Sunday, May 01, 2022


The Reflector - May 2022

The Village ILWIDIot

By Walt Wiltschek

In real estate, the catchphrase is always “Location, location, location!” Whatever other factors might be in play for a house, you can’t change its physical setting—not easily, anyhow. It encompasses things like proximity to schools or work, demographics, nearby parks or a great view, and potential resale value.
   
At a conference I attended in Seattle last month, speakers from the Parish Collective said churches should be focusing on that same attribute—but for very different reasons. Think about your congregation’s location: What sort of neighborhood is around it? Has it changed over the years? Is it primarily residential, or rural, or are you near a commercial area? What makes it unique?
   
Paul Sparks, one of the organization’s founders, says that churches have to see their ministry through “the lens of their neighborhoods.” We’re often good at sending money to other organizations, whether in our towns or around the world, but how well do we really know the places where our church buildings sit?
   
If you haven’t done so lately, consider talking a walk around the area within a square mile of your building; or, if you’re in a more rural location, take a drive through the surrounding area or the nearest town. If there are people you have seen but haven’t met, stop to say hello. Start a conversation. Maybe small gifts or greetings could be left at homes in way of introduction, or a community event could be held on the church grounds.

Think about any needs that might exist that aren’t being met or, better yet, talk to people about what they would find helpful. Don’t think of it as a means of getting more people in the church doors. Instead, just ponder how can the church be a better and more involved neighbor. And, of course, pray for those neighbors—perhaps in your prayer time in worship.
   
We often say that God puts us in certain places for a reason. Why might your congregation be in the location that it calls home?


District Executive Schedule

In addition to regular meetings, Walt will be visiting Peoria on May 15, preaching at Dixon on May 22 and at York Center on May 29 and at Woodland on June 5, assisting with the senior high youth camp at Camp Emmanuel June 5-10, officiating a wedding in Bloomington on June 11, and conducting a licensing service and preaching at Highland Avenue on June 12.

Upcoming Meetings & Events

“Stepping Out of the Pandemic” Potluck Experience Team event: Wed., May 18, 7 p.m.
Church Revitalization and Development Team, Sat., May 21, 9 a.m.
Leadership Team meeting, Bloomington (in person), Sat., June 4, 9:30 a.m.
Ministry Leadership Development Team, Sat., June 11, 9 a.m.
Licensing service for Zech & Jen Houser at Highland Avenue, Sun., June 12, during 9:30 a.m. worship
Program & Arrangements Committee, Mon., June 13, 7 p.m.
Midwest CODE meeting, Tues., June 14, 12:30 p.m.
[all meetings via Zoom unless otherwise noted]


IN OUR PRAYERS

A district prayer calendar has been created for your use in praying for our district and related programs through the years. We invite you to include the following in your prayers in coming weeks:
Week of May 16: Pray for the Franklin Grove congregation this week, and for their ministry in and around their community and Lee County.
Week of May 23: Pray for the Rockford Community congregation this week, and for their ministry in and around the city of Rockford. Pray also for the Church of the Brethren National Young Adult Conference taking place in North Carolina this week, and for all the young adults of our denomination to find their call and to make their voices heard.
Week of May 30: Pray for the Cerro Gordo congregation this week, and for their ministry in and around Piatt County and the greater Decatur area.
Week of June 6: Pray for the Martin Creek congregation this week, and for their ministry in and around Geff, Fairfield, and beyond.
Week of June 13: Pray for the ministry of Camp Emmanuel in Astoria, that the children and youth who come there this summer will find welcome, belonging, and nurturing of their faith. Pray also for the staff and volunteers who enable the program to happen, including managers Don and Kelly Davis.

Do you have congregational news: celebrations, milestones, “Jesus in the Neighborhood” stories or other things to share with our district family? Please send those to the district office: 
andreag.iwdcob@gmail.com.


MINISTRY NEWS

Zech and Jen Houser of the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin have been approved for ministry in Illinois & Wisconsin District after having previously been licensed elsewhere in the denomination. Their licensing service will take place June 12.

Blaine Miner pastor at the Dixon congregation for the past five years, has announced his retirement effective June 30. Dixon is in the initial stages of forming a search committee.

Christy Waltersdorff, pastor of the York Center congregation, is continuing to recover after suffering injuries from a bad fall on an icy sidewalk about six weeks ago. We pray for her and for the church leadership at York Center as they work to cover ministry needs in her absence. Jonathan Shively will be providing guest pastor coverage for York Center in June and July to assist with preaching and worship planning.

Rick Koch of Milledgeville officially retired April 24 following a special sendoff service followed by a potluck luncheon and a cake reception in the afternoon. Kudos to Rick on a long ministry career, and best wishes in new adventures!

CLERGY RETREAT

Recent Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey of Frederick, Md., led a retreat focused on evangelism for a group of 10 clergy from the district April 25-26 at the Bishop Lane Retreat Center near Rockford. The district’s Ministry Leadership Development Team planned the event. Another continuing education opportunity will be offered prior to district conference in November.


CONGREGATIONAL NEWS

Springfield First Church of the Brethren celebrated its centennial April 30-May 1 with a concert/sing-a-long by Jonathan Shively on Saturday and a worship service and potluck meal on Sunday. The worship featured current Annual Conference moderator Dave Sollenberger—who also provided some music on guitar—as the guest preacher and Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden as worship leader. Historical reflections and materials and souvenir pins added to the occasion. Congratulations, Springfield!

