Church of the Brethren
Illinois & Wisconsin District

Kevin Kessler, District Executive
Allegra Hess, Moderator
Paul Kohler, Moderator-Elect
Beth Kelly, Administrative Assistant
Debbie Noffsinger, Newsletter Publisher
Jim Miner, District Webmaster


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  • Giving Tuesday

    Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving. Everyone, anywhere can participate.

    Join in giving to the:

    Illinois/Wisconsin District
    of the
    Church of the Brethren

    Let’s reach a goal of $3,000.00 on Nov. 29, 2016 to support district ministries.

    Your gift has the potential to offer support in the following ways:

    $10 – Secure office supplies

    $25 – Provide scholarships for ministry training events

    $50 – Continue relationships with Ecumenical partners

    $100 – Contribute to staff salaries

    $250 – Meet the needs of Emerging Ministries

    $500 – Sustain congregations with Mission and Mortar grants

    All gifts are tax-deductible, make an important impact, and are deeply appreciated.

    Send checks to:      IL/WI District Office
                                  269 E. Chestnut St.
                                  Canton, IL  61520

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    Or use this donate button:

  • DE Ponderings - Kevin Kessler

    Where do we begin?

    A TED talk I recently watched states that we often begin divergent dialogue with each other at the wrong place. We frequently begin with political correctness. Political correctness requires us to be careful what we say, to be forthright but smoothing off the edges of sharpness. If we speak in politically correct ways, then we cause less harm to the other whose views are distinctly different. However, being politically correct may leave room for misinterpretation. Those in dialogue then begin to speak past one another, unsure of what the other has said. What is intended as unharmful can be misinterpreted as disrespect.

    To start with political correctness focuses on issues, subjects, matters of fact. What this beginning place misses, or bypasses, is the value of the other and their emotional state. So, according to the TED talk, the better place to start is with emotional correctness. At this level of dialogue, the emphasis is placed on trying to understand from what emotional place the other is coming. So instead of trying to understand the meaning of the position taken, there is more effort given to understand what causes the other to reach such a conclusion. For example, maybe an experience in life is affecting their reasoning. Rather than having the other articulate a particular belief system, effort is better given to listening and asking questions to learn about the other’s emotional state. In so doing, a connection is made at a much deeper relational level. We see the other as a human being, valued not for their position but for their personhood.

    Granted, this approach does not change the mind of the other. Granted, this approach will not bring you immediately, or ever, into agreement. But it does bring you in touch with the humanity of the other. And in this sharing of humanity, there is opportunity to exist together not on the grounds of belief, but on the basis of our humanness.

    I found this TED talk helpful. I find emotional correctness a concept more in line with the values of Jesus. Jesus was, in my view, always more concerned about the emotional welfare of a person than the correctness of their ways and views. For example, in the culture of Jesus’ time, a politically correct lifestyle was to not engage in an adulteress affair. When a woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus and condemned for her actions, Jesus peered into the woman’s emotions. He saw in her a human of value and greater potential. He met her on the level of her emotional plane and extended grace, opening the door to know her for more than her identity as an adulterer. Jesus saw her humanity and offered to be in relationship with the whole of her personhood. She was spared harm. She was given life. She could live with peace, peace that passes all understanding.

    Oh that we would enter into the emotional being of each other, to understand, to find our common humanity, to extend grace, and to live at and in peace with all. This seems like a good place to begin…and end.

  • From the Moderator - Allegra Hess

    I am Allegra Hess, a member of the York Center congregation, and the newly installed moderator of the IL/WI district. “Don’t Be Afraid - I Bring Good News” is our theme for the 2017 District Conference. How often we are reminded in scripture that we are to trust in God and not be afraid- Isa 12:2. “Perfect love dispels fear”, “Fear not, I am with you always”. Currently, it seems like fear often dictates our decisions and determines our actions. In sharp contrast to that, we need to find ways to rely on our loving, merciful, and always present God, trusting that we will find comfort in the presence of God’s spirit in our lives. We may need a reminder that Jesus’ message was all about trust in God, and, accepting God’s grace and protection, and then offering that love and grace to all whom we meet.

    We are challenged to admit our fears and commit them to God’s love and enduring care. Then we can live a life of expectant hope and joy.

