Sunday, January 02, 2022

The Reflector - January 2022

Saturday, January 01, 2022

The Village ILWIDIot

By Walt Wiltschek

In my work in higher education circles, one of the buzzwords I’ve heard regularly is “persistence.” In that context, it refers to students’ ability to make it from their first year to their sophomore year and eventually on to commencement.

The extensive research around this area—tied in to the all-important “retention rate” of colleges and universities—has found a combination of factors at play. Some students are more naturally inclined to press on through hurdles and to be more motivated than others, for example. Some campus settings have more to offer geographically or culturally. And the education system itself can provide things such as support services, greater equity, and community-building. It can be a rather complicated stew.

“Persistence” occurred to me again recently as I was mulling all the challenges that the church has faced over the past few years: difficult demographic trends and—in many places—shrinking attendance; budget concerns; a limited supply of pastors and other leaders; and, of course, a global health crisis that has often significantly altered our ways of being together.

It has been hard for pastors, in particular, as they have faced a whole host of added responsibilities, frequently changing protocols to navigate, and new ways of ministry, It has taken a toll on congregations as a whole, too, as the pandemic has brought various degrees of isolation, fragmentation, and struggles with identity.

There’s no sugar-coating it. It’s not easy. Some places have fared better than others, and some new tools and creative possibilities have emerged from this time, but the stress and strain are universal. The district stands ready to offer encouragement and resources wherever we can, and the denomination has worked to support churches and pastors, as well. If you see additional ways we can help, let us know. In the meantime, please know you are in our prayers.

As the apostle Paul, who was no stranger to challenges, writes in 2 Corinthians 4: “We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We often don’t know what to do, but we don’t give up” (4:8, ERV). Like Paul, we “press on.” Persistence.

Whatever the road ahead might hold, may you, too, “not lose heart” (2 Cor. 4:16, NIV).

PANDEMIC PROTOCOLS

As COVID-19 surges yet again with the Omicron variant, please take the steps needed to keep you and your congregations safe. Almost every area of the country is seeing high levels of community transmission at this point, and while this latest strain has been less deadly—particularly for those who are vaccinated and boosted—it can spread rapidly. Depending on the situation in your community, a return to virtual services, hybrid options to allow more distancing, or other precautions should be considered, and mask requirements are wise in any indoor situation with groups of people. Visit cdc.gov or coronavirus.illinois.gov for the latest updates.

Upcoming Meetings

District Potluck Team: Tues., Jan. 18, 7 p.m.
Council of District Executives (virtual meeting): Jan. 24-27
Church Revitalization & Development Team (CRDT): Sat., Jan. 29, 9 a.m.
Leadership Team: Sat., Feb. 5, 9 a.m.
Ministry Leadership & Discernment Team (MLDT): Sat., Feb. 12, 9 a.m.
Calling the Called event: Sat., Feb. 26, 9 a.m.

CONGRATULATIONS!

Jay Wittmeyer, a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., and formerly executive director of Global Mission and Service for the Church of the Brethren, is to be presented the Humanitarian Award at the city of Elgin’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast on Jan. 15. For the second year running, the breakfast will be online-only. The award recognizes Wittmeyer’s decade of service to the local Dr. King Food Drive as well as his global engagement in mission, hunger, development, and justice ministries. While a member of the Witness Commission at the Highland Avenue Church, he was instrumental in arranging for the citywide food collections to be deposited, sorted, and boxed at the Church of the Brethren General Offices for distribution to area food pantries. The General Offices has hosted the sorting procedure for the past 10 years, staffed largely by student and youth volunteers (this year the food drive is hosted by Food for Greater Elgin). To find out more about the online event go to www.cityofelgin.org/1023/Martin-Luther-King-Jr-Events. (from Newsline, 1/7/22)

REMEMBRANCES

The Illinois/Wisconsin District is remembering with gratitude the life of Jack Flores, an ordained minister who was a member of the Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin. Jack passed away Thursday, Dec. 16, following an illness.

A Chicago native, Jack had been active in district leadership, most recently serving on the Church Revitalization and Development Team. He was a graduate of the TRIM program of the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership. He is survived by his wife, Louise; daughters Rebekah and Rachel; and several grandchildren. Our prayers go out to his family and all those who knew him. A memorial service will be planned at a later date.

The district is also remembering Richard Person, who was a long-time member of Polo Church of the Brethren, and more recently of the Dixon congregation. Richard passed away Dec. 28 in Polo. Born in Sterling, Richard attended North Central College and Manchester College before beginning a career in farming. A celebration of life service was held at Dixon on Jan. 5. He is survived by his wife, Joyce, an ordained minister in the district, and three children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

PASTORAL VACANCIES

The Milledgeville (Dutchtown) congregation's opening for a full-time pastor has officially been published as they prepare for pastor Rick Koch's retirement in April. If you know someone who might be a good candidate, please encourage them to be in touch with the district office. Our prayers are with Milledgeville, as well, during this time of transition.

Calling the Called

Have you ever felt God might be tapping you on the shoulder to consider a professional ministry role in the church? Are there others you want to encourage to explore such a path? Are you a pastor or other church leader who seeks to help others discover their gifts? Do you just want to learn more about calling and being called?

If so, Illinois/Wisconsin District invites you to a special event Saturday, Feb. 26, 9 a.m. to noon. (This event had originally been scheduled in late October but was postponed.) Hear personal stories from some of those who have been called, learn about spiritual discernment and opportunities in the denomination, explore your questions about ministry, and connect with others who are trying to hear God’s call for them.

This event will be free and held virtually on Zoom. Watch for more details in upcoming newsletters, email announcements, and on the district website!

Clergy Tax Seminar

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership’s annual Clergy Tax Seminar takes place on Jan. 29 via Zoom from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central Time. It is intended for students, clergy, and anyone who deals with clergy finances. A continuing education credit of 0.4 units is available for credentialed ministers.

The event is sponsored by the academy along with the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry and Bethany Theological Seminary. Leadership is provided by Deb Oskin, a tax professional specializes in clergy taxes and who is chairing the Church of the Brethren Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee. The event will include a special presentation from the committee about the brand new Pastoral Compensation Calculator and Integrated Annual Ministry Agreement expected to become effective as of the 2022 Annual Conference.

Cost is $40 per person. Current students at the Brethren Academy, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Earlham School of Religion students may attend at no cost, although registration is still required. Find more detailed information and register by Jan. 19 at bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy/clergy-tax-seminar.

Heaven, Hell, and the Afterlife

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is offering Heaven, Hell, and the Afterlife, April 27 – June 21, 2022. TRIM participants will receive one credit in Bible/Theology. The instructor for this online course will be Craig Gandy. EFSM students may create a Learning Unit for the course. It can also be taken for general continuing education or personal enrichment. The deadline to register for this course is March 23, 2022.

Participants will explore biblical and theological understandings of Heaven, Hell, and God’s judgment, examining topics including: Sheol and Gehenna, the destiny of the unevangelized, the parousia and day of the Lord, the restoration of creation, the resurrection of the body, and the New Heaven and New Earth. Special attention will be given to the Brethren debate over Universal Restoration. Online courses "meet" for 8 weeks in Moodle, a virtual classroom. Register and pay online at bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy/brethren-academy-course-listings/brethren-academy-course-registration-annual-trim-payment/ There is a 3% service charge when registering online.

