Tuesday, January 02, 2024

The Reflector - January 2024


Monday, January 01, 2024


Walt Wiltschek

“The violence of the wicked will sweep them away, for they refuse to act with justice.” –Prov. 21:7, CEB

It’s become all too common: The breaking news on a web page or a radio or TV broadcast brings word of yet another mass shooting event—at schools, at malls, at supermarkets, at theaters, even in houses of worship.

I remember vividly the inner gut punch I felt on hearing news of a shooting that took place on Valentine’s Day 2008 at Northern Illinois University. It occurred two years after I finished my graduate degree there, in a building I passed through often. That tragedy left five students dead and 17 others injured.

That was more than 15 years and many deaths ago. And many other such incidents preceded it. This past week, a school shooting in Perry, Iowa—in a district where several Church of the Brethren members work—joined the horrific list. A sixth grader was killed, and the young shooter took his own life. Others were injured, and more families shattered.

While the exact statistics of such incidents vary depending on one’s definition of a mass shooting, the bottom line is that it’s much too large of a number. The Pew Research Center, for example, reported a total of 48,830 gun deaths (of all kinds) in 2021. And the US far outpaces most of the developed world in that category.

In a Messenger magazine column last year, Virginia pastor Nathan Hollenberg called the US’ blind fealty to the Second Amendment a form of idolatry, much like the golden calf in the wilderness of Sinai. “We must recapture the narrative of our faith,” he said. “There is no faith argument in support of weapons that are built to kill other humans as quickly and destructively as possible.”

The causes of our epidemic are complex, including the prevalence of bullying and mental health issues along with our culture of violence and social media and other venues that stoke the seeds of anger. We will not agree on the solutions to this disturbing reality, but as followers of Christ who are part of a historic peace church, I hope that we can acknowledge the problem.

Alongside our thoughts and prayers, what steps can we take to begin to make a difference? A few of our congregations have already held events around this topic, and a larger event took place at Annual Conference last year. What will our witness be?

As Northern Plains District executive Tim Button-Harrison wrote this past week: “Let us genuinely renew our commitment to teach and walk in the pathway of non-violence and love taught by Jesus and courageously raise our voices with all who are crying ENOUGH.”


In addition to regular meetings, Walt will be worshiping with Chicago First Jan. 14, attending CODE meetings in Florida Jan. 19-25 (with some travel before and after), preaching at York Center Feb. 4, preaching at Highland Avenue Feb. 11, and leading a youth retreat in Maryland Feb. 23-25.

Walt is available to visit your church, do pulpit supply, lead sessions, have conversation times, or otherwise connect with your congregation. Please contact IWDDE@outlook.com to schedule a time. He is usually on district duty Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, plus Sundays.


“Who Are You Wearing?”

by Christy Waltersdorff

We are in the midst of the Hollywood Awards season. As celebrities walk the red carpet in expensive designer clothing, dripping with jewels, reporters shove microphones in their faces and ask, “Who are you wearing?” That question has always annoyed me. I know the reporter wants the name of a famous designer, but it always reduces the person to merely a mannequin, placing the focus on their clothing and not their character. Perhaps they are mannequins on that red carpet, showcasing the finest work of a “fashion house,” but they are also unique and talented human beings.

Of course, what we wear matters. In the middle of winter, here in Illinois, most of us are wrapped up in warm sweaters and parkas. As the snow falls, we would soon regret going outside to shovel in shorts and flip flops. Likewise, as Christians, the way we present ourselves to the world matters a great deal.

In his letter to the Christians in Colossae, Paul reminds them that they are God’s chosen ones. They are God’s beloved, created in God’s own image. Paul encourages them to clothe themselves with the characteristics of Jesus: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. He wants God’s people to live their lives as Jesus did so that when others see them, they won’t have to ask, “Who are you wearing?”

As we choose what to wear each day, let’s not forget to also choose the things of God. Let’s greet the world dressed in the goodness of God every day.

