Mennonite-Entrepreneurs-ConferenceA unique weekend of challenge and reflection

January 28 –  31, 2016
The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Sarasota, Florida

Sponsored by  Everence logo
As a Christian business owner, you have many opportunities and challenges:
•    You want to integrate your faith with your business decisions.
•    You want to excel in your industry.
•    You want to maintain work-life balance.
•    You’re eager to connect with others in a similar situation.

The Mennonite Entrepreneurs Conference is designed especially for you. Join us for a long weekend of inspiration, networking, information and fun.

Click here to fill out the 2016 Conference Evaluation

Click here to visit Jim Smucker's blog with resources presented at the conference.

The Value of Personal and Organizational Vulnerability

Vulnerability is simply defined as uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Business, by definition, is uncertain and requires a tolerance for risk and vulnerability if we are going to develop innovative and adaptive cultures. As a result, vulnerability can be a gift to our leadership roles, and is in fact necessary for people to lead authentically.

To do so requires that we have compassion for ourselves and a willingness to let go of who we think we should be and relax into who we are. But being vulnerable requires the courage to seek out and understand reality and to acknowledge our imperfections, things that threaten both individuals and organizations.

Jim Smucker will use group exercises, tools, and mutual sharing of best practices to help each of us learn to lead more authentically and ultimately develop higher performing organizations in this weekend of challenge and reflection.

Keynote Speaker

2016 Jim Smucker resizedJim Smucker is vice president and dean of the Graduate and Professional School at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA. Prior to this appointment in 2013, Jim served for 25 years as president and a partner in the Bird-in-Hand Corporation, a hospitality management company that employs 400 people in the Lancaster, PA area. He holds a Ph.D. in Management (specializing in leadership and organizational change). His research interests include self-direction and empowerment in the workplace, hiring and developing authentic leaders, and the contribution of the Believer’s Church to governance and leadership models. 

He is past chair of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, a member of a number of for-profit and non-profit boards, and coached high school basketball and baseball for over 14 years. In his spare time he enjoys reading and training for and running ultra-marathons. He lives in Harrisonburg, VA with his wife, Anna, and has three adult children – Jordon, Rachel and Kate. He attends Community Mennonite Church.





Business Leader Presenters

2016 Jay and Rhoda Oberholtzer resizedJay and Rhoda Oberholtzer will share their faith and business journey on Saturday evening. Jay grew up on a farm in Manheim, PA with seven siblings. Rhoda was raised in a business family of 12 children where they learned the joys of working together. After Jay and Rhoda were married in a double ceremony with Rhoda’s twin sister and her husband, Jay joined the Stauffer family business. When Rhoda’s father died, Jay formed a partnership with the oldest son of the Stauffer family in a lease/purchase of the Stauffers of Kissel Hill business, which later included three additional Stauffer brothers. As the business expanded, the positions Jay held included HR director, office manager, HR supervisor, treasurer and president. Rhoda was involved in the business as buyer in the trims department. She developed the arts and floral division and managed the floral manufacturing division.

Jay served on the boards of Commonwealth, Mellon and Fulton Banks, Philhaven Hospital, Camp Hebron and Lancaster Mennonite Conference. He is a member of American Management Association. Rhoda served on the boards of Sovereign Bank, MEDA, Eastern Mennonite Missions, and on Lancaster Conference committees. She also played in summer theatre and the Hazel’s People movie and presented “Scripture in Floral Design” programs in churches in the United States, Canada and a few foreign countries.

Jay and Rhoda attend Lititz Mennonite Church, where Jay was ordained as deacon and has served as spiritual director, and Rhoda as Sunday superintendent and teacher, and created floral designs for the church.

They have been married for 62 years and appreciate their family of three married sons, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren. They both enjoy traveling, skiing, motorcycle riding and golfing.

Sunday Morning Speaker

2016 Lee MillerLee Miller is a church relations and financial representative for Everence Financial in Sarasota, Florida. Prior to that, he was the administrative pastor at Bay Shore Mennonite Church for 16 years.

Lee also has 20 years of experience as an announcer on Christian radio, at WKZM and WSMR in Sarasota.
He is the district minister for the Sarasota Churches of Southeast Mennonite Conference and part-time assistant chaplain for Sunnyside Village Retirement Community.

Lee graduated from Ohio School of Broadcast Technique in 1984 and attended Rosedale Bible Institute in 1986, prior to pastoring in Ohio.

He is married to Vina and they have two daughters, Megan and Dionne, a son, Brockford, and six grandchildren.

Lee is an avid Ohio sports fan but his first love is singing, which he has done in many settings such as weddings and funerals, as well as solo concerts in churches.




Conference Schedule

Click here for a map of Longboat Key Club Resort

Thursday, January 28, 2016  
4:00 - 4:30 p.m. Opening Session with Introductions (Island House Room)
4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Session with Jim Smucker
6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Dinner (Barefoots Lower Deck)
 Friday, January 29, 2016  
  Breakfast – on your own
8:30 - 10:00 a.m. Morning Session with Jim Smucker (Island House Room)
10:00 – 10:30 a.m. Coffee Break
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Session with Jim Smucker, continued
11:30 – 12:00 p.m. MEDA Update by Mike Miller
12:00 - 1:30 p.m. Lunch (Under Oaks at Island House)
  Afternoon Free time
6:45 p.m. til ?

Leave for Dinner at Local Restaurants (meet in Hotel Lobby)
   Reservations for 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 30, 2016  
  Breakfast – on your own
  Morning Free time/Golf arranged for those interested (sign up on the registration form)
  Lunch – on your own
1:30 - 3:00 p.m. Afternoon Session with Jim Smucker (Island House Room)
3:00 – 3:30 p.m. Coffee Break
3:30 – 4:30 p.m. Afternoon Session with Jim Smucker, continued
4:30 – 5:00 p.m. Closing Announcements
7:00 – 9:00 p.m.

Dinner and Program (John Ringling Room)
Business Leader Presentation by Jay and Rhoda Oberholtzer
Sunday, January 31, 2016  
  Breakfast – on your own
9:00 a.m. Worship Service (Island House Room)
10:30 a.m. Conclusion of conference

The Resort at Longboat Key Club

The 2016 Mennonite Entrepreneurs Conference will be held at The Resort at Longboat Key Club. Secluded on a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, The Resort at Longboat Key Club is a AAA Four-Diamond Sarasota resort that encompasses 410 acres of lush lawns and pristine beachfront with authentic Old Florida boardwalks. The environmentally-friendly resort is an official Florida "Green Lodging" and just a short drive from the upscale shopping, museums and theaters in downtown Sarasota.

The 2016 Conference rates are:

  • Junior Suite Lagoon or Golf Course View, $294.00
  • Junior Suite Beach View, $344.00

All reservations must be made by January 7, 2016. Group rates are available 3 days pre- and post-conference dates based on availability.

The booking link below will take you directly to the hotel's online reservation system, allowing you to book rooms for the dates of our event at the discounted group rate. Always available as a second option is their reservations desk, reachable at 800-237-8821. When calling, please be sure to mention the Mennonite Entrepreneurs Conference.

Reserve your room online here.

Conference Registration

The conference cost includes the cost of sessions, materials, handouts, Thursday dinner, Friday lunch, and Saturday night’s banquet. Greens fees are an additional cost.

$449 USD - Early Bird/First-timer rate
$499 USD - Regular rate after January 7, 2016

Registration is now closed.

The Mennonite Entrepreneurs Conference is organized under the umbrella of Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).