Wednesday, May 01, 2024

The Reflector - May 2024

The Village ILWIDIot

Walt Wiltschek

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” —John 17:22, NIV

The number “one” has been popping up for me a lot lately, and not just because that’s the position in which I hope the Minnesota Twins will finish this year’s Major League Baseball standings.

First there was “One Life,” a movie about the Holocaust that I had wanted to see and finally caught just before it left theaters. It tells the story of Sir Nicholas “Nicky” Winton, a British businessman who saves the lives of hundreds of Jewish children in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II through a daring train rescue system he organizes with colleagues. It hit close to home, since my own family has roots in that community. The film’s title comes via a quote from Jewish wisdom:

“Save one life, save the world.”

Then there was “Bob Marley: One Love,” which tells the story of the Jamaican musician. Best known for his reggae-style music, the film delves deeper into topics I knew little about, sharing how Marley worked to bring peace to violence-torn Jamaica by connecting warring political factions. Among Marley’s quotes during his short life: “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”

And, then, most recently, there was “The Boys in the Boat,” which I saw on the plane on the way home from a short trip to the Seattle area to see friends. Much of the film is set in Seattle, based on the true story of the University of Washington rowing team that against all odds competed (and won) at the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany. It delves into the unique sport of rowing, which requires complete team coordination and trust in order to succeed. At the end of the film, the main character reflects back on his career as his grandson asks about being part of an eight-man rowing crew. “We were never eight,” he replies. “We were one.”

While mulling over all these numerical convergences, I happened to attend worship at the Yellow Creek congregation in Pearl City, where pastor Ellis Boughton was talking about prayer. What scripture should he highlight but John 17, where Jesus prays to God for his disciples with words including “that they may be one just as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity”(John 17:22b-23a, NIV).
The power of one. In these times of smaller churches and deep divisions, we are reminded that one dedicated person, one bold vision that inspires others, one team that works deeply together, one congregation of modern-day disciples that brings its gifts together to join whole-heartedly in God’s work in the world—one is enough. Or at least a very good beginning.

Brethren balladeer Andy Murray once sang, “One person at a time does it all.” And a group of people working as one can do even more. So, what’s No. 1 on your list this month?


In addition to regular meetings, Walt will be attending a memorial service at Neighborhood May 18, preaching at Chicago First on May 19, attending several graduations in late May, visiting and attending worship at Polo June 8-9, and leading a session at Oakley Brick June 16. 

Walt is available to visit your church, do pulpit supply, lead sessions, have conversation times, or otherwise connect with your congregation. Please contact to schedule a time. He is half-time, and is usually on district duty Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, plus Sundays. Note: Walt will be on vacation/continuing education time May 29-June 6.


  • Church Revitalization and Development Team, May 18, 9 a.m.
  • Church of the Brethren Ministry Issues Committee, May 28, 1 p.m.
  • Leadership Team, June 4, 6:30 p.m.
  • Council of District Executives Midwest region meeting, June 20, 9 a.m.
  • District Annual Conference briefing, June 22, 10 a.m.
  • Council of District Executives meetings, Grand Rapids, Mich., July 1-3
  • Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, Grand Rapids, Mich., July 3-7
[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 May 13: Pray for the Champaign congregation, and for all the church’s ongoing efforts to live out the vision of being “Jesus in the Neighborhood” through community outreach.
  • Week of May 20: Pray for the Charismatic Christian Center in Chicago, and for the Church of the Brethren Young Adult Conference taking place May24-26 at Shepherd’s Spring in Maryland.
  • Week of May 27: Pray for the Peoria Firstcongregation, and for the denomination’s “FaithX”short-term service trips that will take youth andothers to a variety of locations to serve this summer.
  • Week of June 3: Be in prayer for Camp Emmanuelin Astoria and for all the children and youth attending camps there this summer,and for managers Don and Kelly Davis.
  • Week of June 10: Pray for the Freeport congregation, and for all the youth and young adult ministries of our district.