Upcoming Meetings & Events

  • Program and Arrangements Committee, Jan. 11, 6:30 p.m.
  • Camp Emmaus board retreat, Jan. 13 (may be postponed due to weather)
  • Council of District Executives winter meetings/InterAgency Forum, Jan. 19-25, Melbourne, Fla.
  • Church Revitalization and Development Team, Jan. 27, 9 a.m.
  • Gifts Discernment and Call Committee, Jan. 31, 6:30 p.m.
  • Leadership Team, Feb. 6, 6:30 p.m.
  • Ministry Leadership Development Team, Feb. 21, 6:30 p.m.
  • Leadership Team, April 2, 6:30 p.m.
  • Spring clergy retreat, April 15-16, Bishop Lane Retreat Center, Rockford
  • Creation care event, April 27, details TBA

    [all meetings via Zoom unless otherwise noted]


A district prayer calendar has been created for your use in praying for our district and related programs through the year. We invite you to include the following in your prayers in coming weeks:

Week of Jan. 15: Pray for Brethren Disaster Ministries and its wide-ranging work, for outgoing district disaster coordinator Loren Habegger, and for all those who go out to serve across the country.

Week of Jan. 22: Pray for the Council of District Executives as they hold their winter meetings this week, and for all the work of the 24 districts of our denomination stretching across the US and Puerto Rico.

Week of Jan. 29: Pray for the Dixon congregation, and all the varied work that happens at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md.

Week of Feb. 5: Pray for the district’s Program and Arrangements Committee and the Gifts Discernment and Call Committee, as the members of those teams work to plan district conference and call out leadership for our district.

Week of Feb. 12: Be in prayer for the Leadership Team of our district as the members of that group meet and help the district to fulfill its call and vision.


The five-year ethics training and CEU cycle for all ministers will be occurring in 2024-2025. An ethics training session will be held during the spring clergy retreat April 15-16 at Bishop Lane Retreat Center near Rockford. Another in-person training will likely be scheduled in the district at a later date for those unable to attend in April. All ministers should also begin gathering information for their CEU report, which will be due in late 2024 or early 2025.

Congratulations to Randall Westfall, manager at Camp Emmaus, on his recent completion of the TRIM ministry training program. Randall was recently ordained in the Michigan District, where he previously worked, and we are grateful now for his ministry here!

Congratulations also to the Dixon congregation and Michael Cole, who had been serving as interim pastor but in December was called as Dixon’s permanent part-time pastor by a unanimous vote. We’re glad for this excellent partnership to continue.

Bobbi Dykema will be concluding her pastoral ministry at the Springfield First congregation in March, with her last Sunday in the pulpit on March 17. She has served there for five years and currently also serves as the district’s Annual Conference Standing Committee delegate. We wish her the best in her future endeavors.

The denomination’s Part-Time Pastor, Full-Time Church program invites multi-vocational clergywomen to join Erin Matteson, spiritual director and circuit rider, for a monthly gathering during which Erin will facilitate various spiritual practices such as lectio divina and visio divina. These gatherings, which will be held February to June, offer the opportunity to form sacred circles with others in hopes of nourishing spiritual wellbeing. Join Erin on the second Monday of each month by registering for either the first (11 a.m. Central) or second (6 p.m. Central) session at:  
https://forms.gle/JWi3m7pfAP6ZUCzL9. Registration closes Feb. 1.  More information about the gatherings is included on the registration form.

The 2024 IRS standard mileage rate for business use of personal vehicles is 67 cents per mile. More information can be found at


Congregational vacancies:
Cherry Grove: Using regular pulpit supply
Girard: Terry Link is assisting in providing pastoral leadership
Oakley Brick: David Roe has announced his retirement effective November 2024
Springfield First: Bobbi Dykema will be completing her service in March
York Center: Christy Waltersdorff has announced her retirement effective December 2024

Grants available: The denomination’s Office of Ministry has shared that grants are available through the Part-Time Pastor, Full-Time Church program for pastors who would like to do a sabbatical or continuing education experience. For more information or an application, contact district executive minister Walt Wiltschek at 


Congregational giving to the district in 2023 totaled about $32,000, not counting funds received from some properties that were sold. Thank you to everyone who gave for your generosity in supporting the district’s ministries! We encourage you to keep the district in mind in the new year.

An additional gift of $3,000 was received from the Church of the Brethren Mission & Ministry Board at the end of 2023, part of ministry partnership funds received from the Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company due to a favorable claim history.

Christine Knotts (Peoria First) completed her term as financial secretary for the district at the end of 2023, and we are grateful for her good work over the years. Leonard Matheny (Peoria First) has taken over that role as of Jan. 1. Any donations sent directly to the district financial secretary should now go to Leonard at 1231 W. Wonderview Dr., Dunlap, IL 61525.

