By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
Rev. Dr. Alfred Lewis Johnson, Sr. was known throughout the community for his work with youth, the many community programs he initiated, his social camaraderie with those he met, and most importantly, his service to God. His other most notable service was leading the St. Timothy Community Church as its pastor until his death.
Rev. Dr. Johnson, age 69, passed away Sunday, August 14 following a lengthy illness. Born to Frank Johnson and Gloria Watson Johnson, he is preceded in death by his parents and oldest sister, Vivian Frances Johnson.
In 1965, Rev. Johnson graduated from Tolleston High School and enrolled in Valparaiso University. Although his educational goals were put on hold for the opportunity to serve as a bandsman in the United States Army, he went on to complete his Bachelors at Valparaiso University after his honorable discharge. Rev. Johnson also earned a Master of Theology degree from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, and a Doctorate Degree in Theology from Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. Later he re-enlisted in the United States Army, where Rev. Johnson served as Hospital Chaplain until he retired after 22 years of service with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
In 1977 Rev. Johnson, Sr. preached his first sermon at Koinonia Missionary Baptist Church—he had been called to the ministry a year earlier. He was well prepared for his position as assistant pastor to Rev. Dr. Robert E. Lowery in 2003 at St. Timothy Community Church from his work and pastoral studies. He was later installed as the senior pastor at St. Timothy on April 27, 2008 after Rev. Dr. Lowery died.
Kimberly Robinson, a member of the trustee board at St. Timothy, says she had known pastor Johnson for as long as she has been a member, which comes to over 40 years.
Robinson characterized Rev. Johnson as a man who had a heart for service. She said, “He was a pillar in the community, being part of the church’s scouting program and various other programs within the church. He also played the piano and organ at St. Timothy, as well as gave lessons. Even in church he would sometimes join in with the musical department during services.”
During his life Rev. Dr. Johnson, Sr. worked with numerous organizations that allowed him to fulfill two of his main passions—serving others and music. The organizations where he served included The Boys Scouts of America, Methodist Hospitals, United States Army, Indiana State Police and Christian Haven Residential Treatment Center. His passion for music was shared as he prepared students for the annual Indiana State School Music Association competitions (ISSMA), as the musician at Galilee Missionary Baptist, Van Buren Baptist and Friendship Baptist Churches, and as Minister of Music at Koinonia Missionary Baptist Church and First AME Church. He also gave private piano lessons.
Rev. Dr. David Neville Jr., said although Rev. Dr. Johnson worked at Methodist Hospital’s North Lake Campus as a Chaplin for the Spiritual Care Division the two of them did not work there at the same time.
Rev. Neville said in terms of Methodist Hospital, the employees and patients will greatly miss him. “I know this because I received emails and calls in terms of how he will be missed.”
Dr. Johnson is survived by his wife, A’Lelia; and children, Jeanetta (Cory) Fortez, Brian (Krista) Johnson and Alfred Jr. (LaToya) Johnson.
His Celebration of Life service was held August 19, 2016 at St. Timothy Community Church. Rev. Dr. Alfred Lewis Johnson’s interment was August 22 at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois.