Church of the Brethren
Illinois & Wisconsin District

Walt Wiltschek, District Executive Minister
Phyllis Batterton, Moderator
Christy Waltersdorff, Moderator-Elect
Andrea Garnett, Administrative Assistant
Andrea Garnett, Newsletter Publisher
Jim Miner, District Webmaster



    📅CODE Midwest meeting, Feb. 21, 1 p.m.

    📅Franklin Grove closing service, March 12, 3 p.m.

    📅Spring district youth retreat, Camp Emmaus, March 17-19

    [all meetings via Zoom unless otherwise noted]


    Camp Emmaus has announced its camping schedule for 2023:

    April 22 Spring Into Camp
    May 26-29 Memorial Day Weekend Family Camp
    July 9-15 Senior High Camp (Grades 9-12)
    July 16-20 Intermediate Camp (Grades 3-5)
    July 21-23 Young at Heart Camp (Young Adults/Adults)
    July 23-29 Middle School Camp (Grades 6-8)
    Aug. 4-6 Counselor-in-Training (CIT)
    Aug. 5-6 Elementary Camp (Grades 1-2)
    Aug. 10-12 Women’s Camp
    Aug. 18-20 Men’s Camp
    Sept. 1-4 Labor Day Weekend Family Camp

    The Camp Emmaus board has announced the launch of the Camp Emmaus Endowment Fund. The board has set a goal of raising $100,000 for this fund in the next 12 months, helping to provide a new revenue stream for camp and allowing a wider range of planned and deferred gifts. To learn more about this endowment, arrange to make a donation, or discover other ways to get involved, please reach out to treasurer Dan Radcliff at

    Camp Emmanuel will be celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2023! A celebration at the camp, including a fish fry, is being planned for Sept. 30 next year. Watch for details as they become available.

    At its Family Camp this year, Camp Emmanuel dedicated a new prayer garden in honor of Leon Sweigart, in recognition of his many years of service to the camp. This lovely spot along the trail to Vesper Hill has been set aside as an area for quiet meditation and prayer. The garden features two benches in a white-rocked circle surrounded by flowering plants that will appear each spring and provide beauty through the summer. Special thanks goes to the Brandenburg family for designing the garden and helping the managers carry out this project. The camp also installed a new ga-ga ball pit this past summer, thanks to a donation and installation work from Hurricane Creek Church of the Brethren.

    Stay up to date on what’s happening at our district camps! Visit for Camp Emmanuel news and for Camp Emmaus news.


    RANDALL WESTFALL has been called as the next camp manager of Camp Emmaus, a camp/outdoor ministry center affiliated with the Church of the Brethren Illinois/Wisconsin District. He will begin in the role in late August 2023.

    Randall has served as camp director of Camp Brethren Heights near Rodney, Michigan, for the past 12 years, helping it to grow and add a variety of programs during his tenure. He brings strong gifts in administration, program, spirituality, and ministry with a passion of “connecting people to creation, community, and our Creator.” He also has particular interests in outdoor survival education and wood carving and plays guitar, banjo, and mandolin.

    A licensed minister in the Church of the Brethren, Randall previously served four years as pastor of West Manchester Church of the Brethren in Indiana and attended Manchester College (now University). He has also studied in the Church of the Brethren’s Training in Ministry (TRIM) program and has wilderness/naturalist certification from the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, Wash. He has been actively involved in the denomination and recently served as district moderator in Michigan.

    His wife, Brenda, grew up in Freeport (Ill.) Church of the Brethren and has many family members and other connections in the area. Randall is originally from Ohio. He and Brenda have two children: Heidi (9) and Hewyt (6). Randall will see Camp Brethren Heights through its summer season and finish up some projects there before he and his family make the move to Illinois. Prayers are invited for them during this time of transition.

    Located in Mount Morris, Ill., Camp Emmaus was created in 1948 by members of the Church of the Brethren’s Illinois/Wisconsin District. Covering nearly 100 acres in Ogle County, it offers a variety of summer camp age-group programs, special events and retreats, and facilities for rental groups to find space to connect, reflect, and/or work in an atmosphere of natural beauty and faith-infused community.


