Our
Staff

The Ministry Team at SBC

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John Milton, Senior Pastor

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Pastor John remembers the day of his salvation as the greatest day of his life. On October 11, 1981, John Milton was a 14 year old boy in attendance at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church. An Evangelist came to his church in Oxford, Florida and preached a message from Mark 8:38. In this verse, Jesus was talking and he said that “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”


Prior to that day, John was more concerned about what his friends that sat on the back pew of the Church thought of him than he was about his eternal destination. At the end of that message, and after waiting through several stanzas of the invitation song, John finally walked down the aisle to the altar. The Evangelist went over the verses with him, showing John his sin and his separation from the Lord, and how that he could simply receive the gift of forgiveness and salvation by accepting Christ as his Savior. He prayed and did just that. He remembers standing up in front of the church with a grin so large that he could not shut his mouth. The weight of his sin, the prospect of Hell, and the emptiness inside was gone. It was, has been and will be for all of eternity the greatest day of his life.


Pastor John was raised in central Florida, in a small town called Oxford. He spent his Middle School and High School years there. Prior to that, home was wherever his dad had been stationed with the Navy. John remembers living in California, Spain, Texas, and Florida. Soon after his graduation from High School in 1985, he enlisted with the United States Air Force in July of that year. He went on to be an Air Traffic Controller stationed in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was there that the second most important thing in his life happened. He met a beautiful young lady named Kim Aure while roller skating, and in March of 1990, she would become Kim Milton.


From Grand Forks he applied and was accepted into Officer Candidate School with the United States Coast Guard. He spent three years working in New Orleans as part of the Marine Safety Office, before being accepted into Flight School. He then spent five years in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, followed by five years in Kodiak, Alaska. While stationed in Elizabeth City and Kodiak, he primarily flew the HH-60 “Jayhawk” for Search and Rescue missions.


In 2005, John could no longer resist the pull of the Holy Spirit to enter the ministry full-time, so he retired from the service and went to work with a good friend as his Assistant Pastor in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. The Lord tremendously blessed their work there. During his fifth year there, the Lord started moving him towards a Senior Pastor position, somewhere. After speaking with his pastor about it, within a week a man called him about a Pastorate position in a small church in Kimball, Michigan. The Lord had moved this man to call him, without any knowledge of the conversation he just had the week prior with his pastor.


There were a number of distinct signs from the Lord of His calling John to Michigan that sealed the decision to accept the call and become the Pastor of Sparlingville Baptist Church. Pastor John officially began his ministry here with us on August 11, 2011. Pastor John has said that outside of the birth of his children, pastoring SBC has been one of the biggest joys of his life. He cannot wait to see what the Lord will allow us to accomplish.

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Abram Braun, Associate/Youth Pastor

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Abe was privileged to grow up in a Christian home. He went to Sunday school, sang the hymns, and learned the Bible stories from a very young age, but it wasn’t until he was 11 years old that he realized his need for salvation. It was during a spring revival at Aultman Baptist Church in Aultman, Pennsylvania that Evangelist Rick Rose preached on Hell, and Abe realized that if he died that’s where he would go.


Abe did not get saved at church that night, but he remembers the Holy Spirit convicting him. On the ride home from church, he remembers his dad making remarks about the message that continued to scare him about Hell. That night when Abe got home he went to bed, and his dad was at the table doing some work. Abe came out several times to ask questions about salvation. It was late that night while lying in his bed that he asked Jesus to come into his heart and save him. He remembers that at that moment the fear was gone; the burdens of his sin were lifted and the joy of Christ filled him.


Sadly, spiritual growth did not start for Abe until he was 15 years old. At the time his family began attending Slippery Rock Baptist Church in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Through the preaching, fellowship, bible camps, and much time invested into him by the Youth Pastor there, God started to break his heart. Abe began to see the need for souls saved and the responsibility that he had to share with others the love of Christ. He began helping in the bus routes, Children’s Church ministry, Vacation Bible School, and missions.


God grew that burden until Abe accepted God’s calling for his life to be in fulltime ministry. He continued to serve at his church, and after graduating from high school he attended Massillon Baptist College in Ohio to train and receive his degree in Pastoral Studies. After graduation, Abe spent three months in Honduras working at an orphanage as a Missions opportunity.


