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November 15, 2019

Asbury University students were inspired to impact the world through business at the Asbury Marketplace Summit this week. The annual two-day event was co-hosted by the University’s Dayton School of Business and Asbury Theological Seminary’s (ATS) Office of Faith, Work and Economics. Scroll down to view a photo gallery!

Students and guests attended sessions and special Chapel services before gathering in the ATS McKenna Chapel for the much-anticipated student business plan competition.

Asbury President Kevin J. Brown opened the Summit with a Chapel service on Thursday and hosted a Lunch & Learn session later that day.

During his Chapel message, Dr. Brown drew heavily from Colossians 3:1 which states, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

Dr. Brown spoke about how we can avoid the dehumanization that sometimes occurs in the business world by going about the marketplace with distinctly Christian ethics in mind.

“What are the implications for our participation in the economic quarter?” Dr. Brown said, posing a series of questions to center his message. “How can our personal activity honor God, serve others and humanize ourselves? How can we re-subjectify the other? To see others not as instruments but as persons. How can ‘seek ye the things that are above’ redefine our market imagination and reemploy our efforts in the economic realm?”

Emily Moon Kolega visited campus for the events, spoke in Friday’s Chapel and hosted a Lunch & Learn session in Asbury’s Z.T. Johnson Cafeteria. Kolega works in the marketing industry and has launched a 501(c)(3) nonprofit social entrepreneurship company that empowers at-risk women in Africa, India and the United States by providing education and meaningful work in the clothing industry.

The second Marketplace Summit Chapel began with a brief introduction from Dr. Brown.

“In creating, in producing, what does that tell us about God?” Dr. Brown said. “It tells us that He’s creative. It tells us that God is productive. It tells us that God relates. It tells us that God loves. He is oriented by love, so to create and to produce is an overflow of God’s nature. To love and to relate is an overflow of His love. God doesn’t simply love; God is love.”

Dr. Brown expanded upon these “God-reflecting capacities” and the ways they are being utilized by Asbury students in the marketplace, referring to projects created by some of the day’s presenting students.

“We have so many different examples of this that are occurring right now on our campus — these God-reflecting capacities that are being utilized and can be utilized within the marketplace,” Dr. Brown said.

Kolega’s message centered on lessons she’s learned through founding her nonprofit The By Grace Foundation, and drew from verses Matthew 21:18-19 and Colossians 3:23.

“God loves authenticity and He loves it when people are authentic with their stories and we are not just putting on a show or showing all of our leaves but we’re really displaying the fruit because God really cares about that fruit,” Kolega said.  

Kolega also encouraged students to accept grace, failure and rest in the midst of pursuing a career.

“Did it increase your faith? If the answer is yes, then it was worth it,” Kolega said. “[That question] changed my perspective on failure. I realized that I was taking a heavenly pursuit and gauging it up against worldly success metrics and that is going to feel like failure every single time.”

Friday’s schedule also included a Faith at Work Interactive Innovation Session where students were encouraged to push boundaries and creatively utilize business for Kingdom impact. Many gathered in the seminary’s McKenna Chapel for the exciting business plan competition on Friday afternoon.

During the competition, students from both the University and seminary presented their business plans in hopes of winning some of the $10,000 prize money. A brief awards ceremony concluded the Marketplace Summit.

This year’s competition winners include:

  • Grand Prize- OPUS: Andrew Coomes ’21, Drew Turner ’20, Brady Buher ‘22 (AU)
  • Undergraduate First Place- Adornare Collective: Madison Lewis ’21, Jonathan Grosz ‘19 (AU)
  • Undergraduate Second Place- CrossRoad Studio: Tyler Thompson ’20 (AU), Benjamin Black ’20 (AU), Luke Phillips ’20 (AU), Jonah Shepherd ’20 (AU)
  • Graduate First Place- Haiti Artisan Co-Op: Parker Touchton ’20 (AU)
  • Graduate Second Place- Penalva After School Program: Nick Porritt (ATS), Keegan Penalva ‘16, Micah Penalva ‘19
  • People’s Choice- OPUS: Andrew Coomes ’21, Drew Turner ’20, Brady Buher ‘22 (AU)

Coomes won the grand prize award for his business OPUS, an application that connects students with odd jobs to help alleviate the student debt burden facing many undergraduates. The app also seeks to help community members find people willing to assist them with chores and yardwork they may not be able to do themselves. 

“It’s amazing,” Coomes said. “I’ve been preparing for it all semester; it’s been my number one priority. The craziest thing is I thought I blew it. I hiccuped a couple times in my presentation. But, I’m my own worst critic, and my team told me I did great. I’m thrilled [to have won].”

Learn more about Asbury University’s Howard & Beverly Dayton School of Business.