Our Church Leadership
Our Assistant Pastor
Rev. Dr. Ostein B. Truitt – Assistant Pastor
As Assistant Pastor, Dr. Truitt is an experienced, theologically educated servant-leader. In 1999 she left the familiarity of a 22-year career of being a college professor of microbiology to answer the call to professional ministry. Since that time, she has received an M.Div. (Howard University School of Divinity); a D. Min. (Wesley Theological Seminary); and two ministry discipleship equipping certifications: one in Spiritual Formation (Transforming Center in Wheaton, Ill.) and one in Spiritual Direction (Spiritual Guidance Program of the Shalem Religious Institute in Washington, D.C.).
After serving St John Baptist Church for several years in various lay leadership capacities, she was hired as the church’s first female Assistant Pastor in 2001. Her responsibilities include pastoral care, teaching, grief counseling, and assisting the Senior Pastor by leading worship services and preaching.
Rev. Truitt and St John are committed to supporting the spiritual growth of the congregation. To that end, Rev. Truitt offers spiritual formation classes and workshops that encourage inner transformation, enabling members to deepen their relationship with God.
Rev. Truitt also provides Spiritual Direction sessions for individuals: If you are at a crossroads in your life and want to discern where your inner spirit is leading you. If you want to learn how to listen to God every day. If you would like to walk through life’s seasons with confidence, clarity, and purpose. Schedule a one-on-one session with Dr. Truitt and start your journey!
For more information, call 443-472-2290 or 410-992-6977, ext. 1007
Rev. Rickey Bernard Harvey, Jr. proudly serves as the Youth Pastor of St John Baptist Church. He is a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Accounting. During his undergraduate time at RIT, he answered the call to Christian ministry and has since directed his life towards fulfilling the call of God to serve others. Rev. Harvey has ministered to various groups across the width and breadth of the United States, and is most well-known for his preaching ministry. He is passionate shepherding youth and training them to serve Christ.
Reverend Harvey holds a Master of Divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, where he has served as President of the Black Student Caucus and Baptist Student Alliance there, among other extracurricular roles that he fulfilled. His ministry is a refreshing combination of both traditional and contemporary worship styles, enabling him to have anointed impact on seasoned saints as well as youth and young adults. Through his ministry, youth and young adult ministries have developed strong infrastructures that continue to grow spiritually and numerically.
Within his call to Christian ministry, Rickey nurtures a passion and appreciation for music ministry. He possesses an enthusiastic appreciation for the hymns of the church and devotional songs as well as contemporary praise and worship. A recording artist, he recently released a 4-song EP entitled “The Best I Can Be”, which includes 3 original songs and a medley of hymns that is available everywhere that music is sold digitally. Considering music a universal language, he uses it as another channel through which to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Rev. Harvey is also a contributing author to the recently released book Empower Now: True Stories from 14 Young Minority Professionals. This opportunity to become a published author expanded his frame of reference for how ministry can be done through various mediums, certainly to include preaching, and also to include the publication of literature. He has since authored a personal blog entitled “Junior’s Journal”, on Manhood, Ministry, and More, which can be found at www.RickeyHarveyJr.com.
Those who know him best note that one of the best qualities about him is his sense of humor. With that, though, comes a seriousness about ministry, showing God’s love, and service to others. He affirms the words of Howard Thurman, that “There is a certain grandeur and nobility in administering to another’s need out of one’s fullness and plenty.” Serving others through his gifts and talents, Rickey Harvey, Jr. believes that the best investment anyone can make is offering others hope through help and life through love.
Rev. Rickey Harvey –Youth Pastor
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Desiree Towson has been a member of St John Baptist Church for over 15 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Communications with a focus in Journalism from Frostburg State University and earned her Management Master’s Degree with a Marketing Specialization from the University of Maryland University College.
During her undergraduate time at Frostburg, she was a reporter, writer, videographer, and teleprompter for Frostburg State University, sports based television show, TV3. Desiree also joined the Social Marketing Team, and was head editor of the Frostburg Yearbook Committee and editor/writer for Frostburg’s Sustain Magazine.
