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


  • Upcoming Meetings & Events

    📅 Church Revitalization and Development Team, Sat., Nov. 19, 9 a.m.

    📅 Ministry Leadership Development Team, Thurs., Dec. 1, 6 p.m.

    📅 Council of District Executives winter meetings, Florida, Jan. 7-11, 2023

    [all meetings via Zoom unless otherwise noted]


    The Illinois/Wisconsin District on Saturday received official word from the Pinecrest Community in Mount Morris that the retirement community would be sold effective Nov. 30 to Allure Healthcare Services. See the attached release for more details.

    Those who were at district conference heard from CEO Ferol Labash about the severe financial and staffing challenges they were experiencing. This was unsustainable, and their board opted for the best possible way forward. 

    As the release notes, this will end Pinecrest's 129-year connection to the Church of the Brethren, which founded Pinecrest in 1893. This may affect your congregational budgets as you plan for 2023. We encourage congregations and individuals, however, to continue to volunteer and connect with residents as circumstances allow under the new ownership, as the residents will need our continued prayers and support. 

    We are grateful for the leadership that Ferol and others have given at Pinecrest over the years, and especially through this difficult period. Our prayers are with all the staff in this time of transition.

    Please let us know if you have additional questions. Blessings to each of you in this Thanksgiving week and as we continue into the Advent season.

    Pinecrest Community Announces Sale of Community

    After a 129 year history of serving seniors, Pinecrest Community announces its planned sale November 30, 2022 to Allure Healthcare Services.

    Many factors played a role in the Pinecrest Board of Directors' decision to seek a buyer for Pinecrest. The low Illinois Medicaid reimbursement rates have been insufficient to cover the cost of care for Pinecrest residents for decades. Financial challenges caused by Medicaid were compounded by the COVID pandemic. Staffing shortages and lower resident census negatively impacted revenue. Wage pressures, hazard pay, and the added costs of PPE, testing and other supplies increased expenses exponentially. Losses experienced each month over the last three years accumulated at a rate that was unsustainable. At the same time, the COVID pandemic significantly impacted fundraising efforts. Due to these factors, the Board recognized the need for change.

    Pinecrest's Board of Directors set the priorities of maintaining a retirement community in Mt. Morris, honoring its commitment to provide quality care and meet its financial commitments to Pinecrest residents, providing continued employment for staff and meeting obligations to vendors. These priorities provided the framework for the search for a buyer.

    The Pinecrest Board selected Allure Healthcare Services to continue the operations that were started by the Church of the Brethren in 1893. Allure Healthcare Services is committed to quality care for its residents and to creating a family atmosphere among its staff. Started in 2019, Allure Healthcare Services owns nine other communities in Sterling, Mt. Carroll, Geneseo, Prophetstown, Moline, Galesburg, Stockton, Lake Storey and Zion.

    The Board of Directors and leaders of Pinecrest grieve the loss of more than a century long connection to the Church of the Brethren. Our rich history with the Church of the Brethren has been woven through every day of our service to Pinecrest residents and our greater community. This connection will be a bedrock for committed staff as they continue to serve residents with the new owners. We are forever grateful to the Church of the Brethren and its members for 129 years of support of Pinecrest's ministry to seniors.

  • Camp News

    Camp Emmaus has begun a search for a new manager following the announcement of the retirement of long-time managers Bill & Betty Hare. See the “Job Opportunities” section of the newsletter for more information.

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

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

  • 2022 District Conference Report
    About 120 people took part in this year’s Illinois/Wisconsin District conference, held Nov. 4-5 at Peoria First Church of the Brethren. It was the first in-person conference since 2019, and it was well-hosted by Peoria—led by on-site co-coordinators Leonard Matheny and Christine Knotts, with help from pastor Dana McNeil and many others.

    The attendance numbers included more than 50 delegates from about half the district’s congregations, about 54 non-delegates, and nine youth and children—most of whom took part in the first district conference youth retreat in quite a few years.

    District conference moderator Harold Rose, from the Canton congregation, guided the weekend under the theme “Outside the Walls: Being Jesus in the Neighborhood.” Opening worship Friday evening featured Tim McElwee, the 2023 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference moderator, who also led an equipping session on “Peacemaking in a Time of War” on Saturday and spent some time with the youth.

    Carol Davis and Kevin Kessler shared drama for worship, and Pam Willison served as accompanist. Judy Brinkmeier and Susan Jasper from Franklin Grove shared a children’s story, with many of the youth (and a few adults) going forward.

