Gregory S. Johnson made a career out of serving in the military before becoming a minister.
Johnson is the new pastor at Second Avenue United Methodist Church, 130 Second Ave.
His Army service in the medical field indirectly led to a midlife change in career paths.
(Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski) Gregory S. Johnson is the new pastor at Second Avenue United Methodist Church where services are held at 5:30 p.m. Saturdays and 8:15 and 10:45 a.m. Sundays. For more information, visit www.2ndaveumc.org.
After graduating from Dobbins High School in Philadelphia in 1973, Johnson joined the Army in 1975.
He started as a private and eventually became a staff sargent, a warrant officer and then a commissioned officer.
He retired in 1996 as a physician assistant and served the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill in that capacity.
Name: Gregory S. Johnson
Family: Wife, Sheri; three adult children, Nathanael of San Antonio, Jasmine Woodson of Philadelphia and Desiree of Indiana, Pa.
Education: Bachelor of Science degree from Oklahoma University in 1990 and Master of Divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2004.
Military service: Served from 1975-96. Retired as a captain, serving as a physician's assistant.
Previous pulpits served: Zion United Methodist in York, three years, and these United Methodist churches in Williamsport: DuBoistown-Sojourner Truth, four years; Newberry-DuBoistown, a year; Newberry, four years.
Years in ministry: 12
Johnson said one of his jobs was to give physicals to new inmates. He said during a two-week period in 1998, he gave exams to 10 15-year-old boys who had been tried as adults.
He said at that time, judges sentenced the young men to adult prisons for crimes involving a weapon or dealing in drugs.
Often, teens would refuse to divulge their suppliers or the drug lords, leaving the courts with no alternative but to let them accept the punishment, Johnson said.
"They were the ones that got caught with the stuff," he said.
It was seeing those boys being incarcerated that made Johnson change careers.
"I couldn't do anything for them, but maybe I could help to keep someone else from going there," he said.
The Mirror asked him the following questions about his work:
What inspired you to become a pastor?
God's call while working as a physician assistant in the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill, the recommendation and support of the church, but mostly Jesus.
What is your favorite Scripture and why?
"You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind." Matthew 22:37
The verse is meaningful to me because I believe the Holy Spirit gave it to me as a lifelong passage. It has recurrently served to encourage, comfort, correct and sustain me since 1980.
What are your talents/spiritual gifts?
I love to preach and share Jesus with people. I can see God in most anything or any circumstances. I am enthusiastic about the faith.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The outstanding people of Second Avenue United Methodist Church and the people we live and work with in the community.
The greatest joy comes when folks let the light of Jesus shine through them, especially on their own beyond my help.
What are your
Reading Scriptures and rooting for the four professional Philadelphia sports teams (Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers). I also love to play sports.