Questions may be directed to Academy Director, Janet Ober Lambert at oberlja@bethanyseminary.edu or 765-983-1820.

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Bethany Theological Seminary invites applications for the position of Executive Director of Institutional Advancement. The Seminary seeks an experienced and dynamic advancement leader with an exceptional track record of success. The ideal candidate for the Executive Director of Institutional Advancement position will be an experienced, engaging and inspiring advancement professional who is deeply committed to Bethany’s mission, vision, and guiding values. For more information about this position and to read the full position description, please go to the following link: Executive Director of Institutional Advancement.

The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center (LMPeaceCenter.org) is looking to hire a full-time Office Coordinator. The competitive candidate will have excellent communication skills, an attention to detail, proficiency in basic computer programs such as Excel/Word/Publisher, and a commitment to the peace church tradition. He or she will be expected to work in the office in Lombard. This vacancy has been posted on indeed.com and idealist.org. Interested persons may also call the LMPC office for further information at 630-627-0507. We hope to fill this position by the end of January, so please encourage anyone who might be a good fit to apply at their earliest convenience.

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.

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 announcements of speakers, 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 will work at organizing a bus trip to the event for our attendees. Stay tuned for more information, and be in prayer for this major event in our denominational life.

NYC Youth Speech Contest

Do you know a youth who is attending NYC and would be interested in speaking? Encourage them to submit an entry for the Youth Speech Contest! The theme is “Bring Your Own Jesus Story.” Youth are encouraged to consider how Jesus’ teachings are foundational to their life, and then to choose a story about Jesus from the Bible and preach on it. Participants should send a written entry of 500-700 words and a video entry of about 10 minutes length to the NYC Office by email to cobyouth@brethren.org. The deadline is March 15, 2022.

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

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 opened online Thursday, Jan. 13, at www.brethren.org/faithx.

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

Annual Conference Quilting Bee

Calling All Needle Artists!

Celebrate 2022

Your congregation is invited to create a block for the 2022 Conference quilts.


ALL Quilt Blocks should be postmarked by May 15, 2022

Mail your quilt block and a dollar (or more) donation (checks payable to AACB) to offset the cost of quilting materials to:

Margaret Weybright
1801 Greencroft Blvd. Apt. #125
Goshen, IN 46526

Quilt tops are assembled before conference.
No blocks can be accepted at conference for this year’s quilts.
All blocks delivered at conference will be considered for next year’s quilts and wall hangings.

PLEASE FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS FOR YOUR QUILT BLOCK

TYPE OF FABRIC
• Pre-shrunk cotton or cotton blend.
• If you use stabilizer, Please use only water soluble, very soft or easily removed backing.

Do not use: double knit,
counted cross-stitch on canvas,
liquid embroidery, padded blocks,
or heat-applied designs or photos.

PLEASE: NO GLUE

PATTERN
• Use your own creativity to make your design.

Important: Identify your block with your congregation’s name, state, and/or district. This makes the quilts more valuable! (Second blocks from your congregation need not be identified.)

SIZE OF BLOCK
• Outside border: Not less than 8½ square AFTER it is worked.
• Inside design: Not more than 8” square with nothing in the seam allowance.
Cut the block to size AFTER it has been pieced, embroidered, or appliquéd.
Accuracy is important.
Blocks less than 8½ inches will not fit;
larger designs will be obscured.

We plan to be at Omaha for conference this year, but in the event of COVID restrictions, we will still do wall hangings to be quilted at a later date. So please, send those blocks!!

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

Church of the Brethren membership in the United States and Puerto Rico is just over 91,000 (including 915 congregations, fellowships, and projects), according to the most recent statistical report in the 2021 Church of the Brethren Yearbook from Brethren Press. The 2021 Yearbook–published last fall–includes the 2020 statistical report and the 2021 directory for the denomination. The Church of the Brethren Yearbook is published annually as a searchable document in pdf format. It may be purchased for $24.95 at www.brethrenpress.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=70.

Bill Scheurer completed 9 1/2 years as On Earth Peace executive director before the organization decided to restructure in 2021. His position ended on Jan. 7. Staff will work in a collaborative interim model until a more permanent restructuring occurs in 2023. Scheurer’s term of service was shaped by crisis and challenge within OEP, with the Church of the Brethren denomination, and in clarifying the organization’s identity. Bill reflected: “It’s been our shared work to address those three areas of crisis together as staff and board.”

Steve Van Houten, a former coordinator of the Church of the Brethren’s Workcamp Ministry and a longtime volunteer leader at the denomination’s National Youth Conference (NYC), died unexpectedly at his home in Plymouth, Ind., on Jan. 1–his 66th birthday–following a brief illness. A memorial service was held on Friday, Jan. 7, at Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren. The service was recorded and made available on the church’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/columbiacitycob.

Larry L. Ditmars, 68, a longterm volunteer project leader for Brethren Disaster Ministries, died on Dec. 22 at his home in Washington, Kan., after a brief illness. A private family graveside service was held at Brethren Cemetery in Washington, Kan.

Manchester University president Dave McFadden in November announced a board decision to raze the Administration Building on the university campus in North Manchester, Ind. A service at noon on Jan. 21 is planned to honor the legacy of the Administration Building. The event will take place in Petersime Chapel. After the 30-minute service, those in attendance will have the opportunity to walk over to the building together. Find a release at www.manchester.edu/alumni/news-media/newsletter/@manchester-newsletter-december-2021/board-votes-to-raze-administration-building.

The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) issued a statement in memory of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. “We remember his strong spiritual witness and leadership in the long struggle against apartheid which he approached with humility, passion, and a fervent love for God’s people,” the remembrance said.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held Jan. 18-25 with sponsorship from the World Council of Churches (WCC), will draw together churches across the globe to reflect on the hope and joy in Matthew 2:2, “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him.” Resources include an ecumenical opening prayer service, biblical reflections and prayers for eight days, and other elements of worship available in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Arabic. Find out more at www.oikoumene.org/news/week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-will-draw-together-churches-across-the-world-in-hope.

Read more denominational news at www.brethren.org/news.

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 $2,500.00 and non-interest bearing loans up to $5000.00. 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.


Support Your District

The IL/WI District is active in a variety of ministry and mission efforts, both directly and indirectly. For these efforts to continue, resources are needed. Assets available to keep ministry and mission moving along include you (people serving people), tools (tool trailer w/ tools for disaster response work), knowledge and wisdom (years of experience and access to institutions of learning), and, of course, money (endowment, reserves, congregational and individual giving, bequests).

Assets are abundant but unless these gifts are cared for there is potential for depleting them. Therefore, district teams and the combined efforts of many work diligently to ensure asset sustainability.

Still, it is important to know where gaps exist, or a little extra boost would be helpful. For instance, our district has deep interest in and long-standing support of disaster relief efforts. A separate fund is established to assist folks who give of their time and travel great distances to assist. The district’s Disaster Relief Fund is hovering around $1,000.00. Sending a team to serve on a disaster response site can cost nearly $500 or more. To ensure the sustainability of this important ministry, designated gifts to this fund are welcomed and deeply appreciated. Having funds available to assist with travel may be the difference of someone sharing their gifts or staying home. Consider making a contribution!

Other options are available for contributing, as well, including the following:

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

Every gift regardless of size is a significant boost to the abundance of assets in our midst. All contributions ensure that our district goes beyond the plateau of survival to the pinnacles of thriving, providing ample opportunities to serve faithfully.