Naomi Powers, daughter-in-law of Mount Morris member Marge Powers, was ordained into the Church of the Brethren pastoral ministry during a special service held on Sunday, May 1, at Daleville Church of the Brethren in Troutville, Va. Marge’s son, Tom Powers, is pastor of the Daleville congregation. Marge has been an active leader in the district for many years.

Dawn Blackman, outreach pastor at Champaign (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, was one of the speakers for the YWCA of the University of Illinois’ virtual event titled “We Can’t Wait to Close the Digital Divide” on April 28. The event is part of the YWCA USA’s annual Stand Against Racism campaign that happens every April to “raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities and to build community among those who work for racial justice,” said an announcement on the “Smile Politely” blogsite.

Blackman was part of a panel discussion on the “impact of racism on access to technology and the subsequent inequities in education, healthcare, employment,” moderated by Lemond Peppers, community engagement coordinator for the city of Urbana. (from Newsline)

Mary Dulabaum of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., who works as director of marketing and communications at Judson University, received the Marguerite Henry Award for Communications and Technology at the YWCA Elgin 38th annual Leader Luncheon on May 12. She was among 28 women honored in a number of categories. (from Newsline)

Rockford Community Church of the Brethren held a benefit auction for a community member with cancer on May 7. We’re grateful for all the ways our congregations connect with their communities!

STEPPING OUT OF THE PANDEMIC

The district’s Potluck Experience Team is planning a special event for May 18 at 7 p.m.: an online forum titled “Stepping Out of the Pandemic … and How???” Panelists Josh Brockway, LaDonna Sanders Nkosi, Katie Shaw-Thompson, and Carol Davis will share about their church experience during the pandemic and look at how we move forward in this new “normal.” District executive Walt Wiltschek will serve as moderator for the panel. The event will be free and held on Zoom. You can register for the event at https://forms.gle/WEhNbnKwXaPtbD3E7; a Zoom link will be provided to all those who register.





DISTRICT CONFERENCE

The district’s Program & Arrangements Committee is hard at work on plans for the 2022 district conference. We anticipate it being an in-person event, with some hybrid options available for non-delegates. Harold Rose (Canton) serves as moderator this year, with Phyllis Batterton (Woodland) as moderator-elect. More details will follow in the coming months (and a new “District Conference” tab has been added to the district website), but for now mark your calendars for Nov. 4-5 at Peoria Church of the Brethren!


EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES

Part-Time Pastor, Full-Time Church

The Part-Time Pastor, Full-Time Church program of the denomination’s Office of Ministry is hosting pastor and author Peter Chin for an event on Tuesday, May 17, at 7 p.m. Central Time. Chin wrote an article that appeared online in Christianity Today entitled, “I’ve Reached My Breaking Point as a Pastor.” He is senior pastor at Rainier Avenue Church in Seattle and the author of “Blindsided by God,” a memoir of his wife’s fight against breast cancer while pregnant with their third child. Register here.

Basic Ethics

The Brethren Academy has set June 4 for the next training session of Ethics for Set-Apart Ministry: Basic Course, created by James Benedict. This training using Zoom, an online conferencing platform, is for newly licensed ministers and others seeking basic clergy ethics training. The training will be take place 9 a.m.-3 p.m. CDT with a break for lunch. The registration deadline to participate is May 23. This allows time to mail the workbooks to participants. Registrations and payment must be received by this date. Find more details at www.bethanyseminary.edu/brethrenacademy.

Dementia and Congregational Care

A free, one-hour webinar on “Dementia and Congregational Care” is planned for Thursday, June 16, at noon Central Time. Accredited ministers may receive 0.1 continuing education credit through the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. This webinar, co-hosted by the Church of the Brethren Discipleship Ministries and the Anabaptist Disabilities Network, will help you understand the basics of dementia and learn how to reach out. Heddie Sumner, RN, BSN, will lead this webinar. Before her retirement, she served as care manager, director of Dementia Services, and director of Resources and Development for the Midland County (Mich.) Council on Aging. She is co-author of two works: A Family Centered Alzheimer’s Care: A Caregiver’s Manual and Doing More with Less: Michigan Dementia Coalition. In addition, she provides training on dementia for staff of adult care facilities and church leadership. Register at https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUkf-yrrj0uHNRG4WbTuTNKynGvIAbxV7I-. For questions about the webinar or registration contact Stan Dueck, co-coordinator of Discipleship Ministries, at sdueck@brethren.org or 847-429-4343.

Ministers’ Association event

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is offering Tempered Resilience: How Leaders are Formed in the Crucible of Change, July 9-10, with Carrie Eikler as the facilitator. This course is a Directed Independent Study Unit (DISU) in conjunction with attending the Ministers’ Association Pre-Conference event with Tod Bolsinger, in Omaha. This course is available for continuing education and personal enrichment. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are awarded after the instructor has notified the Brethren Academy of successful completion of the course. Cost is $115. Learn more at https://www.brethren.org/ministryoffice/. Registration deadline is June 6.

The Minister as Theologian

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership will offer this online course, The Minister as Theologian, from Sept. 7 to Nov. 1.  Joelle Hathaway, assistant professor of theological studies at Bethany Theological Seminary, will be the instructor and TRIM students will receive one credit in Bible/Theology upon completion and the BTS experience.  EFSM students may create a Learning Unit for the course. Others can take it for continuing education or personal enrichment.

