Minnesota North District - LCMS

At the 2022 MN North Convention, we approved resolution 4-1, “To Confess the doctrine of Closed Communion and encourage its practice.” The MN North Board of Directors desires to fulfill this resolution through a few monthly newsletter articles written by our Regional Vice Presidents. We commend these articles for the edification of our beloved MN North District churches, schools, and workers. To Him be all the Glory! ~ Rev. Brady Finnern, District President

Dear Friends in Christ,

Closed communion is an unloving practice that hinders the Church’s outreach.

Closed communion is a loving practice that proclaims the Gospel.

(For the sake of this article “closed communion” means that we commune people who are fellow members in good-standing of Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod congregations. We commune those who publicly, by their congregational membership, confess all the doctrines we confess, not just the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. I use the term “closed” because that is the historic term. The term “close” communion comes from Baptist theology.)

So, which is it? Although the first statement is a common sentiment, the second statement is the true statement.  This month, I’ll speak about the love of practicing closed communion. Next month, I’ll address how closed communion preaches the Gospel.

Practicing closed communion is loving to the unbeliever and to the heterodox believer. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11 that the person who eats or drinks in an unworthy manner sins against the Lord’s Body and Blood. He also writes that anyone who eats or drinks without discerning Christ’s Body eats and drinks judgment on himself. Giving the Lord’s Supper to an unbeliever would be leading that person into sin. That is not loving. Giving the Lord’s Supper to a believer who believes Christ’s Body and Blood are merely symbolized by the bread and wine would be serving them God’s judgment. This also is not loving.

Closed communion is a loving practice to your brothers in the neighboring congregations, our District, and our Synod. I liken the Synod to marriage. All congregations and pastors voluntarily joined the Synod. There was no shotgun wedding. No one is forced to belong to the Missouri Synod.  Instead, congregations and pastors willingly make their vows to the other congregations and pastors of the Synod to be faithful in doctrine and practice according to the Holy Scriptures and our confessional writings in the Book of Concord. Now I’m going to ask some pointed questions. How much unfaithfulness would you tolerate in your marriage? Could your spouse ever convince you that his watching of pornography or her weekend affair was loving? Those are blunt questions, but if you would not tolerate marital unfaithfulness, which is only for our time on earth, what should your attitude be toward heavenly unfaithfulness, which is for eternity?

The Missouri Synod allows pastoral discretion for communing under exceptional circumstances. Since these are exceptions, they should be rare and undertaken with diligent discernment. It is helpful for our synodical “marriage” if a pastor discusses these exceptional cases with his brothers in the Circuit. That shows love for the congregations and pastors that might be affected by those decisions.

That briefly is how closed communion is a loving practice. Next month, I’ll show how practicing closed communion preaches Christ.

In Christ,

Rev. Bruce Timm

Third Vice President

MN North District - LCMS


Summer is a great time to update the information on your PIF and SET. The process is simple:

  1. Send Diana an email at [email protected] requesting instructions to make your updates.
  2. Review your current PIF and send updates to the District Office via email.
  3. Log in to Cornerstone Online and make updates to your SET.

Please pray with us:

District Prayer List

Find a list of calling congregations and updates on District Calls here:

Call Update

Over the next few weeks, congregations and church workers will be getting an email reminder to update their contact information for the Lutheran Annual and the LCMS locator. The deadline is September 1, 2023 for updates to be included in the 2024 Lutheran Annual. After the deadline, you will still be able to make updates, which will be reflected on the LCMS Locator. The Rosters and Statistics team is available to support you with any questions you have by emailing their shared email at [email protected]

Remember to share your updated contact information with District Office, too! [email protected].

Since the late 1980’s the MN North & South Districts of the LCMS have held an annual MN State Bible Bowl Competition for youth in grades 7-12.  The Bible Bowl Competition is a double elimination competition between teams of up to 4 members per team.  Each round consists to 15 oral questions.  There also is an individual competition which consists of 50 multiple choice questions.  The questions for Bible Bowl are from a chosen book of the Bible (ESV translation). For the past 10+ years the MN State Bible Bible Bowl has been a collaborative effort with the Northern Wisconsin District.  The 2024 MN State Bible Bible Bowl competition will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2024 at Concordia University - St. Paul.  The Book of the Bible for the 2024 State Bible Bowl will be chosen and announced in September.    The winner of the 2023 MN State Bible Bowl based on the Life of Moses was a young team from First Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, MN.  Rev. Steve Breitbarth [email protected] is the coordinator for MN North with Rudy Mauer [email protected] the Coordinator for MN South and Rev. Mark Palmer for the Northern Wisconsin District.

