Church of the Brethren
Illinois & Wisconsin District

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


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  • Camp Emmanuel Schedule for 2017

    September 1-4 - Family Camp 
    September 23 - Fish Fry
    October 13-15 - Husbands and Wives Camp

    DIRECTORS MEETING – 3/4/17 1:00 p.m. (Virden)
    CIT TRAINING– 3/4/17 1:00 p.m. Virden and 4/1/17 1:00 pm – Camp Emmanuel
    SPRING WORK DAY/WEEK – April 1 / April 2 - 7
    FALL WORK WEEK – October 21 - 24
    CAMP CLOSING – October 24 

  • Camp Emmaus Schedule for 2017

    Camp Director's Meeting - Saturday, October 21 - CANCELED 

    November 11 - Leaf Raking (Youth Retreat: Nov. 10-12)

  • DE Ponderings - Kevin Kessler

    I have an appreciation for the writings of Vernard Eller, one time professor of Religion at the University of LaVerne, primarily because his views are cutting edge and sometimes cutting. I never knew him personally, but I gather from his books that he was a person comfortable in his own skin even if what he said or wrote stirred thoughts and emotions in others.

    Presently I’m reading a book Eller wrote entitled Towering Babble: God’s People Without God’s Word. I have a hunch this book, when it was published in 1983, raised some eyebrows. Eller speaks rather directly to the church that it was losing its grounding in theology. The church, in Eller’s mind, seemed to be moving more in the direction of anthropology. In other words, the church was becoming more human-centered than God-centered. [Read More]

  • From the Moderator

    What am I reading?

    by Paul Kohler, Moderator-Elect, Champaign

    A rabbi and a story teller, who was fascinated with the life and times of Jesus, wrote a very interesting book about said subject. The author’s name is Sholem Asch and his book is The Nazarene. We naturally associate “the Nazarene” with Jesus, and thus it is strange that Jesus does not enter the scene until the 570th page. The Nazarene centers on Jesus, but its main focus is on the text of the folkways and belief structures of the four major language groups with which Jesus interacted. The author explores the language of Jesus’ home, Nazritzii (Syriac Eastern Dialect). He also examines the following groups:
    • the other Syriac, spoken in Jerusalem
    • the Roman speakers (Latin speakers neither compliant nor having similar traditions)
    • the Greeks (Language Ellenah and traditions and belief structures similar enough to cause huge problems for the translator)
    During the author’s exploration, “strange” and “wrong” things happen. For example, Jesus went about the country of his birth preaching and teaching in the synagogues. The translator’s presentation creates an illusion that He taught in Greek. However, according to Jewish law, conducting worship in Greek would be considered unclean. Ramifications include at the least being escorted out of the synagogue and at the worst, stoning. Also, Syriac was – and still is – the required language for various part of worship. Worship in a foreign tongue was permitted only in countries where the majority of congregants were known to speak a foreign language. Even now, the congregation’s warden polices violations. A more modern example of this can be seen in American synagogues. In the United States, English and Syriac are the languages used during worship. Thus, if Jesus taught in the Galilean synagogues or quoted scripture in the countryside, He spoke Syriac. Those listening expected to hear Syriac, as other languages were considered unclean.

     [Read More]

  • Missouri Flood Recovery - November 12-18

    The IL/WI District is scheduled to send a volunteer team the week of November 12-18, 2017, to the Brethren Disaster Ministries (BDM) project in Eureka, MO. This area was devastated by floods in 2015 and again in 2017. Persons with an interest in being part of this team should registrater or submit questions, by October 1, 2017, to Loren Habegger, BDM District Disaster Coordinator at or by regular mail to Loren at 211 James Dr, Westmont, IL 60559.

    Also, IL/WI persons could be part of an additional district volunteer team scheduled to be in Eureka the week of January 21 - 27, 2018.

    BDM Response to Hurricane Harvey

    BDM will be supporting both the short and longterm recovery of the impacted communities in Texas and Louisiana (and possibly Florida, depending on the path of Irma). Current details are provided on the BDM web site:

    Before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Children’s Disaster Services (CDS) teams of trained and certified volunteers were activated and ready to travel. By the end of August, CDS had deployed 24 volunteers to Texas, with at least 30 more volunteers planning to arrive soon.

