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Rev. Stephen Sparks
Lead Pastor

Stephen Sparks has been serving as Lead Pastor at Maples since his appointment in July 2018.  Stephen is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and has served in various capacities throughout the time of his ministry. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Before coming to Maples, Stephen served churches in Kentucky, Southaven, Tupelo, the Gulf Coast, and Indianola.  He has also served as a clergy delegate to General Conferences in 2012, 2016, 2019, and will do so again in 2021.  As lead pastor, Stephen leads the way in developing and growing a vibrant ministry primarily through relational ministry and developing a large volunteer staff and small group leader network. Stephen is married with three wonderful children.  In his spare time, Stephen enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with his family. 

Rev. Sam Jones
Associate Pastor

Sam Jones began his full-time appointment as Associate Pastor at Maples in July 2020.  He is a Provisional Elder in the United Methodist Church and is enrolled at Memphis Theological Seminary pursuing his Masters of Divinity.  He is a retired high school history teacher and is married with two children.  As our associate pastor, Sam will be focused on Christian education, connections & integration of new members into the life of the church, missions & evangelism, and working with our senior adults.  In his spare time, Sam enjoys spending time with his family, going trout fishing, cooking outdoors, reading history and theology, and rooting for his beloved Chicago Cubs and Chicago Blackhawks.  

Dr. Joey Lott
Pastor of Worship Arts

Joey serves as Director of Worship Arts. He earned his BA from Delta State University and an MM in vocal performance from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He completed a Doctorate in Worship Studies at The Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies in June 2014. While earning his BA degree in music, Joey served as a summer missionary in Washington State, Oregon, and Tokyo, Japan. He is very active in The Fellowship (The Fellowship of United Methodist Musicians in Worship and Arts). Joey joined the Maples Ministry Team in 2001. Joey was born and raised in North Mississippi. He is married and has three children. Joey enjoys running, traveling, cooking, spending time with his family, and working in the yard.

Ben Larsen
Assistant Pastor for Youth and Worship

Ben is a native to Olive Branch where his parents served as pastors at Mineral Wells UMC right down the road. At Ole Miss, he graduated with a degree in music education while playing a part in the Pride of the South Band, Ole Miss Choirs, and the Ole Miss Wesley Foundation. Since then, he has served in a number of churches in different capacities with worship and discipleship and has begun seminary classes online with Asbury Theological Seminary. Ben is newly married to Schyler Larsen, and they have two pups! Some of Ben’s loves are tennis, music, fishing, his pups, kayaking, hiking, disc golf, fixing things and almost whatever else you can think of! Life is full of these gifts from God!

Christi Rice
Children's Ministry Coordinator
CYMT Children's Ministry Resident

Gail Ross
Administrative Secretary

Gail came to Maples in August 2021.  She graduated from Delta State University in Cleveland, MS, with a Bachelors in Business Administration. She began her career in Customer Service at FedEx, later managed and published a real estate magazine and most recently worked in the insurance industry. Gail is married with two daughters.  In her spare time, Gail enjoys spending time with her family and reading. 

Brennan Ballard
Website Manager & Graphic Designer

Brennan Ballard was hired as the Director of Media Ministry in June 2020 after his internship as such in the summer of 2019. Brennan directs the main service livestreams and provides other technical media services for Maples. He earned his bachelor's degree in Media Production from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2019. Brennan attended Maples from birth to age 26. In November of 2022, Brennan decided to expand his horizons and seek a new life in Idaho. He still operates remotely as Maples' website manager, and he typed this paragraph you're reading right now. He spends his free time playing video games online with friends or in the gym. He's also a real handsome fella if I do say so myself.

Allen Sanders
Music Associate

Caysee Sanders
Children's Music Director

Bobbie Ross