Building On A Rich Heritage
“Deep stakes that can be stretched out, from pastors before me and saints of years past, make our heritage rich,” said Pastor Tim Sullivan of Fort Smith, Arkansas. He and his wife, Lea Ann, pastor Northside UPC in Fort Smith. They have three daughters: Kaitlyn (20), Malorie (13), and Gabrielle (7).
Having pastored near Seattle, Washington for seven years, Pastor Sullivan’s ministerial experience stretches from the Northwestern coast of the United States to where he now pastors in Arkansas. While in Washington State, he served as District Youth Secretary and District Youth President from 1995-2000.
Principles of Growth & Revival
“There are a lot of key players in having a growing church,” said Pastor Sullivan. “I believe in promoting prayer and evangelism, and I love to preach to good people. Thankfully, we have a great team of people working to promote prayer and evangelism. My primary focus is in building spiritual and departmental leadership within the church. As for being pastor, I thoroughly enjoy having a move of the Holy Ghost on Sundays, leading people to Jesus Christ, and I am thrilled to be involved in pastoral care the rest of the time, leading people to be like Jesus Christ.”
Organization & Management
Northside’s ministries include Gatekeeper’s Men’s Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Nursery, Blast Children’s Ministry (ages 4-11), Kingdom’s Kids (ages 2-3), The Crowd (ages 12-18), Hyphen (ages 19-24), Single Adults (ages 25 & up), Young Married, and Esteem Elders. Pastor Sullivan said, “We also have a Children’s Minister and Youth Minister at Northside. The church attracts not only children but youth of all ages and many young couples. There is also a deep respect for the elder saints of Northside, and God has blessed us with some retired pastors within the church who minister to the Esteem Elders group on Wednesday night. Twenty-five volunteers oversee a Jail Ministry in the county. Between the church and jail, we baptized over 300 people in 2011. The church is involved in various community events as well.”
Pastor Sullivan meets weekly with full-time staff members who oversee the various departments. He explained, “Our volunteer staff meets as necessary for projects on Wednesday nights after the teaching sessions. At that time, they can connect and have the opportunity to place future projects on the calendar. We have a master calendar that is coordinated by the office administrator, and everything goes on that calendar. The annual master planning session for staff and department heads is held offsite in November to plan for the coming year, and every staff member and department leader receives a copy of the calendar in December.
“Our Associate Pastor, Bro. Ron Patrick, helps me coordinate staff and assist in pastoral care as well as so many other day-to-day operations. We have a Christian Education Director and Student Pastor, and we make an effort to participate in training offered by the UPCI. We also invite someone in for staff training and parenting training in the areas of children and youth once a year. At Northside, we place a heavy emphasis in the areas of children and youth. We also have a Spanish ministry and utilize members of both English and Spanish congregations to staff the music and ministry of our weekly services.”
At Northside UPC, almost 60 percent of the members are involved in some form of ministry. Pastor Sullivan noted, “We don’t do the same thing all the time, but endeavor to change things to create excitement. Our leaders are forefront with the people and are given a few minutes of Sunday service to promote various projects of the church, such as two minute video clips, etc.”
The church has experienced numerous miracles in the last year, miracles of cancer being healed as well as many physical healings, according to Pastor Sullivan. “I feel that one of the greatest miracles actually happened in our Spanish Ministry,” he said. “Attendance grew from eight to 63 in 10 months.”
“I like to preach about the blood and forgiveness,” said Pastor Sullivan. “Most of my preaching is evangelistic in nature. In my best element, I endeavor to reach for the sinner. As for a specific focus of ministry, it is my desire to reach the many cultures of people in this area. This may be shocking to some, but in the state of Arkansas, this city of past military operations with 90,000 people is a melting pot of various cultures.”
