Northeastern Minnesota Synod
Online Reflections
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week of January 1, 2017
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.

  • Family of God Lutheran, Duluth
  • First Lutheran, Duluth
  • Pastor Terry Frovik, retired
  • Pastor Kristin Garey
  • Pastor Kent Garlinghouse, retired
  • Pastor Gregory Garmer
Bishop Aitken's Reflection

On Jan. 21st at Hibbing or Jan 22nd at Aitkin, you will be bringing lots of folks from your congregations to the Reformation 500 Kick-Off Convocation. To be Lutheran Christians is to be salt and light in the midst of the whole Body of Christ. We add a strong flavor of grace to the mix, clearly differentiating it from "law" and with a steady and stubborn focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not the only ones, but we have a long history and a set of Confessions that spell this out well.
Consider these statements
-The law is not just scolding, it is knocking the props out from under all my idols, especially the "God" of self.
-The law does not impose some morality on me, it exposes the immorality and mortality within me.
-The preaching of the law is not just talking about the law; it is thrusting a sword through the proud pretending within me.
-The preaching of the law does not only happen in the pulpit, it happens whenever and wherever and however my sinfulness, weakness and finitude are revealed to me.
-The preaching of the law is not always necessary. There is no need to kill the dead; they need to be raised to new life.
And these:
-The preaching of the gospel does not tell me what to do to be saved. It tells me that I do not need to do anything to be saved.
-The preaching of the gospel does not command me to be active for God. It invites me to be passive toward God.
-the preaching of the gospel does not tell me that God will love me if I repent and have faith. It tells me that I can repent and have faith because God loves me.
-The preaching of the gospel frees me from the job of earning God's love. It frees me for the job of loving my neighbor.
-The preaching of the gospel is always necessary. Whatever else I need, including the law, i also need the assurance of God's love.
I've used these powerful statements in preaching over the past year - and I'm not at all surprised when folks want to continue the conversation after the Service. This theological emphasis that Lutherans hold, is something we sometimes forget, or take for granted. Let's join the conversation together this year, beginning with registering lots of folks - before the deadline of Jan. 12th!
See you at the Convocation!
+Bishop Thomas M. Aitken
Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA

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

Eventbrite - Reformation 500 Kick-off
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:

Conference Dean Report - Heartland

Happy New Year! As our church communities begin a new year, we might be asking ourselves how is our church living out its mission these days? Sometimes that question can feel overwhelming, especially if we think it implies we need a cutting edge new church "program" with flashy bells and whistles that no one has thought of before in order to "successfully" live out our mission! But what if we think about things in simpler terms - at our church - we have the well-known terms of "gather," "grow," and "go." How are we living out that "3G" mission as disciples of Christ in our community and the world? We carry out God's mission in lots of ways. It's not necessarily in a big, new flashy program, but more often than not, it's in simple, down to earth, every day sorts of ways. Our congregations are already doing these missional events, programs, and activities - and what we can do -- is share these ideas with one another to be lifted up as creative and energizing ways that the Spirit is working through our churches to carry out the mission of God in our churches and communities; however "big" or "small" the idea may seem.
So, at our last Heartland conference gathering, I asked our group gathered to share some more simple, every day ways in their own ministry setting (churches, camps) that the Spirit is working to energize people in carrying out God's mission in local and global ways. Often, I think, we can get the best ideas by hearing from what other churches are doing and then taking those ideas and modifying them for our own contexts. I am grateful for the collaborative way that our conference and synod shares our resources, ideas, and energy in this way!
So, here is a list of the ways that the Heartland conference is feeling energized carrying out God's mission these days: Adult Bible Study on Luther's Large Catechism, Providing Holiday Baskets for those in need, Mission Planning, A Foot care Therapist comes periodically for those in the community, My Neighbor is a Muslim Bible Study from LSS, Hosting homeless families through a social service program, A Re-surgance of the Global Mission team and relationship with a global missionary in Russia, The Phoebe Solar Panel Project, Having a Meal and Worship at the same time on Wednesday nights, Vacation Bible School, Wednesday Evening Sunday School, Involvement with Mission Builders, Having a Children's Daycare and Preschool at the church.
New and creative programs are wonderful, we need them; but so are the good, tried and true programs that sometimes need to be lifted up in "new" ways as relevant mission that has been happening all along! We are thankful for the mission that God calls us to do, and keeps equipping us to do now and for the future! Thanks be to God!
Pr. Kristin Oltmann, Heartland Conference Dean
Bishop Aitken's Additional Reflections

The good and salutary work Lutheran Social Services does each and every day for adoption, youth services, aging seniors, homeless youth makes my heart feel glad.  May yours be glad as well, and may we all continue this good work for our neighbor, as Martin Luther would frame it!

Lutheran Social Service Thanks You For Your Support!
Lutheran Social Service Thanks You For Your Support!

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
Upcoming Events

1) Lutheran Leadership Day at the Capitol; Thursday February 2, 2017, 12:30-5PM (Reception with legislators 4-5PM) Come for part of the afternoon or the whole afternoon; Christ Lutheran on Capitol Hill & Minnesota State Capitol; Bishops, Pastors, and other church leaders are invited to a day of learning and advocacy with breakouts on 1) Creation Care & Clean Energy; 2) Sex Trafficking and Safe Harbor; 3) Race, Refugees, and Immigration; and 4) Disability Policy AND plenaries focused on Affordable Housing in Minnesota, through various lenses including racial equity and workforce concerns (RSVP to [email protected]). Sponsored by Lutheran Advocacy-MN and Lutheran Social Service of MN.
2) Regional ELCA Hunger Retreat (for MN, ND, & SD) Focused on Care of Creation, especially climate change and its impact on global poverty and hunger; Friday, February 3 - Saturday, Feb. 4; Event begins with lunch at noon on Friday and concludes after lunch on Saturday; Luther Crest Bible Camp, 8231 County Rd 11 NE, Alexandria, MN 56308; Cost = $50. (NOTE: You don't need to be a hunger leader to attend!). Scholarship questions? Contact Pastor Erika Lehmann: [email protected]; Registration questions? Contact Kari Bostrom: [email protected]; General questions? Contact Ed Payne: [email protected].
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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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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