Great Lakes District Conference

September 12 - 14, 2023
Shipshewana, Indiana
Blue Gate Garden Inn


You don't want to miss out on the Great Lakes District Conference this year! Gather your team and make your way to this event, filled with fellowship, education, inspiration, and networking designed to enrich and connect mission and ministry staff from throughout the district.

Programming will include development seminars. We'll enjoy five meals together, beginning with dinner Tuesday, through breakfast Thursday, with plenty of opportunities to make new friends and deepen relationships.

Registration is now closed. Thank you for your interest!

Theme: Who's My Neighbor?

Keynote Speaker


Denny Wilson
Founding Pastor, Warsaw Community Church, Board Member Fellowship Missions, Warsaw, IN 

Lodging: Blue Gate Garden Inn

Great Lakes is excited to return to the Blue Gate Garden Inn in Shipshewana, Indiana. Join us as we step off the beaten path and spend time together in the Amish countryside. The small-town venue offers the perfect place for you and your team to refresh and renew. Whether you choose to relax and soak up the quiet, or decide to visit the Midwest's largest free flea market [open Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.], the change of scenery will do you good.

Our discounted room rate is $126/night, plus tax, for a single or double room. Click here for online reservation instructions or call the Blue Gate Garden Inn at (800) 545-4725 and ask for reservations, be sure to mention the discounted Citygate Network rate. Reserve your room by August 12 to get that discounted rate!

The $129 conference registration fee includes all programming and five meals.


Who's My Neighbor?
September 12 - 14, 2023

Tuesday, September 12


3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.


Registration - Magnolia Room

4:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.


Seminar 1

  • Volunteering - Matt Furrow – Volunteer Coordinator, Kalamazoo
  • Lilac Room
  • De-escalation - Pastor John Simpson, COO, Kalamazoo
  • Magnolia Room
  • Helping Home Happen – Sharmin Hegenauer, Saginaw, Impact Designs Coordinator. This solution-oriented session focuses on reducing the number of guests returning to the mission once housed. Our program, Impact Designs, begins in shelter with life skills classes, etc. and then utilizes material goods donations and volunteers to attractively and efficiently furnish their rental situation. Each guest receives a unique design with their needs and desires in mind. An empty apartment is transformed into a Home. Then we do a big reveal!
  • Wisteria Room
  • Development – MDM
  • Empress Room

5:30 p.m.


Dinner - Magnolia Room
Denny Wilson, Pastor Warsaw Community Church, Board Member Fellowship Missions, Warsaw, IN

Wednesday, September 13


7:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.

8:45 a.m.- 9:00 a.m.



Devotions, Eric Lane - Magnolia Room

9:00 am


Free Time

12:30 p.m.


Lunch - Magnolia Room

1:30 p.m. - 2:45 p.m.


Seminar 2

  • Development Seminar - Lilac Room
  • Breaking the Cycle Through Supportive Parenting – Jill Bair, Saginaw Director of Education and Operations and Becky Miller, Education Coordinator
  • Magnolia Room
  • Developing a Supportive Parenting Program with the goal of showing parents how to nurture their children in an empathetic way, as a new lifestyle, is important to serving the homeless population. Although leading parents in stopping the cycle of generational addiction, abuse, and neglect can be tough, our goal to meet parents where they are, and offer the support they need during the challenging years of parenting, leads them toward a more positive and balanced family unit.
  • Distracted Driving at Your Ministry – and What to do
  • About It
  • – Gallagher and Great American Insurance 
  • The most frequent and expensive cause of  
  • accidents/insurance claims at Citygate Network ministries is from car accidents. A loss control professional from Great American Insurance will take us through a Distracted Driving Seminar that could be replicated at your ministry. We will also discuss what it looks like to properly screen, train, and monitor those who drive for your ministry.
  • Wisteria Room


3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.


Seminar 3

  • It's All In the Design: Creating Trauma-Informed Shelters – Warsaw
  • Lilac Room
  • Join us and learn the principles of trauma informed design and how our built spaces can help, harm or be a benign influence on a person’s mood, perceptions, and how they see the world, others and their own self. We will also discuss ways we can use trauma informed design to create spaces in our current or future facilities.
  • Volunteering – Lori Taylor-Esposito, Joliet
  • Magnolia Room
  • Understanding Sexual Abuse and How to Respond
  • – Gallagher and Great American Insurance
  • Given the abuse that has surfaced in the Catholic church, Boy Scouts, USA Gymnastics, and other organizations, preventing sexual abuse has become a key topic in the human service industry.

  • Wisteria Room

6:00 p.m.


Dinner - Pastor Denny Wilson
Magnolia Room

Thursday, September 14


7:00 a.m.- 10:00 a.m.

8:45 a.m.



Devotions - Eric Lane - Magnolia Room

9:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.


Seminar 4

  • Personal Development Plans for Staff Growth – Dick McMillian, City Vision University
  • Lilac Room
  • Rebranding - Lynn Russcher – VP of Advancement, Kalamazoo
  • Wisteria Room
  • Sustainable Food Service – Barb Streeter, Culinary Director, Saginaw
  • Magnolia Room
  • It can be a struggle to maintain a well-equipped and nutritionally balanced food service program when the labor pool is so shallow. But food service can be a particularly strong therapeutic outlet for work ready program clients. Learn creative ways to maintain quality meals while helping clients gain skills and providing volunteers opportunities to serve.
  • Trauma-Informed Care 101 – Warsaw
  • Empress Room
  • Come together to talk about the basics of trauma informed care for those we serve and our staff. This will be a great time of sharing and learning new ways to work with individuals who have experienced trauma in their lives.

10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.




10:45 a.m.


Pastor Denny Wilson - Magnolia Room

11:30 a.m.


So long, Farewell, Goodbye...



Citygate Network business members, can choose from three levels of sponsorships at the conference. Sign-up is located at the bottom of this page. Please note that sponsors must be in membership with Citygate Network, and a sponsorship or display table purchase is required in order to attend. To participate in the conference sessions and/or meals, you will also need to register as an attendee. If you have additional questions, please email Sam Edwards.

$700–Primary Sponsor  SOLD

  • 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 SOLD

  • Display table during conference

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.

Online registration is not available at this time.