Reverend Emmett C. Burns, Jr., Ph.D.,Pastor and Founder 




The Reverend Emmett C. Burns, Jr. Ph.D., Pastor and Founder of Rising Sun First Baptist Church in Woodlawn, Maryland, is the second of four sons of the Reverend and Mrs. Emmett C. Burns, Sr. He was born on August 26, 1940, in Jackson, Mississippi. 



Dr. Burns was educated in the Jackson, MS. public school system. In 1962 he earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education and Instrumental Music from Jackson State College.  Dr. Burns earned a Masters of Divinity Degree from Virginia Union University in 1968; a Masters Degree in Christian Education from the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia in 1969; and a Ph.D., in Christian Social Ethics at the University of Pittsburgh in 1974.





Professional Background

Dr. Burns’ commitment to service has been demonstrated in his professional life.

  • He taught for two years at Roger High School in Canton, Mississippi and served as Band Director.
  • Worked with the Neighborhood Youth Corps Program at Virginia Union University
  • Taught elementary and special education in Richmond, Virginia Public Schools
  • Served as Academic Advisor and Chairman of the Graduate Council of Students in Education at the University of Pittsburgh
  • From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Burns served as Chaplain, obtaining the rank of Captain in the U.S. Air Force Reserve
  • Served as an Adjunct Professor at the Ecumenical Institute of Theology, St. Mary’s Seminary and The University of Maryland, Baltimore, County.

Civil Rights Activist

Continuing his devotion to service and in keeping within the tradition of many Black clergymen, Dr. Burns was and continues to be a civil rights professional.

  • Served with the NAACP in the following positions:
  • Field Director for the Mississippi State Conference from 1972—1979
  • Acting National Program Director, New York, 1980—1981
  • Regional Director for Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, 1979—1986
  • National Life Membership Director, 1986-1991

Dr. Burns answered God’s call to the Gospel Ministry and was ordained to preach in 1966. As an ordained minister, he served with devotion as Youth Director at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Richmond, VA; Pastor at Oak Grove Baptist Church, King & Queen County, VA; Oak Grove Baptist Church, Lawrenceville, VA; Mosby Memorial Baptist Church, Richmond, VA; Second Baptist Church, New Castle, PA; Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, Yazoo City, MS; Pilgrim Home Baptist Church, Greenville, MS; and Associate Minister of Trinity Baptist Church, Baltimore, MD.

Currently, Dr. Burns serves as the Founding Pastor of the Rising Sun First Baptist Church in Baltimore County, MD which he organized in March 1984. 

In 1994, the Reverend Dr. Emmett C. Burns, Jr. entered a life of politics. He ran as one of three delegates in the newly created 10th Legislative District of Baltimore County/City. He successfully won his first election and served four terms in the Maryland House of Delegates. Dr. Burns served on the Judiciary and Economic Matters Committee and sponsored/co-sponsored more than 250 bills. His most memorable accomplishment was spearheading the renaming of the Baltimore-Washington International Airport changing it to the Thurgood Marshall International Airport.

The scripture Hebrew 13:8, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” capsulates Dr. Burns’ spiritual journey. As a visionary, he saw the need to expand the Rising Sun First Baptist Church’s ministry and outreach to the community. On January 4, 1998, Dr. Burns initiated The Building Fund Pledge Drive for a Christian Fellowship Center as an addition to the Rising Sun First Baptist Church. On March 5, 2000, a Ground Breaking Ceremony was held, and the newly built 10,400 square foot Christian Fellowship Center was erected. On December 10, 2000, the facility was officially dedicated.

One of the important and successful ministries organized by Dr. Burns, after the opening of the Christian Fellowship Center, was the Rising Sun First Baptist Church Early Educational Learning Center on September 10, 2001. The Center provides child care and early learning instruction for children ages 2-9 years.

Dr. Burns and his wife, First Lady Earlean Poe Burns, are the parents of three sons–Emmett III, Engel (wife, Candace Burns) and Evers (wife, Tia Burns). They have seven (7) grandchildren Sydney, Emmanuel, Kayla, Easton, Ellison, Daija and Khory. The Burns family moved from Jackson, Mississippi to Baltimore, Maryland in 1979 where they have continued their religious and civic activities.

Reverend Dr. Emmett C. Burns, Jr., has a tenacious commitment to ensure that the civil law adheres to the principles of the moral law. He demonstrates his faith in God and teaches his favorite motto, “The Lord will provide.”  He is truly one of God’s true and faithful servants.