    As an introduction to theological thinking, this course will cover some of the “big topics” that Christians talk about, including: God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, humanity as the image of God, and Christian hope. We will read multiple genres, including sermons and poetry, to help us explore the deep, imaginative interconnections between various aspects of the Christian faith.  

The deadline to register for this course is Aug. 3. Register and pay online at https://bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy/brethren-academy-course-listings/brethren-academy-course-registration-annual-trim-payment/  There is a 3 percent service charge when registering online.

Mediation Training

The summer session of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center’s Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders will be held in person Aug. 1-5 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, Ill. This popular and practical workshop helps church leaders deal more effectively with interpersonal, congregational, and other forms of group conflict. Register online at https://lmpeacecenter.org/all-events/. For more information, please contact the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center at 630-627-0507 or admin@LMPeaceCenter.org

NCP Learning Tours

New Community Project is offering Learning Tours to Rwanda and Malawi in early May; the Ecuadorian Amazon in late May; Lybrook, N.M., in mid-summer; Denali/Kenai Fjords, Alaska, in early August; and Arctic Village in mid-August. January 2023 will offer either Myanmar or Nepal. These trips are open to all ages and explore the beauty of and challenges facing God’s creation and God’s children. Learn more at https://www.newcommunityproject.info/learning-tours.


JOB OPPORTUNITIES

The Church of the Brethren seeks applicants for the position of director of Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). This is a full-time salaried position. A successful candidate will be an energetic and dynamic leader who connects well with people of all ages, is skilled at leading through programmatic change, and facilitates Christian discipleship formation. Five years of proven experience in social services, program development, and administration, and three years of experience in volunteer management are required, with previous international living experience preferred. A bachelor’s degree is required, with an advanced degree in a related field preferred. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume to COBApply@brethren.org or to the Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120.

Brethren Press is seeking candidates for a part-time, hourly position of customer service and warehouse specialist at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Responsibilities include shipping orders, receiving and maintaining inventory, and entering customer orders. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume’ to COBApply@brethren.org; Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367. 

Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) is seeking candidates for a marketing director and a Retirement Plans director. These are full-time, exempt positions. Learn more at https://cobbt.org. To apply for either of these open positions, email a cover letter, resume, and three references to Tammy Chudy at tchudy@cobbt.org.

The Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., invites applications for the position of director of Advancement. This is a new role at the center that will focus on fundraising and marketing. It will be a half-time to full-time salaried position depending on the candidate’s interest. A position description and application information can be found at https://brethrenmennoniteheritage.org/employment.

The South/Central Indiana District, which comprises 40 congregations in the middle of the state of Indiana and represents a wide range of theological views, is seeking a district executive minister. The shift to a full-time position envisions strong connections out of which congregations will be able to reach out in service and witness more effectively to Christ. The DEM’s commitment to Jesus Christ and the scriptures is essential. This Full-Time position is available Sept. 5. Interested and qualified persons may apply for this position by sending a letter of interest and a resume to: Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Office of Ministry, 1451 Dundee Avenue Elgin, IL 60120, or officeofministry@brethren.org. Applicants will be asked to complete a Candidate Profile on receipt of resume. Applicants are requested to contact three or four persons to provide a letter of reference.

PERSONNEL NOTES

James Deaton has resigned as managing editor for Brethren Press. He concludes his work with the Church of the Brethren on May 24. He will be taking a position as communications content editor for the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. Deaton began his work with Brethren Press on Oct. 29, 2007. Over close to 15 years on the staff of the denomination’s publishing house, he has edited curriculum, books, and the bulletin series; supervised freelance writers, editors, and designers; overseen the Church of the Brethren Yearbook; and managed the production process for the publishing house.

Shenandoah District has announced the call of Linetta Ballew to the role of executive director for Brethren Woods Camp and Retreat Center in Keezletown, Va. After the retirement from Brethren Woods of long-time executive director Doug Phillips in 2021, Ballew was hired as acting director. That role ends on Aug. 31. Ballew has served in camping ministry for 19 years in a variety of roles, including as program director and assistant director at Brethren Woods. She also was co-administrator of Camp Swatara in Bethel, Pa., from 2013 to 2018. She holds degrees from Bridgewater (Va.) College and Eastern Mennonite Seminary, where she earned a Master of Divinity.


YOUTH & YOUNG ADULTS

Register for National Youth Conference!
Registration is still open for the 
Church of the Brethren National Youth Conference (NYC), coming up July 23- 28, 2022, at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. This powerful event, held every four years, will have the theme "Foundational," drawn from Colossians 2:5-7, for the 2022 edition. It’s a week of fellowship, worship, workshops, recreation, and more. Registration for the conference is now $600 since it is past the early registration deadline.
    Youth in grades 9-12 and one year out of high school this school year (2021-2022) are eligible to attend, along with advisors. More details on the conference, including a list of speakers and special events, can be found at 
https://www.brethren.org/nyc/. Please spread the word to any youth and advisors in your congregation and other ministries who might want to attend. 

Illinois/Wisconsin District NYC bus trip!
The district is organizing a bus trip to NYC for our attendees. To fill a larger bus and keep costs down, we are partnering with Northern Plains District and will pick up their group along the way in Iowa. With an additional subsidy provided by the district, the cost for Illinois/Wisconsin participants is $300. A deposit of $100 (with registration form) is due by May 31, with the remainder due to the district office by June 15. Some scholarship assistance is available if needed. Please contact district executive Walt Wiltschek (
IWDDE@outlook.com) with questions or if registration forms are needed. Pick-up/drop-off points will be in Rochelle and in the Quad Cities area, with one motel night in Nebraska in each direction. Please be in prayer for our youth and for this major event in our denominational life.

