Youth participate in MercyCare Visit to Chilé

The North Dakota District has partnered with MOST Ministries to send four youth to engage in MercyCare and continue to cultivate the relationship with the Lutheran Church in Chilé. The group, lead by Chaplain Rick Jones and Deaconess Faith Swenson, had a great time immersing themselves in the Chiléan culture while helping the congregations in the Maulé Region with some church repairs and revitalization, evangelism, and English classes for children. This trip marks the first time a full team has gone down to Chilé to further build this partnership with our Lutheran brothers and sisters in this part of the world. Highlights from the trip (presented in the participants’ own words) can be found at

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What a Great Turn Out for the Annual Men’s Retreat!

Thirty-Seven men from around the district attended the Annual Men’s Retreat at Shepherd’s Hill at the Crossroads. Pastor Jon Walla (Bethel, Bismarck) was the speaker and led the men in studying “Manhood Redeemed” on January 20-21.

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Teaching the Faith

When I was first asked to take on the role of VBS Coordinator as a junior in college I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. With the help from my Pastor and many volunteers in the church, we have been able to make a successful VBS week each summer. Here are a few of the many things that have helped our small congregation reach out to a whole community.

When planning a VBS so much or­ganization and preparation take place months before the actual week. It is highly important to be selective in the week that is chosen for VBS. In our small community, before we set the date for VBS, we check with the local swimming pool for swimming lessons, baseball/ softball schedules, and surrounding county fairs. Once a week is set for VBS flyers, postcards and a Facebook page are created and set out to families that are members of the congregation and also families that are not members but have come in years past.

The next focus is finding volunteers. It is so important to seek volunteers and helpers months and weeks before VBS. Our church is so blessed to have many teachers that can work together to make it a success! The main goal is to find helpers that can lead the main stations: crafts, music, snacks, games and lessons.
Then find younger volunteers that can help lead groups from station to station. It is very important to consider the gifts that your volunteers have. We have a volunteer that loves to sing and has an amazing voice; therefore she helps each year with the music. Encourage your church members that they are never too old. We have a member that is 90 years old and helps every year!

Many people in the congregation who are not able to help during the week of VBS are willing to help provide in other ways. It is best to get a list of donated items that are needed for the week of VBS out ahead of time to church mem­bers. Snacks and craft supply donations big or small can be the biggest blessing for VBS.

Each year it is so important to keep de­tailed records of everything. Document who was able to volunteer to help teach, lead or donate. Keep records of the children that attended. It has also been helpful for us to document the good, the bad and the ugly on how the week ran. It is so helpful when planning to know what worked well the year before. I have found it is also helpful to review what didn’t work so well to prevent the same outcome and to fix it and make it better for the years to come.

Rural & Small Town Mission supports and encourages rural and small town congregations in engaging their communities and growing together in Christ through Word and Sacrament. If you have a good idea for outreach or a story you’d like to share so that we can share it with others, please email Amy Gerdts at

Learn more about us at, by calling our office at 888-463-5127, by email at or “like” us on our Facebook page at

Click here for the Rural and Small Town Ministry newsletter

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Campus Ministry Alive and Well in the ND District!

Pictured above are students from the NDSU chapter of LCMS U along with President Matthew Harrison. This group attended the LCMS Campus Ministry Conference in Washington, D.C. from January 3-6, and President Harrison (pictured far left) was one of the plenary speakers.

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National Lutheran Schools Week 2017

Celebrating “through the decades” at Grace Lutheran School

Lyric video for the song “(Jesus is) Louder than the Radio”. Original song was written and performed by Mr. Jay Schaefer and the students of Grace Lutheran School, Fargo ND.

Enjoying Wacky Day at Martin Luther School!

Thank you for supporting our Lutheran Schools!

Grace Lutheran School
Mr. John Hagge, Principal

Martin Luther School
Mrs. Kathy Jones, Principal

Preschools in the District
Grace, Fargo
Immanuel, Grand Forks
Immanuel, Wahpeton,
Martin Luther, Bismarck
Our Savior, Minot
Redeemer, Dickinson

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Rev. Eckstein included as Essayist

Concordia Publishing House recently put out a book entitled The Ethics of Sex: From Taboo to Delight; Ethics of Sex. North Dakota District’s Rev. Tom Eckstein (Concordia, Jamestown) was given the privilege of writing the essay on homosexuality included in this book. Topics covered in this are male and female sex differences, marriage, polygamy, contraception, sex education, self-pollution, homosexuality, and transgenderism. Breaking through the noise of our hyper-sexualized Western culture, Ethics of Sex is a much-needed, masterful compilation that speaks to the nature of Christian sexual ethics as simultaneously positive and prohibitive. Ten distinct yet interrelated essays invite us back to a way of life in harmony with the Lord’s created order, an order that bears fruit in intimacy, compassion, love, and joy.

