Great Lakes District Conference

September 25-27
Shipshewana, Indiana
Blue Gate Garden Inn

The Great Lakes district will be at a new location this year in the heart of Amish country in Shipshewana, Indiana, near the Indiana/Michigan border. The Shipshewana area is celebrated for being home to the third largest Amish community in the United States, for having the Midwest's largest flea market, and for its reputation of hand-crafted wares. "Shipshe" as it is often called, means many things to many different people, but it mostly symbolizes simplicity. So come join us as we network, learn, renew and refresh in this simply beautiful setting.

Conference Lodging

Individuals must call the Blue Gate Garden Inn at 260-768-4725 to make a reservation.  (Single or Double room rate of $105.00) 

800 S Van Buren St
Shipshewana, IN 46565

About our Keynote Speaker

Dr. David Smith is professor of New Testament Studies and church ambassador at Indiana Wesleyan University. David, who travels extensively around the world teaching and doing leadership development, is also pastor of the Ministry Development Program at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana, where he helps develop young pastors in their first ministry positions. Additionally, he and his wife Angie are passionate about their work in Malawi, Africa, where they are engaged in local church-based community development. 

Theme: Momentum

Vector and thrust. By definition, to have momentum, we need direction and some oomph to move us down that path—vector and thrust. It's so easy to lose our focus and get off track. Often we understand where we need to head but have little impetus to actually GO and DO. Our time together will inform us and energize us with ideas and tips to equip us for the journey ahead—all firmly anchored in Scripture.


Tuesday, September 25

4:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m.

Registration and Check-in (Magnolia Meeting Room)

6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

District Conference Opening Dinner (Magnolia Meeting Room)

  • Opening Remarks and intros from host CEO and District President
  • Worship & Prayer
  • Keynote Speaker, David Smith 
  • Client Story from Kalamazoo Gospel Mission
  • Announcements about activities and other items 

8:15 p.m.–9:45 p.m.

Optional Activity

Wednesday, September 26

6:00 a.m.–8:00 a.m.

Breakfast (on own at buffet - included with room) 

8:15 a.m.–9:30 a.m.

General Session (Magnolia Meeting Room)

  • District Officer Greeting and Citygate Network Announcement
  • Worship
  • Keynote Speaker, David Smith
  • Announcements about seminars and other items 

9:45 a.m.–11:00 a.m.

Seminar #1: (Magnolia, Lilac, Wisteria) 

  • Remaining Effective in Your Role   (Magnolia)
    How do some people remain active, encouraged, and effective without losing their momentum or sanity? Busy and effective people often produce much while losing themselves in the wake of their productivity. A breakneck pace not only leaves the team behind, but it also suffocates one’s energy and creativity. Add in the compounded stress of deadlines, paperwork, and clients’ overwhelming stories, and you may have the perfect recipe for disaster. In this session, we will help you learn effective work-life-faith balance tools and practices that will help keep you and your team fresh, encouraged, and blessed.

    Tracy Gorman, president/CEO, Evansville Rescue Mission
  • From Authoritative to Relational: Shifting Your Organizational Culture for Clients and Guests   (Lilac)
    There are systems, paradigms, and “scripts” that impact the culture of your organization and how you relate to the people you serve. Some things we may be doing—intentionally and unintentionally—interrupt the healing process. What’s more, leadership impacts the culture in a major way. What leaders model and value gets replicated throughout your organization. Join in on this frank discussion of organizational culture and what you can do to create and keep momentum in the healing process.

    Greg Weaver, food service director, Kalamazoo Gospel Mission
  • Work as Worship  (Wisteria)
    How much does a person’s work matter to God? Have you ever considered that work is a form of worship? This session explores that very possibility for staff and clients alike. Each minute of life is a gift, but we must work to earn a living. How do we view work as a gospel-driven effort to serve Christ?

    Donovan Coley, CEO, The Rescue Mission

11:00 a.m.–11:15 a.m.

Snack Break (Magnolia)

11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Seminar #2: (Magnolia, Lilac, Wisteria)

  • Community Partnerships   (Magnolia)
    Working alongside community partners enhances collective impact.  By increasing the offerings in a trusted and familiar space, clients are more willing to engage with expanded services.  You’ll learn about different partnership models and get access to community partnership resources that will help you make the most of the services offered at your mission.  We’ll talk about the pros and cons of partnerships, what makes a good partner, how to formalize an agreement, and more.