The Illinois/Wisconsin District is remembering with gratitude the life of Judd Peter, a member of the Neighborhood congregation (Montgomery, Ill.) who had served in a variety of district and denominational roles. Judd passed away May 9 following a stay in hospice care. He had turned 90 in November. He and his wife, Kay, had four children, 13children, and 18 great-grandchildren.

A Chicago-area native, Judd was a graduate of ThorntonJunior College and Valparaiso University. His careerincluded a long tenure at Northern Illinois Gas/Nicor and service on the OswegoCommunity School District board. In the church, he served on Annual ConferenceStanding Committee, on the Illinois/Wisconsin District board and New ChurchDevelopment Committee, and on the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center board ofdirectors, as well as locally as a congregational moderator and treasurer.

Visitation, service, and lunch will be at the Neighborhood church this Saturday, May18, beginning at 10 a.m. (service at 11 a.m.). The full obituary can be found at

Our prayers are with Judd’s family and congregation in this time of loss.

Gary Alfred Dill (77), a former president of McPherson (Kan.) College, passed away on March 20. Over the course of his career in higher education, he also was a member of the faculty of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, a senior vice president of Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas, and president of University of the Southwest in Hobbs, New Mexico. For over five decades, he served as a pastor in Church of the Brethren, Baptist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches, including the York Center congregation in Lombard. He enjoyed filling the pulpit in other denominations, worked to foster interfaith dialogue, and discovered a passion for being a teaching elder, which led him into academics. A memorial service was held in San Antonio on March 23. The full obituary cab be found at


David Roe
, pastor of the Oakley Brick congregation near Cerro Gordo, had planned to retire and move in November to better assist with his daughter’s health concerns and care, but a more local option was found, and so David has “un-retired” and will be continuing his ministry at Oakley Brick.

Many of our district pastors and ministers were able to attend an ethics training at this spring’s clergy event in Rockford (see more below); we plan to offer another ethics training sometime in late 2024 or early 2025 for others who still need it. The training is required every five years as part of the ordination renewal cycle, which ends in 2025. All ministers should also begin gathering information for their CEU report, which will be due by mid-2025.

The 2025 Denominational Clergywomen’s Retreat, an every-five-years event sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Ministry office, will take place Feb. 10-13at San Pedro Spiritual Development Center in Winter Park, Fla., near Orlando. The theme, drawn from Ephesians 5:2, is “Love the World Like Jesus: with Courage, Care, and Healing.” The keynote speaker will be Meghan Larissa Good, author and lead pastor of Trinity Mennonite Church in Phoenix. Early bird registration is $325 for double occupancy, $450 for single. The district will be making some scholarships available for Illinois/Wisconsin participants. Cindy Weber (York Center) is among the planning team members. More details and registration information will be available in the coming months.

The Celebration of Christ congregation in St. Petersburg, Fla., has turned its parsonage into a hospitality house. They are inviting Church of the Brethren pastors to take advantage of this “retreat from the usual.” It is fully furnished with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus an additional office/bedroom combo, kitchen, laundry room, family room, screened-in porch, and patio. It’s within an easy drive of the beach or the city. A minimum one-week stay is required, no pets or smoking permitted. For details or reservations, call 727-381-0709 or email

Congregational vacancies
  • Cherry Grove: Using regular pulpit supply 
  • York Center: Christy Waltersdorff has announced her retirement effective Dec. 31,2024. York Center is currently interviewing interim candidates and putting together a search committee.
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


Dixon in late March hosted a community food pantry event in its parking lot that served more than 200people from nearly 100 families. In church the following morning, pastor Michael Cole asked, “If every one of those were a seed, what would our harvest be?” Steve Voelker and a team from the congregation played a key role in organizing the event. 

