Church of the Brethren
Illinois & Wisconsin District

Kevin Kessler, District Executive
Allegra Hess, Moderator
Paul Kohler, Moderator-Elect
Andrea Garnett, Administrative Assistant
Debbie Noffsinger, Newsletter Publisher
Jim Miner, District Webmaster


  • Donate
  • Giving Tuesday

    The Illinois/Wisconsin District of the Church of the Brethren is moving forward with Emerging Ministries, being missional by sharing in Disaster Relief, caring through congregational grants, and focusing on the future with an endowment to sustain ministries. Giving Tuesday represents a day to respond to consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday by donating to a charity or ministry or non-profit of your choice. Consider a donation to the Illinois/ Wisconsin District to support the church and the continuation of its vital ministries.

    • You may donate online through the district website (, the district Face-book page (, or sending a check to the IL/WI District Office, 269 E. Chestnut, Canton, IL 61520.

  • DE Ponderings - Kevin Kessler

    Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” —John 18:36-37(NRSV) 

    [Read More]

  • From the Moderator

    This past summer, I finally drove down to see my younger brother in Charleston, South Carolina. One of my travel habits is to watch for my phone’s clock to update when entering a new time zone. I’ve realized that the time zone line on the map has nothing to do with the cell tower placement that sends the signal. Even a “time” sign on the highway would not help.

     [Read More]

  • Facebook Badge


  • 2017 Illinois/Wisconsin District Conference

    The Illinois/Wisconsin District of the Church of the Brethren held its District Conference November 3 & 4, 2017, at the York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, IL. “Don’t Be Afraid, I Bring You Good News” based on Luke 2:10 was the theme of the conference capably led by Moderator Allegra Hess, a member of the York Center congregation.

    Photo courtesy of Ralph Miner

    The conference began Friday evening with worship led by ministers from the Northeast Region of the district. Christy Waltersdorff preached on the conference theme setting the tone for the remainder of the conference. Waltersdorff proclaimed, “Christ calls us to another way of living, a way that is not defined by fear but courage; a way that is not defined by weakness but strength; a way that is not defined by anxiety but faith.” She subsequently asked these questions: “What if this darkness (fear) is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if God is seeking to birth something wondrous in our congregations, in our districts, in our denomination, in our world? And what if we get to be a part of that new life?”

    During the business session on Saturday, delegates and conference goers were able to experience the courage of our district which has initiated two new, non-traditional ministries (The Parables Community and The Gathering Chicago) and continues to carry out faithful ministries in our congregations despite the challenges faced in living out the mission of Christ in a post-Christendom and post-Christian era. Jeanne Davies, founding pastor of The Parables Community, shared the value of providing a space and opportunity for worship for persons with disabilities and their families. LaDonna Nkosi, unable to be present Saturday, nonetheless provided video and live presentations expressing the value of providing opportunities of prayer, partnership, and service on Chicago’s south side. The leadership of these two emerging ministries is a testament of not being afraid, of serving unmet needs in spite of the obstacles that at times seem overwhelming.

    Six congregations (Rockford, Polo, Stanley, Canton, Cerro Gordo, York Center) were given the opportunity to share a three minute presentation about ministries in which they are engaged. Each congregation is actively involved in their community, outwardly focused, and embarking on creative ministry initiatives. In addition, a video of district activity and ministries was produced and viewed by all who were present at conference.

    Camp Emmaus and Camp Emmanuel continue to provide an environment for building relationships, enriching our faith, and positively impacting the lives of youth for years to come. Despite overwhelming financial obstacles as a result of late and inconsistent State of Illinois Medicaid disbursements, Pinecrest Community and Pleasant Hill Village continue to provide outstanding service to those who need assisted and extended care.

    One dozen freshly
    laid brown eggs from
    the “Brethren hens”
    that Moderator
    Allegra Hess owns
    raised $50 in the
    district conference
    auction. The auction
    proceeds go to the
    district budget.

    Photo courtesy of
    Ralph Miner

    All of these ministries are evidence of new life that the district celebrates and supports through prayer, relationship, and money. The district is finding renewed energy, excitement, and cohesiveness through efforts to sustain these Christ-centered ministries.

    Fear has been a part of this district. We have been afraid of how theological differences may fracture our relationships. We have been afraid of how financial reserves are being used. We have been afraid of the aging of and decline in membership. Other fears have surfaced over the years as well. What we discovered, or maybe re-discovered, at the District Conference this year is that we are not paralyzed by our fears. Instead, we are holding on to and moving ahead in the strength of the word of God proclaimed through the prophet Isaiah, “I have chosen you and have not abandoned you. Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand."

  • Young Adult Conference 2018

    Teach With Your Life
    May 25 - 27, 2018
    Camp Brethren Woods, near Keezletown, Virginia

    Young Adult Conference (YAC) offers people ages 18-35 a chance to enjoy fellowship, worship, recreation, Bible study, service projects and more… with other fantastic young adults!

    • • Registration ($150) includes food, lodging and programming!
    • • Scholarships: Upon request, we will send a letter to your congregation asking them to provide a $75 scholarship. Make your request by April 1st. Scholarships are also available to BVSers who are currently serving.
    • • A non-refundable deposit of $75 is due within two weeks of registering.

    Questions? Contact Becky Ullom Naugle in the Youth/Young Adult Ministry Office at or 847-429-4385.

  • 2018 Annual Conference


    The Conference takes place July 4-8 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Find out more at

  • Camp Emmaus Schedule for 2018

    November 11, 2017  - Leaf Raking (Youth Retreat: Nov. 10-12)

    May 25-28, 2018 Memorial Day Weekend Family Camp
    July 4-8 Annual Conference @ Cincinnati OH
    July 8-14 Senior High Camp
    July 15-18 Elementary II Camp
    July 21-26 National Youth Conference @ Fort Collins, Colorado
    July 27-29 Counselor In Training Event
    July 28-29 Elementary I Camp
    July 29 - August 4 Junior High Camp
    August 5-10 Elementary III Camp 
    August 9-11 Women's Camp
    August 31 - September 3 Labor Day Weekend Family Camp
  • 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.