After returning home, God opened the door for Abe to move to Michigan and accept a position as an assistant to the Pastor at Sparlingville Baptist Church. He currently works under Pastor Milton and strives to serve God here. Abe believes that God has placed him here to learn, grow, and serve.

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Ryan Simmons, Assistant Pastor

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Pastor Ryan was raised in a Christian home by godly parents, and grew up with a knowledge of the Lord. Unfortunately, he recalls that knowledge was “a head knowledge, and not a heart knowledge. I knew about God, but I did not know Him personally.”


After graduating from a Christian school, Ryan attended a Bible college “because it was the expected thing to do.” Little did he know, the unseen hand of God was bringing him to the place that he would settle the matter of his salvation, and accept the Lord’s call to pastoral ministry.


On January 19, 2010, during a message at one of Temple Baptist Church’s Bible conferences, Ryan could feel the Holy Spirit convicting him. He knew that he was not saved, and that if he did not humble himself he would never accept Christ as his personal Savior. He went forward to the altar and asked Jesus to save him from his sins and become to Lord of his life.


Ryan graduated from the Crown College of the Bible with a degree in Pastoral Ministry in 2012. He remained in Tennessee for a few years, working with the youth ministry at Valley View Baptist Church in Knoxville. He felt the Lord leading him back home to Michigan in 2014, and he moved there with no clear idea about the future held for him. He started attending Sparlingville Baptist Church, and soon after began working underneath Pastor Milton.


In 2015, Ryan met his lovely wife Janelle, and they were married a year later in July of 2016. He was ordained for the ministry of the gospel in February 2017 by Sparlingville Baptist Church, and in August of the same year, the church called him to be their Assistant Pastor.

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Bonnie LaVere, Church Secretary

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Bonnie has been attending Baptist churches since she was four years old, so I guess one might say that she had a “religious background.” She was satisfied with her “religiousness” until her senior year in high school, when the Lord began to convict her of her sin. She had never murdered anyone or committed gross immoral sins, but she began to realize that she had done countless things that displeased the Lord. She knew in the depths of her soul that she could not go to Heaven – God is a righteous, perfect God and He could not let sin enter Heaven.


For a time, she was able to push the conviction from her mind, but as time passed, she grew more disturbed about it. Finally, she could stand it no longer; she knew she was on her way to Hell, and she was scared. She also knew that Jesus Christ was the only hope she had – she had memorized all of the right verses as a child in Sunday School. She asked Jesus to forgive her sins and save her soul, and as the Bible promises, He did. What a weight was lifted from her shoulders – she no longer had to worry about going to Hell!


Bonnie has been a saved child of God for many years now. She has tried to live her life in a manner that is pleasing to the Savior, but must admit that she has disappointed Him too many times. But as I John 1:9 promises, when we humbly ask, He forgives us, and we continue on together.


For many years, she has served the Lord faithfully at Sparlingville Baptist Church, in many different capacities. What a joy it is to serve the Lord!

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Kelsey Braun, Pastoral Secretary

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Kelsey serves as the Pastoral Secretary. She is the wife of our Youth Pastor, Abe, as well as the daughter of our Senior Pastor, John Milton.


“I grew up in a loving Christian home where my parents were highly involved in the church. My dad was the youth pastor for many years before becoming an Associate Pastor in my later teens. I made a profession of faith when I was very young, but later on in life had many doubts and couldn’t remember exactly what happened. My salvation was nailed down in June of 2011 when I graduated high school.


“Through most of my teen years, I went on many missions trips – including to Honduras and Africa – and the Lord put a burden in my heart for missions. After graduating high school, I attended West Coast Baptist College in southern California to receive my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. I hope to one day use it on a mission field, Lord willing. As of right now, I am serving alongside my husband in the church as the pastor’s secretary and teaching in our Christian school as the 5th and 6th grade teacher.”

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Thomas Brennan, Pastor Emeritas

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True life for Thomas Brennan began on March 4, 1966 at the age of twenty-five, when he asked Jesus Christ to become his Lord and Savior. His wife Judy was saved on the same day. Growing up as a Catholic, and attending Catholic Grade School and High School, Pastor Brennan had two foundations for why he believed what he believed. The first was that the Bible was the Word of God, even though he had never read any of it. The second was the fact that the Pope was infallible, which by the age of twenty-five he did not pay much attention to. Was he a sinner in his own eyes? Yes he was. The pressures of life, so arranged by the Lord, brought him to face with those two foundations.