She also work at Alleghany Radio Station in Cumberland, MD as an intern and had the opportunity to learn about radio personality and business-to-consumer marketing. Desiree tried to obtain knowledge about various aspects in the communication industry: journalism, marketing, broadcasting, and media.
She is passionate about developing creative projects, traveling to other countries, and most importantly serving God.
Desiree Towson –Marketing & Communications Specialist
Minister of Music, Director of Creative Arts
Position is currently available.
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
Rev. John West is a man of service and has been serving St John Baptist Church as a member since 1982. During this time, he has served on a number of ministries, such as Sacred Arts, the Deacon Board, the Voices of Inspiration, and The Gospel Choir. Rev. West was employed at Howard University as a Procurement Specialist for over 24 years helping to secure vital acquisitions for countless events and University initiatives. Currently John is the Facilities Manager for St John and enjoys serving this congregation in room set up, vendor management, event coordination, and maintenance management. Out of all of John’s accomplishments he is most proud of his marriage to his wife (Valerie) and their three daughters (LaKisha, Adrian, and Christina) two son (in loves), and three adorable granddaughters, and one adorable grandson. John tries to live by the motto “I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again”.
Rev. John West – Facilities Manager
Finance and Operations Ministry Chairperson and Deacons Chairperson
Finance and Operations Ministry
Willaton Burns (Willie) is the current Chairperson of the St John Baptist Church Finance and Operations Ministry. Mr. Burns began his church ministry and administration work as an ordained Deacon at the Tenth Street Baptist Church in Washington DC. As a Deacon and member of the Joint Board with both Deacons and Trustees, Willie assisted with the development of the church’s budget, led the pastoral salary committee and along with his wife, Lynda, coordinated the Tenth Street Youth Ministry.
At St John, Willie was elected to the then Trustee Ministry in 2012 as an At-Large Member. He served for two, 2-year terms and served on several sub-committees. Willie was then elected Vice-Chairman of the Trustee Ministry and served three one –year Terms in that position. There he assisted with the development and management of the church budget and was Chair of the Personnel Committee. He was responsible for negotiating employment contracts and supporting employee management. In 2018, Willie was elected as Chair of the Finance and Operations Ministry (Formerly Trustee Ministry) where he leads the Ministry responsible for oversight of the church’s budget, overall financial management and operations.
Willie is a church leader and boldly sings praises to God as a member of the Voices of Inspiration Choir and the Praise Team. Willie is also a member of the parking lot ministry.
Willie has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and MBA from Southeastern University.
Willie is the husband of Lynda Jones-Burns and the father of three adult sons.
Willaton Burns –Chairperson
Dea. Bruce Merrick was ordained at St John Baptist Church in November 2010, and was appointed Chairperson of the Deacon Ministry in January 2011. Starting with his maternal grandfather, he is the 10th ordained deacon in his family.
Since joining St John Baptist Church (SJBC) in 1992, Dea. Merrick has served the church in multiple roles. From a planning perspective, he contributed to St John’s Long Range plan developed in 2007 and subsequently served as Facilitator for the development and implementation of both the 2011-2013 and 2014-2016 SJBC Strategic Plans.
Dea. Merrick shared his knowledge of the management of grief and loss by conducting discussion and support groups for members experiencing bereavement as well as giving presentations during the Christmas season for those facing “holiday depression”.
Dea. Merrick’s passion for the education of young people led to the creation of workshops for high school students and their parents to acquire knowledge and develop skills in applying to colleges and obtaining scholarships and grants to fund their college education. Most recently, he has been the keynote speaker for St John’s Scholarship and Graduate Recognition Awards Program.
Dea. Merrick serves on the St John Baptist Church Board of Trustees and the Family Resource Center Board of Trustees.
Dea. Dr. Merrick earned the Ph.D. in Psychology from Louisiana State University.