Wednesday, June 01, 2022


The Reflector - June/July 2022

The Village ILWIDIot

By Walt Wiltschek

The United States has an anger problem.

Take, for example, a story from earlier this month in Dallas, Texas: A 21-year-old man who was mad at his girlfriend broke into the Dallas Museum of Art and proceeded to take out his rage on a number of the displays, including several ancient artifacts. Damage estimates have ranged as high as $5 million.
   
Thankfully, nobody was hurt in that incident. But elsewhere, when anger is combined with easy access to deadly weapons, we know the human toll can be significant. We’ve seen that all too frequently in recent weeks: a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.; a church in southern California; an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas; a hospital in Tulsa, Okla.; and far too many others.
   
The motives cited have included anger at family members, anger at a particular race, anger over politics, anger at a doctor over a surgical procedure. In each case the anger was released through a trigger. Whatever the cause—mental illness, a short fuse, racism or prejudice, a perceived slight, family dynamics, or other factors—the results are devastating and painful.
   
We see the fruit of anger elsewhere, too: in comments and exchanges on social media, in daily interactions in stores and restaurants, on airplanes and on roads and city streets, in the tribal nature of contemporary politics, and, yes, in our churches—which have often absorbed some of the worst instincts of our larger culture.
   
In a CNN poll last fall, nearly three-quarters of respondents said they were either “very angry” or “somewhat angry” about the way things were going in the US today. A 2019 NPR-IBM Watson Health survey similarly found that 84 percent of people said Americans were angrier today than a generation ago. A doctor reviewing the results termed this spiraling surge of anger “a health risk.” It has become our default setting.
   
Certainly, it can be appropriate to be angry about some things, and anger that is reasoned through and channeled well can yield positive results. But getting to that point, and being sure that we’re angry about the right things, can be a tricky business. As Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry but do not sin.” James later adds, “Let everyone be … slow to anger, for human anger does not produce God’s righteousness” (1:19b-20).

The old adage of counting to 10 isn’t a cure-all, but it’s not a bad start—especially if we use that space to come to God in prayer. Then we can take a look at how we engage with one another and defuse strong emotions and effect change in constructive ways.
     
My hope is that we can learn to model “another way of living,” as Brethren have often said, because our country could use a peace church right now. And it’s hard to be a peace church if we’re angry all the time.

District executive schedule: In addition to regular meetings, Walt will be officiating a wedding in Bloomington on June 11 and one in Mount Morris June 25, conducting a licensing service and preaching at Highland Avenue on June 12, counseling and leading Bible studies for Camp Emmaus’ senior high camp July 2-8, attending part of the Council of District Executives meeting and Annual Conference in Omaha July 9-13, preaching at York Center July 17, helping to lead worship at the Church of the Brethren National Youth Conference (and traveling back with the district bus) July 21-29, and co-directing Junior High Camp at Emmaus July 31-Aug. 6, followed by vacation Aug. 6-13.


UPCOMING MEETINGS & EVENTS

  • 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.
  • Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, Omaha, Neb., July 10-14
  • Church of the Brethren National Youth Conference, Fort Collins, Colo., July 23-28
  • Church Revitalization and Development Team, Sat., July 30, 9 a.m.
  • Leadership Team meeting, Wed., Aug. 3, 6 p.m.
[all meetings via Zoom unless otherwise noted]


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.
     
  • Christy Waltersdorff, pastor of the York Center congregation, had hip surgery on June 7, continuing her recovery from a bad fall on an icy sidewalk in mid-February. We pray for her as she works toward healing and resuming her duties at the church. Jonathan Shively is filling in as guest pastor at York Center for June and July.
     
  • Blaine Miner, pastor at the Dixon congregation for the past five years, will be retiring effective June 30. Dixon is in the initial stages of forming a search committee. Thank you, Blaine, for your service! Blaine will also be the district’s new representative to the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago.
     
  • Dana McNeil, pastor at Peoria, is enjoying a sabbatical this summer. Congratulations also to Dana and his wife, Cathy, on their recent 40th wedding anniversary!

  • Becky Shipman and Krista Hernandez, both of the Neighborhood congregation, will be starting studies in the TRIM (Training In Ministry) program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership this summer. Diana Verhulst of Franklin Grove will also be starting fully in the TRIM program this summer after having taken some initial courses previously.

