Sister Joan Chittister will be our Tuesday Keynote Speaker. She will have a talk-back session and a book singing, too.
Sr. Joan is one of the best known and best loved writers and international speakers on Benedictine spirituality and social justice in the world today. She has authored some 60 books and over 700 articles. Sr. Joan has been a courageous advocate of social justice for all, especially for women, in both church and society. She speaks of contemporary spirituality, rather than turning inward away from the world. Sister Joan teaches us how to find God and inner peace in the midst of today’s turbulent world. Her books have been translated into numerous languages and have won 16 Catholic Press Association awards.
Drew Hart will be our Wednesday Keynote Speaker. Dr. Hart is an activist, writer, and sought-after speaker on topics of racial justice, black theology, Anabaptism, and white supremacy. He is an assistant professor of theology at Messiah College with a PhD from Lutheran Theological Seminary. Hart and his wife and children live in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His recent book is entitled, "TROUBLE I'VE SEEN: CHANGING THE WAY THE CHURCH VIEWS RACISM."
Ken Medema and Ted Swartz will be our Thursday Keynote speakers. Ken and Ted are welcomed as "honorary Brethren." They are popular performers at National Youth Conference, Annual Conference, and past NOACs.
Ken is a singer/songwriter. He is a "sneaky theologian" who draws you into his seemingly simple songs and then catches you off guard with deep meaning and profound emotional impact.
Ted is a Mennonite actor and comedian whose portrayal of biblical stories breaks open the scriptures in new and surprisingly relevant ways. You will find yourself laughing and crying, sometimes simultaneously.
Dawn Ottoni Wilhelm is preaching at our opening service on Monday evening. She is ordained in the Church of the Brethren and has served as a hospital chaplain in NJ and PA, and also as the pastor of two churches in PA. Having completed her doctoral work in Practical Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary in 2004 (focusing on homiletics and biblical studies), she currently serves as the Brightbill Professor of Preaching and Worship at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, IN. She is the editor and contributing author of Preaching Prophetic Care: Building Bridges to Justice (Wipf & Stock Pub., 2018), senior editor of a 3-volume series titled Preaching God’s Transforming Justice (Westminster John Knox Press, 2011 – 13), the author of Preaching the Gospel of Mark: Proclaiming the Power of God (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), and Believing in Preaching: What Listeners Hear in Sermons (Chalice Press, 2005).
Dawn was the recent president of Societas Homiletica (the international association of homileticians) and is an active member of the American Academy of Homiletics. She and her spouse reside in Richmond, IN, where two of their three young adult children also live and work. Dawn enjoys distance swimming, music, and conversations with loved ones.
Jennifer Keeney Scarr will preach Tuesday evening. She grew up in the Church of the Brethren the daughter of not one, but two, CoB pastors. Her flare for the dramatic led her to graduate from the University of LaVerne with a BA in Performing Arts and a minor in Religion. That little minor carried her to Bethany Theological Seminary, where she finally succumbed to a call to pastoral ministry in 2015. Along with the unexpected joy of being a pastor, Jen's ministry came with a twist. Eleven months out of the year Jen pastors the Trotwood Church of the Brethren just outside of Dayton, Ohio and one month out of the year she works with Christian Peacemaker Teams as a reservist in Barrancabermeja, Colombia.
Jen remains deeply grateful to pastor a community which allows her the space to express the fullness of her vocation. In between responsibilities, you might find Jen snuggled up on the couch with her favorite human and partner, Jonathan, watching sitcoms or some kind of science fiction. If she's not doing that, then she's attempting to convince her cats not to sit on the book she's trying to read.
Jeanne Davies will preach Wednesday evening. She serves as Pastor for Parables Community, a new church start in Lombard, Illinois which is sensitive to the needs and celebrates the gifts of all, including those with disabilities. She also serves as Program Resources Coordinator for the Anabaptist Disabilities Network. Jeanne has a Master of Divinity degree from Bethany Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Homiletic Peer Coaching from Vanderbilt Divinity School, and is currently working on a Certificate in Disability and Ministry from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. She lives in West Dundee, IL with her husband, Joel, daughter, Nora, and loyal dog, Finn.
Walt Wiltschek will preach Thursday evening. He serves as pastor of Easton (Md.) Church of the Brethren and as at-large editor for Messenger magazine. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, Eastern Mennonite University, and York College of Pennsylvania, he has done most of his work in journalism, ministry, and youth/young adult activities. He is passionate about traveling, writing, volunteering at camps, and several favorite sports teams.
Dennis Webb will preach Friday morning. He is originally from Ocho Rios, Jamaica. He began his career as a High School teacher after graduating from MICO University in 1984. In 1989 he received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Theology degree from The University of the West Indies (UWI) and a Diploma in Ministry Studies from United Theological College of the West Indies (UTCWI) in Jamaica. He was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1991 and served as pastor within the Jamaica Baptist Union from 1989- 1999.
Dennis and his family migrated to the United States in 1999. In that year, he began a Chaplain Resident program at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, IL, where he was trained to be a hospital chaplain. He was called to be the pastor of the Naperville Church of the Brethren in January, 2002, and has been serving there since that time. Dennis completed a Master of Arts degree at Bethany Theological Seminary focusing on multiculturalism in 2012.
Dennis has maintained an interest in multicultural issues in relation to Brethren values and traditions. He has recently ended his five year term on the Mission and Ministry Board of the Church of the Brethren and now serves as the district Standing Committee member. Additionally, he serves as a member of the denomination’s Intercultural Ministries Advisory Council (IMAC). His current congregation is predominantly Indian, and has members from four ethic groups.
Dennis lives in Aurora, IL with Joy, his wife of 28 years. They have two children Karelle (24) and Richard (21). He loves to play the guitar, read and jog. He has produced a CD where he wrote (and was the vocalist) for 16 original Brethren songs entitled "The Holy Kiss".