Jack B. Johnson, former AZSBC executive director, dies at 82

Mar 13, 2017

Jack B. Johnson, Arizona Southern Baptist Convention executive director-treasurer from 1979-1990, died March 5 in Henderson, Nev. He was 82.

David Johnson, the Arizona convention’s current executive director, said, “Arizona Southern Baptists are grateful for the leadership of Jack Johnson during a time of rapid growth in evangelism and church planting in Arizona. Dr. Johnson was also instrumental in extending Baptist work beyond Arizona in the western United States. Many people were reached with the Gospel through his influence.”

Dennis Adams, who recently retired as senior pastor at The Church at Arrowhead, Glendale, called Jack Johnson “the right leader for the right time in the life of the AZSBC.”

“Jack Johnson served Arizona Southern Baptists and the kingdom during challenging times,” he said. “I saw his leadership skills and passion for excellence from my ‘front row’ seat on the Executive Council. [The] AZSBC topped the 100,000-member mark for the first time early in his tenure.”

C. Truett Baker, president emeritus of Arizona Baptist Children’s Services, recalled the support he received from Jack Johnson when Baker became ABCS president in 1984.

“This was my first experience as the director of an agency and Dr. Johnson made me feel quite at home and took me under his wing to get me acquainted in the state,” Baker said. “He invited me to be a part of the convention staff morning prayer time, where I occasionally led the group. He supported ABCS, which had been difficult for him to do before I came. His encouragement and friendship made my work so much easier. I will remember him with appreciation and affection.”
Prior to leading Arizona Southern Baptists, Johnson served as a pastor for nearly 25 years in nine churches in California and Oklahoma. He was elected as president of the California convention in 1975.

Johnson left Arizona in 1990 to become president of the SBC Radio and Television Commission, a post he held until 1997, when the broadcast ministry became part of the new North American Mission Board in a restructuring of the SBC

He was instrumental in the mid-1990s SBC reorganization process, serving as chairman of a nine-member Logistics Transition Team. After NAMB’s formation, he served as special assistant to the president for development and special projects until his retirement in September 2000.

His 45 years of service in Southern Baptist life, Johnson said in retiring, had been “a truly wonderful experience. I am so indebted to the denomination and to Southern Baptists for their kindness.”

When elected to lead the RTVC, Johnson said it was difficult to leave his post in Arizona — “something so dear that had been so enjoyable” — yet he believed “God has called me to one of the most exciting ministries in Southern Baptist life.”

Johnson led the RTVC in purchasing the FamilyNet television network from Liberty University during his seven years as president. FamilyNet later became the central ministry arm of NAMB’s broadcast communication group until the network was sold in 2007 to In Touch Ministries led by Charles Stanley.

His accomplishments as RTVC president also included the near-elimination of a $10 million debt and a focus on technology, leading to engagements as a featured speaker at several international conferences on emerging technology and the church.

Johnson held a Ph.D. from the California Graduate School of Theology, an M.Div. from then-Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention) and an undergraduate degree from Oklahoma Baptist University.

After graduating from OBU, Johnson and his wife, Mary, moved to Rialto, Calif., where he was a teacher and became involved in a church plant, later becoming pastor.

He was a native of Clovis, N.M., who spent childhood years in eastern Oklahoma, becoming the first Christian in his family at age 10, followed by his parents’ professions of faith in 1945.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Mary; children, Joy (Steve) Pearson of Henderson, and Jack (Ann) Johnson of Highlands Ranch, Colo.; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held March 18 at Green Valley Baptist Church, Henderson, Nev.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to your local Baptist church.

—Compiled from AZSBC sources and Baptist Press


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