Pastor Jeffrey A. Johnson Sr.
At 15 years old, Pastor Jeffrey A. Johnson, Sr. received his first community service role as a volunteer little league baseball coach. His uncle handed him the position to serve as a reminder that “if you’ve been taught, it’s important to teach.”
Pastor Johnson admits he was the one who learned a great deal from coaching. “My uncle and coaching helped me understand how to relate to people and how to correct or teach in a way that isn’t demeaning. I learned the value of communication.”
As one of four children raised by a single mother, Pastor Johnson’s childhood shaped his meaning of what it takes to be a neighbor. “There was an understanding that we have to have a connection if we want this neighborhood to work,” he said.
Because Pastor Johnson grew up without his biological father, he was grateful that his best friend’s father, who he called his “first male role model”, was there for him. “He treated me like his son,” Pastor Johnson shared. “I got to do whatever my friend got to do. If my friend’s dad signed him up for baseball, he signed me up for baseball too.”
His biggest aha moment came as a student at Bishop College in Dallas, Texas. He felt his calling to preach and heeded Professor John D. Mangrum’s lessons to be a community servant.
For nearly 30 years, Pastor Johnson has helped Eastern Star Church provide food, homes, mortgage assistance, counseling and much more to their community. Spearheading the Renewing Our Community for the Kingdom (ROCK) Initiative, Pastor Johnson is most proud of providing 40 new homes for families in need. Because the congregation built the homes, they were able to keep the costs low and offer mortgages less than most of the families’ former rentals.
“The first family that got a home included three generations, and none of them had ever owned a home before,” he said. Plus, for every local house they build, they ensure a home is also created in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a very economically deprived community.
Pastor Johnson is quick to note Eastern Star Church’s 98 years in the community. He emphasizes that well before he came along, Eastern Star Church was “always in the community feeding people and helping people in crisis. I have been a part of leading, shaping, planning, and directing, but not without the history. It’s been an evolution.”