DALLAS—Acting on the unanimous recommendation of the presidential search committee for Criswell College, the school's trustees, in turn, unanimously elected former president Jerry Johnson to fill the post he resigned two years ago.
Search committee chairman Steve Washburn said the committee reflected a “healthy diversity of convictions. We decided to take an objective approach to our search, using the presidential qualifications specified in our new bylaws as our standard. Each committee member used this standard to conduct personal evaluations of every candidate.”
“In the course of our work we were privileged to consider some of the most godly and qualified men in the Southern Baptist Convention, and we ultimately agreed that Dr. Jerry Johnson was the only man who met all the specified qualifications for president,” said Washburn, pastor of First Baptist Church of Pflugerville. “We asked the Lord to overwhelm us with clarity in our choice, and we're grateful to God for doing so.”
A native of Malakoff, Johnson was licensed and ordained to the preaching and pastoral ministries at First Baptist Church of Malakoff.
Johnson earned a bachelor of arts in biblical studies at Criswell in 1986; a master of arts from Denver Seminary in 1997, where he majored in historical and theological studies; and a doctor of philosophy from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003, where he majored in Christian ethics and minored in systematic theology and philosophy.
Associated with Southern Seminary in various roles for 14 years, Johnson was dean of Boyce College, served on the seminary's executive cabinet, was assistant director of development, and a trustee from 1989-98, serving as board chairman two of those years.
Johnson has been serving as vice president for academic development, dean of the faculty and professor of ethics and theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., since January 2009.
Of particular import is his track record when he served as president of Criswell College, from 2004-08. Student enrollment increased by more than 50 percent, from approximately 300 to almost 500. Johnson led the school to financial profitability; instituted the President's Dinner annual fundraiser with 90 attendees in the first year and more than 400 in the last; secured significant funding for two endowed teaching chairs and The Timothy Program, established by Johnson, which fully funds tuition, mission trips, and mentoring for six top students annually; and he garnered a multi-million dollar land gift for a future campus or for liquidation.
Johnson has traveled on a dozen international mission trips, written and delivered numerous theological position papers, and has published various articles, editorials and studies of interest to Southern Baptists.
His pastoral and ministry experience include a pastorate at Ireland Baptist Church, an internship at FBC Dallas and service as a youth pastor at Central Baptist Church in Aurora, Colo., where he later became pastor. He also served as pastor at the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Littleton, Colo., and held interim pastorates in Indiana, Kentucky and Texas.
“Jerry Johnson has the head of an academician, the heart of a pastor and the hands of a servant. He is uniquely equipped to lead Criswell College into the future,” said Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. “He has my enthusiastic and unqualified support. The SBTC has a dear and devoted friend in Jerry Johnson.”
—Tammi Reed Ledbetter, TEXAN news editor, contributed to this story.
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