National Young Adult Conference 2022
After so much pandemic living and the isolation it’s caused, the centrality of community compelled the Young Adult Steering Committee to choose Romans 12:5 as the theme for National Young Adult Conference (NYAC) 2022: “So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” The theme title is “I Am Because You Are.”
    NYAC 2022 will take place May 27-30 at the Montreat (N.C.) Retreat Center. Registration is now open. To learn more, visit 
www.brethren.org/yac.

FaithX registration is open
Registration for FaithX (formerly workcamps) events in the summer of 2022 is open at 
https://www.brethren.org/faithx.
    “Boundless Faith” is the theme for the 2022 FaithX events, with the theme scripture: “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).


2022 District Camp Dates

Camp Emmanuel (Astoria, Ill.)

June 3-5: Women’s Camp

June 5-11: High School Camp

June 12-18: Middle School Camp

June 19-22: Junior Camp

June 24-26: Pre-Junior Camp

July 18-22: Day Camp

Aug. 5-7: Men’s Camp

Sept. 2-5: Family Camp

Visit www.campem.com to register or for more information.


Camp Emmaus (Mount Morris, Ill.):

May 27-30: Memorial Day Weekend Family Camp

July 3-9: Senior High Camp (finished grades 9-12)

July 10-14: Intermediate Camp (finished grades 3-5)

July 15: Counselor Training (CIT, works with Elementary 1)

July 16-17: Elementary 1 Camp (finished grades 1-2)

July 21-23: Women’s Camp

July 29-31: Young at Heart Camp (ages 18 and up)

July 31-Aug. 6: Middle School Camp (finished grades 6-8)

Aug. 11-13: Men’s Camp

Sept. 2-5: Labor Day Weekend Family Camp

Visit www.campemmaus.org to register or for more information.


ANNUAL CONFERENCE

The Church of the Brethren Annual Conference will take place July 10-14 in Omaha, Neb. Registration for delegates and non-delegates opened on March 1. This will be the first in-person conference since 2019, and COVID protocols will be in place depending on conditions at the time. A virtual option for non-delegates will provide access to business sessions, a Ted & Co. theatre performance, two concerts, and selected equipping sessions for a fee.

The business items for the conference are posted online. The Conference will address one item of unfinished business, “Update to Polity Regarding Annual Conference Agencies,” and seven items of new business.

New business includes queries on “Standing with People of Color” and “Breaking Down Barriers–Increasing Access to Denominational Events”; three items related to pay and benefits for pastors: a new Integrated Annual Ministry Agreement and Revised Guidelines for Pastors’ Salaries and Benefits, a Revised Minimum Cash Salary Table for Pastors, and the annual cost-of-living adjustment to the Minimum Cash Salary Table for Pastors (the latter recommendation to come in June); amendments to the appeal section of the Ethics in Ministry Relations polity document; and revisions to the denomination’s bylaws. Learn more at https://www.brethren.org/ac2022.

Topping the elections ballot are two candidates for Annual Conference moderator-elect—Marla Bieber Abe and Madalyn Metzger (formerly of Springfield First)—and two candidates for Annual Conference secretary—Connie R. Burkholder (who served as interim district executive last year) and David K. Shumate. A variety of other committee and board positions are also on the ballot. Complete biographical information is available at www.brethren.org/ac2022/business/ballot.

To watch the business online you must register as a virtual nondelegate. Business sessions will no longer be live-streamed free of charge. Go to www.brethren.org/ac2022/registration.

DISTRICT WEBSITE

When is the last time you visited the IL/WI District Website? There you’ll find helpful information about your district including but not limited to:

Don’t delay! Check it out! See what you can learn about your district!

NEWSLINE

Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., honored the graduates from the class of 2022 during its Academic Commencement Ceremony on May 7. This year’s class includes seven master of divinity graduates, eight graduating with master of arts degrees, and 17 earning graduate certificates. For more about Bethany’s 2022 commencement go to https://bethanyseminary.edu/bethany-celebrates-the-class-of-2022.

A conference on Pietism titled “Heirs of Pietism in World Christianity” is planned for June 1-3 in Dayton, Ohio, hosted by United Theological Seminary as a hybrid event (in-person and online). Among the sponsoring organizations is the Brethren Historical Library and Archives (BHLA), which is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren. Church of the Brethren leadership at the event will include former BHLA archivist William C. Kostlevy, Bethany Theological Seminary faculty Denise D. Kettering-Lane and Scott Holland, Timothy S. Binkley, and Karen Garrett, among 20-plus presenters in total. Plenary presenter J. Steven O’Malley will speak on “The Influence of the Radical Pietist Gerhard Tersteegen (1697-1769) upon German American Revivalism.” Register and find out more about the schedule and fees at https://united.edu/heirs-of-pietism-in-world-christianity.

Manchester University invited descendants of its first Black students to the formal naming ceremony of its Academic Center in honor of siblings Martha and Joseph Cunningham on Monday, May 2, on the North Manchester, Ind., campus. The observance begins with a celebration paying tribute to the Cunninghams and their descendants. “I can think of no better way for Manchester to honor the Cunninghams than to name a hall of learning for them,” said Manchester president Dave McFadden.