CONGREGATIONAL/LOCAL NEWS

 

  • Neighborhood Church of the Brethren (Montgomery, Ill.) baptized three youth as new members during worship on May 29. Congratulations to Serena and Shayla Satvedi and Ethaniel Hernandez!
  • Freeport Church of the Brethren is holding a drive-through pork chop meal fundraiser this Sunday, June 12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each meal, which includes pork chop, sides, and pie, is $9.
  • Woodland Church of the Brethren(Astoria, Ill.) partnered with other community congregations to offer a Vacation Bible School the week of June 6. More than 60 area children have participated in past years.
  • Gordon Heid, who was actively involved with the ministry of Camp Emmaus (Mount Morris, Ill.) and other activities in the district during his life, passed away May 30 following an illness. Born in Stockton, Heid graduated from Lena High School and Northern Illinois University. He was a member of Mount Morris Church of the Brethren for many years; a memorial service will be held there at 4 p.m. June 15, with visitation the hour prior. Memorial gifts may be made to Camp Emmaus. 
  • Leona "Susie" Swigart passed away on May 28.  She is survived by her husband, Leon Swigart, who pastored Girard Church of the Brethren for many years. Following Leon's retirement, they became members of the Virden congregation, where Susie was very active, especially with children's programs. A funeral service was held at the Virden church on June 3.
  • Jared Dickman of Lanark, who has been active at Camp Emmaus as a camper and then a counselor was severely injured in a vehicular accident last month. He is working toward recovery in a hospital in Rockford. Our prayers are with him and his family.
  • Freeport - Pork Chop Meal 


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 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.

Week of June 20: Pray for the Panther Creek congregation this week, and for their ministry in and around Roanoke and Woodford County.

Week of June 27: Pray for the Stanley congregation, our district’s northernmost congregation and currently the only one in Wisconsin, and for their ministry in their community and beyond.

Week of July 4: Pray for the ministry of Camp Emmaus in Mount Morris, that it would provide a sense of  community, a deepening of faith, and an encouragement of gifts for the youth and children who attend there this summer. Pray also for camp manager Bill Hare and his wife, Betty, and for all the staff and volunteers making camp possible this summer.

Week of July 11: Pray for the delegates, officers, staff, and others meeting for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Omaha, Neb., this week, that they may experience good, holy discernment, and make wise decisions for the denomination. Pray especially for moderator David Sollenberger, moderator-elect Tim McElwee, secretary Jim Beckwith, and Conference director Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, and for our Standing Committee delegate, Dennis Webb (Naperville).

Week of July 18: Pray for the Church of the Brethren National Youth Conference that begins in Fort Collins, Colo., July 23, that the youth and advisors gathered there will have a meaningful, inspirational week that deepens their faith. Pray, too, for safe travels as they journey there and back.

Week of July 25: Pray for The Gathering Chicago this week as they continue to build and shape their fledgling ministry and provide a new place of worship and fellowship in the city.

Week of Aug. 1: Pray for the Champaign congregation this week, and for their ministry in and around their community that includes the University of Illinois.

Week of Aug. 8: Pray for the Freeport congregation this week, and for their ministry in their community and around Stephenson County.

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.


MAD ABOUT MADISON

With numerous Brethren having settled in the Madison, Wis., area in recent years, the Church of the Brethren’s Illinois & Wisconsin District is exploring the possibility of starting some sort of gathering there. A dinner get-together for connecting and information and exploration will take place in Madison on Sunday, Aug. 21, at 6 p.m.
   
Details on the meeting place are still being determined, but it will likely be at a local restaurant or similar venue. If you have friends or family in the area who might be interested, please let them know, or pass along their contact information to the district office. Those planning to attend should RSVP to district executive Walt Wiltschek.


STEPPING OUT OF THE PANDEMIC

About three dozen people from around the district took part in the district’s Potluck Experience Team online panel event “Stepping Out of the Pandemic … and How???” on May 18. Two panelists had to withdraw due to illness, but panelists Josh Brockway and Carol Davis shared about their church experience during the pandemic and reflected on ways that we move forward together, followed by time for questions and answers from the online audience. We’re grateful for all the participation in this vibrant gathering. Keep an eye out for details on the 2023 Potluck Experience gathering, tentatively scheduled for spring 2023 in Dixon!

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 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. Applications will be available soon on the district website (iwdcob.org), 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!


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!