    Colleen Gore, director, Center for Women and Children; and William Bumphus, director of shelter for men, Wheeler Mission Ministries
  • Engaging People in Their Own Transformation, Part 1   (Lilac)
    The people who show up at our doors each day bring challenges that cannot be overcome without massive paradigm shifts—in their hearts and in our methods. What if we bridged the separation between crisis services and programs to create an ecosystem where everyone is working intentionally toward a common goal of life transformation? Part one of this workshop, led by a mission leader who has made this leap and seen incredible outcomes, will share more about the whats and whys of the philosophy that inspires their work.

    Max Lambdin, senior vice president of mission advancement, Cherry Street Mission Ministries
  • Partnerships: Blessing or Litigation...Your Choice   (Wisteria)
    Community partnerships are all great opportunities to work with other organizations that provide valuable relationships. Whether for the purpose of providing educational and employment benefits to your residents or looking to augment your internal services without having to employ additional staff, these arrangements can be a great opportunity for everyone. However, what terms should be in the agreements, both written and verbal? What additional liability exposures are incurred to the mission in such circumstances? Join us for a seminar on how to maximize community partnerships without inviting future lawsuits.

    Brian Merriam, president, Merriam Insurance Agency

12:30 p.m.–1:45 p.m.

Lunch with Professional Networks (Buffet, Magnolia Meeting Room) 

2:00 p.m.–3:15 p.m.

Seminar #3 (Magnolia, Lilac, Wisteria)

  • The Art of Major Donor Fundraising (Magnolia)
    Major donor fundraising is an art. It is all about relationships and looking after your donors. It involves building relationships with high-capacity individuals to the point where they naturally want to make a difference by increasing the level of their giving. But how do you find these donors? When you do, how do you speak their language? How do you know when the time is right to make the ask? All this and more will be detailed in this interactive session.

    Shelley Cochrane, VP strategic partnerships, Douglas Shaw & Associates
  • Engaging People in Their Own Transformation, Part Two   (Lilac)
    In Part Two of this workshop, you'll hear about the policies, practices, and practical changes necessary to truly engage people in their own transformation. You'll hear the inspiring story of how one mission turned an old high school into a life-revitalization center with help from the entire community; the system they use to motivate people toward their recovery; the unique ecosystem the organization has created; and what outcomes they're seeing.

    Max Lambdin, senior vice president of mission advancement, Cherry Street Mission Ministries
  • Work as worship   (Wisteria)
    How much does a person’s work matter to God? Have you ever considered that work is a form of worship? This session explores that very possibility for staff and clients alike. Each minute of life is a gift, but we must work to earn a living. How do we view work as a gospel-driven effort to serve Christ?

    Donovan Coley, CEO, The Rescue Mission

6:30 p.m.–7:45 p.m.

Dinner and Worship (Magnolia Meeting Room)

  • Meal served 
  • Keynote Speaker
  • Worship
  • Client Story
  • Announcements 

Thursday, September 27

8:00 a.m.–8:45 a.m.

Breakfast (on own at buffet - included with room) 

9:00 a.m.–10:30 a.m.

Closing General Session (Magnolia Meeting Room)

  • Worship and Devotional
  • Panel Discussion So What??? 
    • Did you learn?
    • Do you want to know more about?
    • Will you begin implementing or adjusting?
    • Can't you wait to share with others?
  • Keynote Speaker, David Smith 
  • Prayer and Send-Off

Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel your registration, you may do so with no penalty up to two weeks before the event. Cancellations requested less than two weeks before the event will result in a 30% cancellation fee.


There are three levels of sponsorships available at the conference. Sponsor sign-up is located at the bottom of this page. A sponsorship or display table is required in order to attend. Please note that sponsors must be in membership with Citygate Network. If you plan to participate in the conference sessions and/or meals, you will need to register as an attendee in addition to purchasing your sponsorship. If you have additional questions, please email Malcomn Mitchell,

$700–Primary Sponsor 

  • Address attendees during one of the general sessions
  • Handouts during the speaking opportunity
  • Display table during conference 

$400–Break Sponsor 

  • Handout during break
  • Display table during conference 

$250–Table Sponsor 

  • Display table during conference

Online registration is not available at this time.