Erma Purnell, who serves with Chicago First’s New Horizons Garden project, is featured in a Legacy Gardener short film being screened along with two others at the Garfield Park Conservatory’s Jensen Roomon May 22 from 5-8 p.m. (the Purnell film is at 6 p.m.). Tickets are free, and snacks will be served. Register at The New Horizons Garden, located next to the church, is also looking for volunteers to help with weeding, mulching, and planting on May 18, from 9 a.m. to noon. Also on Saturday, Chicago First will host a performance by arts group Honey Pot titled “Showing Up: An Ode to Black Mutual Aid, Parties, and Pleasure.” Events will take place from 2-7 p.m. Honey Pot will share in worship at the church on June 2. 

Highland Avenue (Elgin), led by its “Green Team,” is expanding its garden and natural areas featuring native plants. The Green Team shared some of its work at the recent district creation care event held at the congregation. (Read more below.) 

Canton this spring has been doing a special Bible study, led by pastor Kevin Kessler, on “Why Jesus Matters,” using scripture and other resources to explore Jesus’ story in the Gospels. After an initial study, members have been encouraged to read one of the four Gospels with some questions in mind and come together fora group discussion on June 2. 

Peoria First on June 9 will host a special classical piano concert by Peoria member Jocelyn Watkins, who also serves on the district’s Church Revitalization and Development Team. The concert, which is free and will begin at 2 p.m., will feature music by Beethoven, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff. A reception will follow the program. Jocelyn—who began her musical journey growing up as a member of the Springfield First congregation—will also be serving as pianist for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., July 3-7. 

Another Peoria member, Cathy Gilbert, will have her poetry collection, My Limbs a Cradle, My Whisper a Song, published in August. The poems center on a theme of parenthood. Learn more at My Limbs a Cradle, my Whisper a Song by Cathy Gilbert – Finishing Line Press. 

Springfield First is sponsoring a local art contest on the theme “Jesus in the Neighborhood” through June 18. The contest has youth and adult categories, with up to $1,000 in prizes from a Healing Illinois grant to promote racial healing and antiracism. An advertisement said, “We’re looking to artists in Springfield to imagine Jesus here, now, and to show us what that looks like.” The congregation plans to host a gallery show of entries the evening of June 28. 

Panther Creek (Roanoke) is currently partnering with other area ministries to provide weekly worship at Timberline Campground near Goodfield while its historic church building is in need of repair. Pastor Pete Yordy also leads several weekly Bible studies in the region, spanning from East Peoria to the Bloomington area. 

Jo Miller will be finishing her tenure as office administrator at York Center (Lombard) in June after serving the congregation for more than 20 years. She and her husband are moving to Minnesota to be closer to family. 

For congregations in Nicor Gas’ service area, the utility company is offering grants to non-profit organizations in areas including environmental stewardship, community enrichment, and basic human needs. Application deadlines fall between May 31 and July 31. Learn more about these “Pillar Grants” at

Cerro Gordo will hold its annual delicious Strawberry Festival on Sunday, June 2,from 4-6 p.m. The freewill offering benefits the congregation's women's and men's fellowship groups. 

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:


More than 30 people attended this year’s district clergy spring gathering, held April 15-16 at Bishop Lane Retreat Center near Rockford. 

The focus this year was “Ethical Considerations,” incorporating the ethics training required of all credentialed ministers in the denomination's every five years. Denominational Ministry office director Nancy Sollenberger Heishman was the main leader for the event, assisted by Naperville pastor Dennis Webb—who debuted a new intercultural component for the training—and district executive minister Walt Wiltschek. Ministers attending received 0.6 CEU’s. 

The 24-hour gathering also included good meals, some time for fellowship and exploring the grounds, and several periods of devotion and worship, with leadership from Purvi Satvedi (Neighborhood) and Michael Cole (Dixon) and his musical guests. 

We’re grateful for all the good leadership and ministry provided by the pastors, chaplains, and other ministers in our district! Another CEU opportunity will be held at district conference in November.


About 30 people attended a special district event focusing on creation care on April 27. Held at the Highland Avenue church in Elgin, participants could come in person or participate via Zoom. David Radcliff of New Community Project was the keynote speaker for the event, sharing on the theme “One Earth, One Chance.” 

