Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of December 18, 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.

  • Suomi Evangelical Lutheran, Deer River
  • Salem Lutheran, Deerwood
  • Pastor Gary Fehring, retired
  • Pastor Gerald Flathman, retired
  • Pastor Cheryl Fleckenstein
  • Pastor Erika Foss
Bishop Aitken's Reflection

Click image above for a video message from Bishop Tom.

Christmas Greetings from Synod Staff: As your Bishop, I am grateful for your faith and witness this past year. You are precious and important. Out and about our synod, especially on Sunday mornings, I know firsthand how God's gift of faith has worked in your lives as a blessing to others. God made a commitment in sending Jesus to the world and to you. To love, live, die and rise for you and the world. I thank you for your commitment to Christ, to our synod ministries, to our church's wider ministries and to the love and discipleship that the Prince of Peace, Jesus himself, has called you into. Keep this faith - share this faith!
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for see-I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people... Luke 2.10
It seems like so much of our world reacts and responds to one another with fear and uncertainty - with anxiousness and distance placed between us. But God has come near to all people in Christ. The gift of love has been given to all the earth! May you be blessed by the gladness of Christmas which is hope; the spirit of Christmas which is peace; the heart of Christmas which is love. And may you find great joy - the joy of our God of love who is with us now and always, Pastor Amy Odgren
"Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." Matthew 1:23 
 Down through the years that include a myriad of life experiences - both joyful and sorrowful, I have come to appreciate the depth of promise given in the gift of Jesus as Emmanuel, God is with us. God is indeed with us in all of life's situations in our personal lives as well as in the lives of our congregations. We are not alone when facing difficult decisions, empty pews or empty chairs at the table. God is with us. In this holy season, may you be blessed by the presence of Jesus, our Emmanuel, gifting us with strength, new life and a well-spring of hope. 
A blessed Christmas to all, Deacon Brenda
My faith is constantly stretched, renewed, and strengthened by the unexpected ways in which young people live out their faith. At the Middle School Gathering in November, youth wrote "text messages" to God. You might expect messages asking for things or wondering "why" about any number of issues in their lives. But by far, the notes shared a version of, "Thank you God for all you do!" Thank you. An unexpected message, in an unexpected way, from an unexpected group of teenagers. This Christmas, may you be stretched, renewed and strengthened by the unexpected message of love from God...sent in an unexpected way in the baby Jesus...and shared by unexpected messengers starting with shepherds and continuing through you and me.
Merry Christmas! Smiles, Catherine =)
Merry Christmas to all, and wishing you a blessed New Year! As I look back over the past 20 years serving on synod staff, I am grateful. It gives me JOY to see first-hand the gifts that are given from congregations and individuals through Mission Support and other various gifts that come into the synod office. Another part of my work is to receive and file the Annual Parochial Report from congregations. I look forward to receiving them again for 2016 and I pray for 100% participation this year!
Peace, Kathy
I have been blessed to be a member of the Synod Staff this year, updating the website and being in communication with everyone has brought me great joy. I am also happy to have met so many of the church leaders in the synod this year.
I pray you and your families have Peace, Love, Comfort and Joy throughout the holiday season and into the years that follow.
Merry Christmas to all, Tammy

Reformation 500 Kick-off - 
Don't wait to sign up, or you will miss out!

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 21st from 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

LYO Applications!  LYO

The Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) Board is a leadership team that holds a significant amount of responsibility. The LYO Board is responsible for planning and implementing the Middle School Gathering and Cardia Deo events in our synod. Their commitment includes a week-long training camp, 2 meetings outside of events, a January planning retreat, and a Thursday - Sunday commitment on event weekends. These positions are not for everyone! The LYO Board is ideal for youth and adults who are already leaders in their congregations, and are ready for that next step of leading on a larger and deeper level with more responsibility and opportunities to share their faith.
If you know youth in your congregation who are ready for this leadership step in their faith journey, encourage them to read through the materials on the website and apply! Applications are due February 15, 2017.
More information and application forms at:

Cardia Deo
March 3-5, 2017 Cardia Deo Logo
Big Sandy Camp, McGregor
Early registrations ends February 1st!

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
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.  Start inviting leaders today!
More Info at
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
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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 
    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.

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