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 thedistrict webpage or share their name with the GDCC or district office.

Serving is rewarding!

Thursday, December 02, 2021

The Reflector - December 2021


Wednesday, December 01, 2021

The Village ILWIDIot

By Walt Wiltschek

In a recent Zoom conversation with some pastors and other district leaders, I shared some words penned during the Advent seasons of World War II by noted German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (whose thinking has often resonated with Anabaptists). First, in December 1942, while Bonhoeffer was still free amid the raging war and Nazi persecution, he wrote this:

“The joy of God goes through the poverty of the manger and the agony of the cross; that is why it is invincible, irrefutable. It does not deny the anguish, when it is there, but finds God in the midst of it, in fact precisely there; it does not deny grave sin but finds forgiveness precisely in this way; it looks death straight in the eye, but it finds life precisely within it.”

The themes of waiting and hope were ones that Bonhoeffer visited often, as author Tim George noted in an article for the journal First Things, often using the Advent season “as a metaphor for the entire Christian life.”

In December 1943, following Bonhoeffer’s capture and imprisonment by the Nazis, he continued to hold fast to that belief, even in dark days. Writing from his prison cell, he said: “We simply have to wait and wait. … The celebration of Advent is possible only to those troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.”

As we journey through this second Advent/Christmas season of the pandemic, Bonhoeffer’s words ring particularly true for me this year. These have been difficult years for congregations, for pastors, and for all of us in various ways—draining energy, strength, health, finances, attendance, and more in turn.

It has not been easy. But as Bonhoeffer proclaimed in the deep darkness of his era and as Mary and Joseph and shepherds and others did in the difficult days of first-century, Roman-occupied Palestine, we, too, continue to hold on to hope. We trust that God is at work in the midst of it all. And what better season than Advent to remind us that the road to miracles and new life often requires waiting and watching.

In his final Advent message, in 1944, Bonhoeffer smuggled out words to his sister that were later shaped into the hymn “By Gracious Powers,” translated into English by Fred Pratt Green. In part it says:

“And when this cup you give is filled to brimming / with bitter suffering, hard to understand, we take it thankfully and without trembling / out of so good and so beloved a hand.

“Yet when again in this same world you give us / the joy we had, the brightness of your sun, / we shall remember all the days we lived through / and our whole life shall then be yours alone.”

Blessings to each of you as we approach Christmas once again, in another year when the dark days of winter might feel especially long. May you live in the hope of the promise that “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5, NIV).

Schedule note: Walt will be on vacation Dec. 23-Jan. 3 and only checking email for any emergency communications during that time.

Upcoming Meetings

District Potluck Team: Tues., Jan. 18, 7 p.m.
Council of District Executives (virtual meeting): Jan. 24-27
Church Revitalization & Development Team (CRDT): Sat., Jan. 29, 9 a.m.
Leadership Team: Sat., Feb. 5, 9 a.m.
Ministry Leadership & Discernment Team (MLDT): Sat., Feb. 12, 9 a.m.
Calling the Called event: Sat., Feb. 26, 9 a.m.

Personnel Update

Greetings to the IL/WI District,

As of December 14, I've returned to the district office. My office hours will be Tuesday through Friday, 8 am-noon. I will be working in the office on Wednesdays and Fridays, and at home Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please note that depending on scheduling issues, I may need to work from home on normally scheduled office days. If you need to contact me, please call the district office or email me at andreag.iwdcob@gmail.com.

I am so grateful for the time I was able to have with my family, especially when Cyrus was in the NICU and while I was recovering from preeclampsia. Thank you for making this possible for us! It's been a blessing to "just be" as my family adjusts to such a huge change. It's lovely to be back after maternity leave and I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things!

In Christ,
Andrea Garnett (and family!)

Calling the Called

Have you ever felt God might be tapping you on the shoulder to consider a professional ministry role in the church? Are there others you want to encourage to explore such a path? Are you a pastor or other church leader who seeks to help others discover their gifts? Do you just want to learn more about calling and being called?

If so, Illinois/Wisconsin District invites you to a special event Saturday, Feb. 26, 9 a.m. to noon. (This event had originally been scheduled in late October but was postponed.) Hear personal stories from some of those who have been called, learn about spiritual discernment and opportunities in the denomination, explore your questions about ministry, and connect with others who are trying to hear God’s call for them.

This event will be free and held virtually on Zoom. Watch for more details in upcoming newsletters, email announcements, and on the district website!

Decatur congregation closes its doors

The Decatur (Ill.) Church of the Brethren in mid-November voted at a church meeting to close the congregation. Attendance had been shrinking for some time, and the church had sold its building about a decade ago and was meeting in rented space.

Decatur has generously donated many of its remaining financial assets to the district to aid in the continuing work of the church in Illinois/Wisconsin. Many of the remaining members have said they hope to join other area Church of the Brethren congregations for worship.

We are grateful for Decatur’s long legacy of ministry in central Illinois and grieve with them in this sense of loss. Official action on the closure and a time of remembrance and affirmation will occur at the 2022 district conference.

National Youth Conference 2022

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.

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 announcements of speakers, 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. Anyone who registers by Dec. 31 will receive a free NYC T-shirt.

Illinois/Wisconsin District will work at organizing a bus trip to the event for our attendees. Gio Romero, from the York Center congregation, is part of the planning team, district executive Walt Wiltschek is one of the worship coordinators, and many other members of our district will be involved in various roles. The other worship coordinators include Bekah Houff, Cindy Laprade Lattimer, and Shawn Flory Replogle. Jacob Crouse is coordinating music.

Erika Clary, working out of the offices in Elgin, is the overall coordinator for NYC 2022, working with Youth/Young Adult Ministries coordinator Becky Ullom Naugle. Please be in prayer for them as they work on plans for the conference in the months ahead.

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 opens online on Jan. 6, 2022. To learn more, visit www.brethren.org/yac.

NYC Youth Speech Contest

Do you know a youth who is attending NYC and would be interested in speaking? Encourage them to submit an entry for the Youth Speech Contest! The theme is “Bring Your Own Jesus Story.” Youth are encouraged to consider how Jesus’ teachings are foundational to their life, and then to choose a story about Jesus from the Bible and preach on it. Participants should send a written entry of 500-700 words and a video entry of about 10 minutes length to the NYC Office by email to cobyouth@brethren.org. The deadline is March 15, 2022.

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

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

Clergy Tax Seminar

The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership’s annual Clergy Tax Seminar takes place on January 29 via Zoom from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central Time. It is intended for students, clergy, and anyone who deals with clergy finances. A continuing education credit of 0.4 units is available for credentialed ministers.

The event is sponsored by the academy along with the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry and Bethany Theological Seminary. Leadership is provided by Deb Oskin, a tax professional specializes in clergy taxes and who is chairing the Church of the Brethren Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee. The event will include a special presentation from the committee about the brand new Pastoral Compensation Calculator and Integrated Annual Ministry Agreement expected to become effective as of the 2022 Annual Conference.

Cost is $40 per person. Current students at the Brethren Academy, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Earlham School of Religion students may attend at no cost, although registration is still required. Find more detailed information and register by Jan. 19 at https://bethanyseminary.edu/brethren-academy/clergy-tax-seminar.

