Bluegrass District Conference

September 17-19
Ridgecrest, North Carolina
Ridgecrest Conference Center


Join your Bluegrass colleagues for spiritual refreshment, stimulating workshops, and plenary sessions on subjects that are of interest (and importance) to everyone, especially downline staff—critical team members who need the opportunity for inspiration, fellowship, and networking with people who have similar roles at other missions.

Lodging: Ridgecrest Conference Center

Ridgecrest Conference Center is less than a day’s drive from more than 15 states, sitting conveniently just off Interstate 40 outside bustling Asheville, but once you enter the gates, you’ll feel like you’re miles away from the rest of the world. Cradled in the spectacular Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Ridgecrest’s 1,300 acres invite you to leave your cares at the gate and join with colleagues for a few days of inspiration, education and networking!

Single person rooms are $99 per night and double occupancy rooms are $119 per night. Click here to reserve your room. 

1 Ridgecrest Dr
Ridgecrest, NC 28770

About Our 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. We can so easily lose our focus and get off track. Often we understand where we need to head but have little impetus to actually GO and DO. The keynote addresses will inform us and energize us with ideas and tips to equip us for the journey ahead—all firmly anchored in Scripture.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Marcus Warner

Dr. Marcus Warner has served as president of Deeper Walk International since 2006. He is a former pastor and Bible professor (Bethel College, Mishawaka, Indiana) with a doctorate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Marcus is the primary teacher at Deeper Walk seminars and has written a number of books, including Toward a Deeper Walk, Understanding the Wounded Heart, Rare Leadership, Deeper Walk Guide to the Bible, and What Every Believer Should Know About Spiritual Warfare, among others.


Monday, September 17

4:30 p.m.–5:30 p.m.

Registration and Check-in

5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m.

District Conference Opening Dinner (Dining Room)

6:45 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

District Conference Opening Session (Jim Henry Auditorium-Mt. Laurel Building)

  • Opening Remarks and Introductions from host, CEO Micheal Woods, and District President, Michael Gullatte
  • Worship and Prayer
  • Client Story from Knox Area Rescue Ministries 
  • Keynote Speaker, Dr. Marcus Warner 

8:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.

Fellowship Around the Campfire (Mt. Laurel Fire Ring)

Come fellowship and enjoy refreshments with other rescue mission professionals. We’ll wrap up with small-group prayer arranged by departments of rescue mission service. Hosted by Western Carolina Rescue Mission

Tuesday, September 18


7:00 a.m.–7:15 a.m.

    Morning Devotional 

7:15 a.m.–8:15 a.m.


8:30 a.m.–9:45 a.m.

General Session (Jim Henry Auditorium-Mt. Laurel Building)

  • Greeting from Vicki Murray, and Citygate Network Announcement 
  • Worship and Prayer
  • Keynote Speaker, Dr. Marcus Warner

9:45 a.m.–10:00 a.m.


10:15 a.m.–11:30 a.m.

Seminar #1

  • Work as Worship (Mt. Laurel C)
    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?

    Michael Gullatte, executive director, Cleveland County Rescue Mission
  • Are You Planning for Vibrancy? (Auditorium)
    Operational ruts can cause organizational limps. Too many organizations are limping; from boards and budgets to fundraising frustrations, gaps in operational necessities can erode enthusiasm for vital community missions. You’ll be challenged to look critically toward ways of leading your mission into greater vibrancy and nonprofit sustainability.

    Shawn Saunders, vice president of client services/rescue mission team leader, Dickerson, Bakker, & Associates
  • Start with Your Why: Developing a Wholistic Approach to Ministry  (Mt. Laurel D)
    Why does your organization exist, and how does that affect what you do and how you do it? The answers to these fundamental questions frame your approach to ministry and its outcomes. In this session, we'll dive into your why and how that affects your mission’s program, administration, and development.

    Tony Marciano, president/CEO, Charlotte Rescue Mission

11:45 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Bluegrass District group picture (Crystal Springs Amphitheater - camera snaps at 11:55 a.m. sharp!)

12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m.


1:00 p.m.–2:15 p.m.

Seminar #2

  • Remaining Effective in Your Role  (Mt. Laurel C)
    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 can also suffocate 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.

    Tom Zobel, regional coordinator, Citygate Network
  • Engaging People in Their Own Transformation, Part One  (Auditorium)
    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.

    Dan Rogers, president/CEO, Cherry Street Mission Ministries
  • Growing an Outstanding Organizational Culture  (Mt. Laurel D)
    Are you a people-first organization?  Do outcomes drive your every effort?  What are the genetics of your staff?  How effective are you at communicating new initiatives and change with your employees?  Are you providing meaningful work opportunities that are evident to your employees?  Are you developing leaders?  Do your staff and volunteers believe the work of the mission is indeed missional?  These questions and many more will be presented and discussed in this exciting seminar.

    Arnold Kimmons, coach, Ministry Ventures

2:15 p.m.–2:30 p.m.


2:45 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

Seminar #3

  • The Top Five Diseases of Major Gift Fundraising (and their Cures)   (Mt. Laurel C)
    Are your fundraising outcomes anemic, or even just a little under the weather? There are five diseases that stand out as the costliest for major gift programs—and for the organizations seeking to raise big gifts. Some of these ills can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations and untold expense in relationship costs. In contrast, the cures to these diseases have raised millions of dollars and garnered trust between the donors and the organization. Bring your fundraising concerns, describe the symptoms, and let this workshop diagnose the conditions and offer some remedies.

    Tim Gunsolley, president/CEO, Elevation Growth Partners
  • Engaging People in Their Own Transformation, Part Two  (Auditorium)
    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.

    Dan Rogers, president/CEO, Cherry Street Mission Ministries
  • Community Partnerships  (Mt. Laurel D)
    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.

    Ryan Duerk, vice president, adult ministries, Miracle Hill Ministries

4:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m.

Free time (See activities map in registration information) 

5:30 p.m.–6:30 p.m.

Dinner (Dining Room – Sit with a different group of people this time!) 

6:45 p.m.–8:00 p.m.

Evening General Session (Jim Henry Auditorium-Mt. Laurel Building) 

  • Worship
  • Client Story from Knox Area Rescue Ministries
  • Keynote Speaker, Dr. Marcus Warner 

8:15 p.m.–9:30 p.m.

S’mores Fellowship around the campfire (Mt. Laurel Fire Ring)

Wednesday, September 19


7:15 a.m.–8:15 a.m.



8:30 a.m.–9:00 a.m.

Devotion (Jim Henry Auditorium-Mt. Laurel Building) 

9:00 a.m.–9:45 a.m.

    Packing-up/Networking (Jim Henry Auditorium)

9:45 a.m.–11:00 a.m.

Closing General Session (Jim Henry Auditorium) 

  • 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, Dr. Marcus Warner

11:00 a.m.

Box Lunch (pick-up outside Jim Henry Auditorium)

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.