Wednesday, June 21, 2006

About Charles Foster Johnson

Charlie Johnson is a pastor on sabbatical, currently teaching at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia.

His pastorate took him through a number of small churches in Kentucky and Mississippi, several worldwide mission tours, and thirteen years at Second Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas. Most recently, Charlie was pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas from 2001 - 2006.

Hailing from a small city in south Alabama, Johnson was greatly influenced by racial and social justice issues brought to focus by the 60’s civil rights demonstrations. Inspired to take an active role in these issues he planned to become a lawyer, but was called to the ministry in the summer of 1977 in a Washington D.C. ghetto.

While in college that summer, Johnson traveled to the nation’s capital and was walking through a housing project. While interacting with children on the street, he saw inspiring love in the eyes of these young people living in abject poverty.

“In the midst of such hopelessness just a few blocks from our nation’s Capitol, those children’s faces bore the likeness of God!” Johnson remembers. “Their sterling capacities for love inspired me beyond description. I knew beyond doubt that the transmission of sublime love I received from these children would comprise my life’s work.”

Johnson regularly invites rabbis, priests, and ministers from all religions to lead services at the churches he pastors, and accepts invitations to reciprocate. The importance of these initiatives were never more apparent than in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, when he joined ministers of all faiths to publicly urged the community to resist demonizing Muslims.

Commenting on his approach to the ministry, Johnson states that, “Christians have a sacred responsibility to build bridges of understanding with other religious and ethnic groups. The only people Jesus condemned were those who condemned others.”

Johnson is a regular critic of the politics of exclusion being used by the Southern Baptist Convention to stifle freedom of thought in Baptist seminaries, and the denial of women’s roles in church leadership.

Rev. Johnson holds the traditional Baptist positions of separation of church and state, but does not believe that ministers should avoid public service. He readily accepts leadership roles in the community, and served on the San Antonio Mayor’s Commission on Integrity and Trust in City Government, at the request of Mayor Ed Garza.

Charlie is married to Jana Powers McCormick. They have three children. Chad (28) is married to Mary Beth Lancaster of Oklahoma and is managing a ranch in Honey Grove, TX. Cliff (26) is serving in the Army Corps of Engineers in Baghdad, Iraq. Chris Anne (22) is a veterinary assistant in San Antonio.

In addition to a voracious reading appetite, Charlie enjoys hunting, barbecuing, or puttering around the family ranch in his 1989 Ford pickup.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Civil rights? What's civil about rights? The churches of Europe fought the Thirty Year War to decide who would be the handmaiden of the government and serve its pleasure. Where Baptists have been in control they have been Muslims without the obligation of facing Mecca and praying five times a day.

lmk4jc said...

charlie i love hearing this story.

Anonymous said...

Somehow I feel you are not taking responsibility for the bad decisions you made regarding staff. This is what divided the church and caused people to leave Trinity. Hundreds of peoples lives were devastated by your actions. Take responsibility for the part you played in this

Anonymous said...

There's that pick-up again.

Anonymous said...

Hundreds devastated? Hundreds?? What about the thousands of lives changed in the hearts of those that Charlie brought to God??

Anonymous said...

Hey Charlie... God bless you for sharing your story... I'll be checking back now and then to read more and more. You also write very well...it's refreshing, actually.

Although we may not be on the same point on the theological spectrum, I appreciate heartfelt love for Christ and His church, from people to the right AND the left of me.

I'm sorry that the problems (if they WERE problems) you had in your last church have followed you into the blogosphere... That sucks. I pray that you find healing and rest and peace in this season of your life, and that God will use you mightily and prepare you for that next mission He has for you.

God bless you, Charlie!

Gavin ("Pastor on the Prairie," www.gavin.inthebackyard.com)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story and letting us into your world. I have one question...If Jesus condemned the condemners, isn't that kind of like the pot calling the kettle black? Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

You are incredibly missed here in San Antonio Charlie! May God bless and keep you always. You were and still are a vehicle for His mercy and peace. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

Anonymous said...

