Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of October 16, 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.

  • Bethlehem Lutheran, Brainerd
  • First Lutheran, Brainerd
  • Pastor Rollie Bockbrader
  • Pastor Karen Bockelman, retired
  • Pastor Charles J. Boettcher
  • Pastor A. David Bolstorff, retired
Bishop Aitken's Reflection
Thinking forward to the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
Six congregations gathered together yesterday, October 16, as the Brainerd Area ELCA Lutherans for a combined Worship at Tornstrom Auditorium. In addition to the combined efforts of each congregation in leading the worship, I was honored to preach and also preside at Communion. This was a grass-roots venture done in part to celebrate the upcoming 500th Anniversary Year of the Reformation, but also to simply get together as ELCA Lutherans from different congregations for worship.
This kind of "cluster" gathering is an antidote to a "congregationalism" mentality that easily becomes overly parochial and forgets the joy of working and serving with a common mission and theology. Offerings from the mass gathering were split between Seminarian Debt Relief (part of our Renewing the Promise -Northeastern MN Synod Campaign) and several local ministries everyone could share in.
As Lutheran Christians, we do well to encourage one another and remind ourselves as Luther did, that God has given us in Christ, all the riches of righteousness and salvation as a gift, without merit on our part. So how do we love God back? By loving our neighbor. And this is exactly what the world needs to hear from Christians today. As Luther says it: "Why should I not therefore freely, joyfully, with all my heart do all things pleasing to God who has overwhelmed me with his irresistible riches? I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor and do nothing in this life except what is necessary, profitable, and salutary to my neighbor... and take no account of gratitude or ingratitude, praise or blame, gain or loss. For believers do not serve that they may put others under obligations. They do not distinguish between friends and enemies or anticipate their thankfulness or unthankfulness, but they most freely and most willingly spend themselves and all that they have whether they waste all on the thankless or whether they gain a reward."
Treatise on "The Freedom of a Christian" (1520)
We have much to anticipate as we look forward to 2017. Our Synod has organized a "Kick-off" to the Reformation Year (2017) on Jan. 21 (First, Aitkin) and Jan 22 (Our Savior's, Hibbing) with Bishop David Zellmer and a number of workshops. Be sure to mark your calendars and look for more information to come.
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA
Hunger/Justice Task Force: Resources

Thank you congregations and leaders for all you are doing to respond to the realities of hunger and God's call for justice.
One of the ELCA's resources that has proven effective is God's Global Barnyard. Similar to Heifer Project International, God's Global Barnyard is the ELCA World Hunger Appeal's response to our members' desire to give tangible gifts that will make an immediate difference in food security for families around the world. Both adults and children can relate to goats, sheep, and chicks given to people who have no money to buy them on their own.
How it worked in one congregation: At Zion Lutheran Church in Cloquet, a Hunger/Justice Task Force was formed last February and their first project was raising awareness and money to buy animals for God's Global Barnyard.
 A red barn (dog house size) was built and placed in the narthex along with a few panels of hog fence. Piggy banks ordered free through the ELCA website were distributed to the congregation on Pentecost Sunday.  The 2015 National Youth Gathering presentation by the ELCA's Hunger Director: Mika McCracken (youtube) was shown during worship. 
Over the summer, piggy banks were filled with coins, cash, and/or checks. On September 11 when the pigs were called in, the barnyard, twice enlarged, was filled to capacity. An amount, far exceeding expectations, was received for the project. Zion's education ministry continues to give towards It through the fall. 
Zion learned a lot about the logistics of recording and keeping track of the animals designated by those who had a specific creature in mind.  So from this congregation, to farmyards around the world, will go several sheep, lots of goats, a few cows, chickens, bees, fish for a pond, and more.  Exciting! 
If you have questions, Zion welcomes calls about the project. 218-879-4647 or 218-390-1704.  To order materials go to and follow the links to God's Global Barnyard or ELCA Good Gifts.
And, remember our synod's modest goal for 2016 of all congregations raising their commitment and contributions to world hunger by 5%.

Tom Anderson
NE MN Synod Hunger and Justice Committee
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

Ecumenical and interreligious witness and the Reformation anniversary webcast on Oct. 27, 7-8 p.m. CDT

Join Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 7-8 p.m. CDT for a live webcast that will explore ecumenical and interreligious witness on the eve of the Reformation anniversary.
  • What was the Reformation, and what does it mean for Lutherans and ecumenical partners?
  • What is "Declaration on the Way," and why is it significant for Lutheran-Catholic relations?
  • What might ecumenical and interreligious relationships look like in the future, and what does this mean for our faith community?
Check back here for additional information concerning webcast participants and resources. We invite you to participate and join the conversation by using #ELCAwebcast on social media.
You are also encouraged to view the webcast with your congregation, group or committee. This may help conversation as you plan for and discuss your observation of the Reformation in 2017. Find additional information on how ELCA synods and congregations are observing the Reformation here.

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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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

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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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