By Nathan White, BGAV Web Minister
The newest class of Upticks met for their first retreat of the year at CrossRoads Camp & Conference Center earlier this week. Composed of six men and six women, these young leaders represent the eighth class of Upticks since 2008.
Uptick(SM) is the premier development track for high-potential leaders offered by the Spence Network.
As a referral-based network of leaders who are typically in their twenties and who have already demonstrated significant potential for leading high-impact ministries in the future, Uptick:
- Gives access to experiences and networks otherwise inaccessible to leaders of this age, and
- Fast-tracks high-potential young leaders toward being able to lead high-impact ministries within 5-10 years.
“I’m always amazed at how quickly and eagerly how Uptickers, and this class in particular, embrace the idea of being in community with each other and learning from international Baptist leaders,” said John Chandler, Spence Network Leader. “They have receptive hearts, open minds, quick wits, and great ideas to bring to the table, as well as a humble spirit. I’m excited about what they will become.”
The 2015 group includes individuals in diverse situations and ministry settings, including seminary students, associate ministers, lay leaders, pastors, and more.
The twelve Upticks and their place of service are:
- Austin Almaguer – Pastor, Vienna Baptist Church, Vienna
- Jillian Andrezejewski – Pastor, Mooreland Baptist, Mooreland
- Joshua Hayden – Pastor, First Baptist Church, Ashland
- Cameron Lee – Seminary student, Charlotte NC
- Sarah Nadeau – Technology Director, Freedom Life Church, Hampton
- Ginny Richardson – Pastor for Youth and Children, Vienna Baptist Church, Vienna
- Erin Rose – Director of Urban Doxology (Arrabon), Worship Coordinator East End Fellowship, Richmond
- Eric Schneiderhan – Family Life Fellow (Student Ministry) and Music Teacher (CDC), Columbia Baptist Church, Falls Church
- Allan Smith – Minister to Students, Greystone Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC
- Brett Witcher – Youth Minister, Lane Memorial United Methodist Church, Altavista
- Emily Wingfield – Director of Residence Life and Summer Programs, Bluefield College, Bluefield
- Allison Yeaman – Lay leader, Chestnut Grove Baptist Church, Earlysville
“There really isn’t any other program like this,” said Allison Yeaman. “I’m really excited to begin this process.”
During the retreat, Spence Network staff prepared the group for what to expect during the year and begin building community among the Upticks.
Additionally, the Upticks were introduced to several other folks to help launch their journey. During the retreat, the Upticks met with Paul Maconochie, a former pastor of Network Church in Sheffield, England, the largest growing Christian church in the United Kingdom.
The group intently listened to Paul as he shared his experiences of how God completely provided for him, his family, and several others for a six-month period as they tried to live in community and in complete dependence on the Lord.
Explaining how much time the community spent in prayer during that time, he challenged the Upticks to carefully listen to the Lord for guidance, generating laughter when he said “You don’t want to listen to last night’s pizza and call it the Lord.”
Reflecting on that experience of living in community and in complete reliance on God, Paul told the group that “When you take a journey to the limits of normal life, you’re not quite the same again when you come back.” In closing, he challenged them to answer the question “Where in your life can you really start living by faith?”
One of the sessions featured Ken Kessler, Team Leader of the Empowering Leaders team at the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV), where he explained the coaching process that the Upticks will begin.
Each Uptick is assigned a coach, with whom they’ll meet with for an hour each month. “Coaches are not there to whip you into shape; they are to be advocates for you and to help you process your current ministry setting,” he told the group.
The Spence Network also invited Karen Bowles, Founder and Director of The Etiquette School of the Commonwealth, to lead the Upticks in practicing their networking skills over hor d’ourves and dinner.
“We want Upticks to have these skills so they will feel comfortable, be better able to communicate and set a leadership example rather than worry about which bread and butter plate is theirs, or which fork to use during a meal,” said Laura McDaniel, Network Catalyst for Spence Network. “When they understand the rules of etiquette, it keeps the focus of the meal where it should be: on the relationship.”
During the first meeting of the new Executive Board last week, John Upton, Executive Director of the BGAV, noted that two members are former Upticks. “The investment we’ve made in these young leaders is paying dividends all over Virginia and beyond,” he said.