Church of the Brethren
Illinois & Wisconsin District

Kevin Kessler, District Executive
Rick Koch, Moderator
Blaine Miner, Moderator-Elect
Andrea Garnett, Administrative Assistant
Andrea Garnett, Newsletter Publisher
Jim Miner, District Webmaster


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  • Resignation of Kevin Kessler, District Executive

    The District Leadership Team announces the resignation of Kevin Kessler as our District Executive at the end of 2020. It is with regret, yet understanding, that Leadership Team accepts his resignation, effective December 31, 2020.

    Throughout Kevin’s tenure as our DE, he has worked to bring cohesiveness to the District through his relationships with congregations, pastors, and District teams. One example of this is his work with Leadership Team to develop a response to congregational disagreements on human sexuality. District Conference passed this response in 2015, and it continues to serve IL/WI well. Kevin also helped set up the Endowment Fund that District Conference recently approved. When the New Church Development Team was functioning, Kevin worked closely with them. Later, he and the Leadership Team encouraged church starts such as Parables Community and The Gathering Chicago as their ministries emerged. Kevin has worked closely with the various District Teams and has done much of the communication that is necessary to the Teams. Kevin has worked with a number of congregations during their pastoral search and placement processes and has helped congregations with the evaluation of pastors. In addition, Kevin has served on the boards of Brethren Benefit Trust (currently vice chair) and the Illinois Conference of Churches (co-chair for 2 years) and has served on the executive committee of the Council of District Executives (vice-chair 3 years).

    Kevin has been a supporter, an encourager, and a counselor for many of us as we have served the District in various capacities. We are thankful that the Canton congregation graciously agreed to let us have Kevin part time, and our heartfelt thanks go out to Kevin. This District has been privileged to have Kevin’s leadership for 14 years, and we ask God’s blessing on whatever the future holds for him, Tammy, and their family.

    Leadership Team is working on calling a search committee. More about that will come later.

  • DE Ponderings

    by Kevin Kessler

    The announcement has been made that I’ve resigned my District Executive position effective Dec. 31, 2020. The concept of retirement entered the mix as well and for all intents and purposes, I guess, I’ve retired as District Executive. However, I’m continuing as the pastor of the Canton congregation. In addition, I’m developing a small, independent business doing “handyman” work and services. I may even try my hand at doing some writing. All said, I plan to remain active and engage in work and activities that I enjoy doing but seem not to have the time presently to do. I’m also looking forward to “meetingless” Saturdays that hopefully will provide more family-oriented opportunities.


  • The Moderator's Column

    To My District Faith Family,

    We have weeks on the calendar, sometimes even entire months dedicated to this group or that one. We rightly celebrate our nurses, teachers, and first responders. We also honor small businessmen, administrative assistants, and farmers, to name just a few more.


  • 2020 District Conference

    The 2020 District Conference scheduled for Nov. 6-7, 2020, will be held virtually on Saturday, Nov. 7 from 9:30am to 12:00pm. Zoom will be the online platform used. Delegates and non-delegates need to register which can be done online at (delegates) or (non-delegates) As conference information becomes available it will be shared and distributed.

    Putting together a virtual rather than an in-person conference may have the appearance of being less strenuous. Be assured this is not the case. Granted, the allotted time for conference is significantly less. However, determining how to provide complete information, offer business as “usual”, and have meaningful worship stretches the creative imaginations of all those involved in planning the conference. In addition, knowing who will be present as well as who will be serving as delegates is vitally important, especially since delegates will not be seated in a designated area. Screen observers will be tasked with identifying delegates among the many who will gather virtually. While it is always very important to know who registered, this year it is even more important. Additionally, it is vital that registrations are made well in advance.

    The registration deadline is already past. Please, if you plan to attend, register soon! Registering only a few days before conference, especially if you are a delegate, may hinder your opportunity to cast a vote. Tellers will need to be able to identify delegates for voting, thus it will be important to know who delegates are prior to the conference.

    Please spread the word that all are welcome to participate in this virtual conference from the comfort of home!