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

- The Program and Arrangements Committee of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference is shifting away from a long-standing practice of offering “insight sessions” at the denomination’s annual meeting, focusing instead on “equipping sessions.” Conference planners first began this shift some years ago, gradually working in specific days for equipping sessions at the denomination’s annual meetings. “Now we are asking everyone to make this shift for all of their sessions,” said Annual Conference director Rhonda Pittman Gingrich.

She described the difference between an insight session and an equipping session in terms of the difference between an infomercial in which attendees are given information about a program, versus a workshop in which attendees experience and are given hands-on tools and resources to use in ministry.

Presenters are encouraged, in particular, to plan equipping sessions related to discipleship formation, neighborhood engagement and missional outreach, leadership development, and stewardship enhancement.

For more about Annual Conference and the planning for the 2022 event, which will take place July 10-14 in Omaha, Neb., go to www.brethren.org/ac.

- Religious workers and clergy are now eligible for Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). The program offers methods to help all borrowers (including religious workers and clergy) reduce or better manage student loans. View the webinar linked below to learn how to apply for PSLF, with leadership from attorney Ashley Harrington, a senior official of the Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education. This webinar was offered by the United Church of Christ in partnership with the National Council of Churches. Go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2ovXOLhKQw.

- The deadline for nominations for the Annual Conference ballot has been extended until Jan. 1. The Church of the Brethren denomination and its agencies depend on leaders elected at Annual Conference from nominees proposed by the wider church. Look at the open offices at www.brethren.org/ac/nominations and consider the gifted people you know in the church. Then fill out the simple online form to nominate someone.

- The 2021 Advent devotional from Brethren Press, Do Not Be Afraid by Angela Finet, has broken previous sales records for the devotional booklets. More than 7,000 copies of the devotional have gone out so far this Advent season, including copies in regular and large print, and as digital downloads. The regular print size has sold out but the large print version and digital download are still available at www.brethrenpress.com.

- The Part-time Pastor; Full-time Church program of the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry is offering a book study on Flourishing in Ministry: How to Cultivate Clergy Wellbeing by Matt Bloom. The online event is planned once a week from Jan. 4 to March 3, 2022, on Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. (Eastern time). Continuing education units are available. 

If the idea of thriving in ministry seems like a distant hope, John Fillmore, a “Circuit Rider” for the Part-Time Pastor/Full-Time Church program, is inviting pastors to join in this book discussion centered on Bloom’s research contained in his book. Bloom is the principal researcher for the Flourishing in Ministry project and the Faith and Flourishing at Work project. Fillmore will lead weekly conversations for reflection, discussion, and mutual support to explore the principles Bloom outlines in his book. In cooperation with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial leadership, continuing education credit will be offered. Register at www.brethren.org/webcasts.

- Several folks from the York Center congregation (Lombard, Ill.) attended the online National Older Adult Conference (NOAC) in September. They were quite interested in Karen González’s keynote presentation and panel discussion, so they decided to study her book, The God Who Sees: Immigrants, the Bible, and the Journey to Belong. The book study sessions were facilitated by pastor Christy Waltersdorff and Marty Creager. They discussed the biblical stories of people who were displaced, those who were welcomed to their new homes, and those who were not welcomed. The conversation led the group to talk about the plight of refugees and immigrants in our world today. The participants want to have further conversations about what our congregation can to do assist people in need, possibly by supporting an immigrant family.

- It’s not too late to apply for the next BVS orientation, which will be held Jan. 18 to Feb. 4 at Camp Bethel in Fincastle, Va. For more information on the application process, as well as available projects, go to www.brethren.org/bvs.

Supporting Your District

The IL/WI District is active in a variety of ministry and mission efforts, both directly and indirectly. For these efforts to continue, resources are needed. Assets available to keep ministry and mission moving along include you (people serving people), tools (tool trailer w/ tools for disaster response work), knowledge and wisdom (years of experience and access to institutions of learning), and, of course, money (endowment, reserves, congregational and individual giving, bequests).

Assets are abundant but unless these gifts are cared for there is potential for depleting them. Therefore, district teams and the combined efforts of many work diligently to ensure asset sustainability.

Still, it is important to know where gaps exist, or a little extra boost would be helpful. For instance, our district has deep interest in and long-standing support of disaster relief efforts. A separate fund is established to assist folks who give of their time and travel great distances to assist. The district’s Disaster Relief Fund is hovering around $1,000.00. Sending a team to serve on a disaster response site can cost nearly $500 or more. To ensure the sustainability of this important ministry, designated gifts to this fund are welcomed and deeply appreciated. Having funds available to assist with travel may be the difference of someone sharing their gifts or staying home. Consider making a contribution!

Other options are available for contributing, as well, including the following:

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

Every gift regardless of size is a significant boost to the abundance of assets in our midst. All contributions ensure that our district goes beyond the plateau of survival to the pinnacles of thriving, providing ample opportunities to serve faithfully.


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 thedistrict webpage or share their name with the GDCC or district office.

Serving is rewarding!


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 $2,500.00 and non-interest bearing loans up to $5000.00. 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.

Monday, November 01, 2021

The Reflector - November 2021

The Village ILWIDIot

November 2021
Walt Wiltschek

I’ve enjoyed the various “Peanuts” holiday specials by Charles Schulz for as long as I can remember, and one that I watch regularly is the Thanksgiving installment.

If you’ve seen it, you probably remember that poor Charlie Brown unwittingly ends up with a group of his friends coming over for Thanksgiving dinner. He doesn’t know what to do with them all since he has no food except some random snacks and buttered toast, no table except an old ping-pong table from his garage and a random assortment of rickety folding chairs, and just Snoopy to serve it all.

Everyone starts complaining, even as Linus—of course—reminds them of the true story behind Thanksgiving. What’s a hapless cartoon character to do?

Fortunately, his grandmother comes through in the end, inviting the whole crew to join the family dinner in her condominium. They take off in a station wagon, happily singing as they bound over the road towards a real Thanksgiving feast.

Now you might ask at this point, “What does this have to do at the church?” And my answer would be: the table. As a spread in the November issue of Messenger portrays, the simple act of gathering around the table is a central part of our life and our faith.

We have fellowship around the tables of carry-in meals and picnics. We have meaningful and important worship around the tables of love feast. We connect and build relationships around the tables of each other’s homes. Something about that breaking of bread together—sharing food and conversation—is elemental to who we are as human beings.

When I was at Manchester, I often had the weekly meeting with our student workers over dinner in the dining hall, because it opened up the flow of our teamwork in a different way—and also took us outside the chapel walls and in the midst of the other students. It just felt different than sitting in an office or conference room.

We see Jesus doing similar things throughout his ministry: dining at the house of tax collectors, visiting his friends Mary and Martha for a meal, multiplying loaves and fishes for a multitude, sharing a Passover supper with his disciples near the end of his earthly journey, cooking up fish to share on the beach, accepting an invitation to a table in Emmaus. If Jesus saw value in that sharing, shouldn’t we, too?

And that’s what I love about Charlie Brown. Even though he’s in over his head and doesn’t have the “right” ingredients to put together a traditional meal, he still provides a table. He uses what he has, puts out some seats, and provides a place for everyone. He serves up community.

I hope that as the church we can do the same: As imperfect or insufficient as we might feel, we can still put out a table and invite others to gather around it, sharing what we have—both literally and figuratively. And whether or not grandmother comes to the rescue with a gourmet feast, I suspect we’ll feel rather full and satisfied in that sharing.

