Our Senior Pastor

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About Pastor Robert A.F. Turner

Rev. Dr. Robert A.F. Turner is a gifted preacher, pastor, community leader and change agent with over 30 years of professional experience. His passion lies in bringing out the best in people and organizations -- helping clergy, churches, and individuals realize personal and professional success, resolve issues, and achieve purposeful goals.

Rev. Turner holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Boston University, a Master of Divinity degree from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree from New York Theological Seminary with a concentration in Church Based Community Development.

As a preacher and pastor, Rev. Turner successfully served as pastor of the Western Avenue Baptist Church, Cambridge, MA for 12 years. In 1993, he was called to pastor St John Baptist Church in Columbia, MD. Since then he continues to provide visionary leadership, manages a high performance staff, equips members called to the ministry, serves as a change agent in the community, and preaches clear, well organized, spiritually transforming sermons. In 2009, they successfully designed, financed and completed construction on a 30,000 sq. ft., ten million dollar state-of-the-art church.

As a community leader, Rev. Turner has tirelessly worked for social justice and the strengthening of the broader community. He has served as an advisor to many elected officials and provided a valued, faith-based perspective on the board of directors for several community organizations. He has received multiple awards for outstanding community service, and in 2012, was voted Clergy of the Year by Howard County Magazine. He currently serves the community in the following capacities:

  • Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation: Member, Board of Directors; Founding Member
  • Healthy Howard: Vice Chair, Board of Directors; Founding Member
  • Howard County Human Rights Commission: Commissioner
  • People Acting Together in Howard (PATH): Clergy Chair
  • African American Community Roundtable of Howard County: 2nd Vice President, Board of Directors; Founding Member
  • African American Coalition of Howard County (AACHC): President, Founding Member
  • Community Action Council of Howard County: Newly Appointed Board Member
  • MD IAF: Executive Board Member

As a partner and parent, Rev. Turner approaches his family commitments emphasizing dedication to service. He is married to Dr. Kimberly Moran, and together are raising their two children. As parents, they model a love for people, and a commitment to excellence. This is always evident in Rev. Turner’s passion for his work, and in his proven track record of leading those with whom he works to greater success.

Rev. Dr. Robert A.F. Turner – Senior Pastor

RevTruitt Image 005_Our Assistant Pastor
Rev. Dr. Ostein B. Truitt has been a member of St John since April 1980.  During that time, she has served in a number of ministries, including the Food Buying Club, AIDS Ministry, Sunday School, the Trustee Board, the Deacon Board, first female Deacon chair, and was blessed to become the Assistant Pastor in 2003.  Leaving her 22-year career as a college professor of microbiology, she answered God’s call to ministry.  In preparation for her call, she received a M.Div. from the Howard University School of Divinity and a D.Min. from Wesley Theological Seminary. As Assistant Pastor, she serves a vibrant and loving congregation in a variety of capacities, including ministry leadership, congregational care, teaching, and preaching. Her greatest supporters are her family (husband Haywood, daughters Jocelyn, Candace, and Lauren), mentor Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Robert A.F. Turner, phenomenal staff, and church family.  Forever grateful for God’s call on her life, she enthusiastically embraces continuing spiritual growth because "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." 1 Cor. 2:9 (KJV)
Rev. Dr. Ostein B. Truitt – Assistant Pastor
Youth Pastor


Rev. Janelle Bruce, Esq., serves as the Youth Pastor to over 300 at St John Baptist Church and is the proud mother of one son – Jaron.   As a pre-teen and teen, Janelle witnessed on the streets of Washington, D.C.  It was in this capacity that God developed her love for people and justice.  As one of seven children, Janelle knew what it meant to share, support, and sacrifice for others.  God used this foundation to develop her spiritual gifts and love for all people.

In 2007, Janelle graduated Magnum Cum Laude from the University of Maryland, College Park.  In 2010, she graduated with a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center.  She then received her Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity in December, 2014.

Janelle desires to see all people, and particularly young people, walk in the grace, joy and transforming power of God.  Her ministry is guided by Micah 6:8   He has told you what is good and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God?  Janelle loves being a servant leader and believes in people living lives of purpose!

