Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of October 2, 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.

  • Emanuel Lutheran, Bock
  • Bethel-Trinity Lutheran, Bovey
  • Pastor Daniel Bergeland, retired
  • Pastor Sandy Berge-Holte
  • Pastor Andrew Berry
  • Pastor Glen Bickford, Interim
  • Immanueli Magomola, Synod Council member, whose young nephew died on Friday of last week in Duluth.
Bishop Aitken's Online Reflection
I'm here at the Fall Conference of Bishops in Chicago. This is a group of our 65 ELCA synod bishops plus our Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton and our Secretary Chris Boerger. This group of faithful, intelligent, fun, collaborative, and supportive colleagues, who continue to model well, in my opinion, what it means to say - in the words of Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton:  1) We are Church, 2) We are Lutheran, 3) We are Church together and 4) We are Church for the sake of the world.

Within the 5 and a half days we are together, we commit to working together as leaders to flesh out what the above four affirmations mean for us as Lutherans. In particular, we are talking together about future priorities for our church. We are doing so prayerfully and respectfully, recognizing that we come from different regions of the country with different backgrounds, economies, traditions, and even world-view contexts, but stubbornly holding onto the fact that we are baptized into Jesus, crucified and risen for the life of the world and therefore share in his powerful and purposeful work in the world. We agreed that our priorities have to do with Jesus Christ at the center; we cannot prioritize by naming things any well-meaning organization can do. Our lives and our church are rooted in and formed by Word and Sacrament, we gather as children of God and servants of God in Christ. This Conference focused on wanting to make sure our priorities for the future are clear for the sake of the world that doesn't know church-ease nomenclature nor even cares, but nevertheless is loved by God who has a purpose for all of us. Our conversations have been deep and generative. More on that in the months to come.
Of the candidates available to the whole church for "first calls" I was able to receive two in this assignment for our synod, both are approved candidates for Word and Sacrament ministry. We welcomed seven new Bishops who were elected this year and talked about our relational agreement going forward as bishops. In the Spring of 2017 there will be 6 bishop elections. We attended a Dinner where we celebrated Scholarship grants given to a number of Seminary Students through the Fund for Leaders organization in our church and listened to reports by various committees working hard on behalf of all of us in the church. And we worshiped and prayed daily for the people hurting around our world and gave thanksgiving for the Spirit's work among all our 65 synods and all people of faith everywhere.
+Bishop Tom Aitken

Online Evangelical Mission

Above all, clothe yourselves with love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
to which indeed you were called in the one body.
And be thankful.
Colossians 3:14-15
Pastors and rostered lay leaders, thank you for the past two years of shared ministry. It has been a real privilege to work with you and your congregations in the Northeastern Minnesota Synod as director for evangelical mission. I was honored by the many invitations to preach and preside, to help lead mission planning meetings, or to share in the other work of your congregations. My travels to many of this synod's congregations, my work with the candidacy committee, and the relationships that have formed with faithful leaders of this synod all give me hope for the future of the church.
To the synod staff and volunteers (past and present) who made working in the synod office an adventure ... Bishop Aitken, Deacon Brenda Tibbetts, Kathy Wimer, Catherine Anderson, Tammy Segel-Crilly, Marilyn Hull, Pastor Vicki Taylor, Anne Laechel, Scott Ruzich, and Betty Wahlberg ... thank you! During these last few years of staffing transitions, it has been encouraging to see how our small synod staff works cooperatively to get things done for the people of our congregations. The new assistant to the bishop and director for evangelical mission will be joining a team that takes seriously their calling to serve, but also has a lot of fun!
As my time on churchwide and synod staff comes to an end, I am looking forward to a return to parish ministry. Recently United in Christ Lutheran Church in Eveleth extended a call for me to serve as their pastor and I have accepted that call. I will be installed there on October 23. My wife Ashley and our daughter Livia and I will be moving back to the Iron Range where we have many friends and family, excited for this new chapter of our life together.
May God continue to bless this synod and all of its congregations and members as we continue on in the mission we share!
Pastor John Dietz
Assistant to the Bishop
Director for Evangelical Mission
2016 Fall Theological Retreat Re-Cap
"Faith & Firearms"
Presenter: Dr. Michael Chan, Luther Seminary
The 2016 Northeastern MN Synod's Fall Theological Conference was held Sept. 25-27 at Ruttger's Sugar Lake Lodge in Cohasset. Dr. Michael Chan, Professor of Old Testament from Luther Seminary presented "Faith & Firearms", a timely topic which provided space for sharing, deep listening and reflection as well as respectful dialog. "Curiosity is the best 'weapon' to be engaging in thoughtful questions and respectful conversation," said Chan. "Stories are a good beginning. Statistics put people on edge."
Michael Chan and family
Ninety-one participants (plus 8 little ones under the age of 5) gathered at round tables with a collection of global crosses and the quote from former Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson which states, "We finally meet one another not in our agreements or disagreements, but at the foot of the cross, where God is faithful, where Christ is present with us, and where, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are one in Christ." Thank you Dr. Chan for leading us and providing some excellent tools for discussing difficult topics in our congregations and culture!
Other presenters included: Tammy Wahlhoff - Lutheran Advocacy MN, Jeff Thiemann-President & CEO of Portico Benefits, Paul Daniels - Region 3 Archives, Dave Holtz & Joel Abenth representing Lutheran Outdoor Ministries and Renewing the Promise leadership.

