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



    emoji-timeline  Gifts Discernment and Call Committee, March 19, 6:30 p.m.

    emoji-timeline  Church Revitalization and Development Team, March 23, 9 a.m.

    emoji-timeline  Leadership Team, April 2, 6:30 p.m.

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

    emoji-timeline  Council of District Executives executive committee, April 17, 11 a.m.

    emoji-timeline  Creation care event, April 27, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, Elgin, and via Zoom

     [all meetings via Zoom unless otherwise noted]


    February Newsletter


    Rick Koch (Lanark) has agreed to become the district’s new disaster response coordinator. He succeeds Loren Habegger (York Center), who has been serving in the role in recent years. Loren plans to stay involved with Brethren Disaster Ministries but asked to step back from the coordinator role. We’re extraordinarily grateful for all of Loren’s good work and dedication, and also glad for Rick’s willingness to step into this important position. Rick has some past experience in the role and has been a regular in disaster ministry. Watch for more updates on disaster response opportunities in the months ahead!

    More information about the Brethren Disaster Ministries tornado recovery project in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, is at A complete schedule can be found here.


    A new “Escape to Emmaus” series of getaway/activity days begins March 2 with a woodcarving workshop led by new Camp Emmaus manager Randall Westfall. The event will run 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; cost is $20 (anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult). Participants should bring their own lunch, and a pocket/carving knife if they have one. Camp will provide extra knives if needed and all other materials. Contact or text 815-297-4435. The camp plans to begin offering similar opportunities monthly outside of the summer program season.

    Camp Emmaus has announced its summer camping schedule for 2024. This year’s curriculum theme will be “Linked by Love”::

    April 13                 Spring Into Camp  
    May 24-27 Family Camp  
    July 7-11  Intermediate Camp   Finished grades 3-5
    July 12-14  Young Adult and Young at Heart Camp (YAAYAH) Ages 18 and up
    July 14-20 Senior High Camp Finished grades 9-12
    July 21-27  Middle School Camp Finished grades 6-8
    August 2-4  CIT*  
    August 3-4  Elementary Camp Finished grades 1 & 2, accompanied by an adult
    August 8-10  Women's Camp  
    August 16-18  Men's Camp  
    August 30-September 2   Family Camp  
    *CIT works with Elementary Camp

    Camp Emmanuel has announced its summer 2024 schedule. Online registration will be available sometime in March.

    Women's May 31st thru June 2nd  
    Youth  June 2nd thru June 8th (Completed 9th thru 12th)
    Middle School  June 9th-15th (Completed 6th thru 8th)
    Junior  June 19th thru June 23 (Completed grades 3rd thru 5th)
    Pre_junior June 28-30th (Completed Kindergarten thru 2nd grade) 
    Day Camp July 15-19 (Completed grades K thru 5th)
    Men's Camp August 9th thru 11th  
    Family Camp August 30 thru September 2nd  
    Creation Camp*  September 6-8 (Completed grades 3rd thru 6th grade)
    *NEW this year

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


    The next Church of the Brethren Christian Citizenship Seminar, for senior high youth and first-year college students and advisors, will be April 11-16, 2024, in Washington, D.C. Online registration opens Dec. 1 at 12 p.m. Central. A non-refundable deposit of $250 is due within two weeks of registration in order to hold a spot. The 2024 theme is “And They Fled: Advocating for Just Immigration Policy,” drawing from Matthew 2:13-23. Registration cost is $500. Learn more at


    The district’s Ministry Leadership Development Team invites all ministers in Illinois and Wisconsin to this year’s district clergy retreat, which will take place April 15-16 at the beautiful Bishop Lane Retreat Center just southwest of Rockford, Ill. Thanks to a subsidy from special funds the district received, the cost will be just $50 per person, which covers leadership, lodging (private room with bath), and three meals. 

    Our theme this year will be “Ethical Considerations,” as we take part in the denomination's every-five-years ethics training required for all credentialed ministers. Office of Ministry director Nancy Sollenberger Heishman will be the primary leader for the event, assisted by Naperville pastor Dennis Webb and district executive minister Walt Wiltschek. (Note that a CEU report for the past five-year period is also part of the credential renewal process; more information will be sent about that at a later date.)

    The retreat will begin at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 15, and will end no later than 4 p.m. the following day. The ethics training will occur during three sessions over the course of our time together. Participants will receive 0.6 CEU's. In addition to the educational component and our common meals, we will also have times of worship together, as well as opportunities for fellowship, games, relaxation, and other activities. 