The Highland Avenue congregation (Elgin) is seeking a full-time office administrator. See more information in the “Job Opportunities” section below.

Church of the Brethren Yearbook forms are on their way to congregations. Please take time to complete these forms and return them to the denominational office by April 15.

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.


Phoebe Sue Hayes of Sycamore, Ill., a former employee at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., passed away on Jan. 1. She was born on July 7, 1949, in Bluffton, Ind., the daughter of Roy and Wilda Olwin. She worked for several years in the 1980s and 1990s as secretary for Interpretation among other positions at the denomination’s General Offices. A memorial service was held on Jan. 8 at Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin.


Pastors, chaplains, and other ministers: Mark your calendars! The district’s spring 2024 clergy retreat will take place April 15-16, again at the beautiful Bishop Lane Retreat Center near Rockford. The main event will be the every-five-years ethics training, led by Office of Ministry director Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Naperville pastor Dennis Webb, and district executive minister Walt Wiltschek.

The ethics training will occur during three sessions over the course of our time together. The retreat will be about 24 hours, beginning Monday late afternoon and concluding Tuesday afternoon. All participants will have a private room with bathroom. Food, fun, worship, and other activities will also be part of this time together. Watch for additional details soon.


Mark your calendars! Plans are coming together for a creation care-focused district event on Saturday, April 27, tentatively in the late-morning time frame. New Community Project director David Radcliff will be the featured speaker, along with other educational pieces still in the works. It will likely be a hybrid event—held in person at one of our congregations with a Zoom option available. Watch for more details soon.


On your next visit to Camp Emmaus, hike over to the meadow that

 borders the boys’ cabins and check out the newest addition—the camp council ring. It consists of 42 unique blocks of 1,800-pound limestone arranged in two concentric circles. Installed in late November, the ring was formed from locally based materials: limestone from Freeport, mulch from Dixon, and landscaping from Polo. The construction is the latest of a series of physical improvements donated over the years to the camp by Highland Avenue member and long-time Camp Emmaus volunteer Ralph Miner.

Inspired by Danish landscape architect Jens Jensen (1860-1951), the council ring is a symbolic representation of both ancient Danish village gatherings and newer ideals of American democracy. The circular design invites people to come together in an egalitarian way, Ralph notes. Just as a circle has no beginning or end, there is no hierarchy within a group seated around a ring. He adds that Jensen placed council rings in the Chicago-area parks he designed to encourage neighbors to come together as equals to share ideas, experiences, and stories and to enjoy the beauty of nature.

As Camp Emmaus starts its journey on the next 75 years of ministry, the dream is that this installation will invite people to gather, because camp believes that when people gather together, awesome things can occur.

Camp Emmaus has announced its summer camping schedule for 2024:
May 24-27                   Memorial Day Family Camp
July 7-11                      Intermediate Camp (grades 3-5)
July 12-14                    Young Adult and Young at Heart Camp (YAAYAH)
July 14-20                    Senior High Camp (grades 9-12)
July 21-27                    Middle School Camp (grades 6-8)
Aug. 2-4                       CIT training
Aug. 3-4                       Elementary Camp (grades 1-2)
Aug. 8-10                     Women’s Camp
Aug. 16-18                   Men’s Camp
Aug. 30-Sept. 2           Labor Day Family Camp

Camp Emmanuel has announced its summer 2024 camping schedule. Registration will open in March:
Women’s Camp                                 May 31-June 2                                   
Youth Camp (grades 9-12)      2nd week in June or 2nd weekend in June (to be determined)
Middle School Camp (grades 6-8)      June 9-15
Junior Camp (grades 3-5)                    June 19-23
Pre-Junior Camp (grades K-2)             June 28-30
Day Camp (grades K-5)                       July 15-19
Men’s Camp                                       Aug. 9-11
Family Camp                                       Aug. 30-Sept. 2
Creation Camp (grades 3-6)                Sept. 6-8

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


The Midwest region’s Powerhouse Regional Youth Conference, sponsored by Northern Indiana District’s youth cabinet with assistance from some Manchester University students, will take place Feb. 16-18 at Camp Mack in Milford, Ind. David Radcliff, director of New Community Project, will be the keynote speaker on the theme “Caring for Others and Caring for God’s Creation.” Workshops will include leadership from Brethren Volunteer Service and FaithX, with other workshop options, worship, and recreation through the weekend. Cost is $99 for youth, $79 for advisors. Registration deadline is Feb. 2; register at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdXCVSuD3m9E8aZPegxSOeWAUOMaJbZ5cVlT6Ct7ZiA0umOYA/viewform?usp=sf_link.