Anabaptist Disabilities Network is the recipient of the 2022 Mennonite Health Services’ Innovation Grant, which will go towards the development of an Anabaptist membership curriculum for youth and adults with intellectual disabilities. A release from the network reported that “ADN’s membership curriculum will include an overview of the biblical story, a brief history of the Anabaptists, an exploration of Anabaptist beliefs and practices, and a detailed explanation of the practice of baptism in Anabaptist tradition. The curriculum will be written for adults, easy to read and illustrated. The teacher’s book will help teachers accompany their students as they consider a choice for baptism. Membership curriculum and Bible studies for youth/adults with intellectual disabilities are some of our most frequently requested resources.”

Philip E. Norris, 92, of Lititz, Pa.–who was one of the “Seagoing Cowboys” working with Heifer Project in Europe following World War II, and a former trustee for Bethany Theological Seminary–died on May 2 at Brethren Village. Born in Sweden, he was the son of Glen E. and Lois Detweiler Norris, who were serving as missionaries for the Church of the Brethren. 

Our district continues to examine ways we might be able to provide assistance related to the ongoing humanitarian situation in Ukraine. To support the denomination’s Ukraine Crisis Response, make an online donation at www.brethren.org/give-ukraine-crisis or mail a check to the Emergency Disaster Fund, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120 and earmark for “Ukraine Crisis.”
    
The Church of the Brethren Emergency Disaster Fund in late April sent a grant of $50,000 to support the response to the Russia-Ukraine war by partner organization the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), a US-based NGO. And a shipment in partnership with Lutheran World Relief went to Ukraine from the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md., recently. It consisted of approximately 9,600 quilts, 4,160 school kits, 18,500 personal care kits, 4,080 baby care kits, and 21,330 pounds of soap. It is to arrive this week.

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is holding a volunteer training June 3-4 at Bear Creek United Methodist Church in Woodinville, Wash., near Seattle. Registration is currently open on the CDS website at www.brethren.org/cds

Song and Story Fest 2022 on the theme “Into the HEARTland: Healing What Divides Us” is scheduled for July 3-9 at Camp Pine Lake in Eldora, Iowa. Song and Story Fest is a unique family camp featuring Church of the Brethren musicians and storytellers, with co-sponsorship from On Earth Peace, organized by Ken Kline Smeltzer. The annual event is usually held before or after the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, at a location relatively close to the Conference. This year’s is the 26th annual Song and Story Fest.
    Registration includes all meals, on-site facilities, and leadership, and is based on age. Children age 4 and under are welcome at no charge. Registration fees for other ages: adults $360, teens $240, children ages 5 to 12 $150, maximum total per family $1,000. Registrations after June 10 add 10 percent as a late fee. Daily fees also are available. For details, go to www.onearthpeace.org/song_and_story_fest_2022. For questions, or if you need financial help to attend, contact Ken Kline Smeltzer at bksmeltz@comcast.net.


RESOURCES

District Mission and Mortar Grant/Loan Program 

Is your congregation beginning a new mission outreach program but a little short on cash? Is your congregation faced with a major repair or capital improvement project that exceeds your congregation’s capacity to pay for it? Did you know that the district has a program to assist with your needs? It’s called the Mission and Mortar Grant/Loan Program and is available to help meet the needs mentioned above. 

Grants are available up to $2,500, and non-interest bearing loans up to $5,000. A congregation that applies must provide financial data and be a regular contributor to the district. Applications are considered on a first-come first-served basis and are reviewed/approved by the district Leadership Team. 

If you would like more information or wish to apply, visit the district website. Send completed applications to the IL/WI District Office, 269 E. Chestnut St., Canton, IL 61520.

Supporting Your District 

The Illinois/Wisconsin District is active in a variety of ministry and mission efforts, both directly and indirectly. For these efforts to continue, resources are needed in the form of time, tools, knowledge, and especially finances. Consider making a contribution to one or more of the following:

  • Disaster Relief Fund
  • Endowment Fund
  • Mission and Mortar Fund
  • General Fund
  • Emerging Ministries
  • Ministry Training

Look for the donate button at iwdcob.org, or send your checks to the district office: 269 E. Chestnut St., Canton, IL 61520. Thank you!

GIFTS DISCERNMENT AND CALL COMMITTEE

The Gifts Discernment and Call Committee (GDCC) is commissioned to discern the gifts of persons for the purpose of inviting and calling them in to positions of leadership and team/committee participation. The GDCC delves into this work based on the names and information available to them. The likelihood is that gifted persons are not invited and called to serve because the GDCC lacks names and information. If you feel compelled to serve in the district and have not been asked, you can connect to the district webpage and learn how to share your name and information with the GDCC. Simply complete the online profile form after clicking on the “online profile form” link in the website article. Or call the district office (649-6008) and a profile form will be emailed to you.


Do you know someone you believe has gifts to serve at the district level? Invite them to visit the district webpage or share their name with the GDCC or district office.

Serving is rewarding!

Friday, April 01, 2022


The Reflector - April 2022

The Village ILWIDIot

By Walt Wiltschek

As I’ve been walking through Lilacia Park in Lombard the past few weeks as I’ve headed to town or the train station, I’ve noticed more and more green things pushing their way up out of the ground. They were barely discernible at first, but now they’re evident everywhere.