    Key business items on Saturday included approval of the 2023 district budget (which includes a gap of about $32,000 to be covered by reserves), recognition of ministry milestones (including 60 years for Willard ‘Duly’ Dulabaum and Dale Roher!), the formal closure and disorganization of the Decatur congregation (with heartfelt sharing about the congregation’s history from former Decatur moderator Leonard Matheny), and revisions to the district constitution and bylaws, eliminating regions as a requirement for selection to district positions and changing the formula for district conference delegate representation.

    Delegates also approved the slate of district officers and team members, calling York Center pastor Christy Waltersdorff as moderator-elect. She will assist 2023 moderator Phyllis Batterton (Woodland) in the coming year.

    Others called included Ed Carper (Canton) to the district Leadership Team, Dan McFadden (Highland Avenue) and Betty Hare (Polo) to the Gifts Discernment and Call Committee, and Chris Douglas (Highland Avenue) to Program and Arrangements Committee. Lynda Willmann (Lanark) and Joe Brewer (Canton) were approved for additional terms on the Church Revitalization and Development Team, Lisa Fike (Woodland) for the Ministry Leadership Development Team, and Dawn Blackman (Champaign) for Leadership Team. Bobbi Dykema (Springfield) was also formally approved to finish out the term of Dennis Webb (Naperville) on the Annual Conference Standing Committee through 2024.

    Representatives from various denominational agencies and district programs shared reports, and Church of the Brethren Youth/Young Adult Ministries director Becky Ullom—who also led a pre-conference continuing education event on “21st-Century Youth/Young Adult Ministry” —shared an upbeat report on National Youth Conference with the help of district youth who attended. Several congregations also shared about their community outreach efforts as they seek to be “Jesus in the Neighborhood.”

    After lunch on Saturday, those attending could choose one of three “equipping sessions” to learn about topics of interest. In addition to Tim McElwee’s peacemaking session, Kevin Kessler led a session on theopoetics, and Deb Oskin of the denomination’s Pastoral Benefits and Compensation Advisory Committee led one via Zoom on new pastoral compensation tools.

    Rick Koch & Co. organized a silent auction, and Rick led a rousing live auction after business concluded to raise funds for district conference expenses and related ministries. One pecan pie, in particular, was the subject of heated bidding (and likely of heated eating later).

    At the close of business, Phyllis Batterton announced that the theme of the 2023 conference would be “Encourage One Another,” drawn from 1 Thess. 5:11. That gathering will take place Nov. 3-4, 2023, at Lanark Church of the Brethren. York Center (Lombard) has tentatively agreed to host in 2024.

  • What Could You Do With $100?

    The district's Church Revitalization and Development Team (CRDT) is taking applications for two new grant programs. A total of 10 combined grants ($100 each) from the two programs will be given this year, and any congregation in the Illinois & Wisconsin District is welcome to apply.

    First, a Being Jesus in the Neighborhood Grant: 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.

    Second, a Give Your Pastor a Break Grant: 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. Any time can be challenging to be a pastor, especially when many are filling those roles part-time, and the pandemic and other current events have made it especially so. We hope this might be part of the ways you care for your pastor.

    Each congregation may receive only one grant per calendar year. Download and complete an application from the website, or contact the district office. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Blessings to each of you as you faithfully seek to serve your communities!

  • 2023 Clergy Retreat & Potluck Experience Event

    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/coach will be the keynote speaker.

    Specific details are still being finalized, but Greg has done intriguing work with helping congregations re-think and create new visions for their future in this season of changing dynamics in the church.

    So that more people can benefit from his sharing, Greg will also be the keynote speaker at the district’s 2023 Potluck Experience event, which will be Saturday, April 22, at the Dixon church. Stay tuned for more information on that in the coming weeks, as well!

  • National Youth Sunday - May 7, 2023

    National Youth Sunday will be May 7, 2023.

  • National Young Adult Conference - May 5-7, 2023

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

  • 2023 Annual Conference

    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.

  • National Junior High Conference - Summer 2023

    The next National Junior High Conference will be in the summer of 2023.

    National Junior High Conference is for youth who have completed 6-8 grades and their advisors.

    Sing, laugh, worship, make friends from all over the country, and spend time with God!

  • Camp Emmanuel 75th anniversary

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

  • District YouTube Channel

  • 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, 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.