On Monday, July 10th, the Global Kingdom Ministries church in Scarborough held a deeply moving celebration of the life of Pastor Joseph A. Bulgin. The large church was filled nearly to capacity with former church members, friends, pastors, and conference administrators from Ontario and other districts. They were joined by another seven hundred people watching the service online. The service commenced with praise team led by Pastor Damian Chandler. A Pathfinders honour guard accompanied the casket, followed by a solemn procession of pastors who surrounded the family as they took a final moment to bid farewell to their beloved relative - a dear uncle, brother, father, and husband.
During the service, Pastor Fitzroy Maitland offered the invocation. He stated that "soldiers die with their boots on." He was referring to the fact that that Pastor Bulgin had planned to preach a sermon just days before his passing.
Pastor Jakov Bibulović, President of The Ontario Conference, delivered the first tribute, echoing the sentiment that Pastor Bulgin had indeed died with his boots on while adding, "Heroes are remembered forever." Bibulović quoted from Philippians 2:3-4, which he said exemplified Pastor Bulgin's selflessness, generosity, and dedicated service throughout his ministry. He highlighted the remarkable impact Pastor Bulgin had on the Ajax Church, even during his illness. Pastor Bibulović shared that despite pandemic restrictions restricting the use of churches, Pastor Bulgin's pool at his home became the place where many started a new life as there were baptized there in the name of Jesus. Pastor Bibulović concluded by expressing the anticipation of a glorious reunion when Jesus returns, and he would witness Joseph Bulgin restored in the likeness of Jesus.
Tribute from Collegues
Following Pastor Bibulović's tribute, Pastor Harold Johnson, Pastor Vincent Lue, and Pastor Wayne Martin, all colleagues in ministry, shared their heartfelt memories. They spoke of Pastor Bulgin's role in their informal ministry group, where they would visit and minister to other pastors. Each pastor recounted personal moments of encouragement and support they received from Pastor Bulgin. Pastor Johnson lightened the mood by recounting a humorous story from their school days, causing laughter to fill the church.
Tributes from Mentees
Tributes continued with Mrs. Roberts and Ms. Francis from Philadelphia Church, one of the many churches Pastor Bulgin served. They both spoke of how he impacted their lives, not just as a preacher, but as a teacher and life coach. Mrs. Roberts credited Pastor Bulgin with changing the trajectory of her life, leading to her success today. Younger pastors, such as Pastor O'Connor from Scarborough Adventist Church, Pastor Dewaine Frazer from Allegheny East Conference, and Pastor Andrew Beresford from Serve City Church, highlighted Pastor Bulgin's mentorship. They shared his passion for youth and his constant encouragement in their own ministries. They remembered him as a minister who excelled in church growth, as every church he pastored flourished. Pastor O’Connor humorously mentioned that if God created a “dream Gospel team” It would contain Adam, Moses, David, Peter and Joseph Bulgin as the “point guard”, powerfully preaching the Gospel and imploring people to give their lives to Jesus; to which those present gave a loud Amen!
At different points in the service, short clips of Pastor Bulgin's powerful sermons played, showcasing his passion and how the Holy Spirit powerfully used him as he preached the Gospel. In one of the clips, there was a lighthearted moment where he reminisced about his childhood and how he practiced preaching. He would make an altar call with his brother as the sole member of the "congregation,". When he came forward, he would then ask, "Is there not one more who would come forward and give their hearts to Jesus?" This elicited laughter from those present.
Tributes from the Local Church
Elders Patrick and Janice Rose from Hamilton East and Elder Wendell Boyce from Ajax Church gave additional tributes, each expressing their deep gratitude for Pastor Bulgin's impact on their lives and ministries. Elder Boyce called upon all those baptized by Pastor Bulgin to stand, revealing a significant portion of the attending rising in honor of the impact he had made in their lives.
Tributes from family
The family members also gave their touching tributes. The father of Sister Patricia, Pastor Bulgin's widow, emphasized that “It was one thing to preach a sermon another to live it. Joseph Bulgin lived what he preached.” Each child – Kimberly (pastor), Jason (pastor), and Laurie-Ann - spoke about their father's unwavering love, support, and guidance. “He loved the church,” Kimberly said, “but he loved us more.” “He was always there for us and I learned unconditional love through his example.” Laurie-Ann Shared. “I admired him so much I wanted to be with him even when he was doing vastations.” Jason said adding a personal funny anecdote about sneaking into his father car so he could follow him as he did ministry.
Finally, Jason Bulgin, delivered a stirring eulogy centered around the theme of "I made it." He preached that the statement “I made it” is the cry of a person’s humble gratitude to God for victory over life's challenges. He highlighted his father's resilience through his personal and and health struggles, thanking God for His constant presence and guidance throughout their family's journey. The congregation was reminded of Pastor Bulgin's unwavering faith, even in the face of illness, as he continued to minister to others, revealing God's grace working through him.
In his closing remarks, Jason Bulgin expressed his conviction that his father had fallen asleep in Jesus, having fought the good fight and finished the race. He ended with a powerful question. He stated “My Dad made it. How about you?"
Indeed, Pastor Joseph A. Bulgin will forever be remembered as a faithful soldier of God who touched countless lives with his ministry of love and selflessness. His legacy lives on in the hearts of those he inspired.