    I plan to contact congregations in the new year, detailing my interest and availability to visit your church and learn of your fears and struggles, to hear of your hopes, dreams and the ways you are living out your faith in your particular setting.

    I leave you with words from the hymn, “How Firm a Foundation”:

    Fear not, I am with you; O be not dismayed
    For I am your God and will still give you aid.
    I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
    Upheld by my gracious, omnipotent hand.
  • Oakley Brick COB - Benefit Concert

    On, December 23, 2015, The Oakley Brick Church of the Brethren was destroyed by straight-line winds that caused extensive damage. After many months, it was determined that the church could not be repaired in a safe manner. Only recently was the structure taken down as brick and debris had continued to fall. There is nothing left but the ground that it was built on in 1867 and many memories.

    For some in the congregation, their forefathers established, pastored and even built the church. Many changes have come about since the church was built brick by brick. One thing that the Oakley Brick Church of the Brethren never lost was commitment.

    The Church body has made a commitment to rebuild the church on the original site. Keeping with our spiritual and traditional goals, God has led us to a project that has opened doors for a very exciting upcoming event. We "believe" this event will bring people together.

    "A Night to Believe"
    Benefit Concert
    Friday, December 2, 2016
    Featuring Henningsens

    Doors open 5:30pm - Donations - $30 per Person - Concert at 7pm

    For the Oakley Church of the Brethren
    Pastor Dave Roe
    PO Box 184
    Cerro Gordo IL 61919

    Hosted by Heartland Community Church
    Pastor Joe Bowman
    3253 N Brush College Rd
    Decatur IL 62521

  • Pinecrest Grove Community Center Concert

    "...Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
    which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day
    in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
    Luke 2:10-11

    - The Carlson Family -

    Come join us for at time of joyous Christmas music as we celebrate our Savior's birth and rejoice in God's salvation through the gift of His Son.

    Pinecrest Grove Community Center
    in Mount Morris
    On the corner of McKendrie St. & Evergreen Drive
    - Sunday, December 11, 2016 -2:00 p.m.

    Sponsored by: Mount Morris Church of the Brethren
    No Admission Charge — Free Will Offering Accepted.
    Refreshments will be served after the concert.

  • Service Opportunity to Honduras
    You are invited to travel to Honduras with Bill Hare, Polo, IL. Congregation, January 6- January 16, 2017. You will be working with the local people in LaPalma to build 6 concrete block homes for 6 impoverished families in the far southern part of the country. Please call Bill Hare at 815-734-4268 for information if you are interested.
  • Greetings from IL/WI District Disaster Ministries

    Greetings from IL/WI Church of the Brethren Disaster Ministries (BDM):

    A primary purpose is to invite additional persons from the District to join a team of 10-12 volunteers that will be assisting in a BDM home rebuild project the week of January 22-28, 2017. (Six persons have already committed to join the team.) The location is still being finalized, but will be probably be in West Virginia or South Carolina where recent flooding caused extensive damage.

    There are no special skills required to join the volunteer team. If you know which end of the hammer to hold or know how to flip pancakes in the kitchen to feed the volunteers, and have a passion for helping those in need then you are qualified.

    The week long volunteers will be housed in a local church or other facility. Very adequate meals are provided, so the only requirement is your time and cost of travel to and from the site, usually in a car pool. In return, volunteers can expect to receive a substantial reward from the satisfaction of serving as a Good Samaritan helping a family in need.

    To join the January 22-28 volunteer team, or for more information, contact
    Loren Habegger, IL/WI District Disaster Coordinator

    Note that a second team will be assembled for a rebuild project the week of November 12-18, 2017.

  • Christian Citizenship Seminar 2017

    December 1, 2016: Christian Citizenship Seminar 2017 registration opens at 

    April 22-27: Christian Citizenship Seminar 2017

    Christian Citizenship Seminar (CSS) provides high school aged students the chance to explore the relationship between faith and a particular political issue, and then act from a faith perspective regarding that issue.

    The 2017 theme focuses on native people’s food insecurity, especially as the issue relates to land rights.

