The following interview with the Reverend Paul Johnson opens a series of interviews with AIM leaders that will appear on our Web site. Why publish interviews? We thought that other AIM members might share our view that we rejoice that AIM supporters are numerous and diverse—more than 30,000 people representing 30 congregations and organizations—but we wished we knew more about them individually. Our hope is that this interview series will further whet our appetites to get to know one another better. We hope you enjoy this new interview series, and we encourage you to get to know AIM leaders better by doing relational meetings with one another. For the first interview, we selected the Reverend Paul Johnson, the co-chair of AIM’s Leadership Team. Let us know who you think should follow (firstname.lastname@example.org).
-Helen Strang, AIM Leadership Team and member of Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church
The Reverend Paul Johnson is the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Takoma Park and also, since July, of Ager Road United Methodist Church in Hyattsville.
At the time of the interview, he had just begun serving the two churches. Luckily, they are only two miles apart, but his Sunday is complicated. He begins in Hyattsville. The service in Takoma Park has had lay leadership until he arrives to conduct the final part of the worship service. The congregations meet jointly on first Sundays during which they will share Holy Communion.
Such “yoked” arrangements are common with many denominations.
The Johnson family—his wife, Selena who currently attends seminary; a son, Wesley who is 15 years old; and daughter, Rachel who is 3 years old—live in Columbia, MD. Reverend Johnson would prefer to live in Montgomery County, but for the same amount of money comparable housing did not exist in Montgomery County.
Paul Johnson grew up in Atlanta, Georgia; his relatives and forbearers included a number of ministers. The Reverend Joseph Lowery was the pastor of the first church to which Reverend Johnson joined as an adult. Readers will remember Reverend Lowery as the revered civil rights leader whose benediction at the inauguration of President Obama asked for God’s help that Americans might make choices on the side of love, inclusion, and tolerance.
After college, Paul Johnson began a career in engineering, working in North Carolina before moving to Maryland. His career shift to pastoral ministry came in 2006, at which time he was working in Maryland. Rev. Johnson admits “God had called me a long time ago. but His voice finally became irresistible.”
Rev. Johnson first heard of AIM when he was in seminary from a professor, Rev. Joseph Daniels who is a co-chair with WIN, AIM’s sister IAF affiliate in Washington, DC. He was “blown away” by the energy coming from WIN. He has visited the Nehemiah Housing erected by BUILD, the Baltimore IAF affiliate. His wish is that AIM could create a program in Montgomery County to which AIM’s name would be visibly connected.
The beginning of a new decade of AIM work in Montgomery County is a good time to think of making such a dream come to life.