2020 Virtual Synod Assembly + August 28-29, 2020 “You Are the Light of the World”
HISTORIC GATHERING In response to the global COVID-19 Pandemic, the Northeastern Minnesota Synod held its first virtual synod assembly which took place August 28-29, 2020. Thank you to Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Duluth for hosting the Synod Council Executive Staff, ELCA representative Victoria Flood, Zoom registration and credentialing leaders and videographers for the synod’s Facebook Live stream of the assembly. The videos of the assembly and worship services are available to watch here.
CREDENTIALS Voting members comprised of 8 Deacons, 83 Clergy under Call, 17 Clergy retired, 189 Lay Voting Members, 11 Synod Authorized Ministers and 8 Synod Council Members comprised a total of 316 eligible voting members. Two clergy were excused.
OPENING WORSHIP & OPENING OF THE ASSEMBLY The 2020 Synod Assembly began with an acknowledgement of the land on which we reside as and moved into celebrating the 50-40-10 years of Ordaining Women, Women of Color and LGBTQIA+ to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. Video clips were shared of the Women Pastors processing in at the 2019 Churchwide Assembly. A list of all women Pastors currently rostered in the Northeastern Minnesota Synod was also shared. Following the worship service, Bishop Thomas M. Aitken opened the 2020 Synod Assembly.
PLENARY SESSIONS The primary focus of the 2020 plenary sessions was to elect a new Bishop to serve a six-year term. Ms. Victoria Flood, ELCA Director of Mission Support brought greetings from ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton. Ms. Flood also assisted Mr. Mark Hollabaugh, Bishop Election Chair, with the bishop election balloting process.
BUSINESS ITEMS Other business items conducted and voted on and approved were: the Adoption of the Assembly Agenda and Rules and Procedures; the 2019 Synod Assembly Minutes; the 2021 Synod Budget; as well as the 2021 Synod Salary, Benefits & Compensation Guidelines.
ADDITIONAL ELECTIONS Synod Council: The Rev. Roland Bockbrader, incumbent, was re-elected to a four-year term as Synod Secretary. Elected to the Synod Council At-Large positions were The Rev. Charles Boettcher and The Rev. John Stiles. Ms. Colleen Bernu, was elected to a three-year term as Synod Council Multicultural Member. Committee on Discipline: The Rev. Rebecca Hinz, Ms. June Morse Consultation Committee: The Rev. Debra Hanson-Carlson, Mr. Nikolas Bayuk. Mr. Dave Erdman, SAM, was elected to complete a vacant six-year term which ends in 2021.
SYNOD MINISTRY REPORTS Written reports are available in the Bulletin of Reports which can be found on the website under Synod Assembly 2020. Reports were received from: EcoFaith; Together Here; Lay Leader Network; Welcome/Accompaniment LGBTQIA+Team; Hunger, Justice & Rural Life Committee; Companion Synod Reports for South Andhra Lutheran Church of India, Ingria Companion Synod Task Force and Honduras Mission and Ministry; the Northeastern Minnesota Synod Women’s Organization, ELCA Region 3 Archives; the ELCA’s Mission Investment Fund; Portico Benefit Services; Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers; Lutheran Campus Ministry; along with reports from our Lutheran Outdoor Ministries - Camp Onomia, Amnicon, Luther Crest and Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry. Many of these ministry partners provided brief video reports which were shown during the assembly and are also available on www.nemnsynod.org
BISHOP ELECTION The Rev. Amy J. Odgren, Director of Evangelical Mission and Assistant to the Bishop in the Northeastern Minnesota Synod, was elected Bishop on the fifth ballot having received 167 votes. The Rev. Dr. David Carlson, pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Duluth, received 140 votes on that ballot. Installation date for the bishop-elect is set for October 17, 2020 with a start date of November 1, 2020.
RESOLUTION 20-1 Motion Carried Designation of Bishop Emeritus Status was conferred upon The Reverend Thomas M. Aitken for his twelve years of faithful and salutary service as Bishop of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod. Bishop Emeritus Status was also conferred upon The Rev. Roger L. Munson, (served from 1987-1996); and The Rev. E. Peter Strommen (served from 1996-2008). Resolution 20-1 provides Emeritus Status for any future bishop of this synod who faithfully fulfills the duties of the Office of Bishop. This designation is an honorary title only to express appreciation. It does not provide for any remuneration, no authority and no continuation of the duties of the Office of Bishop.
OFFERINGS Synod Assembly offerings have been designated to the Northeastern Minnesota Synod’s Seminary Scholarship Fund and the Seminary Loan/Debt Reduction Fund. Monetary gifts are still being received and can be mailed to:
Northeastern Minnesota Synod 1105 E. Superior St., Upper Suite Duluth, MN 55802.
Please note in the memo line, “SA Offering”.
QUILT AUCTION “Wrapping Our Quilts Around World Hunger 2020” will go digital this year in September with proceeds designated to World Hunger Appeal. Watch for more information to come.
HOLY COW & KEN PETERSON AWARDS/WORLD HUNGER Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Duluth received the Holy Cow Traveling Trophy for their efforts to end world hunger. The per confirmed member average giving was $42.57. Congratulations!
This year the Hunger, Justice and Rural Living Committee selected three recipients for the Ken Peterson Award for their many years of faithful work in raising awareness as well as raising funds for World Hunger. They are: The Rev. Bob & Darlene Munneke, Aitkin and Ms. Kathy Wimer, Duluth. Thank you and congratulations!
BISHOP-ELECT REMARKS Concerning her role as bishop, Bishop-elect Odgren stated, “I see our principal challenge as engaging this culture as evangelists who share the gospel of Jesus in ways that will make a difference in the world. I think a bishop needs to listen extensively, pray often, and be bold to move the vision of the kingdom forward. And through this all, I trust in God’s resurrecting grace that keeps working and setting us free to love and serve.”
CLOSING WORSHIP & CLOSING OF THE ASSEMBLY Recorded earlier, Bishop Thomas M. Aitken preached and was assisted by Ms. Gretchen Bachman, at Camp Hiawatha. Both opening and closing worship services are available on the website.
THANK YOU & FAREWELL TO BISHOP AITKEN Information will be forthcoming. Watch the On-Line Reflections, website and synod Facebook page for more information.
The 2021 Synod Assembly is scheduled to take place at Cragun’s in Brainerd on April 30th-May 2.