A Note from the Editor - 
Contact Information Change

Due to upcoming changes in employment law, I will no longer be checking my [email protected] email address on evenings and/or weekends. Because I do the work of editing these Online Reflections during those off-hours, I have created a new email address to be used for correspondence that is not related to my primary job at Lord of Life Lutheran in Baxter.

Beginning immediately, please contact me at [email protected] with items related to the weekly Online Reflections, NE MN Synod Assembly and/or WELCA Summer Gathering.

Thank you for your cooperation,

Anne Laechel
Online Reflections Editor
Hope Lives in the Body of Christ
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Duluth, Minnesota suffered a devastating fire in the early morning of February 18, 2016. The fire, which began in the electrical wiring, destroyed the church's pipe organ, altar structure which framed a painting of the Ascension, and most of the stained glass windows. Smoke and water damaged the 110-year-old Gothic-style sanctuary, pews, and contents, as well as the lower-level kitchen and fellowship hall and attached office and education building. Despite extensive losses, engineers determined nearly four months later that the structure could be reused, and the congregation voted to rebuild at the same downtown location, incorporating the original building in its discernment process. Meanwhile, God has accompanied us "in the wilderness" and enabled our ministry to continue beyond those walls. Since that first week, the congregation has worshiped at Faith Lutheran Church on the city's east end, a small congregation that was in the process of closing, and the Synod has provided office space. Nine days after the fire, Gloria Dei's free monthly breakfast was held at a Catholic church two blocks away, which has continued to host it. A month later, over 100 community members and area clergy attended a service of prayer and singing as we reaffirmed our commitment to the neighborhood and encircled the building following a processional cross. Throughout this journey, it is relationships with God, one another, and the community that have mattered most, and we have experienced incredible generosity from individuals and congregations across our area and beyond.
We received Hope the bear during Holy Week. Like the risen Christ meeting Mary Magdalene at the tomb, this bear has been a tangible sign that hope lives in the body of Christ, the church, today. It is an expression of Christ's love and solidarity the people of God are able to share, because they also have been on the receiving end. Hearing of the fire at Hawk Creek Lutheran Church in Sacred Heart, Minnesota, and the determination of its members to continue in ministry, we were newly inspired. 

Race, Religion, and Relationships II: 
Building a Better Future in Northern MN
November 18-19 - Camp Minne-Wa-Kan, Cass Lake, MN
Featured Speakers, Gordon Straw and David Anglada will invite us to imagine possibilities for ecumenical, cross-cultural ministry in Northern Minnesota. Gordon is the ELCA Program Director for Lay Schools for Ministry, an active member and former Interim Director of the ELCA American Indian and Alaska Native Lutheran Association. David is the ELCA Program Director for Multicultural Leadership.
For more information and reservations contact Mark Roger Olson at [email protected] 218-536-0834

Discipleship Challenge!
How are you WONDERING together this fall? This year's Discipleship Challenge invites you to WONDER together for at least 10 minutes every time you gather, and we have new resources posted to help you do this! The Practice Discipleship curriculum, Wonder, has been adapted to use as five minute devotions, 10-15 minute discussions, 30-45 minute session, or use the original curriculum for a one hour discussion/study. Webinars from the curriculum can be paused for group discussion as questions are posed. Or use the writer videos to initiate discussion. So many options to WONDER together! Find out more and get these resources at
Middle School Gathering
November 18-19 OR 19-20, 2016
Cragun's Resort
Registration is now open!
Early Registration: $65 if postmarked on or before Oct. 17
Standard Registration: $75 if postmarked on or after Oct. 18

Join nearly 1000 youth and adults in November for a weekend of faith formation and fun at the Middle School Gathering! With the theme iBelong, we will wonder together about the Apostle's Creed and how it shapes our identity as children of God and draws us into relationship with God and each other. Speaker Kari Lyn Wampler will inspire us, learning clusters will challenge us, family time will connect us, hotel life will give us time to play with new and old friends, and worship will send us out to let others know they belong to God as well!
For more information and to download registration forms, go to
If you have registration questions regarding your Group Registration, Housing, Additions/Cancellations/Changes or Forms, please contact our Middle School Gathering Registrar Marilyn Hull at [email protected] or 218-724-4424, ext. 120. Email is preferred (and will get you a quicker response!) Marilyn is available for questions and to respond to messages on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

If you have programmatic questions regarding the event, please contact [email protected].

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Northeastern Minnesota
Synod, ELCA

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The purpose of our

synod is to nurture a

Christ-centered climate

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congregations and

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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

Recycle your motor oil. One quart of motor oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water.  If you get your oil changed, make sure they will recycle your oil.  If you change the oil yourself, take it to a gas station or oil-changing outlet that recycles oil.  They will take yours, but you will have to pay anywhere from a quarter to a dollar (the cost of having it picked up).