    At this stage cash donations are a preferred response. Donations can be sent to:

    Emergency Disaster Fund
    Hurricane Harvey Response
    Church of the Brethren
    1451 Dundee Ave.
    Elgin, IL 60120

    There is also an urgent need for Clean-up Buckets and Hygiene Kits. Completed kits are being collected for shipment by the Brethren Service Center at 601 Main Street, New Windsor, MD 21776. Learn more about these and other kits at

    Volunteers interested in assisting in on-site recovery should coordinate with BDM to be placed on a volunteer list. In the mean time volunteers can continue to serve on other BDM project sites.

  • District Conference

    Come Join us!
    November 3 & 4, 2017
    York Center Church of the Brethren, HOST
    Lombard, IL

    Friday Evening:

    Worship: Pastor Christy Waltersdorff, York Center Church of the Brethren

    Friday Evening After Worship:

    Ice Cream Social & entertainment by Song and Storyfest Participants


    Business Session, Live & Silent Auctions

    Registration Form

    Online Registration

    Lodging Information

    Nursery & Pre-Kindergarten Care Registration Form and Permission Slip

    Kindergarten - 3rd grade Registration Form and Permission Slip

    Discovery Field Trip for Children Saturday, November 4, 2017 Grades: 4th-Jr. High

  • Moderator's Letter

    Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

    I bring you greetings in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. On behalf of the York Center congregation and the IL/WI District of the Church of the Brethren, I welcome you to the 2017 District Conference. We are delighted you are here and want to be a welcoming community for you. A special thanks to Twila Habegger and Nancy Ulrich, who worked tirelessly to coordinate this conference. I ask that you pray for our time together in discussions and in fellowship. May we prayerfully lift up our leaders and delegates, so that the Holy Spirit will inspire and lead us as we meet.

    During this year attempted to facilitate processes that will connect congregations. I am excited about how each congregation has developed ways of sharing the Good News in their respective communities and these acts of service reflect the immediate needs in the area where they live. There is a rich diversity of Biblical understandings, but there is also a clear pattern of living out the Good News, which is accomplished by sharing God’s Love with each other and their neighbors. We plan to show videos of “How WE Serve”, which will give you a sense of the diversity of “continuing the work of Jesus, simply, peacefully, together”.

    You may have read meditations in the, “Moderator’s Column”, of the monthly newsletter, which are written by individuals from across the district. I want to thank all those who accepted my invitation to contribute; again, reflecting the diversity which makes this district a special place. Thank them when you meet them here!

    Technology has helped to facilitate meetings of the Leadership and other district teams, but there are also times when these elected persons spend many hours in travel for face to face meetings. I am grateful this gift of time and talent and for the on-going dedicated leadership of Kevin and Andrea, without whom the district would not be the place it is today.

    The IL/WI District has a storied history of fostering pioneer efforts in the Church of the Brethren: early college programs, publication printing, and mission work abroad. I sense that Spirit is still alive here. God is doing new things, and “we are not afraid” because we know and experience that the Good News is for all people. With God’s help we will continue to lead. May it be so!

    God’s richest blessings to all,
    Allegra Hess, Moderator
    2017 District Conference

  • District Conference Schedule

    Friday Evening, November 3rd

                5:30 – 7:15        Registration open – Outside Sanctuary

                6:00 – 7:30        Exhibits open – Fellowship Hall

                6:00                  Silent Auction begins–Fellowship Hall

                7:10 – 7:30        Hymn Sing – Sanctuary      

                7:30 – 8:30        Worship – Sanctuary

                8:45 – 9:15        Registration open – Outside Sanctuary

                8:45 – 9:30        Ice Cream, Fellowship Hall

                8:45 – 9:15        Entertainment by Song and Storyfest Participants, Louise Brodie & Ruth Karasek

