Church of the Brethren
Illinois & Wisconsin District

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



     Merry Christmas from all of us at the IL/WI District! Wishing all of you the best during the holiday season.


    emoji-timeline  Council of District Executives winter meetings, Jan. 19-25, Melbourne, Fla.

    emoji-timeline  Leadership Team, Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m.

    emoji-timeline  Spring clergy retreat, April 15-16, Bishop Lane Retreat Center, Rockford

    [all meetings via Zoom unless otherwise noted]


    November Newsletter


    Want to buy a church? The Mount Morris congregation has been involved in a months-long discernment process related to their building, which has become too large and costly for the current size of the congregation. It is hoping to either downsize to a smaller worship space or, if the right partner could be found, to share the building with another group or entity that would own and care for the facility. If you know someone who might be interested, the listing can be found at 409 W Brayton Rd, Mount Morris, IL 61054 - MLS 11934940 -Coldwell Banker ( Please be in prayer for Mount Morris as it seeks to faithfully continue its call to serve its community in the name of Christ.


    Kevin Kessler, pastor at Canton, is the author of this year’s Church of the Brethren Advent devotional booklet from Brethren Press, titled “All Things New.”

    The description says, in part: Advent is a season of the church year in which we are reminded that God listens. Pleas and prayers were answered when God arrived among us in Jesus, the name that means God is my help. ... As you hear the yearning of people in these readings, perhaps you will connect at a very deep and personal level. You may be reminded of your desire for renewal, restoration, redemption, revival. May you find your new identity in the encounters you have with the One who came to us in the flesh, who lived and loved among us, who resides with us still.”

    Order at ($4.50 each) or by calling 800-441-3712.


    “Clothe yourselves with love!” (Colossians 3: 12-17)

    What we wear tells the world a lot about who we are. The choices we make about the clothing we wear announce our values, beliefs, and priorities to those around us. Each morning, as we prepare to go to work or to school or to run errands, we choose what to wear based on where we are going and what we will be doing. What we wear to church may be different from what we wear to work in the garden. The type of clothing we choose also depends on the weather and many other factors. Some people put a lot of thought into what they will wear. Others throw on the first thing they find in the pile on the floor.

    In his letter to the Christians in Colossae, the Apostle Paul encourages them to think about how they present themselves to each other and to the world. He reminds all of us that we have the choice of how we will greet the world: Will we choose to wrap ourselves in the things of God? Will we show compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience to the world? Will we wear the overcoat of love that leads to harmony?

    Our culture encourages us to buy designer clothing; to wear the labels of companies on our bodies; to clearly exhibit our allegiance to sports teams and rock bands. As Christians, we are invited to show our allegiance to God: to wear the things of God, the things that make for peace, the things that lift up our sisters and brothers, the things that promote harmony.

    In this district, we do not all believe the same things in the same way, but we claim our identity as brothers and sisters in Christ. We may not choose the same t-shirt, but we do choose the same God. Let us agree to dress alike so that we are all clothed with the love of Jesus Christ.

    Christy Waltersdorff, York Center


    The Church of the Brethren Illinois/Wisconsin District met for its district conference Nov. 3-4 at Lanark (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, with about 125 people attending, including 57 delegates. Phyllis Batterton of the Woodland congregation (Astoria, Ill.) served as moderator, with the theme “Encourage One Another.”

    Former Annual Conference director Chris Douglas led a Friday pre-conference workshop on “Deepening Our Intimacy with God” for about 20 participants. Douglas, who is also a trained spiritual director, introduced the group to a variety of forms of contemplative prayer. Friday evening worship featured 2024 Annual Conference moderator Madalyn Metzger—who grew up in the Springfield First congregation—sharing some of her personal journey in the context of this year's Annual Conference theme, “Welcome and Worthy.” Dixon pastor Michael Cole and accompanist Joyce Person led an energetic hymn sing.

    In business on Saturday, the delegate body overwhelmingly voted to send on to Annual Conference a query titled “Regarding Greater Congregational Latitude on Matters of Sexuality.” The query, which originated in the York Center congregation with support from Highland Avenue, asks whether decisions related to sexuality should be made at the congregational level rather than by the denomination or district given the personal nature of these matters, the wide range of viewpoints and ongoing disagreements, and the inconsistent enforcement of policy from one part of the church to another. Forty-eight voted in favor, with eight opposed and one abstention.

    Delegates also approved the disorganization of the Franklin Grove (Ill.) and Stanley (Wis.) congregations, after each had become quite small in recent years and decided to discontinue worship. Each of the buildings has been sold to other groups, although a Brethren cemetery near each location will continue to be maintained. Delegates celebrated the century-plus ministries of each congregation. A closing service for the Franklin Grove church was held last March. The official end of the Pinecrest Community's relationship to the Church of the Brethren was also recognized, after the retirement facility in Mount Morris, Ill., was sold to a for-profit organization late last year following years of financial challenges.

    Other items included approval of the 2024 district budget and the slate of those serving in district offices, updates from Camp Emmanuel and Camp Emmaus, reports from Girard Area Homes and other district and denominational programs, and the recognition of anniversary milestones for ordained ministers (led by Chris Douglas’ 45 years of service).

    Midday equipping sessions were offered by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the denomination, on the centennial of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, and by Ryan Braught, a circuit rider in the Part-Time Pastor, Full-Time Church program, on “Exegeting Your Community.” An auction, which included both silent and live portions, raised more than $2,000 for district ministries.

