Valley Christians remember Pastor G.L. Johnson

FRESNO, Calif. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Visitation: Sat, July 9 from 10 am - 4:00 | Main Auditorium at Peoples Church
Memorial Service: Sun, July 10 at 6:00 pm at the Peoples Church

Johnson was the senior pastor at Peoples Church in North Fresno for 45 years before retiring three years ago. He continued preaching at various churches across the globe. He was diagnosed with bile duct cancer three months ago.

G.L. Johnson began his ministry in Fresno in 1964 at the age of 37. He took the job as lead pastor of the Peoples Church. At that time the sanctuary was a building converted from turkey houses at Cedar and Dakota.

Under Pastor Johnson's leadership the church expanded exponentially, and moved to its current Northeast Fresno location in 1977.

Today, as many as five thousand people pack the Cedar and Herndon sanctuary during Sunday morning services.

G.L. Johnson was more than just the People's Church pastor. He was known as "Fresno's Pastor." Doug Holck worked alongside Johnson for 40-years. Holck says Pastor Johnson always believed Fresno was his mission field. "I know the heart that he had for this city... and he had it from the very beginning when I first met him. It wasn't just at Peoples Church -- because he knew he was supposed to be the pastor of Peoples Church -- But he really knew that God called him to something larger than himself."

G.L. Johnson: "I do... in all honesty... pray... Dear Lord, help us to make this a better city," said Pastor G.L. Johnson in a 2003 interview.

G.L. Johnson led the city through many highs and lows. The visit of the Promise Keepers to Bulldog Stadium was certainly a high -- as was the Fresno crusade of his longtime friend the Reverend Billy Graham.

Shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Pastor Johnson announced that People's Church would be a safe haven for Fresnans to pray. It was an uncertain period for all Americans, but Pastor Johnson's message was always the same -- a message of hope and faith.

"And out of the greatest tragedies can come joy...."

Over the years, G.L. Johnson helped form Fresno Christian Schools and a coalition of pastors across the city called the "No Name Fellowship."

G.L. Johnson was a pastor to other pastors, politicians and police chiefs. He traveled worldwide in his efforts to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Paul Binion of Fresno's Westside Church of God says he had great respect for his longtime friend because of Johnson's humility. "It's rare to find the combination of extraordinary gifts and abilities, a very smart man, a very guided man, but also a very humble man."

After 45 years as senior pastor of Peoples Church, and nearing his 80th birthday, G.L. Johnson announced he was leaving People's Church. Not retiring, he said, but resigning from his post.

He left the church, but he never left Fresno -- a city that will be forever grateful for the ministry of Pastor G.L. Johnson.

Doug Holck: "He served his generation well. He did it well."

Johnson passed at 5:30 Wednesday morning with his family at his side.

Johnson was born February 24, 1928 and died at the age of 83. He is survived by Jackie Johnson, his wife of 61 years; his daughter, Cindy Pine and granddaughters, Chyresse Hill and Jill Sanders.

The news of Pastor Johnson's death generated a lot of comments on our ABC30 Facebook page.

Darla wrote: "I am heartbroken. Part of who I am today is because of Pastor Johnson. My condolences to the family"

Norma wrote: "Johnson was a good faithful pastor in this community. May he rest in peace"

You can share your comments by logging on to the ABC30 Facebook page.

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