Schedule note: Walt will be on vacation Dec. 23-Jan. 3 and only checking email for any emergency communications during that time.

Upcoming Meetings

Church Development & Revitalization Team: Saturday, Nov. 20, 9 a.m.
Camp Emmaus Directors Meeting: Saturday, Nov. 20, 1 p.m.
Ministry Leadership & Discernment Team (MLDT): Saturday, Dec. 4, 9 a.m.
District Potluck Team: Tuesday, Jan. 11, 9 a.m.

2021 District Conference Update

The Illinois/Wisconsin district conference took place virtually Nov. 5-6, with worship starting things off Friday evening and a morning of business following on Saturday. A big THANK YOU goes out to our virtual “hosts” at Peoria Church of the Brethren, our tech crew, moderator Blaine Miner, Program & Arrangements Committee, and all the others who helped make the event possible and relatively seamless.

Highlights included adopting a district budget for 2022, calling a new slate of district leaders, and consecrating Harold Rose (Canton) as moderator and Phyllis Batterton (Woodland) as moderator-elect for the coming year, along with a variety of reports and other sharing.

A total of 83 people participated in Saturday’s business session, including 53 delegates. And on Friday evening, 44 people joined the online worship service.

The 2022 district conference is tentatively planned as an in-person event Nov. 4-5 at Peoria Church of the Brethren, with the theme “Beyond the Walls: Being Jesus in the Neighborhood.”

In Our Prayers

The Illinois/Wisconsin District is remembering with gratitude the life of Kres Lipscomb, who pastored the Springfield (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren for 32 years until retiring in 2018. Kres passed away Sept. 28 following an illness, with family at his side. In addition to serving as pastor, Kres was very active in ecumenical and interfaith work in Springfield and other volunteer efforts, and in denominational activities. Earlier in his career, he pastored several United Methodist congregations, as well as the Lower Miami Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Ohio. He was a graduate of North Central College and Bethany Theological Seminary. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth (Liz), and daughters Corinne, Laura, and Rebecca, and their families. A memorial service was held October 30 in Springfield. Our prayers are with Kres’ families, friends, and the Springfield congregation.

A Memorial Service for Pauline Dulabaum was held on Saturday, September 18, at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin. Pauline passed February 22, 2020. Her husband, Willard “Duly” is one of our district’s ordained ministers who has served in interim ministry in the district. Nevin Dulabaum, president of Brethren Benefit Trust, is Pauline and Duly’s son. Mary Dulabaum, Nevin's wife, is a member of the District Leadership Team. We extend our sympathy and care as they continue to remember Pauline’s life and ongoing legacy.

Calling the Called

Have you ever felt God might be tapping you on the shoulder to consider a professional ministry role in the church? Are there others you want to encourage to explore such a path? Are you a pastor or other church leader who seeks to help others discover their gifts? Do you just want to learn more about calling and being called?

If so, Illinois/Wisconsin District invites you to a special event the morning of Saturday, Feb. 26. (This event had originally been scheduled in late October but was postponed.) Hear personal stories from some of those who have been called, learn about spiritual discernment and opportunities in the denomination, explore your questions about ministry, and connect with others who are trying to hear God’s call for them.

This event will be free and held virtually on Zoom. Watch for more details in upcoming newsletters, email announcements, and on the district website!

Ministry Milestones

The following individuals were recognized for ordination milestones at the recent district conference. Congratulations again to each of you! We thank you for your service to the church and community.

Purvi Satvedi 5 years
Ginny Haney 15 years
Dennis Webb 15 years
Lynda Willmann 15 years
Blaine Miner 25 years
Jeff Davidson 30 years
Marty Creager 35 years
Kathy Gingrich 40 years
Richard Bright 45 years
Cynthia Weber Han 45 years
Williard (Duly) Dulabaum 60 years (as of 1/1/2022)
Dale Roher 60 years (as of 1/1/2022)

Updates From Our District Family

A memorial service for Kres Lipscomb, long-time pastor of the Springfield First congregation, was held Oct. 30 at the church. Christy Waltersdorff, pastor at York Center and a good friend of Kres, delivered the eulogy message. A recording of the service is available at livestream.com/livingstreamcob/kreslipscombmemorial. Our prayers continue for the Lipscomb family and all those who were touched by his life.

Rick Koch, who has been pastor of the Milledgeville (Dutchtown) congregation for more than three decades, told the church in mid-October of his plans to retire next year. Rick will complete his pastoral service to the congregation on April 24, 2022. Milledgeville is beginning the search process. We are grateful for Rick's long ministry, and wish him well as he makes plans for retirement!

An ordination service and reception will take place the evening of Nov. 28 for Vivek Solanky, licensed minister in the Naperville congregation. Vivek has received a call to become pastor of the Yellow Creek congregation in Northern Indiana District. We rejoice with Vivek in his call and in this significant step in his ministry journey.

A memorial service for Dale Brown, a noted peacemaker and theologian who served as a professor at Bethany Theological Seminary for many years and was formerly a member of the York Center congregation, will take place at 3 p.m. this Sunday, Nov. 7, at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind. (with music/slideshow beginning at 2:40 p.m.). Dale passed away Aug. 30 in Lombard. The service will be live-streamed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEixMZVX_Ko. A recording will also be available at that site for later viewing.

National Youth Conference 2022

The Church of the Brethren National Youth Conference (NYC) is 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.

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 can be found at https://www.brethren.org/yya/nyc/. Please spread the word to any youth and advisors in your congregation and other ministries who might want to attend. 

Illinois/Wisconsin District will work at organizing a bus trip to the event for our attendees. Gio Romero, from the York Center congregation, is part of the planning team, district executive Walt Wiltschek is one of the worship coordinators, and many other members of our district will be involved in various roles. The other worship coordinators include Bekah Houff, Cindy Laprade Lattimer, and Shawn Flory Replogle. Jacob Crouse is coordinating music.

Clergy Tax Seminar

This year’s Clergy Tax Seminar has a revised schedule, new material, and offers 0.4 CEUs (for the first three sessions). It will take place Jan. 29, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Central Time, Students, clergy, and anyone who deals with clergy finances are invited to participate in this online Zoom seminar. Participants will learn how to prepare clergy taxes correctly and legally, and how to comply with regulations while maximizing tax deductions. It is sponsored by the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, the Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry, and Bethany Theological Seminary. Registration is $40 per person (generally nonrefundable to keep fees and overhead low). Current Brethren Academy, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Earlham School of Religion students may attend the seminar at no cost, although registration is still required to allow web access to the seminar. Instructions and handouts will be sent a few days prior to the event. Registrations are not complete until payment is received. For quality reasons, registrations may be capped at 85 participants. Registration deadline is Jan. 19. A Zoom link will be sent prior to the seminar.

New Book by Rebecca Dali

What fuels Rebecca Dali’s passion when “responding with compassion to the most vulnerable persons in northeastern Nigeria”? According to Dali it is her personal story and history–one of “poverty, frustration, rape, a son abducted (by Boko Haram) 11 years ago”–that inspire her life’s work. Dali, a member of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), is founder and executive director of CCEPI (Center for Caring, Empowerment, and Peace Initiative), an organization that serves the most vulnerable populations who have been traumatized by Boko Haram attacks.