Northside UPC sits on approximately 20 acres of land. The church’s six facilities include the sanctuary and fellowship hall, administration offices and nursery, a community building that offers food and clothing to the community, and a garage that houses vans, mowers, etc., as well as Sunday School props. The sanctuary, built in 1972 under Pastor James G. Lumpkin Sr., seats 400. Other facilities include a youth center building/cafe, and various meeting rooms. This building also contains the Spanish Chapel that seats 90 people. A separate building, designated as the children’s facility and chapel, seats 125. It is connected to the gym.
When asked how he became pastor of Northside UPC, Bro. Sullivan replied, “I came there to preach a revival in the fall of 2005. The revival lasted a month and a half. Pastor B.J. Thomas approached me at the end of 2005 about pastoring Northside, and I was elected pastor in January 2006. Bro. Thomas served as District Superintendent of the Arkansas District and continues to serve as pastoral counsel of Northside.”
The church has plans to add additional parking, due to growth, according to Pastor Sullivan. “We plan to hold two services on Sunday, beginning in April,” he said. “We have plans to begin a capital campaign soon to build a new sanctuary in a couple of years that will seat one thousand, and those plans also include new administrative offices and a fellowship hall.”
Pastor Sullivan reflected on the subject of growth by these words, “There will always be fluctuation, but you must always go forward with plans for growth. Northside had over 300 baptisms last year, and 75 percent of those have received the Holy Ghost. In January of 2006, when I was elected pastor, there were around 200 in attendance. The church is now running 375 to 390 with the English and Spanish congregations.”
Pastor Sullivan was raised in Brookhaven, Mississippi. His father is Bro. Jerry Sullivan. “I was raised in church and received the Holy Ghost at a Mississippi Youth Camp when I was 10,” he said. “My father, along with my mother, still pastors. My father has been my mentor all of my life and is a tremendous asset to my ministry. I preached my first sermon on a Sunday night at my father’s church at age 15. My father’s guidance and mentoring to me and to others is invaluable. I attribute my spiritual development to my godly parents. They not only taught me to love God but exemplified the importance of daily prayer and personal commitment.
“I attended Jackson College of Ministries under Bro. T. L. Craft, where I met my wife, Lea Ann. We both graduated from JCM in 1989 and were married that year. Our ministry took us to many wonderful churches by way of evangelism and in various roles of pastoring. I am blessed of the Lord to have a special mate in ministry. My wife is the true example of loving her family and souls, and I am honored for these 23 years of ministry together with Lea Ann.”
Pastor Sullivan said, “There are men who definitely have influenced my ministry. Foremost was my father, then other great men of God like Bro. G.R. Travis, Prophet Matt Holland and Bro. Doyle Spears. The former pastors of Northside, Bro. James Lumpkin Sr. and Bro. B.J. Thomas, have made a huge positive impact upon my life and ministry. My pastoral ministry first began when I started a Home Missions church in Issaquah, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Through these many years of ministry, I continue to feel honored to serve God and people.”
Northside UPC was originally founded in the 1920s by Bro. Henry Moore and was located on Division Street. “Through the years there have been many wonderful pastors that contributed to the success of the church,” he said. “Finally, in August of 1950, the church became affiliated with the UPCI. It was moved to its present site on Kelley Highway in 1970. Last year, we celebrated Northside’s church history on Heritage Sunday.” Pastor Sullivan noted that some of his earlier outreach efforts were focused on reaching out to young families, children and youth.
Pastor Sullivan loves to hunt and fish, and he is an avid collector of pocket knives. He particularly enjoys special times with his wife and three daughters, in what he refers to as “date nights” with his girls. Even the youngest one tags along on those special nights. The only pet the family has is a poodle they call Sugar.
Pastor Sullivan’s favorite author is John Maxwell. He noted two specific favorites of his: Leadership 360 and Failing Forward. He also enjoyed Bro. J. T. Pugh’s books titled Blessings of God and The Flesh of God. Some of his favorite preachers are his father, Bro. Jerry Jones, and Bro. J. T. Pugh.
By Linda Schreckenberg