Outlining the many challenges facing our planet, and the effects on the oceans, forest, and atmosphere, David said, “There’s only one creature that buries its head in the sand—and it’s not the ostrich.” He wondered what it’s going to take to change our present reality, and lifted up encouraging stories of things some people around the world are doing to make a difference. 

David followed up with an additional talkback session, and mini-workshops were also offered by Camp Emmaus manager Randall Westfall and Polo member Jonathan Stauffer (a science teacher), who looked at eco-discipleship and routes to healing, and by Highland Avenue’s own “Green Team,” who shared some activities they have been doing as a congregation and gave an outdoor tour of the congregation’s garden/natural areas. And Jeff Lennard of Brethren Press attended with a resource table full of books on creation care topics to spur further ideas. 

The video of David’s presentation is now available on the district website , and we’re working at providing recordings of some of the workshops. Consider ways that your congregation might be part of caring for God’s creation!


An Annual Conference briefing for Illinois/Wisconsin District will take place Saturday, June 22, at 10 a.m. via Zoom. This time will include brief devotions, a video highlighting details from this year’s conference, sharing from Standing Committee delegate Katie Shaw Thompson and Annual Conference secretary David Shumate, and time for questions. It is open to anyone, but Annual Conference delegates and volunteers are especially encouraged to attend. Join the call at

This year's Annual Conference will take place July 3-7 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Learn more at Annual Conference (, or see details below.


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 Jeremiah1:4-10 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: Acts2:42-47 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 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.

Registration is now open. Note that a new registration system is being used this year and might require some adjustments. Advance registration 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. Advance registration closes June 10. 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. New this year is an option for groups and institutions to participate virtually from a common location. For more information go to and select “Virtual.”

All congregations are encouraged to send delegates for which they are eligible. Congregations of up to 200 members receive one delegate, with an additional delegate for every 200 members or portion thereof beyond that. Our own Leonard and Vicki Matheny (Peoria First) head up on-site registration. To date, the following Illinois/Wisconsin congregations have registered delegates :Canton, Cerro Gordo, Dixon, Dutchtown (Milledgeville), Freeport, Highland Avenue, Naperville, Neighborhood, Peoria First, Polo, Woodland, and York Center. Katie Shaw Thompson (Highland Avenue) serves as our Standing Committee delegate this year.

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. For more information, visit

Don Fitzkee (Lancaster, Pa.) and Gene Hollenberg (Nappanee, Ind.) head this year’s ballot as candidates for moderator-elect. Complete biographical information for all nominees is at and will be printed in the Conference booklet.


Registration for our camps’ summer programs is now open! Visit the camps’ respective websites (below) for registration links.

Camp Emmaus (Mount Morris, Ill.) has announced its summer camping schedule for 2024. This year’s curriculum theme will be “Linked by Love”:
  • May 24-27 Memorial Day Family Camp
  • June 15 Clean-Up Day
  • 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 (Astoria, Ill.) has announced its summer 2024 camping schedule:
  • Women’s Camp May 31-June 2
  • Youth Camp (grades 9-12) June 2-8 (note new date)
  • 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
  • Creation Camp (grades 3-6) July 12-14
  • Day Camp (grades K-5) July 15-19
  • Men’s Camp Aug. 9-11
  • Family Camp Aug. 30-Sept. 2
Camp Emmanuel opened to the public May 1 for fishing and hiking.

The new “Escape to Emmaus” series at Camp Emmaus continued earlier this month with a May 4 birding outing held in conjunction with the local Audubon chapter. The series continues June 1 (1-4:30 p.m.) with Target Sports(archery/slingshots). It’s open to anyone 12 or older, but those under 18 have to be accompanied by an adult. Cost is $12 per person. See or the Camp Emmaus Facebook page for details and registration or contact

Camp Emmaus on April 13 held its “Spring Into Camp” event, drawing a large group to hike around camp’s trails, tryout the new slingshot range, enjoy snacks and a cookout dinner, and take part in a dedication for the camp’s new stone campfire ring in the boys’ meadow. Camp manager Randall Westfall and Ralph Miner, Michelle Bowman, and others who helped bring the project to reality participated in the dedication service. (Photo by Michelle Bowman)