Rev. Zachary Voss was installed as Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Ortonville, MN on May 28, 2023. Pictured here are Rev. Nathaniel Brown, Rev. Don Klatt, Rev. Zachary Voss, Rev. Jason Wolter, District President Rev. Brady Finnern, Rev. Nathaniel Biberdorf and Rev. Larry Johnson.

St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Perham, MN celebrated our veterans on April 23 with a Veteran's Appreciation Sunday. We had a special speaker for our Sunday Church Service, U.S. Army Chaplain (COL-Ret) Howard ‘Howie’ A. Krienke – the past Senior Supervisory Chaplain of the 88th Regional Support Command at Fort Snelling, MN. Some of our veterans helped with the ushering and greeting people as they came into church and Monroe Damlo was a soloist. Along both sides of the Sanctuary we listed ALL of our member Veterans who have passed on. 



Above: Easter handbell exercises at Suomi Shinjuku Tokyo worship site

"Your support is vital for our continued mission work in Japan: regular services at our worship sites, translation of theological resources, and nurturing relations with local Lutheran pastors facing individual challenges to the faith. We are humbly grateful for your continued prayers and support. Thank you!"

Your missionaries,

Rev. Dan and Joan Jastram 

Asia Lutheran Resource Coordinator



Pastor Kollie at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and School in Cotton Tree shares photos from a recent LWML gathering and exam day at their church and school. These regional exams take one month to complete!

"Thank you for supporting our students."


Above: This year, Jose Anthony asked Pastor Gustavo, “What do I need to do to become a member?” They began studying frequently so that Jose could be confirmed on Pentecost, May 28th, 2023.

"Thank you for supporting us to share about Jesus. We look forward to visiting with many of you this summer. We will be visiting churches to share about the Lord's work in Puerto Rico."

Pastor Gustavo, Ruth, Mikhaela and Isaiah Maita

Missionaries in Puerto Rico 


Writers of all abilities are invited to explore the art of creative writing in its various forms – starting a blog, creating a sermon or devotion, story, nonfiction, drama, poetry and everything in between – at the Faith and Writing Workshop set for July 18-20 at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

The workshop will be led by Dr. Travis Scholl, author of Walking the Labyrinth and director of mission integration at Lutheran Senior Services in St. Louis, Mo., and Peter Mead, a Christian editor, publisher and writer.

The cost of the workshop is $175 per person ($75 for Seminary students) with a maximum of 15 participants. Meals are not included. The registration deadline is July 11.

To register, click here. For more information, contact Continuing Education at 314-505-7286 or [email protected].

On September 23rd, Trinity in New York Mills will host the Each 1 Reach 1: Generation to Generation evangelism workshop presented by Rev. Roger Paavola.

Rev. Paavola serves as the Mid-South District President and has deep roots in Northern Minnesota.

For more information contact Trinity at [email protected] or 218-385-2450

Bible Translation Sunday breaks down barriers to involvement in global missions. Materials include recommendations for service elements, a story-rich sermon and engaging children’s message, adult Bible study, PowerPoint slides and graphics, bulletins, and more. New this year is a partnership with Lutheran Service Builder.  

Congregations are invited to celebrate their partnership in God’s mission. Register and download the event toolkit at www.lbt.org/bts.  

Remember. Celebrate. Honor.

Pay tribute to a loved by by sponsoring a broadcast of My Savior Lives Northland. Your $200 gift helps bring a message of God's love and hope to people throughout the region.

MSL Northland is a broadcast ministry of the LCMS churches in the Duluth viewing area. Learn more at mslnorthland.com

Does your congregation have news to share? Send your photos and stories to our Lutheran Witness Editor, Rev. Travis Lauterbach at: [email protected]

This month's blog includes a list of accurate, timely resources.

MN North District | PO Box 604, Brainerd, MN 56401 | 218-829-1781 | [email protected] | www.mnnlcms.org