The next Church of the Brethren Christian Citizenship Seminar, for senior high youth and first-year college students and advisors, will be April 11-16, 2024, in Washington, D.C. Online registration opens Dec. 1 at 12 p.m. Central. Those who register and pay in full by Dec. 31 will receive a free t-shirt! A non-refundable deposit of $250 is due within two weeks of registration in order to hold a spot. The 2024 theme is “And They Fled: Advocating for Just Immigration Policy,” drawing from Matthew 2:13-23. Registration cost is $500. Learn more at https://www.brethren.org/yya/ccs.


District disaster response coordinator Loren Habegger (York Center) has indicated his desire to retire from the position; a transition will be taking place in the coming months. If you have interest in being involved in facilitating disaster response work for the district, please contact the district office.

More information about the Brethren Disaster Ministries tornado recovery project in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, is at www.brethren.org/bdm/rebuild/projects. A complete schedule can be found here.


Church of the Brethren FaithX trips are short-term service experiences that challenge us to be more aware of ourselves, our communities, and our world.

The trips provide opportunities for all ages to serve. Traditional junior and senior high youth trips are happening during summer, but a few new trip options are also available. In February, FaithX is hosting a service trip for older adults (55+) at Camp Ithiel in Florida—registration is open now for this trip. During the summer, a family trip with childcare provided will allow attendees of any age to experience service together. Additionally, the summer schedule includes adult trips in the US with Brethren Disaster Ministries and in Ecuador, a We Are Able trip for persons with intellectual disabilities, options for combined junior and senior high youth groups to attend together, or the opportunity to create a custom trip.

Registration for summer FaithX trips is now open! Registration for the winter older adult trip will close on Feb. 1. To register or to view the full 2024 FaithX schedule and learn more about the trips, go to www.brethren.org/faithx . If you did not receive a 2024 FaithX brochure in the mail, reach out to the FaithX Office to have one sent to you. The FaithX Office can be contacted at faithx@brethren.org or 847-429-4337.


The 2024 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference will take place July 3-7 (plus some pre-Conference meetings) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Madalyn Metzger, who grew up in the Springfield First congregation, will serve as moderator, with the theme “Welcome and Worthy.”

Daily scripture themes are as follows: Wednesday, July 3: Romans 16:1-4 (CEB) with supporting scriptures from Matthew 5:1-16 (CEB) and Revelation 7:9-10; Thursday, July 4: Luke 1:46-49 (NIV) with supporting scriptures from Jeremiah 1:4-10 and 2 Samuel 9:1-10a; Friday, July 5: Romans 12:3-10 with supporting scriptures from John 15:9-13 and 2 Chronicles 30:18-21; Saturday, July 6: Acts 2:42-47 with supporting scriptures from Ephesians 4:1-6 and 1 Peter 4:8-11; Sunday, July 7: Philippians 2:1-11 with supporting scriptures from Micah 6:8, Zechariah 7:8-10, and Galatians 6:2 and 6-10.

Worship preachers will be Annual Conference moderator Madalyn Metzger on Wednesday; Greg Broyles of Roanoke, Va. (Germantown Brick Church of the Brethren) on Thursday; Brandon Grady of Glenville, Pa. (Black Rock Church of the Brethren) on Friday; Leonard M. Dow, vice president of Community and Church Development for Everence and previously pastor of Oxford Circle Mennonite Church in Philadelphia on Saturday; and Cindy Laprade Lattimer of Huntingdon, Pa. (Stone Church of the Brethren) on Sunday morning.

Nathan Hollenberg of Broadway, Va., is serving as the Program and Arrangements Committee liaison to the worship team, which also includes Founa Augustin Badet of Delray Beach, Fla.; Calvin Park of Knoxville, Md.; and Amber Harris of Winston-Salem, N.C. The music coordinator is Seth Crissman of Harrisonburg, Va.; choir director is Julie Richard of Finksburg, Md.; and pianist is Jocelyn Watkins of East Peoria, Ill. The organist is Robin Risser Mundey of Frederick, Md., and the children’s choir director is Stephanie Rappatta of Elkhart, Ind.

