Pastor G.L. Johnson Remembered

FRESNO, Calif.

Pastor Johnson helped expand Peoples Church over four decades of service as the Northeast Fresno church's leader.

Johnson passed away on June 29th after a very brief fight with an aggressive form of cancer.

Many said it was difficult getting ready for the memorial service Sunday. But, by the end, they said it was a great celebration for a man who introduced a life of Christianity to thousands in the Valley and around the world.

A recording of Pastor G.L. Johnson reading from the bible played in a video tribute during a service to celebrate the Pastor's life in the same church he lead for decades.

His family said even during illness Pastor Johnson still put others first. "The family all had one-on-one time with him, in his final days, of sharing with him, comforting him," Kevin Pine, Johnson's son-in-law said. "And more often than not he was comforting us. It was an amazing thing, as weakened as he was he was still strong in mind."

His granddaughter Chyresse Hill is two weeks away from delivering Pastor Johnson's great grandchild, whose middle name will be Johnson.

"My grandfather was more than an outstanding speaker and a charismatic leader," Hill said. "He was a grandfather and a father who deeply cared for his family, always saying 'I gotta take care of my girls', and I think his girls would agree he did."

During the service, nearly every hand shot up into the air when asked who was brought to the church because of Pastor Johnson.

The man known as Fresno's pastor leaves behind an immense legacy. He first joined Peoples Church in 1964. At that time the church was small, just a few hundred members. They met in a small building on Dakota and Cedar in Central Fresno.

Eventually, the church expanded in Northeast Fresno, with a congregation of 5,000 by the time Pastor Johnson retired in 2008.

"He was a significant leader, in what I think, will be looked at in history as a renaissance for Fresno, a turning point," former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson said.

Over the years, Pastor Johnson traveled to at least 50 countries spreading Christianity.

Here in the Valley, at Peoples Church, Pastor Johnson's legacy will live on in the thousands of lives he touched. Marge Mittleman said she thanked him for his dedication to Jesus Christ the last time she saw him. "I shook his hand and thanked him for all the years that he's been so great to us, he's quite a man."

Pastor G.L. Johnson was 83 years old. He had made the request for his service to be a memorial, not a funeral.

The Johnson family will be holding a private interment.

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