    Saturday Morning, November 4th

                7:45 – 8:20        Continental Breakfast – Fellowship Hall

                8:00 – 8:30        Registration Open – Outside Sanctuary

                8:00 – 5:00        Exhibits open – Fellowship Hall

                8:15 – 11:25      Nursery & Pre-kindergarten – Room 1

                                          Kindergarten – 3rd Grade – Room 2

                                          4th grade to Middle School – TBD

                8:20 – 8:30        Opening Music & Meditation – Sanctuary

                8:30                   Business Session – Sanctuary

                10:00 – 10:15    Drinks & Snacks available – Fellowship Hall

                11:25                 Pick up Children for lunch

                11:30 – 1:30      Lunch – Fellowship Hall

    Saturday Afternoon

                1:30 – 4:45        Nursery & Pre-kindergarten – Room 1

                                          Kindergarten – 3rd Grade – Room 2 

                                          4th Grade to Middle School – TBD

                1:30                   Business Session – Sanctuary

                2:30 – 2:45        Drinks and Snacks available – Fellowship Hall

                4:05                   Commissioning Newly Elected

                4:25                   Silent Auction results – Sanctuary

                4:30                   End of Business Session

                                          Live Auction – Sanctuary

                4:45                   Pick-up all children from Childcare

  • It's Auction Time!

    Once again, we are calling upon all churches to donate a colorful basket filled with goodies, as well as baked goods and other crafts. These items are needed for this year’s Silent & Live Auctions to be to be held at the 2017 District Conference. Please let me know what your church is bringing! Thank You!

    - Rick Koch,

  • York Center COB Service Project

    District Conference 2017 will have a Community Out-Reach Service Project. We will be collecting nonperishable food items, such as canned goods (soups, fruit, vegetables, etc.), and boxed goods (cereal, pancake mix, crackers, etc.). These items will go to the Lombard/Villa Park Food Pantry, which York Center Church supports.

    There will be boxes in the church narthex for the food items Friday night and Saturday.

  • Country Store & Chicken Noodle Soup Lunch

    The 37th Annual Country Store and Chicken Noodle Soup Lunch will be held at the Freeport Church of the Brethren on Thursday, October 5, 10:30 am – 1:30 pm.

    The lunch includes homemade chicken noodle soup, roll, gelatin salad, cake, and beverage for $7.00. The Country Store includes many baked goods like pies, breads, and cookies; plants; jam; crafts; and fall produce such as pumpkins, squash, and gourds.

    The church is located at 777 W. Pleasant St. (corner of S. West Ave. or Hwy. 26). Handicap parking and chairlift are located at the Pleasant Street entrance. All others are welcome to use the door from the parking lot.

    CONTACT: Linda Simler
    Freeport Church of the Brethren

  • 2017 District Youth Retreat

    For the Glory of God and Our Neighbors Good

    My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don’t do anything to show that you really do have faith? –James 2:14

    November 10th through November 12th 2017
    Camp Emmaus, 3011 W. Camp Road, Oregon, Illinois 61061

    When: Registration will begin at 7 pm on Friday Night. Retreat participants will be dismissed on Sunday around 11:30 AM. We are open to people coming late or leaving early so long as they are at the retreat Saturday Morning.

    Who: Everyone currently in 9th through 12th grades plus First Year College students during the 2017-2018 school year. Friends and advisors are welcome.

    Cost: $25 for youth and adults. Make checks payable to “Illinois/Wisconsin District Youth”

    What to Bring: Games, Bible, Rake, Sleeping Bag, Snacks to share, Towel, and Work clothes.

    Service Project Information: We recommend dressing comfortably and in layers – it can be chilly in the morning – and you may warm up while raking leaves.

  • Powerhouse Regional Youth Conference

    November 18-19

    REGISTER NOW! The PowerHouse regional youth conference will return to Camp Mack again this year, providing a weekend of worship, workshops, music, recreation, and more for senior high youth in the Midwest and their advisors.

    Here are the details:

    Theme: "Who Am I?" 1 Corinthians 12:27 
    Speaker: Jamie Makatche 
    Cost: $90 for youth, $80 for advisors.

    Registrations before October 27 will receive a $10 discount! 

    Find out more information and register today by visiting our We hope you can join us Nov. 18-19 for this fun and faith-filled weekend!

  • 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

    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 realizes that this dilemma exists and desires to financially support congregations that are in good standing with the district and have specific needs. Application for assistance may be made for up to a three-year period with reductions in the amount of support for each subsequent year. In the event that multi-year assistance is needed, a graduated agreement for funding will be arranged, but a request for the funds must be made annually.

    Read the brochure for more details.

  • 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 Andrea Garnett,, 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.