On Oct. 9, she spoke to 26 CCEPI-USA board members and guests in Manheim, Pa., attending the launch of a book about her childhood and life’s work. We Have Walked in Each Other’s Shoes: Rebecca Dali’s Story is written by Frank Ramirez with Rebecca Dali and is illustrated by the author’s daughter, Jessica Ramirez, who painted and photographed a series of nesting dolls in the Russian style, reflecting different stages of Dali’s life.

Both Frank and Jessica Ramirez donated their services so that the entirety of the profits from the book benefit Dali and her ministries. In addition, photographer Glenn Riegel donated the photograph of Dali that graces the back cover. We Have Walked in Each Other’s Shoes can be purchased from Brethren Press for $15 at www.brethrenpress.com or by calling 800-441-3712.

In related news, Samuel Dali (former president of EYN from 2011-2016) had his prostate surgically removed on Oct. 12. Thankfully, the cancer had not spread and no chemotherapy or radiation will be needed. His recovery is going well, and he hopes to return to his speaking engagements soon.

However, Samuel and Rebecca—who live in Mason City, Iowa with their son and his family—do not have health insurance. Congregations and members are invited to assist with medical bills by mailing donations to Northern Plains District Financial Secretary, Rhonda Bingman, at 820 Raven Lane, Madrid, IA 50156. Please write “Samuel Dali Medical Expenses” on the memo line of your check. Any excess funds will be given to CCEPI. Cards may be mailed to Samuel at: 6 Cairnbrae Hls, Mason City, IA 50401.

Personnel Notes

Jennifer K. Jensen has been hired by the Church of the Brethren as the Thriving in Ministry Program Manager for the Office of Ministry. Jennifer currently works as Manager of Volunteer Services for Kindred Hospice of McPherson, Kansas, and part-time as Co-District Youth Coordinator for the Western Plains District of the Church of the Brethren. She starts this half-time position on Dec. 13.

Kim Gingerich has been hired as program assistant for the rebuilding program of Brethren Disaster Ministries (BDM), based out of the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. She began in this position on Oct. 25. Gingerich has served as interim program assistant since May 17, 2021. Previously, since January 2014, she had been working and living full-time on BDM rebuilding sites as a long-term disaster project leader covering office and household management. She is from York, Pa., where she has served as district disaster coordinator for Southern Pennsylvania District. She is an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. BDM also welcomed Lynn Evans into a new long-term volunteer role as office manager on rebuilding sites. She started her service with BDM’s return to the coastal North Carolina site, where she is scheduled to serve at least through the length of the project in April 2022. She will lead the office management side of the project tracking finances, communicating with incoming groups, and supporting connections and logistics with local partners. She is from Pottstown, Pa., and has spent most of her career serving in various Christian ministries in multiple states. Her experience includes several rebuilding trips as a weekly volunteer in South Carolina and, most recently, in Dayton, Ohio.

On Earth Peace Series

On Earth Peace is launching a series titled "Children as Peacebuilders:Equipping Resilient Leaders" at 12:00pm Eastern Time on Saturday, October 23. The seminars will invite parents and educators from all around the US to address common, and sensitive topics that their kids are exposed to now more than ever surrounding justice and inclusion. This month will address Bullying Prevention as part of On Earth Peace's Bullying Prevention Month activities, equipping caregivers and educators with tools, such as storytelling using OEP's Read Aloud Program, to talk to children and the community about bullying prevention. To RSVP for the event click here!

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

— A grant of $210,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) will continue the Nigeria Crisis Response through 2022. Prior EDF grants for the Nigeria Crisis Response total $5,100,000, given from September 2014 through March 2020. The Nigeria Crisis Response has provided funding to five response partners in Nigeria, with the majority of support going to EYN. Focus areas for 2022 include repairing homes; peacebuilding and trauma recovery; agriculture; livelihood; education; food, medical, and home supplies; staff engagement; and covering the cost of special projects that may arise. Find out more about the Nigeria Crisis Response and give to support this work at www.brethren.org/nigeriacrisis.

—At its fall meeting Oct. 15-17, the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board approved a 2022 budget of $7.8 million for denominational ministries. Among other actions, the board also moved the Brethren Press budget into the denomination’s Core Ministries, ending the publishing house’s status as a self-funding ministry. The board received a year-to-date financial update for 2021 and numerous reports from ministry areas, board committees, and church agencies. The meeting was a hybrid event with in-person events held at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Chair Carl Fike, who has served previously as chair-elect, was assisted by new chair-elect Colin Scott and general secretary David Steele. Chris Douglas (a member at Highland Avenue), who retired as director of Annual Conference this fall, was recognized for her excellent service to the denomination.

—Manchester University in North Manchester, Ind., seeks candidates for the Multicultural Excellence in Leadership Scholarship, designed to uplift exceptional and talented students who identify as a racial or ethnic minority. The full-ride scholarship is renewable each year for a total of four years. It covers tuition, fees, and on-campus room and meal plan expenses. Manchester will award one such scholarship each year. Multicultural Student Leadership Awards of $2,000 a year will go to the next five top finalists. The awards are renewable each year for up to four years. To be eligible for a multicultural award, applicants must:

— Be an incoming first-year, undergraduate student
— Identify as a racial or ethnic minority on the scholarship application
— Have been admitted to Manchester University
— Have a 3.5 or higher unweighted high school GPA
— Be a US citizen or permanent resident

To apply, students must apply for admission to Manchester, submit the scholarship application with the required essay and video, and provide a letter of recommendation from a teacher or community leader who can speak to their qualifications for the scholarship. The deadline to apply is Jan. 14. The committee will review applications and contact semifinalists about next steps. Letters will be mailed to all applicants with decisions by Feb. 28. Learn more at https://www.manchester.edu/about-manchester/news/news-articles/2021-newsarticles/manchester-offers-full-ride-multicultural-excellence-in-leadership-scholarship

—Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) will be hosting its winter orientation Jan 18- Feb. 4, 2022. The volunteers in Unit 330 will gather at Camp Bethel in Fincastle, Va. This winter orientation takes the place of the fall orientation that did not occur in October. So far, six volunteers are expected to take part. BVS is still accepting applications until Dec. 8. Apply at www.brethren.org/bvs/volunteer/apply.

—The Advent devotional book 25 Days to Jesus, written by York Center pastor Christy Waltersdorff and illustrated by her nephew Mitch Miller, is available from Brethren Press. Order by visiting www.brethrenpress.com. A fun YouTube video about the book is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kjH_eJo6cA.

—No Feeling Is Final, a new film starring Ted Swartz, is based on his book written with Valerie Serrels titled Portraits from the Human Faces Tour. Swartz is a Mennonite actor and dramatist and a popular performer at Church of the Brethren events including Annual Conference, National Youth Conference, and National Older Adult Conference. “No Feeling Is Final is a celebration of resilience and how telling our stories about mental health–both painful and hopeful–can connect and carry us through hard times together,” said a description of the film, which was made on location at The Goshen Theater in Goshen, Ind. It premiered there on Nov. 13. The evening included a live panel discussion with the creators of both the film and the book.

