At Just The Right Time

By: Michele Scheerer

During the month of May, as our church journeyed through the story of Esther, another story of God’s sovereignty was playing out that would lead Jake Wieduwilt back to Bay Area as our new Student Ministry Pastor.

The book of Esther showcases God’s mighty hand at work in big and small ways to perfectly carry out His plan for the good of His people. It’s easy to see the connections as we look back at this story from thousands of years ago, and yet God has not stopped working for the good of His people, in big and small ways. He’s still the invisible artist writing stories and looking for faithful people to join Him in His work.


Our story begins in 2012, when a young Coastguardsman arrived in Annapolis to work at the Coast Guard Station. Jake Wieduwilt and his wife Sarah moved into a local apartment complex, and on their first weekend in town they met neighbors Rob and Kayleigh Vaughn, also new to the area. As the Vaughns and Wieduwilts both searched for a local church, the Vaughns invited Jake and Sarah to Bay Area and to their Missional Community (MC), where both couples were able to build community. Over the next several years, their community would grow deep in relationship, becoming a spiritual family that remains connected even today.


As Jake served in the Coast Guard, the “train your relief” ethos of the military seeped in. “You have to develop people in the military, or the job’s not going to get done. And the same is true with the gospel,” Sarah shared - echoing their joint passion for people and for Jesus. It’s this value of developing people that has shaped so much of Jake’s life: “one thing I know about myself is that I’m a developer. I’m the guy who likes showing people the things I know how to do because I want to create other leaders.”


The year after they arrived, Bay Area launched a serving initiative called “Fish and Loaves,” and the Wieduwilts signed up to serve in Student Ministry*. There, they met people like Michelle Goodacre, then a volunteer (and now a member of the BASM staff team). As they continued to grow a heart for students in BASM, Jake’s time in the Coast Guard grew short. He began looking for educational opportunities and next steps, wondering what could be next. The community that Jake and Sarah had built proved crucial to encourage and equip them in this season, and Jake began pursuing a degree from Liberty University, while continuing to serve in BASM and discern next steps.
*in yet another fun connection, Fish and Loaves is also when I started serving at Bay Area – also in Student Ministry – and where I met the Wieduwilts!


Jake soon joined Bay Area’s staff as an intern, working with Brian Hopper on missional communities and also assisting with local and global outreach. That opportunity led to the next one - an invitation to raise support to go through Bay Area’s two-year residency program. Jake and Sarah raised support, and in early 2017 Jake joined the residency alongside Joseph, now Bay Area’s partner in India. Together, these two men studied and prepared to pastor and lead. Jake focused his residency toward student ministry, while also learning to preach, disciple and shepherd others. He learned this all within the context of Bay Area, soaking in Bay Area’s culture and values from the start.


After ordination right here at Bay Area in June 2018, the Wieduwilts remained a part of the Bay Area family, joining the Easton campus where Jake was the Student Ministry Pastor and Sarah led worship. Jake had actually helped launch Easton’s student ministry during his residency, and now, he got to build on that foundation. Beginning in early 2020, Jake served as Easton’s interim Campus Pastor, where he remained until mid-2021. During that season, God laid the groundwork for a thriving church and thriving student ministry in Easton (in what is now Eastpoint Church), and built a foundation for ministry and a heart for students and for Bay Area


After Sam Cassese took the reins at Bay Area Easton / Eastpoint Church, the Wieduwilts headed to Generation Church in Clayton, North Carolina where Jake served as their Discipleship Pastor, overseeing adult discipleship as well as children’s and student ministries. He also had the opportunity to mentor and train local student ministry pastors in the area. Jake grew as a leader, learning to shepherd adults, serving team members, and a small staff. More importantly, he learned a lot about himself, including his passion for relationships. “Something I learned in Clayton is that I care more about relationships than the tasks of ministry,” Jake shared. The experience in Clayton would prepare Jake to lead and serve BASM’s staff, community group leaders, parents, and students even more effectively.


While in North Carolina, both Jake and Sarah began to serve as substitute teachers in the schools in their area. It reconnected their hearts with their passion for students. In Jake’s words, “The questions and the way we were able to engage students when we were subbing - students are looking for hope, looking for love and not finding it in its fullest form. We saw how hopeless it was. And the Lord started to do a work in my heart.” 

Bay Area

Meanwhile, Bay Area had been searching for a Student Pastor for almost a year. So when Jake texted Brian Hopper’s wife Suzi about a piece of furniture he was building, it started a conversation between Brian and Jake. A conversation led to a second, and to interviews, candidate visits, and now, what Jake calls a homecoming: “Bay Area feels like home because of the people.”

There are so many little dots to connect that I couldn’t possibly fit them in this story - you’re getting just the highlights here. From a neighborly acquaintance to serving in BASM, to Bay Area’s residency, to Easton and North Carolina, and now making a home back here at Bay Area, God has prepared and planned each step to bring us a Student Ministry Pastor who’s “grown up here” so to speak. At the same time, his experiences away from Annapolis have prepared him to return here, to partner with parents, to build leaders, and to point students to the hope of the gospel. Jake is excited to build on the solid foundation of Bay Area Student Ministry, to develop leaders, and to continue to grow roots here in  this community.

So when you see them around town - whether at Bay Area or out in the neighborhood - be sure to say hi to Jake, Sarah, Parker, Jude and pup Neptune. I’m grateful that God’s providence brought them home to Bay Area for this season - and I can’t wait to see what God has planned in the months and years ahead for the Wieduwilts, for Bay Area, and for our students. If we have anything to learn from the story of Esther and the story of the Wieduwilts - we know that God’s plans are good and just right to prepare us for what’s ahead.