Pastor Howard Sullivan is known in Milton – at the hospital, at Allendale, at Knox- for his caring nature. Bereaved families when they have no pastor of their own, repeatedly ask for Howard to lead funeral ceremonies because of his concern and compassion.
Knox Elder Elaine Martin recalled how he visited her husband Dave in the hospital: “I can say from experience that his visits were a gift – compassionate, caring and soothing.” Renu Bhatti will always remember the love and support that the Pastor gave them during her Dad’s surgery and passing and the continued support during his time at Knox. “He is a God fearing, and empathetic man” she said, “that cares for his church family even to the detriment of his health.” “Th e Pastor’s aim through ‘Servant Leadership’ is not to be judgemental, but to lead.” explained Knox Chief of Sessions, Karl Reichert: “He has been a trusted friend for everyone at Knox. His passion is to teach the ‘Right Way’. He would never kick people out of the church or berate people.”
Born in Toronto, Howard grew up in an agnostic household and didn’t learn anything about Christianity until a friend invited him to an after school club with Mrs. Tilby when he was in Grade 3. His friend “got a fish for bringing me,” reminisced Howard, “three fi sh and you got a treasure from Mrs.Tilby. She took me to church the first time I remember attending.”
“In some ways” Karl Reichert said, “Howard’s experiences in a non-Christian household prepared him for the person he is now.”
He completed high school in Toronto where he had been an excellent student and a very capable basketball player. His plans for an athletic scholarship were altered when he had a back injury. He attended U of T and worked full time to pay for studies, majoring in Political Science.
There he met Francie and through her, Karl said; “Howard came to know Jesus.” He became a Christian and they were married. She was hired on graduation by the Board of World Missions to work as an Extension Deaconess in Waterloo-Wellington.
He was primarily hired by Texas Instruments, then changed to work at Hewlett Packard for 10 years.
“Our family attended Knox Milton,” recalled Howard, “and we were involved in all the activities there including Saturday Night Live, Sunday School, Knox Sox baseball, and I became an elder at that time. It was this congregation that certifi ed me as a student to attend seminary in 1988 at Knox College.”
In 1989 the Sullivan family with 3 small children moved to Quebec and Howard completed his academic study at McGill. From 1992 he served as the Pastor in Meaford, Ontario for 7 years. Th e children grew and the family became part of the community. Seven years later they moved to Knox Burlington. After a further seven years, in 2006, Pastor Howard and Francie were called to serve at Knox Milton.
With Pastor Howard’s leadership Knox survived massive upheaval when, in June 2010, the entire roof had to be replaced and the sanctuary redecorated. Sunday services were held in the basement where the congregation met together comfortably and congenially under their pastor’s guidance.
In September 2012 the refurbished church was rededicated and Elaine Martin pointed out: “I think it shows his vision and his recognition that Knox survived our huge restoration project, for a purpose, in the Milton community.”
At that time Pastor Howard said: “It has been an eventful journey to bring us to this point which has been fraught with incredible experiences. I am viewing this not as an arrival at our destination but rather as one more stop along the way! Here we will pick up even more passengers on the journey that is becoming a transforming experience for all of us as we share. …I pray that we will continue to grow and mature as a community of faith.”
The downtown congregation of Knox Milton has fl ourished and continues to love and respect the leadership of Pastor Howard. Th e members welcome people originating from a myriad of countries and backgrounds.
The large Sunday School, which involves children from birth to teens, is a credit to Christian Educator, Francie Sullivan’s hard work and inspiration. Th e annual Vacation Bible School in June has been a popular venue for Milton children for many years. Th e vibrant church mirrors the faith and inspiration of Howard and Francie who have not yet decided what lies ahead in their future. Th e difficulties they each have health-wise have caused their decisions to retire from the busy life of church and Sunday school in June 2019.
Renu Bhatti said “Pastor Howard’s guidance and just seeing him on Sundays will be greatly missed.”
“It has been an tremendous blessing for Frances and I to serve Knox, Milton for 13 years, the longest pastoral service of our career” said Pastor Howard “Th e people of the congregation and the Town of Milton have made this a tremendous learning experience and opportunity to grow in faith for us, we will never forget our time spent among the people here.”