—Religion News Service has published results of a study by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research of how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected churches in the US. The study surveyed 2,074 churches from 38 denominations, showing that “the pandemic has had a profound impact across the religious spectrum, and that some churches are faring better than others,” according to scholar Scott Thumma. A few of the findings: 8 in 10 churches now provide hybrid services both in person and online; almost a quarter have “moderate to severe conflicts about pandemic restrictions”; and “67 percent of clergy said 2020 was the hardest year of their ministry.” Perhaps most crucial: “The mode of delivery of worship services was a major factor in whether median attendance increased or fell. For example, the 15 percent of churches that met solely in person saw the steepest decline in attendance–15.7 percent. The 5 percent of congregations that offered only online worship had a decline of 7.3 percent. But the 80 percent of congregations offering hybrid worship experienced an overall growth of 4.5 percent.” Find the article at https://religionnews.com/2021/11/10/amid-covid-19-most-churches-providehybrid-worship-half-stopped-picnics.

—Christian Churches Together (CCT) has announced the selection of Monica Schaap Pierce as its interim executive director. The Church of the Brethren is a member denomination of the CCT. Pierce’s appointment follows the resignation of executive director Carlos Malave earlier this year. She holds a doctorate in systemic theology from Fordham University and master’s degrees from Trinity Lutheran Seminary and brings experience in managing the ecumenical portfolio of the Reformed Church in America and teaching and speaking in churches and universities. The permanent executive director is expected to be selected by mid- 2022.

Supporting Your District

The IL/WI District is active in a variety of ministry and mission efforts, both directly and indirectly. For these efforts to continue, resources are needed. Assets available to keep ministry and mission moving along include you (people serving people), tools (tool trailer w/ tools for disaster response work), knowledge and wisdom (years of experience and access to institutions of learning), and, of course, money (endowment, reserves, congregational and individual giving, bequests).

Assets are abundant but unless these gifts are cared for there is potential for depleting them. Therefore, district teams and the combined efforts of many work diligently to ensure asset sustainability.

Still, it is important to know where gaps exist, or a little extra boost would be helpful. For instance, our district has deep interest in and long-standing support of disaster relief efforts. A separate fund is established to assist folks who give of their time and travel great distances to assist. The district’s Disaster Relief Fund is hovering around $1,000.00. Sending a team to serve on a disaster response site can cost nearly $500 or more. To ensure the sustainability of this important ministry, designated gifts to this fund are welcomed and deeply appreciated. Having funds available to assist with travel may be the difference of someone sharing their gifts or staying home. Consider making a contribution!

Other options are available for contributing, as well, including the following:

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

Every gift regardless of size is a significant boost to the abundance of assets in our midst. All contributions ensure that our district goes beyond the plateau of survival to the pinnacles of thriving, providing ample opportunities to serve faithfully.


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 thedistrict webpage or share their name with the GDCC or district office.

Serving is rewarding!


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 $2,500.00 and non-interest bearing loans up to $5000.00. 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.

Friday, October 01, 2021

The Reflector - October 2021


The Village ILWIDIot

Just recently, I was talking with someone about how hard the pandemic has been on people—not just the physical effects, but the mental and emotional toll it was taking. They happened to work in the airline industry, which has had to deal with unruly passengers, staffing shortages, and other issues, but I suspect it’s been felt in some way by almost everyone.

I know in talking to pastors that many have felt the challenges of these past two years profoundly. One Barna survey described many pastors as feeling “tired, overwhelmed, and lonely”—and that was back in May 2020.

“The sense of exhaustion and frustration is very real in this time,” Anglican priest Tish Harrison Warren said in an interview at the time. “This is not the way we are intended to do ministry … But we need to now in order to love our neighbor well.”

Many other articles have expressed similar sentiments. Pastors have had to find new ways to provide worship and other services, care for members who have experienced effects of COVID-19 in various ways, and deal with the personal impacts social distancing and other disruptions have had on their own lives.

Some positives have come from this time in the wilderness, too—new ways of connecting, reaching people who seldom if ever took part in church life before, and in some cases making us more aware of issues of inclusivity and accessibility, instance. But those gains have come at a cost in time, energy, and the loss of other forms of community. And that has left many pastors feeling boneweary.

So during this “Pastor Appreciation Month,” as October is dubbed, take some extra time this year to say thank you to your pastor and others in ministry and let the know all their additional work is appreciated, and make sure they are being cared for, too. Even the shepherd needs some green pastures and cool waters now and then.

Walt Wiltschek

Moderator’s Musings

by Blaine Miner

As I write this reflection, this has become a hectic week. The type of week when there are things on the schedule and the usual anticipated items of business, and then something unexpected yet necessary comes up.

The unexpected yet necessary business is attending to a family who has lost a loved one. A member of the deceased’s extended family mentioned to me that she is always ready to drop everything to reach out and do for someone in need. But now that the shoe is on the other foot, she has found it hard to accept the caregiving she so readily offers. Sound familiar?

A year ago, I was ready to serve as the District Moderator. Over the past two years, as I have been in meetings with the various teams – first as Moderator-Elect and now as Moderator – I have been blessed by the relationships made with those who serve our district. I hope each of you holds these committees and their members in prayer as they give of their time and talent. For the past year I have been asking you to think about extending charity to those who are in need. But the comment of my parishioner this past week caught me by surprise. In my personal devotions, some of the reflections have challenged me to be open to God’s work in my life instead of being so caught up in the busyness of getting something done.

Over the past two years I have benefitted from the grace and charity of a whole host of individuals. The first is my wife, Nancy, who when I would remind her that I had a meeting for one committee or another, graciously accommodated the meetings. I am grateful to the Dixon congregation, which supported me in prayer as I went about the work of the district. And lastly, the various teams which are organized to complete the work of the district have graciously accepted my comments during the discussions at meetings. Again, I have been blessed by participating in these meetings with individuals who are passionate about the work they have been called to carry out.

Two years ago when I said yes, I did not anticipate our District Executive retiring. I doubt that it would have made a difference in my decision. I was honored to be asked to be on the search team for our new District Executive. The search committee is another group of individuals for whom I have a greater appreciation, having served beside them.

All of this is to say thank you for the grace and charity extended to me by you, the District of Illinois/Wisconsin. I pray the same grace and charity will be extended to Harold Rose as he serves as moderator in the coming year.

2021 District Conference Update

The Illinois/Wisconsin District conference is coming up soon! A prerecorded worship service will kick things off the evening of Nov. 5, at 7 p.m., with the main conference agenda beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6. Both events will take place virtually this year, via ZOOM. The Program and Arrangements Committee made the decision to hold the conference online after prayerful consideration for the safety of all concerned. The conference will follow a similar format to the 2020 virtual district conference, which had a shorted format.

If you haven't yet registered, you can do so at the following links:
Once you register, you will receive ZOOM links for practice sessions (if needed) and the events Nov. 5-6. Conference booklets will be sent to registrants via email by the end of October. If you have already registered and haven't received a confirmation, please contact the district office at andreag.iwdcob@gmail.com.

Current plans are to hold an in-person district conference in Peoria in 2022.

Pastoral Transition

The Polo Church of the Brethren on Oct. 3 officially installed Jeff Davidson as their new pastor. Jonathan Shively represented the district for the installation service. Jeff and his wife, Julia Gilbert, have been living in the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area. The Washington City Church of the Brethren has been their home base for a number of years, and Jeff has been part of the preaching and pastoral care ministry there. Jeff and Julia are both graduates of Bethany Theological Seminary. Jeff began his part-time ministry at Polo on Oct. 1. We welcome them to Polo and to the Illinois/Wisconsin District!