DISASTER RESPONSE

Brethren Disaster Ministries program assistant Kim Gingrich announced that a short-term disaster response site will open in Madisonville, Kentucky, in October to respond to this past year’s severe storms. Work will take place in the surrounding communities of Bremen and Dawson Springs. The project will be held in partnership with Fuller Center Disaster Rebuilders. See the attached flier for more details. Those with interest should contact Gingrich at kgingrich@brethren.org and copy district disaster coordinator Loren Habegger at ilwi.ddc.lh@gmail.com no later than Aug. 21. Space is limited to 15 volunteers per week.


EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES

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.

Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church
The denomination’s Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church program is hosting a 10-week discussion centered on the book How Your 21st Century Church Family Works by Peter Steinke. Based on Family Systems Theory pioneered by Murray Bowen and further developed and applied in the religious context by Edwin Friedman, Steinke discusses emotional systems, anxiety, generational transfer, and the forces that draw us together and keep us apart. The discussion will be facilitated by John Fillmore, a “circuit rider” with Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church. Continuing education credit will be available for participants, and books are provided to participants. Registration is required; group size is limited. Sessions will be at 6 p.m. Central Time on Tuesdays beginning on June 14 through Aug. 23, not meeting the week of Annual Conference. Please contact jjensen@brethren.org with questions. Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIkcuuhrTwuG9BsRO1KPwsT8Z7XAco5Ctwl.
 

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 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.

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) is seeking applicants for the position of program assistant, a full-time hourly position on the Brethren Disaster Ministries team working out of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The major responsibilities of this position are to support programming and administration of CDS, providing administrative, programming, and clerical support to the associate director including support of volunteers, volunteer training and response, and assistance with general administration. Required skills and knowledge include administrative office skills, ability to relate with integrity and respect, strong interpersonal and written communication skills, ability to manage multiple simultaneous priorities, ability to learn and competently utilize new software, ability to keep information and records confidential, and ability to uphold and support the basic beliefs and practices of the Church of the Brethren. An associate’s degree or high school graduation with equivalent work experience is required, as is proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, particularly Word, Excel, and Outlook. Full COVID-19 vaccination is a condition of employment. This position will begin as soon as possible. Applications are being received and reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Apply by sending a resume to COBApply@brethren.org. 

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 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

Zech Houser has resigned as Coordinator of Short-term Service for the Church of the Brethren. He will conclude his work there effective Aug. 12. Zech began his service on Aug. 09, 2021. He will be entering a chaplaincy internship, which has been his vocational goal since achieving his Master of Divinity degree. He is a member of the Highland Avenue congregation.

The board of directors of the Brethren Mennonite Council (BMC) has announced the appointment of Annabeth (AB) Roeschley as executive director, effective June 1. The announcement noted that Roeschley brings years of advocacy experience to the position including experience on the leadership team of the Pink Menno campaign. Roeschley succeeds longterm BMC executive director Carol Wise, who is now interim pastor at La Verne (Calif.) Church of the Brethren. The transition in leadership has included relocation of the BMC office from Minneapolis to Chicago.

Ashley Scarr will begin June 27 as the 2022-2023 intern in the Brethren Historical Library and Archives in Elgin. Ashley is a graduate of San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She currently works as a Pastor's Administrative Assistant for San Diego First Church of the Brethren.


YOUTH & YOUNG ADULTS

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 past 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 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. All payment and forms are 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 Lincoln, Neb., in each direction. We currently have participants from the Canton, Highland Avenue, Naperville, Neighborhood, Peoria, Woodland, and York Center congregations. Please be in prayer for our youth and advisors and for this major event in our denominational life.


2022 DISTRICT CAMP DATES

Camp Emmanuel (Astoria, Ill.)
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.):
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


Dennis Webb 
(Naperville), the district’s representative to the Annual Conference Standing Committee, has submitted his resignation effective at the end of this year’s Annual Conference. The district Leadership Team is working on finding a replacement to fill that term.