Camp Emmaus is looking for a lifeguard for this summer. If interested, contact

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

We’re also grateful that the Church of the Brethren Outdoor Ministries Association board chose to hold its spring meeting at Camp Emmaus in April. The board includes Renee Neher Hamm (York Center), who serves as treasurer, and Josh Brockway (Highland Avenue) is the official denominational liaison. Illinois/Wisconsin District executive Walt Wiltschek and Camp Emmaus manager Randall Westfall also attended. The OMA leadership gathered to hear reports, take a tour of the camp, work on finances, and plan for the future. The camping of the Church of the Brethren is currently celebrating its centennial, and we’re glad to have two of our denomination’s camps in this district!


The 2024 Young Adult Conference will take place May 24-26 at Camp Shepherd’s Spring near Sharpsburg, Md., on the theme “Transformed by God” (Romans 12:-1-2, The Message). Registration includes housing, meals, and programing. For more information and to register, go to


Brethren Disaster Ministries recently updated its website with information for its second project response, which will be in southeastern Kentucky the weeks of Sept. 15 through Nov. 16. A tornado recovery project is also ongoing at least through the summer in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, where some of our district volunteers served this past fall. The information is available at: Our district’s assigned week this year is Dec. 1-7.

A BDM volunteer appreciation breakfast will take place during Annual Conference. Register at by June 10. BDM will also again sponsor a blood drive at Annual Conference. Those who can’t attend but want to participate can join a virtual blood drive at


Unfortunately, the Children’s Disaster Services volunteer training workshop scheduled to be held at Freeport earlier this month had to be cancelled due to insufficient registrants. Look for future training opportunities at Workshop dates and locations – Children's Disaster Services (



• Upcoming courses from the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership include “Interim Ministry,” online July 31-Sept.24, led by Tara Hornbacker (registration deadline June 16); “Church of the Brethren History,” online Aug. 21-Oct. 15, led by Denise Kettering-Lane (registration deadline July 17); “Introduction to the New Testament,” online Oct. 16-Dec. 10, led by Matt Boersma(registration deadline Sept. 11); “A Place of Refuge,” travel seminar to Atlanta, Jan. 7-15,led by Josh Brockway (registration deadline Nov. 1). Register and pay online at Brethren Academy Course Registration/Biannual TRIM Payment | Bethany Theological Seminary(

• The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is also offering Listening fort he Sound of Genuine July 2-3 with Audrey Hollenberg-Duffey as facilitator. This course is a Directed Independent Study Unit (DISU) in conjunction with attending the Ministers' Association Pre-Conference event with Frank A. Thomas, in Grand Rapids, Mich. TRIM/EFSM students will receive one credit in Ministry Skills upon completion. This also qualifies for the Annual Conference Experience. Clergy seeking CEUs will receive 2 continuing education units upon successful completion of this course. Registration deadline is May 28 at Learn moreabout the conference, and register for the conference, at

• Upcoming Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center (SVMC) continuing education courses include “Suicide and Your Congregation,” led by Julie Guistwite, June4, 8:30-11:30 a.m. Central, via Zoom, cost $35 (with 0.3 CEU’s); “Autism and the Church,” led by Lisa Kruse, Tim Miller, David Crumrine, and Stan Dueck, Sept. 26,8 a.m.-2 p.m. Central, via Zoom, cost $45 (with 0.5 CEU’s); and “Grief Literacy,” led by Julie Guistwite, Oct. 1, 12-3 p.m. Central, via Zoom, cost $35 (with 0.3 CEU’s).Course prices are $10 less without CEU’s. Register by visiting the SVMC course page or by contacting Karen Hodges at

Lombard Mennonite Peace Center offers a variety of training sessions. For details and registration information, go to

NCP Learning Tours: New Community Project will offer an educational trip 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

• A Church of the Brethren L.E.A.D. (Listen – Equip – Adapt – Disciple) Conference is planned for Nov. 15-17, 2024, sponsored by the denomination’s Discipleship and Leadership Formation department. The event will be hosted at Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren on the scripture theme 2 Timothy 2:2. This will be a leadership development conference for congregational leaders such as pastors and church board members. The focus will be on raising the leadership skills of congregational leaders to help them be more effective in their local ministries. The event will be a mix of plenary and break-out sessions. Attendance will be capped at 250 participants. More information and registration will be available closer to the date.

