Madison Avenue Baptist Church is a church where people go out of their way to speak to you, a place of worship that honors everyone, and a community of faith that follows a gospel of joy and laughter. These are the people who help make it happen. (Please note: The email links for Rev. Sparks and Rev. Hutto are not private addresses. If you wish to send a confidential message, please contact the church for more information.)
Susan Sparks, Senior Pastor
As a trial lawyer turned standup comedian and Baptist minister, Susan Sparks is America’s only female comedian with a pulpit. A North Carolina native, Susan received her B.A. at the University of North Carolina where she was President of her Class and a law degree from Wake Forest University.
After ten years as a lawyer moonlighting as a standup, she left her practice and spent two years on a solo trip around the world, including working with Mother Teresa’s mission in Calcutta, climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, and driving the Alaska Highway. Upon returning home, she entered Union Theological Seminary in New York City where she earned a Master of Divinity and wrote an honors thesis on humor and religion. In May 2007, Susan was installed as MABC’s 15th Senior Minister and the first woman in its 170-year history.
Susan is also a professional comedian touring nationally with a Rabbi and a Muslim Comic in the Laugh in Peace Tour. Her work with humor, healing, and spirituality has been featured in O (The Oprah) Magazine, the New York Times, and on such networks as ABC, CNN, and CBS.
A syndicated columnist for GateHouse Media, Susan also blogs for Psychology Today, Baptist News Global, and the Christian Citizen. Her first book, Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor, was named one of the best spiritual books of 2010, and her second, Preaching Punchlines: The Ten Commandments of Standup Comedy is under contract by Smyth and Helwys.
Susan is the recipient of the Intersections International Award for her interfaith work to promote justice and reconciliation among diverse communities and the upcoming recipient of the John L. Haber Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts given by the University of North Carolina
Most importantly, Susan and her husband Toby love to fly-fish, ride their Harleys, eat good BBQ, and root for Tar Heel Basketball and the Green Bay Packers.
B.J. Hutto, Associate Pastor
From Orangeburg, South Carolina, B.J. Hutto graduated with a BA in Religion and English Literature from Wofford College and holds an MDiv and ThM from Duke University Divinity School. He has recently completed PhD work in Theological Ethics at Kings College, Aberdeen. B.J. has written for publications such as The Christian Century, Elevating Preaching, and Touchstone Magazine, and his preaching has been broadcast by Day1.org.
Before coming to the Madison Avenue Baptist Church, B.J. served two churches in North Carolina: First Baptist Church, Henderson (associate pastor) and Crabtree Valley Baptist Church, Raleigh (solo pastor). B.J.’s wife, Rebekah, is also an ordained minister, serving The Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City.
When not working or studying, B.J. is happiest when spending his time like Jesus’ first disciples, in a fishing boat.
Paul Stephan, Minister of Music
Brian Crowson, Parish Administrator
Troy Gordon, Property Manager
Officers and Board Chairs
Turner Roach, Chairperson, Trustees
Jamie Rodriguez-Wise, Moderator
Kevin Davis, Chairperson, Christian Education
Adom Crew, Chairperson, Community Ministries
Joe Pilla and Jackie Friedmann, Co-Chairs, Deacons
Rodney Dunlap-Keener, Chairperson, Media and Communications
Matthew Dunlap-Keener, Clerk
Nancy Rivera, Treasurer
Jamie Rodriguez, Business Manager