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African American Ministries Urban Ministries

Willie Johnson Retires

Willie Johnson Retires 1382 1036 Julie Lorenz

After sharing the gospel for three decades, Willie Johnson Jr. officially retired at the end of December. He had served in the NCC office since 2016, leading four departments—African American ministries, urban ministries, men’s ministries, and prison ministries.
“We have truly been blessed by Elder Johnson’s ministry—first as a pastor and then as a director and coordinator,” said President Marc Woodson. “He has engaged his calling with wisdom, truth, and a sincere love for people.”
Johnson grew up in Louisiana and served in the Air Force. He was married with three children and working as a combustion safety technician in New Orleans when his life changed. “One Sunday morning, I fell on my knees and asked God for someone to guide me to Him,” he said.
Two weeks later, the head elder of a nearby Adventist church knocked on his door and asked if he wanted Bible studies. Eight months later, Johnson and his wife, Bernadette, were baptized together.
Johnson became involved in his local church—serving as a colporteur and head elder—but he felt God’s call to full-time ministry. Three years after his baptism, he enrolled at Southwestern Adventist College (now University). During his time there, he was a student pastor at several churches.
After graduation, the Southwest Region Conference gave him 100 sets of Bible studies and challenged him to start a church. After much prayer and hard work, he planted two churches in Oklahoma. He was later called to pastor two churches in the Oklahoma Conference, where he was ordained in 1999.
In 2004, he was called to the NCC, where he served as pastor of the Oakland Elmhurst church and the Fairfield Community church before taking on his many roles in the NCC office. “Willie is the consummate pastor, possessing superb skills to be an excellent pastoral leader,” said Jim Lorenz, ministerial director.
Although officially retired, Johnson does not intend to abandon his calling. “I plan to spend the rest of my life doing what brought me into the Church–giving Bible studies, helping churches do evangelism, and preaching,” he said.

He will be missed by his colleagues!
“Pastor Willie Johnson is a Christian who loves the Lord Jesus Christ and his wife and family,” said Edwin Brown, senior pastor of the Oakland Market Street church. “He goes out of his way to help and serve the Church and community in any way possible to lead people to Christ. He is an amazing friend and colleague. My wife, Paula, and I pray that God will richly bless him and Bernadette.”
“Elder Johnson shares wisdom and peace through his kind words,” said Daniel Yim, pastor of the SDA Abundant Life/Sebastopol district. “His service is consistent and faithful. We are all blessed to know such a wonderful Christian who loves the Lord so much!”
“In the nearly five years I’ve worked as Elder Willie Johnson’s administrative assistant, I’ve appreciated his great passion for the ministries he had charge over,” said Yolanda Frazier, administrative assistant in multiple departments. “He loves serving the people of God, connecting people to Jesus, and encouraging people for His Kingdom. Elder Johnson is fueled by these! He always says, ‘People don’t care what you know, ‘til they know that you care.’ Also, he often quotes Micah 6:8: ‘He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ This is how he has been a great and effective leader at the NCC. I’m sad to see him retire and will truly miss working with him.”

Capitol City Church Hosts Baby Shower for 100 Families

Capitol City Church Hosts Baby Shower for 100 Families 1080 810 Julie Lorenz

Last month, the Sacramento Capitol City church partnered with the Meadowview Birth & Beyond Family Resource Center to host a drive-through baby shower for 100 community families. Some church members purchased baby clothes, shoes, books, and learning toys, while others donated money to buy presents. The center’s staff brought diapers, baby wipes, and other gifts.

The congregation was excited to support new mothers in the community. “The church is supposed to be the light in the city,” said Carol Herbert, the church’s mission council leader. “We should find all the ways we can to reach people.”

Market Street Church Hosts Drive-in Communion Service

Market Street Church Hosts Drive-in Communion Service 864 366 Julie Lorenz

On a Sabbath afternoon in February, about 75 cars – filled with people from around the East Bay – lined up in the Golden Gate Academy parking lot for the outdoor communion service hosted by the Oakland Market Street church.

Since the pandemic began, the church has held four outdoor communion services, which include music, prayers, and a short sermon. The pastors encouraged people to wash their family members’ feet at home before coming to receive the bread and grape juice in prepackaged containers.

Participants appreciated the opportunity to see each other, even at a distance. “People are so excited about coming that they start arriving an hour ahead of time,” said Senior Pastor Edwin Brown. “They bring their kids and wave at each other.”