At some point back when the park was a private estate, the owners planted the grounds with an incredible number of lilacs and tulips, and more were added over the years—some 700 lilacs and 35,000 tulips reside there today, according to the park’s website. After a bleak Midwest winter, the promise of color and life bursting from every corner is especially welcome.

Those green shoots assure me that burst is coming, even though the weather the past few weeks (at least where I live) hasn’t felt all that spring-y. I almost feel like I should stop and encourage the little shoots along in the face of some chilly days, but I know they don’t actually need it. They always find their way. In the words of an English proverb: “No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”

In this season as we approach Holy Week and Easter morning, I feel that same promise and assurance. New life is coming. Always. Even when life feels as bleak as a Midwest January (or April!), resurrection is just around the bend or waiting at the next dawn.

Looking around our district, I see similar signs of hope and potential. For example:
  • The Ministry Leadership Development Team has approved three new people for licensing in our district this year, with a couple of others embarking on that journey.
  • More than two dozen youth and advisors from the district will be attending the Church of the Brethren National Youth Conference in Colorado this summer.
  • An energetic and creative Church Revitalization and Development Team is chewing on ideas for bringing new sparks to our existing churches and also actively pondering several new spots to begin new ministry ventures.
  • A special Potluck Experience event on May 18 will give us an opportunity to consider together how we move forward as a church from these two-plus years of pandemic realities.
  • In that vein, the Council of District Executives just gathered in Elgin recently—the first time in more than two years this group had met face-to-face—and the joy in that was palpable. Many of our congregations and other ministries are also enjoying greater in-person fellowship, and Annual Conference will gather in person in Omaha in July.
  • Springfield First is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month! Other churches in the district are near that milestone.
  • Our camps are gearing up for another summer of vital ministry and good community, serving children and youth from the district and beyond.
And the list could go on. As you gather around the love feast tables later this month—whether actual or virtual—and set your face toward the dawn of Easter, may you find the gleam of new life everywhere you look.

District executive schedule: In addition to regular meetings, Walt will be conducting a licensing service at Franklin Grove April 10 and speaking at Milledgeville April 24; attending the district clergy retreat in Rockford April 25-26; going to the Parish Collective “Inhabit” church planting & revitalization conference in Seattle April 28-29; attending the Annual Conference delegate briefing and Springfield’s centennial celebration on April 30; and taking part in National Youth Conference meetings in Elgin May 4-6. Walt is available for guest preaching and other events; to schedule, please contact IWDDE@outlook.com.

Upcoming Meetings & Events

Licensing Service for Diana Verhulst at Franklin Grove, Sun., April 10, 9:30 a.m.
Program & Arrangements Committee: Mon., April 11, 7 p.m.
District Leadership Team: Sat., April 23, 9 a.m.
Farewell Celebration for Rick Koch at Milledgeville, April 24
Clergy Retreat, at Bishop Lane Center in Rockford, April 25-26
Gifts Discernment and Calling Committee: Wed., April 27, 6:30 p.m.
Annual Conference delegate briefing at Springfield (Zoom option), Sat., April 30, 10 a.m.
First Springfield centennial celebration at Springfield, April 30-May 1
Midwest district executives meeting, May 3
Potluck Experience team meeting, Wed., May 11, 7 p.m.
“Stepping Out of the Pandemic” Potluck Experience Team event: Wed., May 18, 7 p.m.
Church Revitalization and Development Team, Sat., May 21, 9 a.m.
[all meetings via Zoom unless otherwise noted]

IN OUR PRAYERS

A district prayer calendar has been created for your use in praying for our district and related programs through the years. We invite you to include the following in your prayers in coming weeks:
  • Week of April 11: Pray for the La Place congregation this week, and for their ministry in and around the greater Decatur area. Also pause to offer praise and rejoicing as we approach the dawn of Easter morning.
  • Week of April 18: Pray for the Milledgeville (Dutchtown) congregation this week, as pastor Rick Koch completes his ministry of more than three decades there. Pray for their search process as they seek to call a new pastor, and for Rick that he will find continued blessings and fulfillment in retirement.
  • Week of April 25: Pray for the Springfield First congregation this week as they celebrate their centennial. Pray for all their ministry and outreach in and around Illinois’ capital city.
  • Week of May 2: Pray for the Oakley Brick congregation this week, and for their ministry in and around the Cerro Gordo area.
  • Week of May 9: Pray for the York Center congregation this week, and for their ministry in and around Lombard, just down the road from the former home of Bethany Theological Seminary.
Do you have congregational news: celebrations, milestones, “Jesus in the Neighborhood” stories or other things to share with our district family? Please send those to the district office: andreag.iwdcob@gmail.com.

MINISTRY NEWS

We rejoice with Diana Verhulst, who has been serving in ministry at Franklin Grove, as she will be officially licensed to the ministry in a service at the church on April 10. Congratulations also to Zech and Jen Houser of the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin; the Ministry Leadership Development Team recommended them for licensing earlier this month.

Blaine Miner, pastor at the Dixon congregation for the past five years, has announced his retirement effective June 30.

Christy Waltersdorff, pastor of the York Center congregation, is continuing to recover after suffering injuries from a bad fall on an icy sidewalk about six weeks ago. We pray for her and for the church leadership at York Center as they work to cover ministry needs in her absence.

CLERGY RETREAT

A retreat for licensed and ordained ministers in the district will be offered April 25-26 at Bishop Lane Retreat Center near Rockford. Recent Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey will serve as the speaker/leader for the event, which is being planned by the district’s Ministry Leadership and Discernment Team. 

