“Laughter, like music, is a universal language.                                                                                                                                And Susan Sparks speaks this language like no other.”                                                                                                    –Naomi Judd, Multi-platinum Country Music Artist


Hi y’all, Susan Sparks here.

I’m the Senior Pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City.

(Quick fun fact – Talkshow host Tamron Hall spends her Sunday mornings with us! Check out her recent feature in the New York Times where she gives our church (and me:) a lovely shoutout!)

I’m also a trial lawyer turned preacher, comedian, best-selling author, inspirational speaker, award-winning nationally syndicated columnist, and Harley-riding cowboy boot addict.

I know, I know . . . this sounds more like a personality disorder than a career path.

Whatever it is, I love what I do! Why? Because . . .

I help people reclaim their joy.

Stress, unforeseen crises, commitments, aging parents, kids, health issues, and money worries weigh on us constantly. But even in the worst of circumstances, it’s still life. And we can still choose joy.

Here’s my philosophy in a nutshell:

If you can laugh at yourself, you can forgive yourself. And if you can forgive yourself, you can forgive others.

Laughter reduces the effects of stress, promotes physical healing, alters our perspectives, defuses negativity and conflict, bridges human differences, generates hope, restores our sense of purpose, and renews our ability to see miracles in everyday life.

That’s why my mission in life is to change the world . . . one smile at a time.

And you can, too! Here are some ways . . .

ENJOY a free copy of my “Ten Commandments of Joy,” an accompanying inspirational video, and a free subscription to my bi-monthly newsletter, The Shiny Side Up! Just CLICK HERE.

GET INSPIRED by watching one of my sermons, keynotes, Ecourses, or weekly inspirational meditations on YOUTUBE.

LAUGH and THINK while reading one of my award-winning BOOKS.

INVITE ME to be part of your next event! (Check out this fun three-minute summary of what I offer!)

However you choose to do it — JOIN ME!

Let’s change the world together . . . one smile at a time.

– Susan


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 her Jeep Wrangler solo from NYC to Alaska. 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 the 15th Senior Minister of the historic Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York City. She was the first woman pastor in its 175-year history and she remains there to this day.

A TEDx speaker, Susan’s 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, CBS, and the History Channel.

A professional comedian, Susan tours nationally with a stand-up Rabbi and a Muslim comic in the Laugh in Peace Tour. She is also an internationally known preacher and speaker whose wide-ranging clients include the World Bank, the Chautauqua Institution, Habitat for Humanity, colleges and universities, Canyon Ranch, religious conventions, and national/regional gatherings for cancer survivors and caregivers (Susan is a breast cancer survivor).

In addition to her speaking and preaching, Susan is the author of five books and wrote an award-winning nationally syndicated column through the USA Today network.

Susan is the 20th recipient of the John L. Haber Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts given by the University of North Carolina (and comedian/alum Lewis Black), as well as a recipient of the Intersections International Award for 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 North Carolina Basketball and the Green Bay Packers.

Selected Press & Appearances:

February 6, 2023 I New York, NY

The Laugh in Peace Comedy Show at Triad Theater

Feb 15, 2023 I Washington, DC

Private Event

February 20, 2023 I New York, NY

The Laugh in Peace Comedy Show at Triad Theater

February 27, 2023 I New York, NY

The Laugh in Peace Comedy Show at Triad Theater

March 7, 2023 I Atlanta, GA

Filming interview and sermon broadcast with Day1.org

March 19, 2023 I Wake Forest University (VIRTUAL)

Opening keynote for Wake Women’s Week

March 23-24, 2023 I Lenox, MA

Offering two workshops at Canyon Ranch, Lenox, MA: Laugh Your Way to Grace and The Road Never Traveled: How to Make a Change in Nine Easy Steps

April 20 - 21, 2023 I Front Royal, VA

Dinner and luncheon keynotes for breast cancer survivor group through the Winchester Medical Foundation

May 6, 2023 I Litchfield, CT

Keynote speaker for Marble Collegiate Church Women’s Retreat

May 16, 2023 I New York, NY

Featured storyteller at “Generation Women” hosted at the historic Joe’s Pub in Greenwich Village.

May 18, 2023 I NY, NY

Virtual workshop on the spirituality of laughter for the global members of the Belizean Grove.

June 23-24, 2023 I Puerto Rico

Featured preacher for the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptist at the American Baptist Church Biennial

July 13, 2023 I VIRTUAL Durham, NC

Guest teaching – Duke University preaching class.

July 23, 2023 I Martha's Vineyard, MA

Featured preacher at the historic Union Chapel in Martha’s Vineyard

July 23, 2023 I VIRTUAL Charlotte, NC

Virtual pre-recorded broadcast for St. Stephen United Methodist Church‘s Summer Study Series in Charlotte, NC.

August 6, 2023 I Grand Rapids, MI

Guest preaching at Central Reform Church of Grand Rapids

September 25, 2023 I Salisbury, MD

Featured preacher and workshop leader at the Dunkle Mackey Preaching Conference

September 26-27, 2023 I Wilmington, DE

Featured preacher and workshop leader at the Dunkle Mackey Preaching Conference

October 12, 2023 I Watertown, SD

Keynote for Prairie Lakes Healthcare breast cancer survivor event

October 22-24, 2023 I Toronto, Canada

Preaching workshop for the 2023 Lester Randall Preaching Fellowship

November 2, 2023 I Jacksonville, FL

Keynote for Baptist Health

January 7, 2024 I Del Ray Beach, FL

Featured preacher in Distinguished Preacher Series, First Presbyterian Church of Del Ray Beach, FL

January 16, 2024 I Canyon Ranch Lenox, MA

Workshops for Canyon Ranch Lenox, MA

February 2024 I Sabbatical

April 21-22, 2024 I Stone Mountain, GA

Sermon and dinner keynote at Smoke Rise Baptist Church.


December 7, 2024 I High Point, NC

Featured speaker at the Centennial Celebration Prayer Breakfast for High Point University.

April 4-6, 2025 I Decorah, Iowa

Humor weekend at Decorah Lutheran Church

October 31, 2025 I Berkshires, MA

Private event

National Speakers Association