference

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. This annual event is rich in conversation, renewed encouragement, meaningful worship and fellowship as well as deep and practical theological education. 

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.

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Northeastern Minnesota
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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
   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    
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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Green Tip of the Week

Uses for Mason jars: 
1) as a baking ramekin, you can bake single-serving pot pies, casseroles, and fruit crisps or crumbles in it.  
2) as a leak-proof-to-go container, pack a salad in a quart jar:  dressing first, heavier things next, lettuce at the top.  Shake it at lunch time.  
3) as a mini-greenhouse, you can empty jars that held last year's harvest and get a head start on the growing season by inverting them over seeds or seedlings as individual cloches.