Paul will share at three sessions on the theme “Kingdom-Building: An Evangelism Workshop.” At least .6 CEU’s will be available for those attending. The time will also include worship, fellowship, meals, and opportunities for rest and renewal. 

Cost for the event is $125; anyone needing scholarship assistance should contact the district office. Private rooms with bathrooms will be included for all participants, and COVID protocols will be observed. Licensed and ordained ministers can register at https://forms.gle/7rxHQZ93AiybZMDo8 by April 11. Directions to the retreat center can be found at www.bishoplane.org.


 

CONGREGATIONAL NEWS

First Springfield Church of the Brethren will celebrate its centennial April 30-May 1. A special weekend is planned, including a concert by Jonathan Shively and Wild Columbine Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. and Annual Conference moderator Dave Sollenberger preaching Sunday morning for worship at 10:30 a.m., followed by a potluck meal.

Milledgeville (Dutchtown) Church of the Brethren is planning an open house and celebration on Sunday, April 24, to honor the retirement of long-time pastor Rick Koch.

STEPPING OUT OF THE PANDEMIC

The district’s Potluck Experience Team is planning a special event for May 18 at 7 p.m.: an online forum titled “Stepping Out of the Pandemic … and How???” Panelists Josh Brockway, LaDonna Sanders Nkosi, Katie Shaw-Thompson, and Carol Davis will share about their church experience during the pandemic and look at how we move forward in this new “normal.” District executive Walt Wiltschek will serve as moderator for the panel. The event will be free and held on Zoom. You can register for the event at https://forms.gle/WEhNbnKwXaPtbD3E7; a Zoom link will be provided to all those who register.



DISTRICT CONFERENCE

The district’s Program & Arrangements Committee is hard at work on plans for the 2022 district conference. We anticipate it being an in-person event, with some hybrid options available for non-delegates. Harold Rose (Canton) serves as moderator this year, with Phyllis Batterton (Woodland) as moderator-elect. More details will follow in the coming months (and a new “District Conference” tab has been added to the district website), but for now mark your calendars for Nov. 4-5 at Peoria Church of the Brethren!

‘YEARBOOK’ FORM DEADLINE

April 15 is the deadline for congregational forms to be received by the Yearbook Office in order for information to be included in the 2022 Church of the Brethren Yearbook. The Yearbook is published annually by Brethren Press and includes a statistical report and a directory for the denomination. The directory features detailed information about denominational structure and leadership, congregations, districts, ministers, and more. The statistical report on membership, worship attendance, giving, and more derives from self-reporting by congregations.

Paper copies of all forms have been mailed to each congregation. If you have not received them or would like digital copies, please contact Jim Miner, Yearbook specialist, at 800‐323‐8039 ext. 320 or yearbook@brethren.org. Mail completed forms to: Yearbook, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120, or email to yearbook@brethren.org.

EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES

‘Ventures’ courses
The next offering from the Ventures in Christian Discipleship program will be “Spirituality on the Screen,” led by Illinois/Wisconsin District executive Walt Wiltschek on May 2, 6-8 p.m. Central Time. Explore the intersection of faith and media and how religion is being portrayed in television, movies, and other platforms. Continuing education credit is available for $10 per course. During the registration process, you will have the opportunity to pay for CEUs and give an optional donation to the Ventures program. To learn more about Ventures in Christian Discipleship and to register for courses, visit www.mcpherson.edu/ventures.

Basic Ethics
The Brethren Academy has set June 4 for the next training session of Ethics for Set-Apart Ministry: Basic Course, created by James Benedict. This training using Zoom, an online conferencing platform, is for newly licensed ministers and others seeking basic clergy ethics training. The training will be take place 9 a.m.-3 p.m. CDT with a break for lunch. The registration deadline to participate is May 23. This allows time to mail the workbooks to participants. Registrations and payment must be received by this date. Find more details at www.bethanyseminary.edu/brethrenacademy.

Ministers’ Association event
The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is offering Tempered Resilience: How Leaders are Formed in the Crucible of Change, July 9-10, with Carrie Eikler as the facilitator. This course is a Directed Independent Study Unit (DISU) in conjunction with attending the Ministers’ Association Pre-Conference event with Tod Bolsinger, in Omaha. This course is available for continuing education and personal enrichment. Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are awarded after the instructor has notified the Brethren Academy of successful completion of the course. Cost is $115. Learn more at www.brethren.org/ministryoffice. Registration deadline is June 6.

NCP Learning Tours
New Community Project is offering Learning Tours to Rwanda and Malawi in early May; the Ecuadorian Amazon in late May; Lybrook, N.M., in mid-summer; Denali/Kenai Fjords, Alaska, in early August; and Arctic Village in mid-August. January 2023 will offer either Myanmar or Nepal. These trips are open to all ages and explore the beauty of and challenges facing God’s creation and God’s children. Learn more at www.newcommunityproject.info/learning-tours.

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Brethren Press is seeking candidates for a part-time, hourly position of customer service and warehouse specialist at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Responsibilities include shipping orders, receiving and maintaining inventory, and entering customer orders. Applications are being received and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Send a resume’ to COBApply@brethren.org; Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 ext. 367.

The Brethren and Mennonite Heritage Center in Harrisonburg, Va., invites applications for the position of director of Advancement. This is a new role at the center that will focus on fundraising and marketing. It will be a half-time to full-time salaried position depending on the candidate’s interest. A position description and application information can be found at https://brethrenmennoniteheritage.org/employment.

