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



    📅 Leadership Team meeting, April 4, 6:30 p.m.

    📅 Potluck Experience team meeting, April 11, 6 p.m.

    📅 Gifts Discernment and Call Committee meeting, April 17, 6:30 p.m.

    📅 Spring Clergy Retreat at Bishop Lane Retreat Center, Rockford, April 19-20

    📅 Potluck Experience event at Dixon Church of the Brethren, April 22, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

    📅 CODE continuing education event at Bethany Theological Seminary, April 23-26

    📅 Drew Hart event at Church of the Brethren General Offices, Elgin, April 29, 4:30-6:30 p.m.

    [all meetings via Zoom unless otherwise noted]

    March Newsletter


    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.

    Beginning on April 18, we are offering another conversation around David Keck’s book Healthy Churches, Faithful Pastors: Covenant Expectations for Thriving Together.  Over ten sessions, we will explore the expectations congregations and pastors have for each other, including Christ-centeredness, mission, administration, and opportunities for mission and ministry.  At times, the expectations we have for each other don’t contribute to healthy relationships, which can lead to frustration, limited ministry, burnout, and pastoral turnover.  Keck offers a look into the commitments made by congregations and pastors, commitments that may not be expressed in formal agreements between pastors and those they serve.
    The Part-time Pastor/Full-Time Church Program is pleased to offer this book discussion to pastors and congregational leaders free of charge, including a copy of Keck’s book for each participant. Sessions will be held online weekly, Tuesday evenings from 6 to 7 PM Central Time. We have partnered with the Brethren Academy and are pleased to offer Continuing Education credits for participants in this book discussion, up to a full CEU.  Registration is limited, so participants are encouraged to sign up early.  The Program will be collecting registrations and will compile a waiting list if you miss the registration cut-off.  Register at
    In addition to the rich insight offered by the reading, our book discussions provide connections and relationships for ministering people who often labor in isolation.  By joining together to share wisdom and compassion with each other, we all become better, more vital ministers.  I’m looking forward to connecting with pastors and leaders from your District.


    APRIL 19-20, 2023 * 3 p.m. to 3 p.m.

    Greg is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren who now operates GDL Insight Inc. in Lancaster, Pa., helping churches and other organizations look at ‘purposeful leadership’ so that they can thrive and be their best. With his focus on coaching and organizational development, he’ll help us re-imagine what the future of our church and our ministries could look like.

    COST: FREE. Thanks to district funds and some grant money, the retreat is provided free of charge this year—other than transportation—for all credentialed ministers in the district. Includes three meals (Wed. supper through Thurs. lunch), lodging (single room with bath), all materials, and 0.5 CEU credits. Register by April 12.

    TO REGISTER: Contact the district office, 309-649-6008 or


    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


    "From Statement to Action"
    An Afternoon with Drew Hart

    Saturday, April 29   4:30-6:00 p.m. at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, or livestreamed

    Whether via tweets, press releases, or resolutions, we live in a culture of making statements. Yet, Christian witness is incarnational. Radical discipleship is a way of putting flesh and bone to the love of God. Dr. Drew Hart will help us imagine how our statements can lead us into embodied action in our communities.

    Dr. Hart teaches theology at Messiah University in Pennsylvania and is the author of two books: Trouble I've Seen and Who Will Be a Witness. His work uses Black theology to frame Anabaptist theology along with social activism. He calls the bringing together of these three traditions "Anablacktivism." He attends Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren.

    You may attend in person at the Church of the Brethren General Offices at 1451 Dundee Ave, Elgin, Illinois, or take part in a livestream on Facebook: (A Facebook account is not needed to view the livestream.) Books will be available onsite for purchase and signing following the presentation. Please direct any questions to Joshua Brockway, director of spiritual formation, at


    Dear White Peacemakers
    by Osheta Moore

    Each Wednesday in May
    7-8:30 p.m. CDT, via Zoom
    Begins May 3. Led by Christy Waltersdorff (pastor, York Center Church of the Brethren) and Dennis Webb (pastor, Naperville Church of the Brethren)
    Books can be ordered via Brethren Press:
    Free! For Zoom link, check the district newsletter or contact the district office.

    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.


    The Church of the Brethren 2023 New & Renew Conference will take place May 17-19 at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, Elgin, Ill., with a hybrid/virtual option also available. The conference theme is “Disciples: Called, Equipped and in the Neighborhood!”, based on Matt. 28: 16-20; Eph. 4:11-16; and John 20:19-20. This three-day hybrid conference will have more than 20 sessions to broaden knowledge of church planting and congregational renewal. In addition to workshops, the event will feature inspirational worship, keynote addresses, and storytelling. Those who register can access the recorded sermons, keynotes, and workshops recordings for six months after the event. CEU credits will be available.

    Registration cost (not including travel/lodging) for in-person or virtual attendance is $109 per person prior to March 31, then $149 March 1-April 17, and $189 April 18-May 18. CEU credits cost an additional $10. Registration includes the new book by keynote speaker Jessie Cruickshank, Ordinary Discipleship: How God Wires Us for the Adventure of Transformation, to be released on May 9.

    Registration and more details are at


    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.

    Announcing the 2023 BDM volunteer opportunities for persons from the IL/WI District:

    As has been the practice in recent years, IL/WI District has agreed to provide up to 8 volunteers for the week following Thanksgiving, November 26 – December 2, 2023. That week of volunteering is again shared with the Indiana South Central District. A major change from recent past BDM assignments for IL/WI, is that the project site, Dawson Springs, Kentucky, is a nearby “neighbor” just 70 miles south of Evansville, Indiana. This provides a great opportunity for those who want to serve with BDM but hesitate to travel hundreds of miles to a project site.

    Dawson Springs was in the path of the devastating outbreak of tornados that swept through eight states in December 2021 with Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri being the most impacted. Estimates are that around 75 percent of the town of Dawson Springs, which was home to around 2,500 people, was leveled by a tornado. More information about the Dawson Springs BDM project is at

    Click here to access a complete 2023 schedule for the Dawson Creek project. You will note that, in addition to the week of November 26 – December 2, there are openings in other weeks in 2023 joining other districts. To register your interest in joining the IL/WI-IN S/C group, contact Loren Habegger. To volunteer with other groups for the listed openings, contact Kim Gingerich at



    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.