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 Among them 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

• The denomination's Part-time Pastor; Full-Time Church program is beginning a book study on May 15, and registration is still open (extended from the earlier deadline). The study will be facilitated by Richard Wehrle, program manager for Thriving in Ministry. Over the course of seven weeks, participants will engage in discussion around a newly released book by Rev. Callie Swanlund, From Weary to Wholehearted: A Restorative Resource for Overcoming Clergy Burnout. Sessions will take place 7-8:30 p.m. Central on May 15 and 7-8 p.m. Central on succeeding Wednesdays. Swanlund will be in attendance for the initial session, and she will also lead a hybrid equipping session and speak at a dinner event ("Kinship and Pork Chops") at Annual Conference in July. Register at


The Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership is seeking a part-time bilingual writing coach to assist domestic and international Brethren Academy students in improving their writing and editing skills to help them succeed in their non-graduate certificate level ministry training programs. This position will be considered an independent contractor, with payment to be made upon submission of monthly invoices. Candidates should have an undergraduate degree, excellent writing and editing skills, fluency in English and Spanish, and strong computer skills. The position will work remotely. To apply, send resume’, a letter of interest, and contact information for three references to Janet Ober Lambert, director of the Brethren Academy, at 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374 or

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


David Banaszak has announced his retirement as district executive minister Middle Pennsylvania District as of July 28. He began in the position on September 5, 2017. He previously served as pastor of the Clover Creek congregation in Pennsylvania for 25years, as well as the Mount Olivet congregation in Shenandoah District for nearly five years. Prior to his DE service, he served the district as ministry commission chair, ministry formation director, and Standing Committee representative. Earlier, he had worked as a consulting geologist in New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

Atlantic Southeast District has called Michaela Alphonse to serve as temporary director of program, a part-time role she began this past February and will resume Aug. 1 after she completes a pastoral sabbatical. The district has called Larry O’Neill to serve as director of English ministries, a role he began on March 23. He also serves as pastor of New Covenant Church of the Brethren in Gotha, Fla., and previously pastored in Pennsylvania. The district staff also includes four other part-time director-level positions covering the areas of administration, Haitian ministries, Hispanic ministries, and finance.


Bethany Theological Seminary awarded 11 master’s degrees and 17 postgraduate diplomas and certificates during its commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11 in the seminary’s Nicarry Chapel. The featured speaker was Rev. Dr. Micah McCreary, president of New Brunswick Theological Seminary in New Jersey.

Volunteers are needed to assist with ticket sales at Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich. This group will handle all onsite ticket sales for catered meal events. Responsibilities begin Tuesday, July 3, at 3 p.m. and end Saturday, July 6, at noon. If you are willing to assist, please sign up for one or more shifts at OR contact Don Anderson, ticket sales coordinator, at

In a short meditation written about this year’s Church of the Brethren Pentecost Offering (suggested date of May 19), denominational coordinator of Mission Advancement communications Matt DeBall shared the following, in part: “Inhale. Exhale. The simple but life-giving rhythm that sustains all humans and creatures. Every breath— involuntary or intentional—is a gift from God. In particular, deep breaths can serve many purposes. Physically, deep breaths can help us quiet our minds, discern our emotions, or maintain steady movement. Relationally, they can help us listen more closely and receive fresh perspectives that are shared by others. Spiritually, deep breaths provide a cadence to take in inspiration from one another and from God. … No one knows what the future may hold or what challenges we will face, but if we lean into the Holy Spirit, we will receive strength for today and hope for tomorrow. Let us inhale and exhale, receiving a breath of fresh air from God.” Learn more at

An appropriation of $143,000 from the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund (EDF) is being directed by Brethren Disaster Ministries for a humanitarian response to multiple crises in Haiti. The money will provide emergency food distributions at all the congregations and preaching points of l’Eglise des Freres d’Haiti (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti). EDF also made a large grant of $225,000 that extends the Nigeria Crisis Response program through 2024 and has provided grants to various countries including a grant that will help start a new South Sudan Crisis Recovery Initiative with staff from Global Mission.

