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 link for Rev. Sparks is not a private address. 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 Madison Avenue Baptist Church’s 15th Senior Minister and the first woman in its 175-year history. She continues in that pulpit to this day.
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 nationally known preacher and speaker, Susan is the best-selling author of five books and an award-winning nationally syndicated columnist.
In 2018, Susan was presented with the 20th John L. Haber Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts given by the University of North Carolina. She also received the Intersections International Award for her interfaith work to promote justice and reconciliation among diverse communities.
Most importantly, Susan and her husband Toby love to fly-fish, ride their Harleys, eat good BBQ, and root for UNC Tar Heel Basketball and the Green Bay Packers. For more information, check out SusanSparks.com!
Aza Sydykov, Minister of Music, Education, and Cultural Programming
Aza Sydykov is a concert pianist who made his professional debut at age 17 with the Russian Philharmonic, Aza is an internationally known vocal coach, conductor, accompanist, and arts entrepreneur. The recipient of numerous awards, Aza has performed all over the world, including as a solo pianist at Carnegie Hall. He is a graduate of Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Mannes Music, and New York’s New School University. He also serves as President of the Kyrgyz American Foundation in New York City, which sponsors the Eurasia Festival as well as various cultural exchange and educational activities. For more, check out Aza’s website at AzaSydykov.com.
James Clifford, Operations Director
Jim brings over a decade’s worth of operational experience in the non-profit sector to his new role on the MABC team. As a grace-fueled leader with a passion to pursue excellence in ministry, Jim aims to utilize relational hospitality and hone team focus to create eternity- impacting opportunities for members of the MABC family and their communities both locally and globally. With an M.A. in Organizational Leadership and Strategic Planning alongside many years of faith-based organizational experience, he is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the rich history of MABC.
Jim lives on Long Island with his wife Alyssa and his daughter MacKenzie. In his free time you’ll find him boating on the Great South Bay, tentatively dashing down a ski slope, or being eternally disappointed by his Dallas Cowboys fandom.
- Troy Gordon, Sexton/Property Manager
- MABC Choir
- Travis Dover, Video Editor
- Reghu Ragunathan, Audio Engineer
- Precious Gordon, Children’s Church Coordinator
Officers and Board Chairs
- Adom Crew, Chairperson Trustees
- Rodney Dunlap-Keener, Moderator & Chairperson of Community Ministries Board
- Kevin Davis and Tracy McMillen, Co-Chairs, Christian Education
- Jackie Friedmann, Chairperson, Fellowship & Hospitality Board
- Joseph Pilla, Clerk & Chairperson of PR and Marketing Board