New WPU President Anticipates Opportunity to Address Church of God
By Carl Stagner
Jim Lyon has aptly called the new president of Warner Pacific University a “Jesus guy.” Though Dr. Brian Johnson is relatively new to the Church of God movement, his life and ministry clearly communicate “Jesus is the subject.” Beyond mere ideological acceptance, Dr. Brian Johnson has expressed tremendous appreciation for what he has come to know and love about the Movement. Not only does he consider the Church of God to be one of the major draws to Warner Pacific University, but he also looks forward—with great anticipation— to addressing the Church of God at Convention 2021 in Denver, Colorado.
“I’ve found the Church of God to be inviting,” Johnson reflects. “I’m encouraged by the openness for growth and the grace to grow into the fullness of what it can be. I appreciate the diversity among its pastors. In fact, I’ve seen a great deal of diversity, of which I am proud. And the non-creedal nature of the Movement—there’s an opportunity today for Warner Pacific and the Church of God to really be as Christ was in this world. I’m really glad to be a part of it all.”
Dr. Johnson, a prolific writer, historian, and speaker, makes it clear he’s “all in” when it comes to the Church of God movement. He doesn’t just want to be the president of the Church of God university on the West Coast; he wants to be a fully functioning member of the family. In his embrace of the Movement, he looks forward to opportunities beyond Convention 2021 & General Assembly to fill pulpits for worship services, special gatherings, and events.
About becoming part of our family, Dr. Johnson is also fully aware of the company he is joining in Church of God higher education. Noting the opportunity to get acquainted with the presidents of Anderson University, Mid-America Christian University, and Warner University, Johnson expresses enthusiasm. “I’m very excited about continuing, and even increasing, the opportunity for collaboration,” he explains. “I see an opportunity for all of us to be engaged together in various ways to prepare our students to represent Christ in any vocational occupation. We have a common mission and there is so much we can do in an interconnected fashion.”
On June 12, 2020, the board of trustees of Warner Pacific University announced the appointment of Dr. Brian L. Johnson as the eighth president of the Church of God academic institution located in Portland, Oregon. Sharing Warner Pacific’s commitment to Christ, urban ministry, and diversity, the first African-American president of the institution eagerly anticipated joining the campus family and building upon the incredible progress of the past decade. Receiving the baton of leadership from outgoing president Dr. Andrea Cook, who served as president since 2008, Johnson hit the ground running at the end of the summer, even in the midst of challenging times in education, the church, and society. Dr. Johnson’s background, credentials, and character positioned him well to further the mission of both the university and the broader Church of God movement.
With the Rocky Mountain backdrop in view this June 26–29, Dr. Johnson approaches the pulpit with a keen sensitivity to the Spirit and the magnitude of the divine calling to address both the gathered saints and the theme of “Hunger and Thirst.” He cites theologian Os Guinness, who has written, “All callings are made sacred by the Caller.” Dr. Johnson reflects about his chance to speak to the Church of God family in-person and online, “My hopes are to impress upon my hearers the vital necessity of believers embodying the sense of embracing their calling, whether in civic or sacred spaces. By doing so, one can make even the civic sacred even as Christ did.”
Convention 2021 & General Assembly is scheduled for June 26–29 at the Denver Downtown Sheraton in Denver, Colorado. To register and learn more about the hybrid event—offering both in-person and virtual participation options—visit www.chogconvention.org.