Theon Johnson III

Ethnic Background: African American

Conference: California Nevada

Probationary Date: 06/12/2011

Full Membership Date: 06/08/2013

Number of Eligible Quadrenniums: 7


Education:
Doctor of Philosophy (April 2018):
Educational Administration & Supervision (Educational Leadership)
Jackson State University – Jackson, MS

Dissertation:
Leading with Spirit: A Study on the Impact of Spirituality in the Leadership Practices of United Methodist Related Historically Black College and University Presidents

Master of Divinity (May 2009)
Wesley Theological Seminary – Washington, D.C.

Bachelor of Science (May 2006)
Major: Philosophy-Religious Studies
Minor: Education
Millsaps College – Jackson, MS

Ministry Experience:
July 2018 – Present
Pastor
Downs Memorial United Methodist Church (Oakland, CA)

September 2012 – June 2018
Associate Pastor
GLIDE Memorial United Methodist Church (San Francisco, CA)

July 2011 – August 2012
United Methodist Campus Minister
Jackson State University (Jackson, MS)

2009 – 2012
Minister of Music
Canton United Methodist Church (Canton, MS)

2009 – 2012
Director of Youth Ministries/Education
Canton United Methodist Church (Canton, MS)

1998 – 2006
Lead Musician
Canton United Methodist Church (Canton, MS)

Community and Ecumenical Involvement:
2022 – Present
Leadership Team Member
Junius B. Dotson Institute (JBDI) for Music & Worship in the Black Church & Beyond
Founded in partnership with Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary & Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church

2019 – Present
Member
Philippine Solidarity Taskforce
California-Nevada Conference

2017 – Present
Board of Directors
Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Inc. (BMCR)
The United Methodist Church

2016 – 2017
Board of Directors
Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN)

2011 – 2013
Member
Resident in Ministry Council
Mississippi Conference

2007
Contributor
21st Century Africana Liturgy Resources Year B, General Board of Discipleship,
Nashville, TN

Other Relevant Experience:
2019 – Present
Member
General & Jurisdictional Conference Delegation
California-Nevada Conference

2019 – Present
Partners in Ministry Mission Focus Area, Convener
CORE Team
California-Nevada Conference

2019 – Present
Member
Church Building & Locations Committee
Bay District
California-Nevada Conference

2017 – 2022
Member
Conference Committee on Higher Education & Campus Ministry
California-Nevada Conference

2017 – 2019
Member (At Large)
CORE Team
California-Nevada Conference

2017 – 2019
Member
Hymnal Revision Committee
The United Methodist Church

2015 – 2018
President
San Francisco United Methodist Mission (SUMM) Extension Society
California-Nevada Conference

2012 – 2018
Member
San Francisco United Methodist Mission (SUMM) Extension Society
California-Nevada Conference

2012 – 2016
Co-Chair
United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church (UMOC)
Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN)

2008
Coordinator
Ethnic Young Adult (EYA) Internship Program
General Board of Church & Society (Washington, D.C.)

2007 – 2009
Advocacy Associate
Educational Leadership & Formation
General Board of Church & Society (Washington, D.C.)

2006 – 2008
Young Adult Co-Chair
Division on Ministries with Young People (DMYP)
General Board of Discipleship
The United Methodist Church

2004 – 2008
Member
Division on Ministries with Young People (DMYP)
General Board of Discipleship
The United Methodist Church

2004 – 2006
Southeastern Jurisdiction Representative
United Methodist Student Movement Steering Committee
General Board of Higher Education
The United Methodist Church


Why are you being called to the episcopacy at this time? What is it that you especially bring to the role of bishop with the current challenges facing our denomination and the Western Jurisdiction right now?
These are momentous moments. Disasters (both human and natural) coupled with the ongoing global pandemic have created conditions for reevaluating what is "essential."

What is essential for worship?
What is essential for ordering our life together as a church?
What is essential to make an impact in the name of Christ Jesus?
What is essential to inviting more people to journey along the path of deep discipleship?

As we imagine new ways to be in ministry both within and beyond our existing faith communities, I feel called to offer myself at this time. I offer both a passion for exploring new models of ministry and energy for engaging the global church as we chart a path forward in faith, anchored in hope, and powered by God's love. My collaborative leadership ethic, service within diverse ministry contexts (i.e. local church & campus ministry service), commitment to engaging the global church, and academic background in organizational leadership and development are among the gifts I believe are assets that I bring to the episcopacy.

From serving a United Methodist campus ministry in Mississippi (Jackson State University) to working alongside a pastoral team in one of the most complex ministry contexts in the Western Jurisdiction (GLIDE Memorial UMC), I have been blessed to participate in the development of ministry initiatives within communities that have intentionally served both longstanding and transient populations. I bring a collaborative leadership style that champions innovation and embraces new ideas as gifts to enrich our shared ministry. Each experience has been filled with opportunities for change and pivoting.

As I reflect on this pivotal moment in our life together as United Methodists in the Western Jurisdiction, I am mindful that this very process is one expression of our desire to dare to "be different." Elections in November will signal a significant cultural shift in the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops. I bring both a commitment to engaging younger adults in leadership within the life of the church and a desire to work alongside fellow disciples who value collaboration, embrace change, and champion creativity as a ministry standard.

I look forward to engaging members of our Western Jurisdiction as we discern how the Spirit is leading us forward during these momentous moments.

Describe how the last two years have affected your ministry.
The past two years have fundamentally disrupted routine ways of being in ministry. This shift has been both powerful and challenging.

The past two years have been powerful because new technologies have been utilized to connect people in ways that were previously unimagined. Worship practices were adapted to engage members who were previously more disconnected. Excitement resulting from experimenting with innovative ways to engage the community was a priority.

There have also been challenges.

The past two years have raised questions related to sustainability. Even as our ministry has returned to in-person worship experiences, there are many who have remained online. One challenge related to sustainability involves developing relationships.

How do we connect people who feel disconnected?
How do we connect people who are gathered in person with those who choose to remain socially distant?
How do we build upon a hybrid ministry that engages both those in person as well as those who are connecting virtually?

These questions have led to more questions related to bandwidth (literally and metaphorically). While opportunities for strengthening connections have been made possible by leveraging technology in ways, the last two years have uncovered deep-rooted inequities (e.g. educational, economic, technological, etc.) that complicate connections and expose the need for greater compassion and advocacy.

Overall, this season has created space to reflect upon what is essential in both my personal life and ministry. Although characterized as disruptive by many, the past two years I’ve experienced the past two years as an opportunity to center “pivoting” as the standard for future ministry initiatives. The past two years have been an opportunity to build new skillsets and build networks to allow for greater collaboration in ministry. The past two years have also allowed rest to be valued.


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