    The district is invited to gather at Franklin Grove Church of the Brethren (121 W. North St.) at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 12, for a farewell service. Franklin Grove, one of the oldest congregations in the district, held its last regular service on Dec. 24 after voting earlier in the fall to close. The building has been sold to a local group that plans to use it as a school, preserving many of its features, and the sale is expected to close in mid-March.

    This time of worship, prayer, singing, and remembering will be an opportunity to honor Franklin Grove’s legacy in the district and denomination and provide some measure of closure for those who have been connected to it over the years. District conference will officially act on closure of the congregation in November.

    The church will hold a rummage sale featuring various items from the building Feb. 3-4, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. each day. Items for sale include pictures, a ping-pong table, communion items, various Christmas decorations and other décor items, small wooden tables, chairs with arms, a variety of banners, toys, a rolling cart, TVs (one an older model), printer, computer, two white vinyl tables with chairs, music material and books, a 16’ fiberglass ladder, a 20’ wooden ladder, a glass display case, tablecloths and related materials, totes of satin and felt and burlap material, pots and pans, and kitchen supplies. To inquire about items or for questions or more details, contact Linda Erisman at 815-535-1689.

    A group from the church will continue to oversee and care for the nearby Emmert Cemetery and chapel as a separately incorporated board. The chapel will be available to use for functions in the future as needed. Our prayers are with all the members and friends of Franklin Grove in this time of endings and transition.



    A retreat for Illinois/Wisconsin District youth currently in grades 9 through one year beyond high school will be held March 17-19 (Friday evening through Sunday morning) at Camp Emmaus’ retreat lodge in Mount Morris. The weekend will include games, food, sessions, worship, a hike, and a possible service project.

    Cost: $35 per person (Advisors free).
    Resgitration form: HERE
    Questions? Call 309-649-6008

    The district’s Ministry Leadership Development Team will sponsor the 2023 Clergy Spring Retreat April 19-20 at the Bishop Lane Retreat Center near Rockford. Greg Davidson Laszakovits, a former Church of the Brethren pastor and current congregational consultant/leadership coach will be the keynote speaker.

    This time together will focus on helping pastors and others re-think and imagine the future for their congregations and ministry settings, work that has been at the center of Greg’s work through GDL Insight. How do we cast a new vision in changing times? At least 0.5 CEU’s will be available for pastors who participate. Further details on cost and schedule will be coming soon.


    April 22, 2023 ❀ Dixon Church of the Brethren

    See what’s cooking in the Illinois/Wisconsin District of the Church of the Brethren! We invite you to gather for food, fun, fellowship, worship, and learning as we imagine what ministry could look like in the changing context of our times. And it’s free! All we ask is that you bring a dish (or two or three) to share for a traditional potluck meal.

    KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Greg Davidson Laszakovits, ordained minister and organizational development ‘coach’ via his company GDL Insight of Lancaster, Pa.

    WORKSHOPS: Brethren Volunteer Service 75th Anniversary; Creative Worship Centers; Reaching Kids in Your Community; Re-Imagining the Future of Ministry

    8:30-9:15 a.m. Registration and fellowship 
    9:30 a.m. Worship 
    10:30 a.m. Keynote session 
    11:50 a.m. Lunch 
    1 p.m. Workshop session 1
    2:10 p.m. Workshop session 2
    3:20 p.m. Closing circle


    The next Church of the Brethren National Junior High Conference will take place June 16-18, 2023, at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., for youth in grades 6-8 and their advisors. The theme is “What Does God Want from Me?”, drawing on Micah 6:8. Early-bird registration through Jan. 31 is $225, then $250 until April 30. A $200 non-refundable deposit is due within two weeks of registration. Register and learn more at

    The Church of the Brethren’s Christian Citizenship Seminar for youth in grades 9-12 and advisors will be held April 22-27 in Washington, D.C. The theme will be “Hot and Hungry,” looking at climate change and food insecurity. Cost is $500 plus transportation. Registration opened Jan. 9 at