  • Response to Racial Injustice

    August 3, 2020

    But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.  --Amos 5:24 (NRSV)

    ...what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  --Micah 6:8b (NRSV)

    The Illinois/Wisconsin District of the Church of the Brethren continues the work of Jesus... peacefully... simply... together. Peacefully does not mean the work is without conflict. We enter conflict non-violently striving to treat everyone as we want to be treated. We stand on the side ofjustice and righteousness for all. The present socio-political climate has revealed that the lives of our black and brown brothers and sisters are under threat and that they are denied the protection and freedom that is justly theirs. We proclaim that we are all beloved children of God and that black and brown lives matter.

    We will stand together in solidarity. We will work together to create change. The needed transformation of oppressive systems requires us to understand racial oppression in our culture. We must listen to one another. We who are white must listen to those of us who are brown and black, to understand their experience and learn from their wisdom. We commit to being in courageous conversation with open hearts and generosity of spirit.

    The work before us is not simple. It is complex. It must be carried out with an intensity of kindness, humility, compassion, and adherence to the ways of Jesus. This work is not optional; it is required.

    The IL/WI District, in following the teachings of Jesus to dismantle racial injustice, must…

    * Listen actively. (John 4:4-42)
    * Stand in solidarity with all who seek justice. (Matthew 12:50)
    * Recognize where oppressive power dynamics within our own systems (denomination, district, congregations, communities) need transformation. (Matthew 7:1-5; Matthew 15:1-9)

    We therefore commit to engage in the following:

    * A district-wide anti-racism book study (using the Zoom platform)
    * A prayer service of lament and commitment
    * Publishing links to webinars and educational events provided by Discipleship Ministries of the Church of the Brethren
    * Including a resource page on the district’s website

    We hope for a world where justice rolls down like water, where righteousness flows on eternally, where loving-kindness is experienced as the norm, and where humility is the catalyst for understanding one another more completely. But let us do more than hope. Let us act, always,consistently, to make this hope reality.

    Kevin Kessler, District Executive on behalf of the District Leadership Team

  • District Book Study - Conversations on Race

    “Conversations on Race--Engaging and Transforming the Beloved Community”

    Facilitators: Dennis Webb, pastor of the Naperville congregation and Christy Waltersdorff, pastor of the York Center congregation


    Dates: 7:00-8:30 p.m. on the following Thursdays via Zoom

    Nov. 12
    Dec. 3, 17
    Jan. 7, 21
    Feb. 4


    A white woman named Christy Waltersdorff. A black man named Dennis Webb. Dennis was born and grew up in a country where almost everyone was black and familiar. Christy grew up in a country where white people were the dominant culture, and familiar to her. God would have it that the Church of the Brethren has brought us together. We met first as pastoral colleagues and chose to become friends. We have chosen to make our racial and cultural differences become a blessing, instead of an anemic, made-up, foundationless racial separation.We bring this as a part of our offering to you as the facilitators of this conversation. 

    We confess that we don't know it all. We would like to learn from you and with you, concerning this issue of race. Why? When the barrier of racial separation is overcome, its reality leads us closer to God’s vision of the beloved community. We see each other ‘face to face’-as God intended. We are not yet there. We all need help. And we are convinced that the book “White Fragility--Why It's So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism,” will help us greatly. We invite you to participate with us in this conversation. Truly listening and sharing with one another is the first necessary step to becoming the beloved community. Please join us.  

    For More Information or to Sign up for the Book Study- please contact the district office.

  • Moderator's Town Hall

    Thursday, September 17th

    We are excited to announce the next Moderator’s Town Hall on September 17th, 2020, at 7:00 PM EDT. The featured speaker will be veteran civil rights leader and former UN Ambassador Andrew Young.

    The focus of the Town Hall will be: “Racism: Deeper Awareness, Bolder Action.”

    Andrew J. Young has earned worldwide recognition as a pioneer in and champion of civil and human rights. Ambassador Young’s lifelong dedication to service is illustrated by his extensive leadership experience of over sixty-five years, serving as a member of Congress, African American U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Mayor of Atlanta, and ordained minister, among other positions. During the 1960s, Young was a key strategist and negotiator during civil rights campaigns that led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Appointed as an Ambassador to the United Nations in 1977, Young negotiated an end to white-minority rule in Namibia and Zimbabwe and brought President Carter's emphasis on human rights to international diplomacy efforts.

    Ambassador Young also serves on several boards, including the Martin Luther King Center for Non-Violent Social Change. In 2003, he and his wife Carolyn McClain Young founded the Andrew J. Young Foundation to support and promote education, health, leadership, and human rights in the U.S., Africa, and the Caribbean.