For anyone looking at this blog and not knowing what went on in San Antonio, where Charlie Johnson was pastor at Trinity Baptist Church, here is the real issue in a nutshell: The church is in one of the oldest, richest and whitest near-downtown neighborhoods in the city. But the downtown area is changing, and the older, rich white folks are being replaced by many different cultures. The church was losing members because of the white flight to the northern San Antonio suburbs. What Charlie Johnson did was to open the church to the new downtown residents and welcome them with open arms. This caused many of the prejudiced older, longtime members to turn against him, and despite a strong showing of support from the current members, Mr. Johnson left the church after this vocal minority of folks kept pushing for his departure. During his final service, Mr. Johnson baptized several young minorities into the Trinity congregation, and told the church that these people are the new face of Trinity, and that there is nothing the church can do to stop them from coming. He pointed out that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that "11 a.m. Sunday is the most-segregated hour in America," and he let the Trinity congregation know that the Christian church is no place for racial discrimination. It is unfortunate that a few misguided individuals were allowed to run off a pastor who was truly loved by the bulk of his congregation, and who was doing wonderful work for God at Trinity Baptist Church. Unfortunately, at least one of these confused individuals has even found this blog and posted an un-Christian entry here against Mr. Johnson. I just ask that everyone pray for these people, and for Trinity Baptist Church as it moves forward with the mission begun by Charles Johnson. And I want him to know how much we miss him and his wonderful family at Trinity.

Anonymous said...

Hi Charlie,

I am still praying for you daily and am so sorry for all the trouble you had to endure at Trinity. However, I knew that the one to follow Buckner would have a very hard time. So now, I wish you and Jana all the happiness and contentment God has for you.

Elwin and I are very happy at Woodland Baptist. You know that God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. And our being at Woodland is one of those wonders.

Charlie, last Sunday night I was watching the Cowboys Football Game on T.V. and there was a new guy in the broadcast booth. His is name is Darryl Johnson and he looked a great deal like you and even sounded like you. So that made me wonder --- could he be related to you?

Send me an e-mail sometime: Irenehwill@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Dear Charlie,

My husband and I came to join Trinity Baptist Church when we were first married. He was raised in the Catholic church, while I was raised in the Baptist church. We had decided that we would compromise and attend a Methodist church.

But plans changed when I heard many good things about Trinity when I first moved to San Antonio. So one Sunday we decided to try it out, even though it was a Baptist church. My husband was a little skeptical about going at first, but your sermon touched both of our hearts; and we continued to come back to your church and leave feeling spiritually fulfilled.

We learned and grew so much with you- we really appreciated how humble you were, your love for everyone who walked through the doors of that church from any walk of life, and the depth of your sermons.

It was wonderful to see you not only minister to the women of the Alpha Home, but also to bring them to church and welcome them as a part of our church family. Your willingness to learn Spanish and greet the congregation accordingly underscored your recognition and celebration of the diversity of not only our city, but our growing Christian community.

When my sister and her baby came to live with us when going through a difficult divorce, after not having been to church for many years, she was able to identify with your message and quickly felt at home with Trinity.

You taught us to love all of those around us without judging, which is the way that God loves us.
You taught us that we are all the same and you are the same as us. As a physician in my residency, I keep this in my heart everyday when treating patients. Your sermon about Lazarus with its emphasis on how the community needs the leper as much as the leper needs the community is a lesson that my husband reflects on regularly because he had never heard it preached that way before.

Instead of alienating and isolating, your message was one to bring everyone together.

We sometimes reminisce about how you would ask the congregation, "Are you carrying around a bucket of rocks today?" and reminded us that you were just one beggar telling other beggars where they may get some bread. And whenever we hear Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road", we think of you.

We were sad to see you leave Trinity, however we are happy to see that you are teaching others and know that there is much to be learned from you. We were glad to come across your blog, and will be checking it from time to time to see if you are coming out our way some time soon. We would love to see you give a sermon again.

Thank you for touching our lives. We pray the best for you and that God will pour his blessings on you and your family.

Vaya con Dios,

Katie and David Evans

Anonymous said...

Repent, Charlie, Repent-

JohnMorgan said...

Charlie, hello! Happy Birthday from Austin, TX. Do you still keep up this blog?

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