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  Council of District Executives executive committee, April 24, 12 p.m.

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

    emoji-timeline  Ministry Leadership Development Team, May 8, 6:30 p.m.

    emoji-timeline  Program & Arrangements Committee, May 9, 7 p.m.

    emoji-timeline  Gifts Discernment and Call Committee, May 14, 6:30 p.m.

    emoji-timeline  Church Revitalization and Development Team, May 18, 9 a.m.

    emoji-timeline  Leadership Team, June 4, 6:30 p.m.

     [all meetings via Zoom unless otherwise noted]


    April Newsletter


    We're looking forward to our special district creation care event on Saturday, April 27, at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin (783 W. Highland Ave.), and we hope you can join us! It will include a keynote address, mini-workshop breakout sessions, a book/resource table from Brethren Press, and light refreshments. In addition to the in-person event, a virtual option will also be available (look for the link later this month). The event will run from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

    David Radcliff of New Community Project (NCP) will be the keynote presenter, on the theme "One Earth, One Chance." NCP is a non-profit with Brethren connections that works primarily in the areas of environmental sustainability and social justice issues. 
    Following David's presentation from 10-11, several breakout sessions will be available, as follows:

    11:10-11:40 a.m.
    Option 1: "Continuing the Conversation" David will do a follow-up to his presentation with time for Q&A and further discussion. 
    Option 2: "Eco-Discipleship and Compassion Fatigue" led by Randall Westfall (Camp Emmaus manager) and Jonathan Stauffer (Polo): We all have experienced compassion fatigue as it relates to our care for creation practices. In this session we’ll explore how Biblical kinship with Christ and Creation holds the key for reframing our understanding of the current environmental crisis.
    11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
    Option 1: "Growing a Green Team," with the Highland Avenue's own 'Green Team": How can your congregation respond to creation care issues and take meaningful action? Highland Avenue's 'Green Team' will share some of their ideas and the approaches they've been taking.
    Option 2: "Eco-Blueprint Praxes for Healing" with Randall Westfall and Jonathan Stauffer:  In this session, we’ll follow up from session 1 with deep creation connection practices that will move us deeper into the 4 stages of creation connection. Each of these regenerative practices/disciplines will restore us to our original design in God’s Eco-Blueprint and revive the spirit in the face of compassion fatigue.  
    There is no charge for this event, and all are welcome. Mark your calendars, and watch for additional updates!

    Registration for our camps’ summer programs is now open! Visit the camps’ respective websites (below) for registration links.

    Camp Emmaus (Mount Morris, Ill.) 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 Memorial Day Family Camp
    July 7-11 Intermediate Camp (grades 3-5)
    July 12-14 Young Adult and Young at Heart Camp (YAAYAH)
    July 14-20 Senior High Camp (grades 9-12)
    July 21-27 Middle School Camp (grades 6-8)
    Aug. 2-4 CIT training
    Aug. 3-4 Elementary Camp (grades 1-2)
    Aug. 8-10 Women’s Camp
    Aug. 16-18 Men’s Camp
    Aug. 30-Sept. 2 Labor Day Family Camp
    Camp Emmanuel (Astoria, Ill.) has announced its summer 2024 camping schedule:
    Women’s Camp May 31-June 2
    Youth Camp (grades 9-12) 2nd week in June or 2nd weekend in June (to be determined)
    Middle School Camp (grades 6-8) June 9-15
    Junior Camp (grades 3-5) June 19-23
    Pre-Junior Camp (grades K-2) June 28-30
    Day Camp (grades K-5) July 15-19
    Men’s Camp Aug. 9-11
    Family Camp Aug. 30-Sept. 2
    Creation Camp (grades 3-6) Sept. 6-8
    Camp Emmanuel will be holding Spring Work Days April 20-25. The camp opens to the public May 1 for fishing and hiking.

    The new “Escape to Emmaus” series at Camp Emmaus continued April 6 with a Flintknapping Day that drew about 10 people to learn about carving stone into arrowheads, garden tools, and other shapes. The series continues May 4 with a Birding Day (in partnership with Northwest Illinois Audubon) and June 1 with Target Sports (archery/slingshots). See for details and registration. The camp also benefited recently from a group of volunteers who helped remove about a dozen diseased and dead trees around the camp.

    The Camp Emmaus “Spring into Camp” event will be April 13, 1-6 p.m., with time to informally enjoy the camp’s amenities in the afternoon before a dedication of the new stone council ring at 4 p.m., a campfire at 4:30 p.m., and a cookout dinner (food provided) at 5:30 p.m.

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

    The Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) volunteer training workshop that had been scheduled to take place at Freeport Church of the Brethren May 3-4 has unfortunately been cancelled due to low registration.

    We're grateful to Freeport for stepping forward to offer to host this event. Hopefully another training can be scheduled in the district at a future date. In the meantime, look for other opportunities to engage with CDS. Dates are posted as they become available at Workshop dates and locations – Children's Disaster Services (


    The 2024 Young Adult Conference will take place May 24-26 at Camp Shepherd’s Spring near Sharpsburg, Md., on the theme “Transformed by God” (Romans 12:-1-2, The Message). Registration includes housing, meals, and programing. For more information and to register, go to After May 1, a late fee of $50 will be added to the registration fee.

    National Youth Sunday is scheduled for May 4, though congregations can observe it another Sunday if needed. The theme this year is “Your Life, God’s Direction,” from Jeremiah 29:11. Resources are at Naperville member Nik Gameti is part of this year’s National Youth Cabinet, which helped to develop the resources.


    Brethren Disaster Ministries recently updated its website with information for its second project response, which will be in southeastern Kentucky the week of April 14-20 and the weeks of Sept. 15 through Nov. 16. A tornado recovery project is also ongoing at least through the summer in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, where some of our district volunteers served this past fall. The information is available at: Our district’s assigned week this year is Dec. 1-7.

    A BDM volunteer appreciation breakfast will take place during Annual Conference. Register at by June 10. BDM will also again sponsor a blood drive at Annual Conference. Those who can’t attend but want to participate can join a virtual blood drive at


    Church of the Brethren FaithX trips are short-term service experiences that challenge participants to be more aware of themselves, their communities, and their world.

    The trips provide opportunities for all ages to serve. Traditional junior and senior high youth trips are happening during summer, along with a family trip, adult trips in the US with Brethren Disaster Ministries and in Ecuador, a We Are Able trip for persons with intellectual disabilities, and options for combined junior and senior high youth groups to attend together. An older adult trip to Florida took place in February.

    Registration for this summer’s FaithX trips has closed, but please be in prayer for those who are participating and consider being part of a FaithX experience next year. Learn more at

    The Illinois/Wisconsin District will offer an Annual Conference briefing on Saturday, June 22, 10-11 a.m. Central Time, via Zoom. The link will be sent out at a later time. This time will include brief devotions, a video highlighting details from this year's conference, sharing from Standing Committee delegate Katie Shaw Thompson and hopefully one of the Annual Conference officers, and time for questions. It is open to anyone, but Annual Conference delegates and volunteers are especially encouraged to attend. 

    This year's Annual Conference will take place July 3-7 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Learn more at Annual Conference (


    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 opened 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 congregations 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 opened to the public March 1. For more information, visit

    Don Fitzkee (Lancaster, Pa.) and Gene Hollenberg (Nappanee, Ind.) head this year’s ballot as candidates for moderator-elect. Complete biographical information for all nominees is at and will be printed in the Conference booklet.


    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.