Embrace the wisdom and counsel of these words, reminding all that Jesus’ love for His Church forgives sexual sin and restores His people to fellowship in the kingdom of heaven—young or old, married or single. Our identity remains in Christ.
“Ethics of Sex is a remarkable book. It is biblically faithful, theologically sound, and above all, Christ-centered. While the authors responsibly draw from fields such as science and psychology, they constantly return to the cross, emphasizing themes such as forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation. Christians across denomination lines will appreciate this book for its winsome style, pastoral tone, and Kingdom focus.”

—Dr. David W. Jones, Professor of Christian Ethics, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of this book, click here).

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Got Letters?

St. Andrew Niagara is looking for any “old style” changeable, black on white background steel letters for the old style church announcement signs. These are 3 1/2 inches high by
2 inches wide.
We’re thinking that possibly some church may have purchased a new announcement sign, but still had the letters in a closet somewhere. We would like to freshen up our sign, without buying a new one. If you happen to have such letters, please contact Rev. Denny Neels at Thank you!

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Higher Things 2017

Dear Pastors, Youth Leaders, and Congregations:

This past July, 71 youth and chaperones from all across the North Dakota District traveled to Fort Collins, Colorado for the Higher Things Youth Conference. The feedback that we received from the youth was phenomenal and it was decided that we need to continue to provide the opportunity for them to attend Higher Things conferences. Next summer the conference is in Valparaiso, IN on July 25-28.

Tana McKenna, Zion Lutheran’s Parish Assistant, has agreed to take care of registration responsibilities for those wishing to attend. Unlike last year, we will NOT be coordinating a mass group transportation effort. In other words, all registrations, questions, and finances will be directed through Tana; however, your individual congregation will be responsible for arranging transportation and lodging both to and from the conference. We will still caravan where possible and most likely will arrange an overnight in a church for anyone wanting that option.

Higher Things traditionally fills up fast with conference registrations, so it is VERY important to get your registrations in early. Furthermore, Higher Things has deadlines in place, and in order to comply with those deadlines we have established the following to ensure an efficient registration process:

Early discounted registration ($375) opens on November 1 and ends February 1. Registration forms (attached) and a $100 non-refundable deposit (payable to SEND Youth) should be submitted to Tana as soon as possible!

If you wish to take advantage of the discounted registration rate, registration forms and
After February 1, registration cost increases to $405 per person.
The Higher Things Registration Policy states: Partial payments (including non-refundable deposits) do not “lock-in” your registration rates. An additional change fee of $25/change will apply for substitutions made after May 1, 2017.Unpaid balances and new registrations on or after May 1, 2017, will be charged a Late Fee of $25/person. Per-person rates are based on the date your group’s registration fees are PAID IN FULL!

Note that we are charging a $20 per person administrative fee, which will get you a ND group T-shirt as well as a no-hassle registration experience.

You can reach Tana at Zion Lutheran through email (, phone (701-678-2401) or mail (PO Box 118 Gwinner, ND 58040). We look forward to hearing from you as we continually challenge our youth to “Dare to be Lutheran.” “Here I stand.” That’s daring to be…Lutheran! What words! What a theme! So on this 500th anniversary of Dr. Luther’s firing the Gospel shot heard around the Church, Pastors and Youth from across North Dakota are excited to continue to stand and confess the Gospel with Dr. Luther at Higher Things 2017 Summer Conferences.

In Christ,
Rev. Adam Moline, ND Southeast Circuit Visitor
Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard, Zion Lutheran Church, Gwinner

Click here for the 2017 Higher Things Registration Forms.

