Johnson started preaching in Fresno in the 1960s. His final message was one of love and gratitude but there were more messages for him including a video tribute from countless church leaders, a written greeting from President Bush and the First Lady and a resolution from Assemblyman Mike Villines.
Pastor G.L. Johnson said "It's like family. When you do something 45 years, you feel like this is family." His family members gave him several standing ovations and welcomed Johnson's great grandson to the church.
"It was kind of sad, that's all I've known my whole life. Just going and seeing Pastor Johnson. It was good to have my kids here to see and hear him," said Peoples Church member Kimberly Moore.
At a reception afterwards, many reflected on the Johnson's impact on them including the Prado family. "Just how much he's opened up my family to bring me to the Lord, to my husband. Sometimes angels here that watch over us and I think he brings that," said Sheila Cherry-Prado. "It was touching I actually kind of shed of tear. He's been for awhile, and we're going to miss him," said Dan Prado.
The pastor says he is not retiring, just resigning. He plans to represent a foundation to give money to missions around the world. "I'm only 80, so I got another 20 years to go yet."
People's Church will have an interim pastor while its leaders they look for Johnson's replacement.