Training and Certification

Training and Certification with CLI and CLA

My name is Joseph Upton, and my training and certification with the Christian Leaders Institute (Learn more about online Bible courses, Click Here) and Christian Leaders Alliance are a blessing. I have been married to my wife, Holly, for 25 years, and we live in Millersville, Maryland. I am one of the owners of a small family business serving the shipbuilding industry. My wife is a 5th Grade public school teacher. We have 3 teenage sons who are amazing and growing into incredible, Godly men. I love spending time with my family, fishing, playing golf, riding motorcycles, and flying airplanes. I am also currently rebuilding a Quicksilver MX Ultralight to get back into the air.

My Youth

I grew up in the church, had great parents, and wanted nothing. However, I really had no idea what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus. The only time we talked about Jesus was at Christmas and Easter. The rest of the time, it was “feel good” stories and how Sunday was just another day of the week. I lived my life on my terms and had “control” of what I thought I needed. I made my way through elementary, middle, and high school with this mentality, not taking the time to realize what was missing.

That fall, I attended college at Frostburg State University. My number one goal was to find a wife. Not school, not a career path, but find a wife. I met Holly my first week as a freshman and fell in love. Our families and our upbringings were similar. God made us for each other. Furthermore, the amazing part was that neither of us knew Jesus, yet He continued to grow and mature us into something we would never have thought possible. We got engaged at Christmas of our Senior year, and both graduated with our Bachelor’s Degrees in May. We planned our wedding for June of the following year, allowing us time to get our feet under us as working adults.

Salvation in Jesus Christ

I was invited to a Promise Keepers conference that summer in Washington, D.C. I did not really want to attend, but I went as a favor to my sister, as it was my brother-in-law who invited me. A bunch of guys hanging around talking and learning about Jesus, seriously??? Let me say right now, WOW!!! It was a life-changing event for me. At the ripe old age of 22, I ended up giving my life to Jesus Christ that weekend, with 20,000 of my closest friends as witnesses. That was the turning point for me. I now realized the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for me and how this decision would affect me for the rest of my life.

Ministry Service

Here I am, 26 years later, with an amazing Godly wife, 3 amazing Godly teenage sons, and a life that I would not change a single thing about. There, of course, have been ups and downs, good times and bad. But the one constant thing has been the faithfulness and steadfast love of Jesus. This is something my wife and I saw through the many lives of others at our home church. My wife and I have attended Bay Area Community Church (BACC) in Annapolis, Maryland, for 29 years. I just finished a 6-year term as an Elder at BACC. My wife and I have had the privilege of being a part of the Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry. We recently served in the Marriage Mentoring Ministry at our church, which helps engaged couples see and live out a Christ-centered marriage.

Wedding Officiant Training and Certification at CLI and CLA

I was asked to be the wedding officiant at a very dear friend’s wedding and did not want it to be some piece of paper that I pay for. It also needed to have Biblically-based teaching and be grounded in the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Christian Leaders Institute provided exactly this kind of teaching. My training and certification with the Christian Leaders Alliance will allow me to be a part of one of the most special days in a couple’s life. One man and one woman joined together under the Lordship of Christ Jesus, just as it is written in Genesis 2:24. As time goes on, I hope friends and family, and other couples will ask me to officiate their weddings. This will allow me to set forth their marriage under the banner of God’s Word.

I cannot thank CLI enough for its generosity and resources, allowing me to obtain this certification at no cost. How is this even possible??? It is because of people that believe in the expansion of God’s Kingdom. They know that they are investing their time, talents, and treasure in eternity! Thank you, CLI!