PERSONNEL NOTES

David Shumate will retire as district executive minister of the Virlina District as of December 31, 2022. He is currently the longest serving middle judicatory staff person in the denomination as well as in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He began his service on January 1, 1993.

Shumate’s service as district executive minister includes various committees and roles within the Council of District Executives including most recently serving as treasurer, prior service as chairperson, Ministry Advisory Council member, and representative to the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee. He concluded 16 years as a member of the New Church Development Advisory Committee of the Mission and Ministry Board in 2014. During his tenure he compiled a manual for new church development, helped plan nine New Church Development events (attending eight), and taught two courses for Training in Ministry (TRIM) in conjunction with conferences.

Within the wider denomination Shumate served as Annual Conference moderator in San Diego in 2009. He served on three denominational study committees including World Mission Philosophy and Global Church Structure (1996-98), Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century (2013-18), and the Review and Evaluation Committee (2015-17). As a writer, he has completed three issues of the Guide for Biblical Studies and one People of the Covenant volume.

After a 40-year career working at Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), Connie Sandman has announced her retirement as of April 30, with her last working day scheduled for April 22. Sandman holds the record for longest tenured employee, said a release from BBT. She began at BBT on April 26, 1982, pre-dating the current name of the organization. Her first role involved serving as a claims processor for Brethren Insurance Services, progressing to lead claims processor in 1995. She later transitioned from insurance to become the information services technician. In 2004, she became a member services representative for the Church of the Brethren Credit Union. For the last 11 years, she has served as Insurance Plans specialist. BBT board members and staff will celebrate Sandman’s retirement on April 22 as part of a BBT Board meeting.

Beth Sollenberger has been hired as a two-year part-time interim district executive and member of the Michigan District executive leadership team. She has been named as the official DE representative to the Council of District Executives.

Bethany Theological Seminary has hired Dr. Margaret (Maggie) Elwell, currently on the faculty of the University of Maryland, as Assistant Professor of Peace Studies. With a PhD from Princeton Seminary, Dr. Elwell will contribute courses in both Peace Studies and Theopoetics across Bethany's various degree and certificate programs. And Sam Locke will join Bethany in May as Executive Director of Institutional Advancement. Locke has extensive and varied experience in fundraising, including serving at the national office of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Most recently, he has served as Director of Development for Indiana Legal Services, a nonprofit law firm in Indianapolis. Earlier, he served the Presbyterian Church (USA) as national director for special offerings and direct response fundraising from 2008-2015.

YOUTH & YOUNG ADULTS

Register for National Youth Conference!

Registration is now open for the Church of the Brethren National Youth Conference (NYC), coming up July 23- 28, 2022, at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. This powerful event, held every four years, will have the theme "Foundational," drawn from Colossians 2:5-7, for the 2022 edition. It’s a week of fellowship, worship, workshops, recreation, and more. Registration for the conference is $550. A $50 late fee deadline HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO APRIL 15.

Youth in grades 9-12 and one year out of high school this school year (2021-2022) are eligible to attend, along with advisors. More details on the conference, including a list of speakers and special events, can be found at www.brethren.org/nyc/. Please spread the word to any youth and advisors in your congregation and other ministries who might want to attend.

Illinois/Wisconsin District 

Illinois/Wisconsin District
is organizing transportation to the event for our attendees. Estimated cost for the transportation portion is $300; some scholarship help may be available. Please contact district executive Walt Wiltschek (IWDDE@outlook.com) as soon as possible with estimated numbers of attendees from your congregation. Stay tuned for more information, and be in prayer for this major event in our denominational life.

National Young Adult Conference 2022

After so much pandemic living and the isolation it’s caused, the centrality of community compelled the Young Adult Steering Committee to choose Romans 12:5 as the theme for National Young Adult Conference (NYAC) 2022: “So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.

NYAC 2022 will take place May 27-30 at the Montreat (N.C.) Retreat Center. Registration is now open. To learn more, visit www.brethren.org/yac.

FaithX registration is open

Registration for FaithX (formerly workcamps) events in the summer of 2022 is open at www.brethren.org/faithx.

“Boundless Faith” is the theme for the 2022 FaithX events, with the theme scripture: “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).

2022 DISTRICT CAMP DATES

Camp Emmaus (Mount Morris, Ill.):
May 27-30: Memorial Day Weekend Family Camp
July 3-9: Senior High Camp (finished grades 9-12)
July 10-14: Intermediate Camp (finished grades 3-5)
July 15: Counselor Training (CIT, works with Elementary 1)
July 16-17: Elementary 1 Camp (finished grades 1-2)
July 21-23: Women’s Camp
July 29-31: Young at Heart Camp (ages 18 and up)
July 31-Aug. 6: Middle School Camp (finished grades 6-8)
Aug. 11-13: Men’s Camp
Sept. 2-5: Labor Day Weekend Family Camp
Visit www.campemmaus.org to register or for more information.

Camp Emmanuel (Astoria, Ill.)
April 23-28: Spring Work Week
June 3-5: Women’s Camp
June 5-11: High School Camp
June 12-18: Middle School Camp
June 19-22: Junior Camp
June 24-26: Pre-Junior Camp
July 18-22: Day Camp
Aug. 5-7: Men’s Camp
Sept. 2-5: Family Camp
Visit www.campem.com to register or for more information.