The Northern Great Lakes Synod
Lutheran Christians in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Northeastern Wisconsin gather together in communities of faith for worship and ministry. Walking together are the 80 congregations, 115 pastors and 27,500 Lutherans of the Northern Great Lakes Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
This Synod is one of 65 in the ELCA. The 9,500 congregations of the ELCA comprise 3.9 million baptized members.
In 1987, the latest in a series of Lutheran church mergers created the Northern Great Lakes Synod (NGLS), encompassing the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the six adjacent counties in Northeastern Wisconsin.
Immigrants from Finland, Sweden, Norway, and other European nations began the Lutheran ministry in this Synod area almost 150 years ago.
The oldest continuous congregation in the Synod is Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock, Michigan, founded in 1867.
Spreading the Gospel, the Synod, in the past 25 years, has embraced a new mission start at prince of Peace Lutheran Church is Eagle River, Wisconsin, as well as Shepherd of the Sea Chapel in Copper Harbor, Michigan. Other vibrant Synod ministries include the Lay School for Mission and our Companion Synod program. The Eastern and Coastal Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania and the Northern Great Lakes Synod are connected in the Gospel.
The Synod’s institutional partners include Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp in Crystal Falls, Michigan; Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan; and Northland Lutheran Retirement Community in Marinette, Wisconsin.
Other partners include Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan and Lutheran Campus Ministry at Northern Michigan University in Marquette and Michigan Technological University in Houghton.
The Bishops of the Northern Great Lakes Synod
At its constituting convention in June, 1987, the Rev. Harry S. Andersen was elected as the first Bishop of the Northern Great Lakes Synod, a call in which he served until his retirement in 1991. A native of Marquette, Nebraska, Andersen graduated from the Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. His first call was in Marlette, Juhl and Brown City, Michigan. After nine years at St. Stephen’s in Chicago, Illinois, Andersen went on to administrative work in the Wisconsin LCA Synod before coming to Marquette, Michigan as the first bishop of the NGLS. Bishop Emeritus Andersen passed away in December, 2015. His wife, Dorothy, who served at his side throughout his ministry, died in 2016.
The Rev. Dale R. Skogman served as the second bishop of the NGLS from 1991-1999. After attending Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, he graduated from the Lutheran School of Theology on Chicago’s Rock Island campus. Skogman served four parishes in his 26 years as pastor: the two-point parish of Grace Lutheran in South Range and Our Savior’s Lutheran in Atlantic Mine, Michigan for six years; First Lutheran in Gladstone, Michigan for five years; Holy Communion Lutheran of Racine, Wisconsin for nine years; and Mt. Zion Lutheran of Wauwatosa, Wisconsin for six years. He and his wife, Jo, are retired in Gladstone, Michigan.
In 1999, the Rev. Thomas A. Skrenes was elected the third bishop of the Northern Great Lakes Synod. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Skrenes received his Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. He served Trinity Lutheran Church in Ishpeming, Michigan from 1980-1993, at which time he received the call to serve as Assistant to Bishop Dale Skogman. He was elected in 1999 to his first term as Bishop, with subsequent re-elections in 2005 and 2011. Bishop Skrenes retired in 2017 and he and his wife, Luanne, live in Ishpeming, Michigan.
The Rev. Katherine A. Finegan was elected by the Synod Assembly in 2017 to become the fourth bishop of the Northern Great Lakes Synod. She is a graduate of Valparaiso University in Indiana and received her Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota in 2002. Finegan served as Youth Minister at Hope Lutheran Church in St. Paul from 1988-2000. She was called to serve Bethany Lutheran in Republic, Michigan in 2002. In 2012, she received the call to serve as Assistant to Bishop Skrenes. She and her husband, Dave, live in Ishpeming and have three sons.