Our Senior Pastor

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Rev. Dr. Robert A.F. Turner

Inspirational Speaker, Community Leader, Pastor, Board-Certified Coach

Rev. Dr. Robert Turner is a gifted preacher, pastor, community leader, change agent and board certified coach with 35 years of professional experience. Since 1993, Dr. Turner has provided visionary guidance as pastor of St John Baptist Church in Columbia, Maryland.  Under his leadership, the Church has grown from a small church with 400 members and a $190,000 to a dynamic congregation of more than 1,900 members and a $2.2 million annual budget. He also led a successful capital campaign to build a new $10 million, 30,000 square foot worship and ministry center in 2009. Howard County Magazine voted him Clergy of the Year in 2012.

Rev. Turner is a well-known religious and community leader. As the Director of Continuing Education, he helped launch the Howard University School of Divinity Distance Learning Program for clergy and laypersons across the country. He is a certified professional relationship and executive life coach. He is also a nationally-recognized speaker, providing inspirational sermons and lectures to churches, denominational groups, nonprofit organizations and conferences.  He serves and provides leadership on many local boards and commissions, including the Human Rights Commission, PATH, Columbia Downtown Housing Corporation, Community Action Council of Howard County and the African American Community Roundtable of Howard County. 

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

Rev. Turner began preaching at the age of 16 and began to pastor the Western Avenue Baptist Church in Cambridge, MA in 1982, where he successfully led the congregation for 12 years. During that time, he created a national pulpit for the church, inviting well-known pastors to preach for special occasions with a radio ministry and numerous outreach programs.

Rev. Turner’s 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.

As a community leader, Rev. Turner has tirelessly worked for social justice and the strengthening of the broader community. He serves as an advisor to many elected officials and provides a valued, faith-based perspective on the board of directors for several community organizations.  

 As a board-certified coach, Rev. Turner is trained grief coaching, relationship coaching and executive life coaching. As a relationship coach, he empowers couples to create positive, sustainable change in their relationships. As an executive life coach, he strives to make successful people more successful, knowing that the best ROI comes from working with people who are already good at what they do.

On a personal note…

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

 Rev. Turner is also committed to his passion for running. He has successfully completed numerous marathons, including the Chicago Marathon, Disney Marathon, Disney 4 Day Dopey Challenge (15 kilometers and 39 miles over 4 days), Atlanta Marathon, New York Marathon, Dallas Marathon, and Baltimore Marathon. He has also served as a pacer for the Charles Street 10 mile race and the Maryland Half Marathon.

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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