Wednesday, November 01, 2023


Several congregations (including Oak Grove and Canton) held Thanksgiving meals on Nov. 12, and others are celebrating with special meals in the coming weeks. Blessings to everyone this Thanksgiving season, and on every day of thanksgiving!

Peoria First took several loads of supplies and donations to eastern Kentucky Nov. 7 on its latest Mountain Mission trip. Several volunteers from the congregation also recently assisted with a Habitat for Humanity project in East Peoria.

Freeport is exploring hosting a Children’s Disaster Services volunteer training workshop in 2024.

York Center will be holding an Advent Fair following worship on Dec. 3.

The region in Honduras where former Camp Emmaus manager Bill Hare (Polo) has worked for more than two decades recently was hit by a devastating flood from a hurricane. Bill’s daughter, Beth Taylor, shared that villages in the southern part of the country “are in desperate need of resources.…Some of the villages are completely cut off by water, some are under water, wells have collapsed, and roads have washed out.” Food security and other basic needs are a major issue. Bill’s local partner in Honduras is working on providing relief. Any individuals or congregations that wish to assist can send checks payable to “Honduras Mission Fund” to Bill Hare, 408 S. McKendrie St., Apt. 144, Mount Morris, IL 61054. The Church of the Brethren’s Service Ministries also recently sent a 20-foot container of relief supplies to Honduras.

Howard Royer, from Highland Avenue, recently provided this update about the Growing Project of the Highland Avenue and Polo congregations:

“In mid-summer, due to distressing weather conditions, the prospect for the 30 acres of corn that make up the 2023 Polo Growing Project appeared bleak. But at harvest in mid-October, the results were no less than astonishing, the crop yielding an average of 247.5 bushels per acre. Net proceeds for the project stand at $45,500, a notch above last year’s near-record earnings of $45,000. All told, 19 years of planting and harvesting the Polo Growing Project by Jim and Karen Schmidt have netted $655,625 for investing in smallholder farmers in food-deficit communities around the world to expand local food production on a sustainable basis. Supported by four northern Illinois churches, Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren among them, the Polo venture is one of the more durable growing projects in the network of Growing Hope Globally, originally Foods Resource Bank.

“Adding to the good news element is that the Polo Growing Project will continue next year, named in honor of Jim Schmidt and Bill Hare whose vision and land became the foundation of the project. Steve Shaeffer, a neighbor who is renting the fields on the Schmidt farm, is the new grower and manager.”

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: