Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of November 20, 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.

  • Our Savior's Lutheran, Cloquet
  • Zion Lutheran, Cloquet
  • Pastor Arthur Dale, retired
  • Pastor Dale Degner
  • Pastor Reggie Denton
  • Pastor John Dietz
Bishop Aitken's Reflection
I'm Thankful
Last week, Deacon Brenda Tibbetts from our synod staff and I were at the annual Region 3 Bishops and Assistants Working Retreat. (Region 3 means all 9 synods in the Dakotas and Minnesota.) I'm thankful for this group of leaders, and I want to lift up how thankful I am for Brenda Tibbetts for her team-spirit, her insights, her love of this church and it's Lord, and her creativity about the work we do as congregations and Rostered Leaders.
This year we were led by two energetic young men who worked to inspire us to practice the art of "improvisation" as Lutheran leaders. The heart of this work is active listening. We practiced this through creative exercises that really worked to get us away from only forming our own response when someone is talking, and really hear what the other one is saying. It was good work and not necessarily easy. Active listening is something that does not come naturally to most people - and yet - is so vital to our life as ambassadors of Christ. This is also a critical tool we can use as we all work on our congregational mission plans that I trust you are engaged in your congregation, using our synod document "The Mission We Share" If you haven't started this process, please do so. I have encouraged every congregation of our synod to have begun or are at least knee-deep into the process by October 31, 2017 - coinciding with the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Already over 40 congregations are in mid process right now. I'm thankful to Pr. John Dietz who created our step by step document, and thankful for our new Northeastern MN Synod Director of Mission, Pr. Amy Odgren who takes up this work among us now and is eager to work with you! I'm thankful that God has called us all into God's missional purpose which are above all others.
I'm thankful for this country, even as I am deeply frustrated with where we sometimes seem to be going. In today's political climate here in this country, we would all do well to practice the art of listening to the "other." We are far from perfect, but we are a country, I believe with the capacity to honor and respect the People who were here before White people came, for those who came here seeking refuge like my great- grandparents and yours, those seeking refuge from violence, poverty, war, and famine and religious oppression. I love the best of what our country has done that is good, right and salutary for every neighbor among us, and I love our country enough to be constructively critical of where we have fallen far short of this.
Most of all, I am thankful for Jesus, our brother and Lord, the one who trumps everything else, who came to live among us to show us God's dream for all humanity - no exceptions. And more, he has claimed you as his own, to live and serve him in that Kingdom, which we pray will come to earth, even as he prayed for it in the prayer he taught us all to pray.
I acknowledge, Lord, and I give thanks that you have created your image in me so that I may remember you, think of you, love you. But this image is so obliterated and worn away by wickedness, it is so obscured by the smoke of sins, that it cannot do what it was created to do, unless you renew and reform it.                                                       Anselm
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

Reformation 500 Kick-off

2017 Bishop's Convocation is coming up in January! More information here, and in the next issue of the Online Reflections.
Congregation Constitutions and Bylaws
Is it time to review them?
I am Rev. Rollie Bockbrader.  I am the person in our synod who reviews constitutions and bylaws for congregations.  My answer to the question above is, "Yes, it is time!"
At the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in August, the assembly voted on a number of changes to the ELCA governing documents including changes to the Model Constitution for Congregations of the ELCA.  It is a great time to review your congregation's constitution and bylaws.
The changes to the Model fall into three categories.  The first category involves the changes made to the rosters of the ELCA and synod.  There are now two rosters: ministers of Word and Sacrament and ministers of Word and Service.  The second roster combines the previous three lay rosters of Deaconesses, Associates in Ministry, and diaconal ministers, into one.  There are many changes to the Model Constitution because of these roster changes.

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Solar for Phebe

This Christmas, as we celebrate the LIGHT OF CHRIST coming into the world, we invite your congregation to join the challenge to give a $100 Congregational Gift to Solar Power for Phebe in response to the National Geographic Matching Grant received by Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) Challenges will be accepted electronically (church or personal credit cards are accepted). Go to RREAL's homepage ( and click the Phebe100DONATE button at the BOTTOM RIGHT OF THE PAGE or go to to accept the Phebe $100 Christmas Challenge. Thank you in advance for accepting this monetary challenge to meet the needs of God's people in another land.
Cardia Deo
March 3-5, 2017 Cardia Deo Logo
Big Sandy Camp, McGregor
It's not too early to start inviting youth in grades 9-12 to Cardia Deo! This weekend retreat is led by the NE MN Synod LYO Board, and includes small group Bible studies, service learning, mystery event, worship, camp life and much more. Find out more at
Bishop Aitken
Bible and Brew Study Retreats
Believing and Having Faith
Bishop Aitken is open to leading a Bible and Faith Study for men's, women's or mixed men and women's Retreats around the theme Belief and Faith. He uses the Gospels as well as other Biblical texts around the meanings of trust, fidelity, faith and believing. You could arrange with one of our Camps (where he has done these already) or at a location of your choosing. He presents a Biblical understanding of what faith and belief really are, and in particular, as a Lutheran Christian.
You may contact the synod office to make arrangements with him.
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA
Greetings from the Northeastern Minnesota Synod:
Things are changing, as they often do. You may have found it difficult, in the past, to find a church, Pastor or Dean, you want to contact. We have a great new section on our website. It is under the heading of pictorial directory. On that page is a listing of the congregations in our synod by conference. The conference deans are listed first followed by the congregations, alphabetical by city. Most have their photos there too. We would like all to have all the leaders photos listed, so if you have not already submitted a photo, a placeholder is there in the form of the synod logo. Here is the link
A new project is a "splash page" for your congregation. Currently we have congregations with links to their respective websites listed. What we would like, is to have a web presence for even the smallest church; that may not have a website, to get exposure in order to be able to grow and flourish. What we need is a photo of the outside, the sanctuary and the Pastor, Deacon or SAM who lead Worship, the Worship times and any other information you wish to share - keeping it simple - bible study times, Sunday school or Confirmation classes times, etc. To see an example, go to this link.
Any questions, submissions of information or photos (jpg format only please) feel free to Email: [email protected]
In His Service, Tammy Segel-Crilly 
Communications/Office Support NEMN Synod
February 11, 2017
Duluth, MN
Recharge is a multi-denominational, one day conference to inspire and equip church and staff and their volunteers serving in children, youth and family ministry. This conference has volunteers as its primary audience, and shares practical tips and tools for ministry that you can take home and begin using immediately. The Super Early Bird Rate ends December 15th! Start inviting leaders today!
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Northeastern Minnesota
Synod, ELCA

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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
Pastor Amy Odgren - 125
    Director for Evangelical Mission
    Assistant to the Bishop
Deacon Brenda Tibbetts - 122
   Assistant to the Bishop
   Call process
   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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