    He currently lives in Atlanta and serves as the Chairman of the foundation. He is also a father of three daughters and a son, a grandfather of nine, and a great grandfather of one.

    The author of three books, Andrew Young is sought after as an advisor to world leaders along with being active as a speaker on the lecture circuit. An ordained minister with the United Church of Christ for over six decades, he continues to preach and considers the work of his foundation an extension of his ministry and of the Civil Rights movement itself.

    To register for the town hall, please visit:

    You are encouraged to sign up early, as the event is limited to the first 500 registrants.

    The Town Hall will once again feature a Question & Answer format. You are invited to submit your questions for Ambassador Young during the Town Hall, or you can send them in advance. To send your questions prior to the Town Hall, please email: Though we cannot commit to answering every question, we’ll do our best to use what is submitted.

    Questions or issues related to registering for the Town Hall can be emailed to as well.

  • Guest Speaker List

    There is a Speakers List for the Illinois/Wisconsin District. Persons included in this document have accepted the invitation to be available to preach during worship services or for other special events as indicated. Hopefully you will find this tool useful and valuable when the need arises for inviting a guest speaker.

    The speakers on this list are all credentialed ministers, either licensed or ordained. We would like to expand the list to include more credentialed ministers as well as interested laity. If your name is absent from the list and you have interest in serving as a guest speaker, please inform the district office. We would also welcome the names of persons you might suggest for inclusion on the list.

    Since this is a new venture, it is likely we may need to provide more information than is included. Your input as to how the list can be improved would be welcomed.

    Please share with the District Office any questions, comments, or concerns you may have.

  • Mission and Mortar

    The purpose of the Illinois/Wisconsin District is supporting the growth and development of the member churches. One means of support is financial assistance. Congregations in good standing are eligible to apply for assistance through the Mission and Mortar Program

    Sustaining and developing ministry (mission) within congregations, as well as maintaining property (mortar), is sometimes hindered because of inadequate financial resources. The Illinois/Wisconsin District realizes that this dilemma exists and desires to financially support congregations that are in good standing with the district and have specific needs. Application for assistance may be made for up to a three-year period with reductions in the amount of support for each subsequent year. In the event that multi-year assistance is needed, a graduated agreement for funding will be arranged, but a request for the funds must be made annually.

    Read the brochure for more details.

  • Information Reporting

    All ordained ministers, licensed ministers, and congregations need to keep the District Office informed of changes in contact information. Changes include: phone number, cell phone number, email address, mailing address, and congregational email or website. Please email Andrea Garnett,, or call (309)649-6008 with your updates. Your effort will save valuable staff time trying to track down these changes. Other information to share: changes in key leadership positions at the church or the death or serious illnesses of minister, retired ministers, or spouses. Help us serve better!

  • CEU Credits for Ordained Ministers
    Do not wait to begin to log your Continuing Education Units. The 2015 Five-year Ordination Review process for ALL ordained ministers will launch in 2014. Ordained ministers are required to produce verification of 5 CEU credits for this five-year period. It is your responsibility to secure certificates, letters or verifying documentation regarding CEU credit. Retired clergy are exempt from this requirement with the exception of those retired clergy actively involved in Interim Ministry.

    CEU Notation: The district does not grant CEU credit for personal study and/or self-designed experiences you have had and/or books you have read. It is the minister's responsibility to secure a CEU certificate, Letter of Verification, and/or authentication document for completed training, seminars or workshops, or learning experiences offered by the presenting organization. This verification should always state the number of hours of the training - 10 hours of training equals 1.0 CEU credits. Please take personal initiative to become a life-long learner and increasingly effective minister of the Gospel.

  • Gifts Discernment
    The Gifts Discernment and Call Committee seeks your help. We are commissioned to call active, informed, and committed members of congregations or fellowships from within our District to positions of service. These persons, both pastors and lay members, are to be called from all parts of the District and to represent the diversity among us. Our committee's knowledge of members eligible and capable to serve is limited. Therefore, we make this appeal for assistance.
  • Each congregation in the district has a Liaison Leadership Team member who may be contacted with any questions or concerns about the ministries of our district.
  • Add news, announcements, or your congregation's web site URL to the district site. Email your information to the

  • Please check the District Disaster Response website for disaster relief news.