  • Camp Emmaus Schedule for 2017

    May 26-29 - Memorial Day Weekend Family Camp
    July 9-15 - Senior High Camp
    July 16-19 - Elementary II Camp
    July 19-23 - Young at Heart Camp
    July 23-29 - Junior High Camp
    July 30 - August 4 Elementary III Camp
    August 4-6 - Counselor In Training Event
    August 5-6 - Elementary I Camp
    August 10-13 - Women's Camp
    September 1-4 - Labor Day Weekend Family Camp

  • Young Adult Conference 2017

    January 20: Young Adult Conference 2017 registration opens at
    May 26-28: Young Adult Conference 2017 at Camp Harmony (near Hooversville, PA).

    Young Adult Conference (YAC) offers people ages 18-35 a chance to enjoy fellowship, worship, recreation, Bible study, service projects and more… with other fantastic young adults!

    • Registration ($150) includes food, lodging and programming!
    • Register online at
    • Scholarships: Upon request, we will send a letter to your congregation asking them to provide a $75 scholarship. Make your request by April 1. Scholarships are also available to BVSers who are currently serving.
    • A non-refundable deposit of $75 is due within two weeks of registering.

    Meet the Speakers

    Stay tuned for information about YAC 2017 speakers!


    Schedule coming soon.

    Questions? Contact Becky Ullom Naugle in the Yoth/Young Adult Ministry Office at or 847-429-4385.

  • National Junior High Conference 2017

    National Junior High Conference 2017

    Elizabethtown College - Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania

    June 9-11, 2017

    National Junior High Conference is for youth who have completed 6-8 grades and their advisors.

    Sing, laugh, worship, make friends from all over the country, and spend time with God! More information coming soon!


  • IL/WI District Conference 2016

    The IL/WI District Conference was held November 4 & 5, 2016, at the Rockford Community Church under the theme Living Together in Unity with Brother Ellis Boughton providing leadership as moderator.>p>

    The conference began Friday evening with spiritfilled worship including lively music led by the Rockford Community Church (RCC) praise team. The RCC youth performed a provocative skit pointing toward the embracing love of Jesus. Ellis Boughton offered a thoughtful message inviting listeners to strive toward unity in Jesus Christ amid our differences. Offering received totaled $899.25.

    A photo album of conference can be found on the IL/WI District Facebook page. Follow this link:

    Highlights of business on Saturday encompassed:

    • Hearing from two emerging ministries, Parables and The Gathering Chicago, led respectively by Jeanne Davies and LaDonna Nkosi. Parables provides a safe worship environment for persons and families with special needs. The Gathering Chicago is a movement for prayer and peace in the city of Chicago and globally. Both ministries are receiving financial support from the district and are seeking additional support from grants, fundraising, and district congregations and individuals. Prayer support is most vital.

    • Hearing testimonies from three congregations— Rockford Community Church (implementation of mobile labs), First Church of the Brethren in Peoria (serving the community), and Neighborhood Church of the Brethren (finding ways to share their faith with all the groups and people who use space in their building).

    • Calling people to serve on various teams and in a variety of leadership positions. Paul Kohler (Champaign COB) is called as moderator-elect.

    • Receiving reports from Pinecrest Community, Pleasant Hill Village, Camp Emmanuel, and Camp Emmaus. Pinecrest and PHV continue to face challenges because of shortfalls in state Medicaid payments. Yet, they continue to faithfully and joyfully serve their residents and constituency.x` The two camps continue as place and space where young people find solace and faith. The camps, while providing separate programming, support their counterpart with prayer and encouragement, while good-heartedly adding a little jovial rivalry.

    • Viewing a video of the work of Bethany Theological Seminary, On Earth Peace, Brethren Benefit Trust, and the Church of the Brethren, Inc. Jay Wittmeyer shared a report for the Church of the Brethren, Inc. speaking specifically about Church of the Brethren influence around the world. Cindy Weber offered greetings from On Earth Peace and spoke about the challenges the agency is experiencing in its relationship with the Church of the Brethren, noting that OEP desires to be a presence of peace among us.

    • Vicki Matheny, Leadership Team Chair, reviewing the work of the Leadership Team in 2016. Two key emphases given attention were emerging ministries and endowing district reserves.