COVID Protocols: The Annual Conference office recently updated the COVID-19 protocols for gathering in Omaha in July. Per that notice, the following guidelines will be in effect for the time together:

  • Attendees will be expected to wear N95 or KN95 masks at all times in the convention center and in the meeting rooms at the Hilton except when eating or drinking. Leadership speaking from the podium or head table may remove their masks while speaking to be better understood, but will replace their masks when they are finished speaking.
  • Congregational singing (masked) will be permitted. All choirs will also wear their masks while singing.
  • Meal events will take place, but with limits on numbers to allow for safe distancing, and planners will be asked to present the program first. Those who feel comfortable doing so may eat in the meeting room and enjoy the table fellowship, while those who do not feel comfortable doing so will be able to request a boxed meal to take with them after the program.
  • Social distancing reminders will be posted in areas where people tend to congregate in lines.
  • A small red heart sticker will be available for individuals to affix to their nametags to identify their desire to maintain a distance of three feet. This is a simple way to communicate a desire for extra personal space.
Although not required at this time, all Conference attendees are encouraged “to test for COVID before coming to Annual Conference,” per the announcement. “If you test positive—or if someone in your household tests positive within five days prior to Annual Conference (whether or not they were planning to come to Annual Conference)—please, please, please stay home.” In these cases, registration fees will be refunded. Anyone who feels ill while at Annual Conference is asked to get tested and then isolate until you have a test result. Those who test positive should not return to in-person activities. Read more Conference details at https://www.brethren.org/ac2022.

The Church of the Brethren Annual Conference will take place July 10-14 in Omaha, Neb. This will be the first in-person conference since 2019. 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. Online registration ends June 10; on-site registration will be available at a higher 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

Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) deployed a Critical Response Childcare (CRC) team to Uvalde, Texas, on May 26 to work with the children directly affected by the school shooting that happened on Tuesday, May 24. Six CRC-trained CDS volunteers traveled to Uvalde; within a week, they had 157 child contacts during their time in the Family Assistance Center.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) wrote a letter of condolence to the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) following the school shootings at Uvalde, Texas. “And again, it is on behalf of our worldwide fellowship of churches that I offer our sincere condolences to people and churches in the US,” wrote WCC acting general secretary Ioan Sauca on May 25. “Yesterday’s gun violence and the loss of life are horrific reminders of how people on earth fall short of the will of our just and loving God.” The innocence of children cannot be ignored, Sauca urged. “As I write, I am reminded of Psalm 6:3, ‘My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?’ Please know that our grief is deep, our prayers are strong and our fellowship offers our heartfelt sorrow,” Sauca concluded. 

Church of the Brethren Material Resources staff Scott Senseney and Jeffrey Brown loaded three 40-foot containers with a total of 1,120 bales of Lutheran World Relief Quilts, shipping them to the Republic of Georgia. The program is based at warehouse facilities at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. Another 40-foot container filled with Lutheran World Relief quilts and kits left for Poland to assist the people of Ukraine. This was the second phase of supplies being shipped to Ukraine.

Messenger , the denominational magazine, won five awards in the 2021 Associated Church Press “Best of the Church Press” competition, announced May 12, 2022.  ACP is a professional organization “brought together by a common commitment to excellence in journalism as a means to describe, reflect, and support the life of faith and the Christian community.” This year’s competition had over 800 entries from 67 organizations.  

On Earth Peace will be holding an online “Day of Celebration” to highlight its work, June 29 beginning at 10:30 a.m. Central. It will include worship, a cooking class, a training session on Kingian Nonviolence, and a keynote on anti-war and anti-militarism themes. Find more information at www.onearthpeace.org.


Brethren Benefit Trust has changed its name to Eder Financial in order to serve a broader audience. “The familiar services of BBT are not changing. Nor is the staff or the Board. The only thing that is changing is the name,” according to a release. “With changing demographics and affinity within the Church of the Brethren, a move to serve Anabaptist organizations and others of like mind will allow Eder Financial to fulfill its commitments to its members for decades to come,” president Nevin Dulabaum said.

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.

Gladys Naylor, 104, who was part of the Church of the Brethren mission in Ecuador and in Europe accompanied her late husband, Kurtis Naylor, at the World Council of Churches office in Geneva, Switzerland, died on May 16 at the Cedars in McPherson, Kan. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

California philanthropists and Giving Pledge Signatories Melanie and Richard Lundquist shocked the McPherson (Kan.) College community during its 134th commencement ceremony, announcing the couple’s $25 million gift to the college for the Building Community Campaign–the largest gift in the college’s 135-year history. The Lundquists’ gift completes the campaign early, having raised $53 million in under three years. It is the largest gift ever to a small, private liberal arts college in Kansas and among one of the largest to any college in Kansas. The previous largest gift to McPherson College was $10 million.

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!

Note:

This issue of The Reflector is a combined issue for June & July. The next issue will arrive in your in-boxes in August.

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.