Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
synod logo

week of December 4, 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.

  • Bethany Lutheran, Cromwell,
  • Crosslake Lutheran, Crosslake
  • Pastor Steve Ellerbusch, retired
  • Pastor S. Jerome Elness, retired
  • Pastor John Engstrom, retired
  • Pastor Gerald Erickson, retired
Bishop Aitken's Reflection

+Bishop Aitken's note:
Pastor Estrem will be missed greatly among us. He was actually on the Roster of Eastern North Dakota Synod, but served in many ways, including as a mentor to other pastors at my request while he and Marilyn lived here. His gospel-centered theology and warmth with people were such a gift. to us. Rest Eternal, grant him, O Lord: and let light perpetual shine upon him.

It is with sadness that I must notify you of the death of 

The Rev. John C. Estrem

Pastor John C. Estrem died Thursday, December 1, 2016 at the age of 79.

John Carlisle Estrem was born the oldest child of Charles and Elizabeth Viste Estrem on Feb. 13, 1937. He was born in Waukon, Iowa delivered by the same doctor who had delivered his father and would later deliver his son, LeAllan. As a child, John loved roaming the wooded areas on the Estrem farm usually accompanied by the family dog, Ivan. His mother often said that she never worried about John as long as Ivan was with him. He began his education at the one room country school Frankville #7 which sat on land donated by the Bakke and Estrem families. As a boy he was an active 4-H member showing cattle and sheep. He loved the farm life and was his father's close helper. John was also active in Luther League at Washington Prairie Lutheran Church. After graduating from 8th grade, he attended Decorah High School from which he graduated in 1955. Surprisingly, John was a very quiet teenager whose only extra-curricular activity in high school was going out for wrestling his junior and senior years. John married his high school sweetheart, Marilyn Johnston, on August 24, 1958. They were blessed with four children. After graduating from Luther College in 1959, John took education classes at Mankato State and then taught high school English at St. Francis, MN, for four years. John then felt a call to ministry and attended Luther Seminary, St. Paul, being ordained in 1967. John's first parish was as a co-pastor at St. John's Lutheran in Jamestown, ND. After four years, he accepted a call to the four churches in the Sheyenne Lutheran Parish. He also served on local, regional, and district boards and committees. Marilyn was diagnosed with MS in 1978, which progressed rapidly, requiring total care by 1985, when John accepted a call to Zoar-St. Ansgar Parish in LaMoure, ND, where he served for 22 years. During this time he developed many creative confirmation programs and took many classes on retreats to Reservations, backpacking in the Rocky Mountains, canoeing in the Quetico and Boundary Waters, and sailing in the Apostle Islands National Park on a 37-foot sailboat he owned in partnership with others. In 2008, John retired from parish ministry and he and Marilyn built an accessible home in Mahtowa, MN adjacent to the Munger Trail. He did supply preaching and helped out at several area churches. He was also active in the Lions clubs of LaMoure and Carlton, and Carlton County Restorative Justice. John found great joy in serving others whether through his pastoral duties or his community involvement, making friends wherever he lived. John enjoyed gardening, baking, jogging, and biking, including riding the Habitat for Humanity 500 mile bike ride several times. John and Marilyn traveled extensively, attended plays and concerts, took classes at the Fond du Lac Tribal College in Cloquet and enjoyed other local activities. They cherished their life together, including the last precious moments of his life here on earth. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Marilyn; children LeAllan (Beth) Estrem; Karla (Mitch) Estrem Booth; Jonis (Mary) Estrem; daughter-in-law Karla Estrem; grandchildren, Julie Estrem, Eric and Angela Kraft, and Ashton Booth; sister, Lilah Estrem Aas; sisters-in-law Doris Brooks and Lois Estrem; nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Elizabeth Estrem; parents-in-law Stanley and Gladys Johnston; son Ethan; brother Paul; brothers-in-law James Brooks and Gordon Aas; and nephew Peter Estrem. In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to Salem's Mahtowa Hall or Bethesda Lutheran Church Youth and Family Ministry in Carlton. Visitation will be 5:00-7:00 p.m. Thursday, December 8, 2016 at the Mahtowa Community Center. The visitation will resume on Friday, December 9, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. until the 11:00 a.m. memorial service also at the Mahtowa Community Center. A luncheon and time of fellowship will follow. See the family online guest book at will be interred in the North Washington Prairie cemetery of Decorah, Iowa at a later date. John lived life to the fullest and never stopped learning.
Bishop Thomas Aitken
+ Northeastern MN Synod
Reformation 500 Kick-off

The 500th Anniversary year is coming soon!

The Northeastern Minnesota Synod is hosting a Bishop's Convocation to commemorate this special anniversary year: on Saturday January 21stfrom 1:00-4:00 pm at Our Savior's in Hibbing and on Sunday January 22nd from 2:00-5:00 pm at First Lutheran in Aitkin.
We will offer several options for workshops (pick 2) and Bishop David Zellmer from the South Dakota Synod will speak about "How the Heck Did We Get to the Reformation?"

It promises to be a great time! The event is free and all are welcome. We do require registration to allow for the number of materials and refreshments needed. Please sign up at: or call the Synod office to register. 218.724.4424 x127

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.
Where Does Your Offering Go? - Updated

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
Online Pictorial Directory
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
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!
More Info at
In This Issue
Quick Links
Join Our Mailing List
Northeastern Minnesota
Synod, ELCA

synod logo

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 
    Office Administrator
    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.

Latest Youth E-Chat