Celebrating the life, ministry of W. Talmadge Johnson
General Superintendent Emeritus W. Talmadge Johnson passed away on 6 December 2023 at age 86.
“Dr. Talmadge Johnson was the consummate pastor,” said General Superintendent David Busic. “He loved God, loved people, loved the church, and loved his family. He was a significant mentor and voice of encouragement for many pastors and a passionate advocate for Sunday school and holiness discipleship. He leaves a legacy of hundreds of changed lives and many years of faithful leadership to Christ and his kingdom.”
Walker Talmadge Johnson Jr. was born in Nampa, Idaho, at the Samaritan Hospital on the Northwest Nazarene College campus on 26 February 1937 to Helen (Pounds) Johnson and W. T. Johnson Sr. He was six years old when he accepted Christ at a children’s service in Sylacauga, Alabama, and he attested to being sanctified and called to preach in high school.
Johnson earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in religion from Bethany Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University) and was ordained in 1958. He served as an evangelist from 1958 to 1961 before pastoring Elk City Church of the Nazarene from 1961 to 1965 and Oklahoma City Western Oaks Church of the Nazarene from 1965 to 1975.
In 1975, Johnson was elected as superintendent of the Mississippi District, which he led until 1980, when he was elected to lead the Tennessee District. He served in that position for 14 years until he was elected global director of Sunday School Ministries (now Nazarene Discipleship International).
He served in that role until his election to the Board of General Superintendents on 27 June 2001 at the 25th General Assembly and Conventions of the Church of the Nazarene in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
Johnson received emeritus status at the 26th General Assembly of the Church of the Nazarene in 2005. In his retirement, he served as interim district superintendent in the Southwest Oklahoma and Kentucky districts and was a frequent revival and camp meeting speaker. In recent years, he taught Sunday school classes at Trevecca Community Church.
In his acceptance speech after being elected the 33rd general superintendent, Johnson quipped that theology aside, he was a Nazarene before he was a Christian. He often joked he was born a Nazarene due to the hospital he was born in; he took his last breath while holding the hand of a Nazarene nurse, an Olivet Nazarene University alumna who grew up going to College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Genell Johnson. He is survived by his sister, Karen Johnson Cline; sister-in-law Fay Crawford (Duane) Jones; sons, Michael and Jeffrey Johnson; five grandchildren; two nieces and one nephew; and nine great-grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held on Tuesday, 19 December 2023, at Trevecca Community Church of the Nazarene. A visitation with the family will be held at 9 a.m. A Celebration Service will begin at 10:30 a.m., followed by a Celebration Lunch at noon. For those unable to attend, a live stream of the service will be available through the Trevecca Community Church YouTube Channel.