    While we will likely offer another ethics training elsewhere in the district at a future date for those unable to attend the retreat, we encourage you to be part of this gathering in April if possible. Please register by using this link: (note any dietary requirements or other special needs) and sending a check for $50 payable to “Church of the Brethren IL/WI District” to 269 E. Chestnut St., Canton, IL 61520. If you have questions, please contact the district office.


    Since this is not a "Potluck Experience" year, the Illinois/Wisconsin District will be offering a free special event this spring focused on caring for God's creation. This hybrid event will take place Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin or via YouTube/Zoom (links will be sent later).

    David Radcliff of New Community Project will be our keynote speaker with a presentation titled “One Earth, One Chance” during the opening hour. That will be followed by several breakout options for further discussion and learning, and a resource table will be available. We hope you can join us for this important conversation on our role as Christians in being good stewards of the earth!


    Freeport Church of the Brethren (777 W. Pleasant St., Freeport) will be hosting a Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteer training workshop May 3-4.

    The CDS workshop is a comprehensive 25-hour workshop (4:30 p.m. Friday to 5:30 p.m. Saturday) that uses applied, experiential activities to help participants integrate their learning. The workshop will train you to understand and respond to children who have experienced a disaster. Designed for people who have a heart and passion for children, the workshop helps you recognize and understand the fears and other emotions children experience during and following a disaster and how child-led play and various art mediums can start the healing process in children. Participants will experience a simulated shelter, sleeping on cots and eating simple meals. Once training is completed, participants have the opportunity to become a certified CDS volunteer by providing two personal references and a criminal and sexual offender background check. The workshop is open to anyone age 18 and over.

    Participants should bring comfortable clothes, refillable water bottle, camping gear (sleeping bag or blankets, pillow, air mattress, flashlight), earplugs or sleep mask, and personal items (towel, washcloth, toiletries), as well as a desire to help others in need! Cost is $55 for early registration (postmarked at least three weeks before the workshop), and $65 thereafter. A reduced registration of $32.50 is available for current students. Meals and simple overnight accommodations are included.

    To register, go to Workshop dates and locations – Children's Disaster Services ( If you are interested but can’t make the Freeport dates, another training session will occur April 12-13 in Ankeny, Iowa.


    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.”

    Daily scripture themes are as follows: Wednesday, July 3: Romans 16:1-4 (CEB) with supporting scriptures from Matthew 5:1-16 (CEB) and Revelation 7:9-10; Thursday, July 4: Luke 1:46-49 (NIV) with supporting scriptures from Jeremiah 1:4-10 and 2 Samuel 9:1-10a; Friday, July 5: Romans 12:3-10 with supporting scriptures from John 15:9-13 and 2 Chronicles 30:18-21; Saturday, July 6: Acts 2:42-47 with supporting scriptures from Ephesians 4:1-6 and 1 Peter 4:8-11; Sunday, July 7: Philippians 2:1-11 with supporting scriptures from Micah 6:8, Zechariah 7:8-10, and Galatians 6:2 and 6-10.

    Worship preachers will be moderator Madalyn Metzger on Wednesday; Greg Broyles of Roanoke, Va. (Germantown Brick Church of the Brethren) on Thursday; Brandon Grady of Glenville, Pa. (Black Rock Church of the Brethren) on Friday; Leonard M. Dow, vice president of Community and Church Development for Everence and previously pastor of Oxford Circle Mennonite Church in Philadelphia on Saturday; and Cindy Laprade Lattimer of Huntingdon, Pa. (Stone Church of the Brethren) on Sunday morning.

    Nathan Hollenberg of Broadway, Va., is serving as the Program and Arrangements Committee liaison to the worship team, which also includes Founa Augustin Badet of Delray Beach, Fla.; Calvin Park of Knoxville, Md.; and Amber Harris of Winston-Salem, N.C. The music coordinator is Seth Crissman of Harrisonburg, Va.; choir director is Julie Richard of Finksburg, Md.; and pianist is Jocelyn Watkins of East Peoria, Ill. The organist is Robin Risser Mundey of Frederick, Md., and the children’s choir director is Stephanie Rappatta of Elkhart, Ind.

    Registration opens at 12 p.m. Central Time on March 1. Note that a new registration system is being used this year and might require some adjustments. Advance registration 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. Advance registration closes June 10. 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. New this year is an option for groups and institutions to participate virtually from a common location. For more information go to and select Virtual. 

    All Conregations are encouraged to send delegates for which they are eligible. Congregations of up to 200 members receive one delegate, with an additional delegate for every 200 members or portion thereof beyond that. Our own Leonard and Vicki Matheny (Peoria First) head up on-site registration.

    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. Housing reservations also open to the public March 1. For more information, visit



    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.