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2017 National Essay Contest

For students in Grades 6 through 12
(Any Lutheran student or student in a Lutheran school)
Sponsored by the Council of Federation Presidents, Lutherans For Life

Contest Guidelines:

  1. Students will write a life-affirming essay based on the 2017 Conference theme: Hope For Life and 1Peter 3:15 “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”
  2. Examples of topics the essay could deal with are: abortion, the handicapped, infanticide, cloning, stem cell research, physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia.
  3. Essays should include student’s name, grade (Identify school or church) and email address.  All entries submitted by a teacher or pastor should include their name and email address. This information should be submitted on the rubric page used in grading the essay.
  4. All sources for references, statistics and quotes should be incorporated within the essay and then included in a bibliography at the end.
  5. Winning state entries (one from Grades 6-8 and one from Grades 9-12) from each State
  6. Essays should be submitted digitally by May 1, 2017, to:
  7. Grand Prize for national winning entry at each level: $250 plus free conference registration to the 2017 Regional Conference of their choice and 1 hotel night at a conference hotel.
  8. All entries become the property of Lutherans For Life.

For questions or resources on the sanctity of life, see:

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Grace Lutheran School News

Check out Grace Lutheran School’s new blog,
AND check out GLS on Facebook!

PLUS….. (Have you heard?…..)
Grace Lutheran School students are working hard and it shows! Through the marvelous educational system, we have been blessed with here at Grace Lutheran School, our students are learning, thriving and making our community proud! Please come and shine some well-deserved light on these students who are shining examples of not only academic success, but personal and spiritual success as well!

We are very proud that our ENTIRE MIDDLE SCHOOL CLASSES have all made the honor roll in the fall quarter!!!

Grace Lutheran School has been a stronghold in our community for over 67 years. Grace Lutheran School strives to keep Jesus in school, but not from others. We teach a Christ-centered education, in order to strengthen faith and to love and to serve church and community for the glory of God.

Principal, John Hagge, says “Our students are excited about learning and thrive greatly in their small classrooms taught by caring, extremely intelligent teachers. I think our success shows, and we feel good to be given the chance to mold these young minds into even greater young adults!”

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President Arie Bertsch? Now, Who is He?

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Getting to Know Our District Pastors – Rev. Timothy Stout

In this new web feature, we will get to know the pastors serving in Our District. Each pastor was presented with several questions to answer so that we can all get to know them better. Check back each week to learn about a different pastor from Our North Dakota District.

Rev. Timothy Stout – St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Devils Lake, and Grace Lutheran Church, Lakota.

  • Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a nerd. I’m a theological nerd, and one of my favorite things to do is to relax with a good cup of tea and an ancient book of theology. And if you tell me that some modern theologian is a dangerous heretic, I’ll probably go find every book of his I can find to discover what is wrong or not wrong with him. I’m also a science nerd, and I love to learn about the latest in scientific discoveries, but I’m frustrated at the extent to which modern science is directed according to political motives and the religion of scientism. And when I am not studying theology or science, I am reading a good science fiction/fantasy novel, watching the same kinds of movies or TV shows, and I think that the latest run of Marvel and DC comic book movies is the best thing to happen to movie cameras since BBC invented Doctor Who.

  • What areas of theology have you been studying this past year?

In the last year I have been reading C. F. W. Walther’s works. I finished the new translations of Law and Gospel and Church and Ministry and am starting to work on his sermons. From him I am learning more deeply the things I was taught at seminary, how to preach, and the importance of the office I hold. I have also been reading Gerhard Forde, because I heard he was a dangerous heretic. What I have learned is that he was not as much a heretic as I was led to believe, and the most dangerous thing about him is the tendency people have of taking pithy quotes from him and using them out of context. As this is the most annoying tendency in his own writings, as he often did the same thing with the works of Luther, it seems a bit of ironic justice. From him I have learned to preach the Gospel so that it doesn’t sound like Jesus made it possible to get God’s blessings by “being good enough to earn them” for us.

  • How would you define “the Gospel?”

The simple answer is that the Gospel is the forgiveness of sins and eternal life purchased and won for us by the precious suffering and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and made securely ours by His resurrection from the grave. In this Jesus takes all that is ours, our sin, our death, our darkness, and makes it His and then suffers the consequences in our place, and gives us all that is His, righteousness, holiness, and eternal life as an heir of the kingdom of heaven. This is important because we were made to be in an eternal loving relationship with our Creator, but because of the fall into sin, that has become impossible. If we die in our sin we will be eternally separated from the loving mercy and kindness of our God, and that is an unimaginable torment that none of us has ever known, and were never meant to know. But in His conception, birth, life, suffering, death, and resurrection, Jesus has reconciled us to the Father and restored to us our place in His eternal kingdom. There is nothing more important than that this message of salvation be preached to all of God’s created people.

  • Do you have a personal mission statement, or maybe a Bible passage that is the foundation of your faith and life?

“Sir, we would see Jesus”.” (John 12:21) “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2:2)

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