    • District Executive, Kevin Kessler, offering thoughts
    about his work in the district. Of continued importance is the building and maintaining of relationships. He noted that he will have, at the end of 2016, served as DE for 10 years. He offered gratitude to Beth Kelly, Administrative Assistant, for her years of service since she is moving on to a full-time office manager position at the church she attends. Andrea Garnett will be assuming the Administrative Assistant duties in earnest Jan. 3, 2017. He shared about the re-building project at Oakley Brick and the opportunity to contribute to a fundraising event the congregation is promoting.

    • Loren Habegger, Disaster Response Coordinator making it clear (in a light-hearted way) that he does not coordinate disasters but response to disasters. He noted that our district is scheduled to provide teams of responders a couple weeks in 2017. Watch for announcements about these opportunities.

    • Holding Silent and Live auctions. The total amount raised was $2,406.00.

    • Consecrating Allegra Hess (York Center) to serve as moderator through district conference in 2017. York Center Church of the Brethren (Lombard, IL) is the site of the 2017 conference.

    • Offering a heart-felt thank you to the Rockford Community Church for their wonderful hospitality as host of this year’s conference. Job well done, sisters and brothers!

  • Guest Speaker List
    There is a Speakers List for the Illinois/Wisconsin District. Persons included in this document have accepted the invitation to be available to preach during worship services or for other special events as indicated. Hopefully you will find this tool useful and valuable when the need arises for inviting a guest speaker.

    The speakers on this list are all credentialed ministers, either licensed or ordained. We would like to expand the list to include more credentialed ministers as well as interested laity. If your name is absent from the list and you have interest in serving as a guest speaker, please inform the district office. We would also welcome the names of persons you might suggest for inclusion on the list.

    Since this is a new venture, it is likely we may need to provide more information than is included. Your input as to how the list can be improved would be welcomed.

    Please share with the District Office any questions, comments, or concerns you may have.

  • Mission and Mortar

    The purpose of the Illinois/Wisconsin District is supporting the growth and development of the member churches. One means of support is financial assistance. Congregations in good standing are eligible to apply for assistance through the Mission and Mortar program. A congregation in good standing is one that has in the past two years sent delegates to district conference and has supported the district with undesignated gifts of at least $100 per year.

    Assistance if provided up to a maximum of $7,500 of which $2,500 is a grant and the remainder is a loan. All requests for assistance shall be submitted to the district office.

  • Information Reporting
    All ordained ministers, licensed ministers, and congregations need to keep the District Office informed of changes in contact information. Changes include: phone number, cell phone number, email address, mailing address, and congregational email or website. Please email Beth Carpentier, or call (309)649-6008 with your updates. Your effort will save valuable staff time trying to track down these changes. Other information to share: changes in key leadership positions at the church or the death or serious illnesses of minister, retired ministers, or spouses. Help us serve better!
  • CEU Credits for Ordained Ministers
    Do not wait to begin to log your Continuing Education Units. The 2015 Five-year Ordination Review process for ALL ordained ministers will launch in 2014. Ordained ministers are required to produce verification of 5 CEU credits for this five-year period. It is your responsibility to secure certificates, letters or verifying documentation regarding CEU credit. Retired clergy are exempt from this requirement with the exception of those retired clergy actively involved in Interim Ministry.

    CEU Notation: The district does not grant CEU credit for personal study and/or self-designed experiences you have had and/or books you have read. It is the minister's responsibility to secure a CEU certificate, Letter of Verification, and/or authentication document for completed training, seminars or workshops, or learning experiences offered by the presenting organization. This verification should always state the number of hours of the training - 10 hours of training equals 1.0 CEU credits. Please take personal initiative to become a life-long learner and increasingly effective minister of the Gospel.

  • Gifts Discernment
    The Gifts Discernment and Call Committee seeks your help. We are commissioned to call active, informed, and committed members of congregations or fellowships from within our District to positions of service. These persons, both pastors and lay members, are to be called from all parts of the District and to represent the diversity among us. Our committee's knowledge of members eligible and capable to serve is limited. Therefore, we make this appeal for assistance.
  • Each congregation in the district has a Liaison Leadership Team member who may be contacted with any questions or concerns about the ministries of our district.
  • Add news, announcements, or your congregation's web site URL to the district site. Email your information to the

  • Please check the District Disaster Response website for disaster relief news.