The Church of the Brethren’s Global Food Initiative (GFI) has given its first round of grants for 2024, supporting an aquaculture project in the Dominican Republic, a grain mill project in Burundi, a maize mill project in Uganda, and Syntropic training in Haiti. Two grants made in 2023 have not previously been reported, for a school-based organic food production and environmental awareness effort in Ecuador, and to First Church of the Brethren, Eden, N.C., for its community garden. For more information about the GFI, go to

The Church of the Brethren Gun Violence Prevention Action Team is seeking congregational ambassadors. At an organizing meeting on March 2, the group introduced a new path for individuals feeling a call to help their congregations take action on gun violence prevention. “It’s flexible enough to work within your community context, skills, and time constraints, while also ensuring you receive structured support and resources from the Church of the Brethren Gun Violence Prevention Action Team and On Earth Peace,” said the announcement. “We have our first several ambassadors signed up, and we are looking for ambassadors in every district of the church.” A role description is available at To express interest, email the team at

Congregations are invited to create 8 ½ x 8 ½” quilt blocks for the 2024 Annual Conference quilts. All blocks should be postmarked by May 15 and sent to Margaret Weybright, 1801 Greencroft Blvd., Apt. 125, Goshen, IN 46526 with a dollar (or more) donation to cover costs. The outside border should be no less than 8 ½” square after it is worked, and the inside design should be not more than 8” square, with nothing in the seam allowance. Blocks (pre-shrunk cotton or cotton blend) should be cut to size after they have been pieced, embroidered, or appliqued. They should also include the congregation’s name and state and/or district. For a full instructional flier, contact the district office.

The 2024 Song and Story Fest family camp co-sponsored by On Earth Peace will be hosted at Camp Brethren Heights in the Michigan District, July 7-13, immediately after Annual Conference in Grand Rapids. This is the 28th Song and Story Fest. The theme for this year’s Muddy Waters Song and Story Fest is “Exploring the Heights and Depths of Community.” The event is billed as an intergenerational camp for all ages, individuals, and families. Storytellers, musicians, and workshop leaders include Rhonda & Greg Baker, Susan Boyer, Louise Brodie, Hannah Button-Harrison, Debbie Eisenbise, Jenny & Jeffrey Faus Family, Erin & Cody Flory Robertson, Chris Good, Anna Lisa Gross, Kathy Guisewite, Jonathan Hunter, Tim & Byron Joseph & Marlene Wood, Brian Kruschwitz, Jim Lehman, Peg Lehman, and Mike Stern. The schedule includes morning intergenerational gatherings and worship followed by workshops for adults, children, and youth; in the afternoons, family time, recreation, story swaps, and music-making; and in the evenings, campfires, snacks, and concerts or a folk dance. Registration includes all meals, on-site facilities, and leadership, and is based upon age—adults $370, teens $240, children age 5 to 12 $160, children 4 and under free—with a maximum fee per family of $1,000. Daily fees are available.Registrations after June 1 add 10 percent as a late fee. Register online at

Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) has announced the dates for the next two volunteer orientations that will take place in 2024. The summer unit (Unit 335) will have orientation July 28-Aug. 5 at Camp Colorado, located near Sedalia, Colo., southwest of Denver. The fall unit (Unit 336) will take place Sept. 17-25 at Camp Brethren Heights in Rodney, Mich., north of Grand Rapids. Online pre-orientation meetings also take place before each group gathers together in person. To apply or to learn more, visit


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, or send your checks to the district office: 269 E. Chestnut St., Canton, IL 61520. Thank you!