Pastoral Move

Leslie and Bob Lake moved to West Salem, Ohio as of mid-August. Leslie had pastored the Polo Church for several years before suffering a stroke. We give thanks for her leadership at Polo and within the district over these years. Bob was on the district’s Ministerial Leadership Development Team of the District and served as secretary. We give thanks for his faithful service as well, and pray for good health and God’s blessings for them both as they return to Northern Ohio District where they had lived and worked previously.

In Our Prayers

The Illinois/Wisconsin District is remembering with gratitude the life of Kres Lipscomb, who pastored the Springfield (Ill.) First Church of the Brethren for 32 years until retiring in 2018. Kres passed away Sept. 28 following an illness, with family at his side. In addition to serving as pastor, Kres was very active in ecumenical and interfaith work in Springfield and other volunteer efforts, and in denominational activities. Earlier in his career, he pastored several United Methodist congregations, as well as the Lower Miami Church of the Brethren in Dayton, Ohio. He was a graduate of North Central College and Bethany Theological Seminary. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth (Liz), and daughters Corinne, Laura, and Rebecca, and their families. A memorial service is scheduled for October 30 in Springfield. Our prayers are with Kres’ families, friends, and the Springfield congregation.

A Memorial Service for Pauline Dulabaum was held on Saturday, September 18, at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin. Pauline passed February 22, 2020. Her husband, Willard “Duly” is one of our district’s ordained ministers who has served in interim ministry in the district. Nevin Dulabaum, president of Brethren Benefit Trust, is Pauline and Duly’s son. Mary Dulabaum, Nevin's wife, is a member of the District Leadership Team. We extend our sympathy and care as they continue to remember Pauline’s life and ongoing legacy.

'Calling the Called' Event Postponed

Due to schedule conflicts for some participants in the district's "Calling the Called" online event that had been scheduled for Oct. 23, the planning committee has decided to reschedule it in late winter or early spring 2022. Look for more details soon. In the meantime, please continue to tap the shoulders of people in your congregation and community who might have gifts for ministry!

District Disaster Ministries

From district disaster ministries coordinator Loren Habegger:

It is time to begin to finalize plans for participation in the Illinois/Wisconsin District project to provide 8-10 volunteers for the Coastal North Carolina Brethren Disaster Ministries rebuild project near Bayboro, N.C., Nov. 28-Dec. 4. If you, or members or friends in your congregation think serving on the North Carolina BDM project is a possibility, please contact me by Nov. 1, if possible, at ilwi.ddc.lh@gmail.com. Detailed information about the project can be found at www.brethren.org/bdm/rebuild/coastal-nc/. The volunteer assignment will again be shared with South/Central Indiana.

Costs for travel by air from Chicago O'Hare, for example, to the Coastal Regional Airport (EWN) on American Airlines is currently at $429 plus tax, luggage fees, and transportation to the airport. Alternatively, for travel by car the N.C. site is about 1,000 miles or 2,000 round-trip. At the IRS rate of 14 cents per mile for charitable travel the estimated travel cost is $280 plus approximately $200 for two in-transit stays at a hotel, for a total of $480. As has been the past practice for travel to BDM project sites, the district is offering to assist with 50 percent of the cost of volunteer travel to the project, with the balance to be provided by the local congregation or personal funds.

Office of Ministry makes available documents for 2022 pastor salary and benefits

Church of the Brethren Newsline
July 16, 2021

The Church of the Brethren Office of Ministry has sent out its annual e-packet of documents for the Cash Salary Guidelines and Table for pastors for the upcoming year, 2022. The packet has been provided to the 24 district offices across the denomination, and select documents also are available to download from the Office of Ministry webpage for forms at www.brethren.org/ministryoffice/forms.html.

The annual start-up and renewal agreements for pastors and congregations are not included in the packet but are available online, as downloadable and fillable pdf forms on the Office of Ministry webpage for forms.

For more information or questions contact nsheishman@brethren.org.

2022 Annual Conference Information

The Annual Conference Office has shared that the cost of delegate registration for 2022 in Omaha, Neb., will be $310, and for non-delegates registration will be $130. Conference will meet at the CHI Convention Center in Omaha. There are two hotels in our Conference Block: the Hilton Omaha and DoubleTree. Our Annual Conference Room Rate will be $106 plus tax (18.16%) for a total of $125.25 per night. Parking fees at the Hilton Omaha are: Self-parking: complimentary. At the DoubleTree they are: complimentary parking in the Central City Garage (adjacent) and $10 daily in the First National Bank garage (attached). Basic wireless internet is complimentary for all registered Hilton Honors members (free registration to become a member). Annual Conference registration and housing reservations will open on Tuesday, March 1. Annual Conference is scheduled for Sunday, July 10 through Thursday, July 14. 

Moderator David Sollenberger’s “Moderator’s Musings” for October can be found at www.brethren.org/ac2022/moderator/musings.

Position Openings

Executive Director of institutional Advancement Open at Bethany Seminary

If you or someone you know might be interested in applying, please see the link below:

https://bethanyseminary.edu/jobs/executive-director-of-institutional-advancement/


Faculty position in Peace Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary

Bethany Theological Seminary has launched a national search for a new faculty member to teach Peace Studies, along with a secondary area of emphasis in support of the Seminary’s educational mission. Rank is open and candidates with a PhD in hand are preferred. (Candidates who are in the process of completing their dissertations will be considered.) Full information about this faculty position can be found here. https://bethanyseminary.edu/jobs/faculty-position-in-peace-studies


Program Manager, Part-Time Pastor/Full-Time Church program

The Program Manager will work with an Advisory Committee to implement the “Part-Time Pastor; Full-Time Church” program, a Lilly Endowment, Inc.-funded initiative that addresses the practical needs of multivocational ministers in the Church of the Brethren. This program will include recruiting and training qualified individuals to serve as Circuit Riders, those who assess ministers’ immediate concerns, as well as Resource Persons, those who provide expertise regarding concerns identified as most common for multivocational clergy. Peer groups are also formed to support pastors beyond their program participation. The Program Manager will manage requests for services, schedule service providers (Circuit Riders and Resource Persons) and meet ongoing administrative needs including completion of required reports to the grant provider. See more details at www.brethren.org/about/employment/.


Database Support Specialist (Elgin, Ill., or New Windsor, Md.)

The Church of the Brethren is seeking an individual to fill a full-time hourly position of Database Support Specialist. The Database Support Specialist is part of the Information Technology team and Organizational Resources. The major responsibility is to oversee and supervise the use of the organization’s database system and to enter and edit data that is collected across the whole organization, in consultation with the Director of Information Technology. Find more details at www.brethren.org/about/employment.

Link to Church of the Brethren video report

The video report of the Church of the Brethren ministries is now available at https://youtu.be/MwIypFFe7DM

This video report, as well as the written and pictorial Annual Report, is also posted on the Church of the Brethren website at https://www.brethren.org/about/annualreport/ The report will also be shown at district conference.

National Youth Conference 2022

National Youth Conference (NYC) 2022 will focus on Colossians 2:5-7 and the theme “Foundational.” The event will be held July 23-28, 2022. The registration fee, which includes food, lodging, and programing, will be $550. Youth who have completed ninth grade through one year of college at the time of NYC (or are age equivalent) and their adult advisors will gather at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. Online registration will open in early 2022. Keep your youth up to date at https://www.brethren.org/yya/nyc/