Advance registration (March 1-June 10) will be $330 for delegates and $150 for non-delegates attending the full conference (or $50 daily rate). Current high school students and younger can attend with no registration charge; those post-high school through age 21 are $40. Fees are higher for on-site registration beginning July 2. For virtual participation only, the non-delegate rate is $195 (or $75 daily) before June 10 and $225 thereafter.

Two hotel options, the Amway Grand Plaza and the Courtyard Grand Rapids Downtown, will be available for $119 plus tax (total of $136.90) per night with complimentary self-parking and in-room WiFi. Annual Conference registration and housing opens to the public March 1. For more information, visit https://www.brethren.org/ac.


• The denomination’s Part-Time Pastor, Full-Time Church program invites multi-vocational pastors to join pastor and circuit rider John Fillmore for a 10-week discussion of Matt Bloom’s book Flourishing in Ministry: How to Cultivate Clergy Well-Being to dig a little deeper into the things that contribute to pastoral wellbeing. Sessions will begin January 16 and be held on Tuesday evenings beginning at 6 p.m. Central. Books will be provided by the Part-Time Pastor, Full-Time Church program, and CEUs will be available. Register by filling out this form: https://forms.gle/JWi3m7pfAP6ZUCzL9
• Upcoming courses from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership include “Polarization as an Opportunity for Ministry,” led by Russell Haitch April 13 in person at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., with a Zoom session before and after (registration deadline March 7); and “Cultivating an Everyday Faith,” led by Joan Daggett, April 17-June 11 online (registration deadline March 13). CEU’s are available for clergy taking the courses. Register for other courses and pay online at 
Brethren Academy Course Registration/Biannual TRIM Payment | Bethany Theological Seminary (bethanyseminary.edu).
• “Church of the Brethren Polity” will be offered March 22-23 and April 26-27 online via Zoom by the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center. Randy Yoder will teach the course. Register by contacting Karen Hodges at 
• The Brethren Academy, along with the Office of Ministry and Bethany Theological Seminary, will also offer the annual clergy tax seminar via Zoom Jan. 27, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Central, led by Brethren tax professional Deb Oskin. Participants will receive 0.3 CEU’s. Registration is $40 per person; registration deadline is Jan. 19. Learn more and register at 
Clergy Tax Seminar | Bethany Theological Seminary (bethanyseminary.edu).

• Video recordings of online events sponsored by the Part-time Pastor, Full-time Church program of the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Ministry are available online at 
https://vimeo.com/ptpftcbrethren. Among the most recent is a webinar with Jon Ritner, author of the book Positively Irritating: Embracing a Post-Christian World to Form a More Faithful and Innovative Church, hosted by Ryan Braught, church planter and pastor of Veritas Community, a Church of the Brethren congregation. For more information contact Tabitha H. Rudy, administrative assistant for Part-time Pastor, Full-time Church, at adminptpftc@brethren.org.

• Lombard Mennonite Peace Center is offering its one-day “Healthy Congregations” training session Jan. 16 and March 5. For more details and registration information, and to see other events, go to 

• NCP Learning Tours: New Community Project will offer an educational trip to Ecuador’s Amazon region May 30-June 5; to Lybrook, N.M., June 20-26; to the Denali/Kenai Fjords region of Alaska July 28-Aug. 4; and to Arctic Village, Alaska, Aug. 4-12. 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 


Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren (Elgin, Ill.) is seeking a full-time office administrator. The ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree and/or equivalent office work experience. This position requires a person who enjoys working with people; has a professional, positive mannerism; has an understanding of office administration and bookkeeping; has exceptional organizational skills; is very detail-oriented and has the ability to prioritize workloads; and is proficient with and/or adept at learning computer systems and applications. Impeccable follow-up abilities are a must. Candidates should have strong English verbal and written communications skills and proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite. Knowledge of Google Docs and PowerChurch software is a plus, but not a requirement. Experience with a faith community is preferred. Respect for all individuals regardless of background or affiliation is required. Bilingual English and Spanish is a plus. A willingness to learn basic Spanish phrases and a fluency in English is required. To apply, send a letter of interest, resumé, three professional references, and salary-range expectation to Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren, ATTN: Donna March, 783 West Highland Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120, or at hiring@hacob.org. Members of Highland Avenue are not eligible to apply due to a conflict of interest.
The Church of the Brethren is seeking an individual to fill a part-time (40 hours biweekly) salaried position of manager of the Global Food Initiative Fund (GFIF). This position reports directly to the executive director of Global Mission and is responsible for providing oversight and administration of the Global Food Initiative Fund and coordinates hunger-based programming with Global Mission, particularly with sister churches. This position is based in Elgin and can be remote with some travel required. Education or interest in agriculture or community development is preferred, as is language ability in French, Spanish, or Haitian Creole and experience in budget management. A bachelor’s degree is required, and a master’s or equivalent work experience is helpful. Interested applicants should send their resume’ to COBApply@brethren.org.
The Church of the Brethren is seeking an individual to fill a full-time salaried position of director of the Brethren Historical Library and Archives. The archivist promotes the history and heritage of the Church of the Brethren by administering BHLA and by facilitating research and the study of Brethren history. Skills and knowledge required include familiarity with Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; familiarity with library and archival disciplines; customer service skills; research and problem-solving skills, and proficiency in Microsoft software and experience with OCLC products, plus at least 3 to 5 years of experience in a library or archives. Master’s degree in library science/archival studies or a public history related program, and extensive knowledge of Church of the Brethren history and beliefs, or graduate degree in history or theology and/or certification by the Academy of Certified Archivists. This position is based at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. Applications will be received beginning immediately and reviewed on an ongoing basis until the position is filled. Qualified candidates are invited to send a resume to COBApply@brethren.org.
Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., seeks candidates for the position of admissions recruiter. This is a full-time, exempt, administrative faculty position. Responsibilities include overseeing direct contact with potential students to help generate robust enrollment and to work with students to complete the full application process. This position requires extensive travel within the US. Minimum qualifications include admissions or relevant sales and marketing experience in higher education, preferred; a bachelor’s degree; familiarity with seminaries and theological education, preferred; affinity with the values and mission of the seminary, required; understanding of the Church of the Brethren in the Anabaptist-Pietist tradition, preferred; among others. Application reviews have begun and will continue until an appointment is made. A full job description is at 
https://bethanyseminary.edu/jobs/admissions-recruiter. To apply send a letter of interest, resume’, and contact information for three references to recruitment@bethanyseminary.edu, Attn: Lori Current, Bethany Theological Seminary, 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374.
The Shine Curriculum project seeks a full-time project editor for quarterly faith formation resources. Shine is a joint project of Brethren Press and MennoMedia. The Project Editor provides editorial oversight and developmental editing for Shine’s faith formation resources for churches and families to guide children, youth, and intergenerational groups to love Jesus, grow in faith, change the world. Learn more at 

The Western Plains District is seeking a half-time district executive minister to serve its 36 congregations located in New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. This is a half-time time position (approximately 25 hours per week). The office location is negotiable. Travel is required both within and outside of the district. The full position description is posted at: 
https://www.brethren.org/about/employment/. Responsibilities include leading and coordinating district ministries, providing a strong emphasis on the missional church, working with congregations in calling and credentialing ministers and placing pastors, and providing a link between the district and denomination. Candidates should be ordained through an accredited program, have skills in organization and communication, and be committed to the Church of the Brethren, with five to 10 years of pastoral experience preferred. Interested and qualified persons may apply for this position by sending a letter of interest and resume’ to Nancy Sollenberger Heishman, Director of Ministry, via email at officeofministry@brethren.org.  Applicants are requested to contact three persons who are willing to provide a letter of reference. Upon receipt of the resume’, the individual will be sent a candidate profile that must be completed and returned before the application is considered complete. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.


Founa Badet has been hired by the Church of the Brethren as director of Intercultural Ministry, part of the Discipleship and Leadership Formation department. She is a graduate of Trinity International University (Fla.) with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Ministry and a Master of Arts in Leadership. Founa currently works as a family advocate for Early Learning Coalition Palm Beach County and as Director of English and Haitian Ministry for the Atlantic Southeast District Church of the Brethren. Founa has been doing ministry work for many years with pastors, districts, and Church of the Brethren congregations. In addition to English, she possesses language skills in Haitian Creole, French, and Spanish. Founa will begin working as a remote employee from Delray Beach, Fla., on Feb. 19.


