Magazine article Anglican Journal

Sportsnels Jerry Howarth Gets into the Spirit

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Sportsnels Jerry Howarth Gets into the Spirit

Article excerpt

SPORTS broadcaster Jerry Howarth, of Sportsnet 590 The Fan, has been the radio voice of the Toronto Blue Jays for almost 33 years. He is also a committed reborn Christian and an Anglican--not by birth or design but by pastor.

Howarth, 68, is a longstanding member of the congregations ministered to by Canon Allan Budzin, first at St. Margaret's Anglican Church and now at St. Phillip's, in the west-end Toronto district of Etobicoke.

Raised a Roman Catholic in San Francisco, Howarth became a born-again Christian in 1987, committing his life to Jesus in the midst of the competitive, testosterone-fuelled arena of professional baseball.

But that rededication came long after Howarth graduated in 1968 from Santa Clara University, a Jesuit institution, with a degree in economics and philosophy--and long after he served two years in the U.S. Army in Frankfurt, Germany, during the Vietnam War, and also long after he left law school at the University of California to take a job in college athletic fundraising at his Jesuit alma mater.

Howarth loved to play sports, but his talent lay more in commentary and eventually his career path would turn to sportscasting, a role he played with teams from Tacoma to Salt Lake City and, by 1981, in Toronto. And his spiritual path would broaden from the formalities of liturgy to a close personal relationship with Christ.

"When I was growing up, we attended church every Sunday as a Catholic family, and that was my introduction to God," says Howarth, his vowels still hinting at his American birth. "But I had never heard of having a personal friendship with Jesus Christ."

That concept came to him in 1985 when Blue Jays pitcher Gary Lavelle spoke to him openly and unpretentiously about having a life with Jesus and asked him if he read the Bible, which he did not. On Lavelle's advice he bought a copy of the New International Version and began, as the pitcher suggested, by reading one of the 31 sections of the Book of Proverbs every day for a month. "The seed was planted," Howarth recalls.

A couple of years later, at major-league spring training camp in Florida, he began to attend a Bible class on Monday nights. "After a month, I made a decision to become a Christian and have Christ in my heart," he recalls. …

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