Every Friday, Baptist Women in Ministry introduces an amazing minister, and this week, we are pleased to introduce Maria Stinnett. 

Maria, tell us about your current ministry.
Currently, I serve as the associate pastor for children and communications at Third Baptist Church in Saint Louis, Missouri. Third Baptist is a dynamic faith community in the mid-town district of Saint Louis. In this position, I guide the church’s ministry with children from birth through sixth grade and their families, including Sunday School, Children’s Church, Vacation Bible School, and camps. Additionally, I manage the internal and external communications of the church, including newsletters, website, and social media.

For me, this position is beautiful blending of two passions in my life: communications and children. When I was in college, I had a difficult time choosing between two majors: communications and elementary education. I settled on a major in communications, but often found myself in the children’s classrooms during Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. I have served as children’s minister in three congregations, and my role at Third Baptist is the first opportunity that I have had to blend both of my passions into my ministry position, which is a gift to me.

What do you love most about being a minister?
In my ministry, I love being able to walk alongside the members of my congregation and community as they experience God. It is an honor for me to be able to see how the Spirit works within each of us as we recognize our identity as God’s beloved children and life into that identity. More specifically in children’s ministry, I delight in theological discussions with the children. I love to hear the questions children ask about faith (and life). Throughout my ministry, the questions and observations of children have helped me to grow in my understanding of God. I remember one elementary aged child who asked me, “Why did God send a son and not a daughter?” That question opens a wide space for reflection and discussion for both children and adults.

What are some of the challenges you have encountered along the way in ministry?
As a single person, ministry can often be isolating. Each of the congregations I have served has taken me hundreds of miles away from my biological family. But this challenge compels me to develop relationships that become like family in the communities I serve. This tapestry of relationships includes church members, friends, and colleagues.

What practices and disciplines keep you renewed and refresh your spirit?
Again and again, I find myself returning to some of the ancient disciplines and practices to renew and refresh my spirit. Some of the practices I use regularly are breath prayers and lectio divinia. When I have the opportunity, I find walking a labyrinth to be centering. I have also found that taking Sabbath time each week is vital to renewing my body and refreshing my spirit.