    The 2023 Church of the Brethren Young Adult Conference, for young adults ages 18-35, will be May 5-7 at Camp Mack in Milford, Ind. Registration is $250, but an early registration discount will be available. Watch for updates at

    FaithX (workcamps) registration opens Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. Central Time at! FaithX is a short-term service program through Brethren Volunteer Service that offers weeklong service trips (“workcamps”) domestically and internationally for youth, young adults, and adults. Participants can serve in a variety of ministry and non-profit settings, live and worship in community, explore a new place, and examine their values and beliefs. Summer 2023 options include four junior high trips, five for senior high, one for junior and senior high combined, an adult trip to Spain, and a “We Are Able” experience for youth with special needs along with adult helpers. Sites are located across the US. For more information on these events, watch for updates on


    National Youth Sunday will be May 7, 2023.


    Young Adult Conference will be May 5 – 7, 2023, at Camp Mack near Milford, Indiana.

    Registration includes housing, meals, and programming. 
    $250 through April 15, then $300.

    Registration opened January 23.


    FaithX Registration is Open

    Registration for FaithX (formerly workcamps) events in the spring and summer of 2023 is open at


    FaithX experiences are short-term service trips that challenge us to be more aware of ourselves, our communities, and our world so that we may learn to participate in God’s vision of justice for all people. Participants will serve in a variety of ministry and non-profit settings, live and worship in community, make friendships, and explore a new place.

    The theme for FaithX 2023 is “Voices for Peace” (Romans 15:1-6, The Message). Find a theme statement at


    Ephesians 5:1-2

    Annual Conference 2023

    “Living Gods' Love”

    Annual Conference 2023
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    July 4-8

    The 2023 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference will take place July 4-8 (a Tuesday-through-Saturday schedule) in Cincinnati with the theme “Living God’s Love.” Advance delegate registration will be $340 per person; non-delegate adult advance registration is $140 for the week ($40 for post-high school through age 21, free for high school age and below). Conference hotels will be $144 per night, including tax. Registration and housing reservations will open to the public March 1.

    The Annual Conference Office is seeking nominations for denominational positions to be considered for next year’s ballot. More detailed information about each office open for nominations is provided at in the “Information about Offices Open for Nomination” document. Please note that some nominations must be made according to specific categories and that certain areas of expertise are needed for some offices. If you know persons who work in one of the areas from which nominees need to come this next year, please make a special effort to prayerfully submit the names of persons you know who can make a valuable contribution to the denomination. All nominations are due by Dec. 1.


    The 2023 Church of the Brethren National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) will take place Sept. 4-8 in Lake Junaluska, N.C., with the theme “God Is Doing a New Thing,” drawn from Isaiah 43:19. Keynote speakers include Mark Charles, Ted Swartz, Ken Medema, and Osheta Moore. Worship preachers will be Freeport Church of the Brethren pastor Christina Singh, Highland Avenue pastor Katie Shaw Thompson, Jeremy Ashworth, Deanna Brown, and Lexi Aligarbres. Bible studies will be led by Bob Neff and Christina Bucher.

    Christy Waltersdorff, pastor at York Center and district moderator-elect, is the 2023 NOAC coordinator. Leonard Matheny (Peoria First) is among those on the planning team, along with Church of the Brethren staff Josh Brockway and Stan Dueck. Learn more at

    If members of your congregation might have interest in district group transportation to NOAC, please contact the district office.


    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.


    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, whose mission is to support the growth and development of member congregations, realizes that this dilemma exists and desires to financially support congregations that are in good standing with the district and have specific needs. Congregations in good standing are those that for the past two years have sent delegates to district conference and have supported the district financially with undesignated gifts of at least $100 per year for the past two years.

    Read the brochure for more details.


    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!


    Do not wait to begin to log your Continuing Education Units. The 2025 Five-year Ordination Review process for ALL ordained ministers will launch in 2024. 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.


    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.