Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of October 24, 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.

  • Trinity Lutheran, Brainerd
  • Immanuel, Brookston
  • Pastor Duane Bottjen, retired
  • Pastor Michael Briggs
  • Pastor Vern Broughton, retired
  • Pastor Paul Brown
Bishop Aitken's Reflection
  tom crosier
Mission Planning Cluster
Saturday, October 22, 2016
Immanuel/Dell Grove, 
This past Saturday, I met from 10 am to 2 pm, with the above four Congregations in our Synod. We came together as a geographic cluster to begin work on the Vision I cast a couple years ago to "begin, develop, renew or redefine" an Intentional Missional Plan for each congregation. We met at the Museum Building in Askov, a building utilized by the community for a variety of purposes. The site worked perfectly and enabled us to include a Roast Beef and mashed potatoes lunch!
My Vision as your Bishop has been to ask and the help resource each congregation in our synod to be at least "knee deep" in this planning by the 500th Anniversary date of the beginning of the Reformation, October 31, 2017,and to complete the Written Mission Plan by 2020.Our trustworthy and faithful Deans are on board with this, and will be an extension of my encouragement to all of you going forward.
About 25 people were present with their pastors to be led through the beginning stage of this Missional Planning process. We are utilizing "The Mission We Share," which is an excellent step-by-step template that takes any Vision Team in a simple but powerful journey into missional planning. (Click on Link below). Those gathered on Saturday were fun and faithful! I appreciated being a part of this process as a resource person, and I learned, right along with the rest, how rich and marvelous are the opportunities to live faithfully into God's future as effective congregations in the 21st century. Call me with any questions you may have, or talk with your Conference Dean about it. (Click on Link Below for contact info for your Dean.) About fifty-six congregations have begun this process in the last 3 years.
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken

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 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 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
Middle School Gathering
November 18-19 OR 19-20, 2016
Cragun's Resort
Standard Registration: $75
Registrations for the Middle School Gathering are rolling in! At this point, we still have space - but please visit before sending in new group registrations to make sure the event you want to register for is still open!
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 or 218-724-4424, ext. 120. Email is preferred and will get you a quicker response! 

Pre-order pizza for your group by November 1st!
Large cheese, pepperoni, and sausage pizzas from Little Caesar's (not Cragun's) will be available for purchase during Hotel Life at 10:00pm. Cost is $6.00 each if you pre-order, $7.00 each for walk-up orders during Hotel Life. Pizzas not pre-ordered are available on a first come first served basis until they are gone. To receive the discount and guarantee the quantity and type of pizzas your group wants, please pre-order pizzas at this link: by November 1st! Pre-orders will not be available after this date. Please make sure only one leader orders for your congregation!
For more information and to download registration forms, go to

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
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Northeastern Minnesota
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Staff Listing
Phone: 218.724.4424
Brenda Tibbetts, AiM - 122
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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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