Thomas met a Baptist preacher named Ben Jennings, who made him question everything he had ever believed about the Catholic faith. Pastor Jennings so aggravated Thomas that he turned to the Bible for the first time to prove that his two foundations, and thus the Catholic faith, were true. He was shocked to find that the Bible completely disproved the pope’s infallibility and office, as well as the other doctrines he had been taught. That left him with only one of his foundations remaining, the Word of God. It was soon after that enlightenment by the Holy Spirit that he came to terms with the plan of salvation and gladly accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. His first statement to Pastor Jennings after he had accepted Christ was, "And that don’t make me a Baptist! I don’t know what you believe but I want the Bible to guide me to the truth!" Pastor Jennings was not worried at that statement and neither did he need to be.


It was about a year later that Pastor Brennan was convinced that the Lord wanted him to train for the ministry. Although he lacked one semester from a Chemistry degree, and was working for PetroTex Chemical at the time, he knew that he had to build a wholly different path. He fully committed to training for the ministry and enrolled at Tennessee Temple University; in 1972, at the age of thirty-one, he graduated with a degree in Pastoral Studies.


Thomas was called to First Baptist Church of McDonald, Ohio later that year and began an eighteen year pastorate there. McDonald was a small steel town in the Youngstown area. In addition to his preaching and teaching ministries there, he added a specialty in dramatics for Vacation Bible School and Christmas Stories. He was a camp pastor for black teens in the Cleveland area for several years, was able to travel to Israel, and guided the starting of two bus routes. The Lord was blessing his work!


Sadly, he did see some changes. Pastor Brennan had the opportunity to preach to the public high school football team every Friday afternoon; their coach would bring the team to the church after school on Friday during football season. He also preached at high school graduation services on several occasions. But things began to change and by the end of the eighteen years there in McDonald, the ministers of that town were not even allowed to pray a prayer at the graduation services.


In 1990, there grew in Thomas’ heart the sense that his ministry at First Baptist was to end. He had never planned to leave, and hadn’t even thought that he ever would all the years he was there. But the sense that he was to leave was reluctantly obeyed and he resigned, not knowing what was to come. He told his wife that they would be moving in thirty days. He began preaching to the church a series of messages to help them prepare their hearts for discovery of who God would send as the next pastor. He did not follow the standard practice of changing pastorates, because he simply didn’t know how. He only had thirty days, and no résumé had been sent out. It had not even been written. The thought crept into his mind that maybe God was just going to set him on the shelf.


In the middle of this thirty day period, Thomas’ son in-law called him with a phone number of a church in Michigan following a Missions class at his college. It was the number for Sparlingville Baptist Church, and they were looking for a new pastor. He decided to call them, knowing that it had to be the Lord’s leading.


He went back and forth two times preaching the same messages to his church in Ohio and at Sparlingville. He said, "Churches don’t elect a pastor. They discover the pastor of God’s choice." Sparlingville Baptist Church recognized God’s call to Pastor Brennan, and on the last week of the thirty day period, Pastor Brennan packed his family and left for Michigan. The new pastor that First Baptist Church of McDonald had happily discovered was in town and took up the ministry the next Sunday after Pastor Brennan left. Reflecting back on the transition, Pastor Brennan has said, "I’ve never heard of a pastoral change happening like that. It sure helped me know the Lord was in it."


His ministry as Pastor of Sparlingville Baptist Church began in the middle of October 1990 and lasted until the summer of 2011, some twenty years. During that time, the Lord blessed the church and many programs that still continue to this day were started under his leadership.


Pastor Brennan is still very much involved here at Sparlingville Baptist. He teaches an adult Sunday School Class, is the Church Treasurer, and teaches a science class in our Christian school. He still is involved in dramatics with full dramatizations of bible stories for Vacation Bible School and Christmas plays. His dear wife of over fifty years, Judy, teaches the teen girls class, and hosts visiting missionaries and speakers in their home.


Six kids, twelve grandchildren, and a wonderful church family have been the superior blessings to Pastor Thomas Brennan and his wife Judy.