The Northern Plains District of the Church of the Brethren requested prayer in the wake of the shooting at Perry High School in Iowa on Thursday morning, Jan. 4. At least two members of the district worked at the school or on the campus that the high school shares with Perry Middle School. Other district members teach at the elementary level in the Perry school district or have worked in the district in various capacities. Other families in the district have children in the Perry schools or are related to students. District executive minister Tim Button-Harrison sent an email to district ministers and board members after learning that at least one member of the district who teaches at the high school was present in the building at the time of the shooting. The teacher was physically unharmed, but affected emotionally. The shooter, who took his own life, was one of the teacher’s students, and other students of the teacher were injured.

Bethany Theological Seminary professor Dawn Ottoni-Wilhelm has been elected to serve on the executive committee of the Academy of Homiletics and in 2026 will serve as president. The professional guild of more than 200 scholars represents a wide array of denominations. Founded in 1965, the Academy of Homiletics is open to teachers and doctoral graduate students of homiletics across the world. Ottoni-Wilhelm will serve as 2nd vice president in 2024, 1st vice president in 2025, and president in 2026. Ottoni-Wilhelm is also the senior editor of Homiletic, the journal of the Academy of Homiletics.

Brethren Press has announced a new title in the Covenant Bible Studies series, titled “Passion of Jesus” and written by Richard B. Gardner. The study will “focus on Mark's passion narrative. How does the passion of Jesus—his suffering on the cross—relate to his life and mission? Is this a story of defeat or one of redemption? Was the cross inevitable, or could Jesus' mission have led to a different outcome? What do the events of Jesus' final days mean for us as Christians today?” The study book costs $11.99 per copy. Visit www.brethrenpress.com or call 800-441-3712.

SERRV is celebrating its 75th birthday in 2024! SERRV got its start as a Church of the Brethren program in 1949. Originally called “Sales Exchange for Refugee Rehabilitation and Vocation,” the church established SERRV to generate income for refugees in Europe after World War II. Since 1999 it has been an independent nonprofit fair-trade organization; it is a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization and the Fair Trade Federation. Several special events will occur this year in celebration of the anniversary. See more at www.serrv.org/75th.

On Earth Peace is holding an online “Palestine Power Hour” on Jan. 19 at 1 p.m. Central. “We will go over the current needs of Palestinians and discuss the best ways for us to support them,” said an announcement. “There will be a mini workshop on how to contact your congressional and local representatives on Palestine. After that, we will take time together to contact our representatives. This will be a space to ask questions and support each other as we come together for Palestine.” For questions or concerns contact palestine@onearthpeace.org.

The Church of the Brethren Nursing Scholarship is available for 2024, providing up to $2,000 for RN and graduate nurse candidates and up to $1,000 for LPN candidates. Scholarships are awarded to a limited number of applicants each year. This scholarship, made possible by the Health, Education and Research Endowment, is available to members of the Church of the Brethren enrolled in LPN, RN, or nursing graduate programs. More information and an application form are at www.brethren.org/nursingscholarships. Applications and supporting documentation are due by April 1 of each year.

The 2024 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, scheduled for Jan. 18-25, will use worship resources prepared by Christians in Burkina Faso on the theme, “You shall love the Lord your God … and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Find resources at 


Grants available through the district include the following:

1. Mission and Mortar: Sustaining and developing ministry (mission) within congregations, as well as maintaining property (mortar), is sometimes hindered because of inadequate financial resources. The Illinois/Wisconsin District, whose mission is to support the growth and development of member congregations, realizes that this dilemma exists and desires to financially support congregations that are in good standing with the district and have specific needs. More information can be found here.

2. Being Jesus in the Neighborhood: Congregations can apply for $100 in seed money to start a new outreach project or initiative in their local communities, or to expand an existing one. These should be projects that intentionally engage with the neighborhood immediately around the congregation, or for those in rural locations, with the town or area around the church. Each congregation receiving a grant will be asked to share a little about their project at district conference. More information can be found here.

3. Give Your Pastor a Break: Congregations can apply for up to $100 for a grant to cover or help cover a guest speaker for an extra Sunday to give your pastor a day off—or at least a day off from having to prepare and preach a sermon. We hope this might be part of the ways you care for your pastor. More information can be found here.

4. Emerging Missions Fund: To facilitate the growth and establishment of new faith communities, this grant is available for church and ministry planting initiatives. New church and ministry plants are encouraged to apply by contacting the district office and/or the CRDT.


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
  • Youth Fund (new!)
  • 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!