Rev. John “Jack” Johnson was born on August 17, 1909, in the red clay hills of Shubuta Mississippi. His grandmother was a former slave, and his parents maintained an independent 150 acre farm in the days when most of their African American neighbors were sharecroppers. John’s boyhood days were mixed with hard work, hard knocks and seeds of community service.
As a teenager, John was a community leader who organized and inspired the young people in his community to pursue wholesome living. An inherent abhorrence to the segregating experience in the south coupled with a determination to shape the destiny of his society caused John to migrate to Albany, NY in 1931.
John arrived in Albany with two shirts, a jacket and two pair of pants. It wasn’t long before he found work cleaning houses. He cleaned clothes, floors, backyards and washed walls for food and money to get by. In 1933 he married Dorothy Charles and soon became a father to seven children, five boys and two girls:
Elder John "JACK" Johnson
Andrew L. Johnson, McKinley B. Johnson, Theodore C. Johnson, Clarence S. Johnson, Edward L. Johnson, Patricia A. (Hart) Johnson and Cherie K. (Fletcher) Johnson.
Early Church Years
Elder Johnson joined the 1st Church of God in Christ in Albany, NY (currently known as Wilborn Temple), under the tutelage of Elder L. W. Parson Sr. John Later relocated his membership to the 2nd Church of God in Christ where he became Assistant Pastor for 10 years under the leadership of Elder C. H. Parson Sr. In 1952 Elder Johnson founded the COGIC #3, (now called St. John’s COGIC) at 7 Dongan Ave, Albany NY. The original membership included Elder Johnson, his wife Dorothy, seven children and the current church mother, Mother Vera (Dupie) Johnson.
94 Herkimer Street
In 1954 the church, along with its members moved to a store- front located at 193 Green St. Under the leadership of Elder John “Jack” Johnson, began to provide community activites for young and older persons in need. Many trips were taken to NYC, PA and other amusement parks around New York. In 1957 Elder Johnson founded the “Youth Circle”, the sequel to a community youth organization he established in the 1940’s called ,”The Good Samaritan”. In 1957 St. John’s experienced a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit and many young adults were saved. In April of 1958 Elder Johnson’s wife, Sis Dorothy Johnson suddenly died at the young age of 40. Sis Johnson was known as a prophetess and Bible reader that could find a number of scripture references to each scripture the preacher would call for at a moment’s notice. Elder John Johnson never married again. In 1960 St. John’s again experienced growth beyond its capacity and soon moved to 71 South Ferry St. During the late 50’s and early 60’s the Youth Circle was in full bloom. Elder John Johnson organized the Youth Circle after he had a vision from the Lord to go up and down the river and gather young people together. The Youth Circle from the late 50’s until the early 70’s traveled thousands of miles, bringing its fresh inspiration to thousands of young and adult people in over 20 cities of the Northeast. St John’s, through Eld. John Johnson, was the backbone of the Youth Circle. Elder Johnson was a recipient of numerous community and religious awards, and was known as a Modern Day Harriet Tubman for bringing over 100 families out of Mississippi. His philanthropy, wise counsel and stance on holiness was well known among religious and community circles. In December of 1999, Supt. John “Jack” Johnson passed the Shepherd’s mantle to his Assistant Pastor of 42 years his son, Pastor McKinley Johnson Sr.
On July 4, 2004 at 94 years of age, Supt. John “Jack” Johnson left to be with his Lord. He died in his beloved church, St. John’s COGIC on a Sunday. He left a legacy of holiness hard work, meeting the needs of his community and hundreds of young and older people with a better quality of life because he passed their way.