    Next year's conference will take place Nov. 1-2, 2024, at York Center Church of the Brethren in Lombard, Ill., where musician Ken Medema will be a featured presenter/performer. Christy Waltersdorff (York Center) will serve as moderator for the coming year, with Bill Williams (Yellow Creek) as moderator-elect.
     Camp Emmaus has announced its summer camping schedule for 2024:

    July 7-11 Intermediate Camp
    July 12-14 Young Adult and Young at Heart Camp (YAAYAH)
    July 14-20 Senior High Camp
    July 21-27 Middle School Camp
    August 2-4 CIT
    August 3-4 Elementary Camp
    August 8-10 Women's Camp
    August 16-18 Men's Camp

    Camp Emmanuel will announce its summer 2024 schedule at a later date.

    Stay up to date on what’s happening at our district camps! Visit for Camp Emmanuel news and for Camp Emmaus news.
    The Midwest region's Powerhouse Regional Youth Conference, sponsored by Northern Indiana District’s youth cabinet with assistance from some Manchester University students, will take place Feb. 16-18, 2024, at Camp Mack in Milford, Ind. David Radcliff, director of New Community Project, will be the keynote speaker on the theme “Caring for Others and Caring for God’s Creation.” Workshops will include leadership from Brethren Volunteer Service and FaithX, with other workshop options, worship, and recreation through the weekend. Cost is $99 for youth, $79 for advisors. Registration deadline is Feb. 2. Watch for more details soon.

    The next CCS will be April 11-16, 2024

    Online registration opened December 1, 2023. Register and pay in full by Dec. 31 to receive a free t-shirt! Non-refundable deposit of $250 due within two weeks of registration in order to hold your spot.

    2024 theme: “And They Fled: Advocating for Just Immigration Policy,” Matthew 2:13 – 23

    Not only did Jesus care for and welcome all, but as a child he and his family were forced to flee violence (Matthew 2:13-23). People fleeing violence, the impacts of climate change, and economic catastrophe continue to seek a safe place to live and support their families. But what does leaving your home country actually mean? What are the reasons that demand such a huge sacrifice? A posture of welcome and care is a clear Christian mandate and the right to seek asylum is a human right. While community and religious groups continue to provide critical support for families in need, the government has a duty to make just and life-giving policies. While the challenges are significant, our response should be one of love. During CCS 2024 come to Washington to learn about asylum and immigration from policy experts, faith-based advocates, and community organizers. You will gain tools to address Congress, hear examples of local communities’ ministries and Church of the Brethren churches around the world, and strengthen your biblical understanding of God’s love in this work.

    Who is eligible to attend?
    All high school youth, college freshman, and age equivalent young adults and their adult advisors are eligible to attend the seminar. Churches are strongly encouraged to send an advisor with their youth, even if only one or two youth attend. Churches are required to register one advisor for every four youth.

    What is the cost?
    The $500 registration fee includes: all event programming, shared room lodging for five nights, and 2 dinner meals. Participants need to bring additional money for most meals, sightseeing, personal expenses, and public transportation fares.

    What if I have questions?
    If you have any questions, contact Becky Ullom Naugle, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministries, at or 847-404-0163


    Pastors, chaplains, and other ministers: Mark your calendars! The district’s spring 2024 clergy retreat will take place April 15-16, again at the beautiful Bishop Lane Retreat Center near Rockford. The main event will be the every-five-years ethics training, led by a denominational facilitator, but food, fun, worship, and other activities will also be part of this time together. Watch for more details soon.


    The 2024 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference will take place July 3-7 (plus some pre-Conference meetings) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Madalyn Metzger, who grew up in the Springfield First congregation, will serve as moderator, with the theme “Welcome and Worthy.”

    Advance registration (March 1-June 10) will be $330 for delegates and $150 for non-delegates attending the full conference (or $50 daily rate)). Current high school students and younger can attend with no registration charge; those post-high school through age 21 are $40. Fees are higher for on-site registration beginning July 2. For virtual participation only, the non-delegate rate is $195 (or $75 daily) before June 10 and $225 thereafter.

    Two hotel options, the Amway Grand Plaza and the Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown, will be available for $119 plus tax (total of $136.90) per night with complimentary self-parking and in-room WiFi. Annual Conference registration and housing opens to the public March 1. For more information, visit

    Nominations are also sought for positions on the Annual Conference ballot. The Church of the Brethren Womaen’s Caucus is holding a nominating party on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m. Central. Open offices on the ballot to be presented to the 2024 Annual Conference include moderator-elect, Program and Arrangements Committee, Mission and Ministry Board for areas 4 and 5, Bethany Theological Seminary board representing colleges, and the On Earth Peace board. The full list of open positions and links to make nominations can be found on the Annual Conference website. The Zoom link for the nominations party is



    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.


    Grants available through the district include the following:

    1. Mission and Mortar: 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. More information can be found here.

    2. Being Jesus in the Neighborhood: Congregations can apply for $100 in seed money to start a new outreach project or initiative in their local communities, or to expand an existing one. These should be projects that intentionally engage with the neighborhood immediately around the congregation, or for those in rural locations, with the town or area around the church. Each congregation receiving a grant will be asked to share a little about their project at district conference. More information can be found here.

    3. Give Your Pastor a Break: Congregations can apply for up to $100 for a grant to cover or help cover a guest speaker for an extra Sunday to give your pastor a day off—or at least a day off from having to prepare and preach a sermon. We hope this might be part of the ways you care for your pastor. More information can be found here.

    4. Emerging Missions Fund: To facilitate the growth and establishment of new faith communities, this grant is available for church and ministry planting initiatives. New church and ministry plants are encouraged to apply by contacting the district office and/or the CRDT.


    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.