Rev. Janelle Bruce Youth Pastor

Minister of Music, Director of Creative Arts


Leader Eric Byrd has served as Minister of Music or as a Music Worship Leader for over 20 years. On staff at St John Baptist Church since October of 2010 he oversees 7 choirs, 5 praise team configurations, many musicians, worship technology, dance and drama teams; he leads over 125 staff and volunteers. He is a proficient pianist, singer and composer in both the jazz and gospel fields. As a young 20-something he funded, rehearsed and organized a 5 day tour of Vienna, Austria with a mass gospel choir. He is the composer of St John’s new marketing tag line and theme song “Discover Something New Together”. He has a BA in Music, a Masters degree in music and a Masters in Ministry: Leadership Studies degree from Lancaster Bible College. He is a Grammy Award voter, an independent recording artist and has toured all over the world in both gospel and jazz. Along with his many musical responsibilities he is actively involved in leadership training in both faith based and non-faith based organizations. He has recently launched his first consultant company, VIP Consulting: Leadership Done Well. VIP stands for vision, implementation and process – all of which Byrd personally walks each client through.
For further information on his award winning jazz group, The Eric Byrd Trio can be found at Eric Byrd Trio.
For further information on VIP Consulting information can be found at VIP Consulting.
Eric Byrd – VIP Consulting
Operations Manager


Vera J. Miles joined St John Baptist Church as the Operations Manager in 2007.   She has over 20 years combined in the administrative/management fields.  Her prior experience in for- profit organizations lends to her expertise in areas of human resources, building management, and budgeting and finance.  Vera works closely with the pastors, staff and trustee board to ensure that church policies and procedures are effective and followed.  She demonstrates a passion to strive for excellence in what she does and is always willing to assist others to achieve the same. Vera is a dedicated professional and can be counted on to get the job done.   In her spare time a few of the activities she enjoys are reading, attending festivals, and spending time with family and friends.

Vera J. Miles – Operations Manager

Church Leadership

Rev. Sadie Woolford, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care


  • Michelle RhodesBrown, Chairperson
  • Martin Johnson, Vice Chairperson
  • Harland Abraham, Treasurer
  • Reginald Dunn, Assistant Treasurer
  • Aaron Lancaster – Financial Secretary
  • Rhoderick Barnes
  • Willie Burns
  • Rev. Regina Mitchell
  • Diane Martin
  • Leon Richardson
  • Madison Fields, Youth Member
  • Brandon Johnson, Youth Member



  • Bruce Merrick, Chairperson
  • Clarence Hall, Vice Chairperson
  • Richard Shepherd, Secretary
  • Lyle Jones, Assistant Secretary
  • Shirley Alston, Emeritus
  • Thomas McClurkin, Emeritus
  • Kathleen Ridley Cheek
  • Ronald Colbert
  • Leonard Davis, Sr.
  • James Fitzpatrick
  • Adrienne Fleming
  • Walter Fredericks, Sr.
  • Marisa Gillum
  • Leonard Harper
  • William Harris
  • Harolyn Harrison
  • Henry Johnson
  • Raymond Johnson
  • Alfreda McCoy-Gwynn
  • Francelia McKindra
  • Alan Murrell
  • Dwayne Parker
  • Ernest Robb
  • Cassandra Robinson
  • William Ross, Sr.
  • A. Clinton Sellers
  • Ira Snell, III
  • Dorothy Tucker
  • Harold Williams


Deacons Ministry

(Acts 6:1-7; Tim. 3:8-13)

Deacons are ministers, not administrators. Their role is to “come beside” their pastor, to assist him in ministering to the congregation and community. The ministry of Deacon is one of witness, sympathy and service. The duty of a Deacon is to care and nurture, to be a friend and comforter, to share the joy and wonderment of God’s grace, love and blessings with all that they serve. 
Our deacons are available to assist members.  Regardless of your need, whether it is spiritual, sickness, financial, etc., please contact your deacon.
If you were unsuccessful in contacting your deacon, our Deacon Ministry Chairman, Bruce Merrick, would appreciate the opportunity to assist you.  Please feel free to contact him at
Honor God with your wealth, and the first fruits of all your produce. - Proverbs 3:9

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