Bishop Sherrod C. Johnson (1901~1961)
Church of the Lord Jesus Christ
Bishop Sherrod C. Johnson was born on November 24, 1901, in the little town of Pine Tree Quarters, Edgecomb County, North Carolina. It has been said that the lovely night that Sherrod came into the world was calm and serene. The stars spangled the skies with a florescent brightness as the whole horizon of the world seemed to shine with luster of mid-day around the tiny cottage amidst the pines.
The birth of this infant son to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, marked a turning point in the history of the Apostolic Faith Movement in the 20th century. That fateful night everyone hustled about, and preparations were made for the birth of one who was to become a world figure, one who would bring to the world a new concept of things that pertain to God’s word.
His childhood began in Pine Tree Quarters. At the age of three months, he took his first steps. Always active as a child, he began working in the cotton fields at the age of nine – chopping cotton for the meager amount of twenty-five cents per day. Eventually, due to his faithfulness, his boss raised his wages to forty-cents per day. The memories of his childhood were not always pleasant to think about neither were they altogether tranquil. The turbulent experience of his early years were the underlying factor in the the molding of his distinctive qualities; his moral, as well as his eccentric characteristics which later in his life would produce in him an advantage in everything he attepmted to do.
During this time is when Sherrod’s heart was drawn to the Lord. As of yet, however, he knew little of God or thr fact that man should serve Him. That is something that was revealed to him much later in his life. As a child, Sherrod had a vision of seeing himself being buried one day. His fears greatly overcame him. His mother held him in her arms until his fears subsided. Gently she explained in her own way the difference between life and death. The fact that if a man lived a life acceptable unto God he had hope of eternal life, but on the other hand if he lived a life of sin, he was destined to a life of eternal damnation.
Perhaps the underlying factor in his coming to Christ, can be accredited to his contact with some people in his community who were members of a Holiness Church in the vicinity. To most people in the settlement they were an erratic group. This group was so diverse from the average religious gathering, until their fame spread throughout the community as being religious fanatics. One day a lady said to Sherrod, (then just a lad) “Son, how would you like to be holy?” This question stayed with him, and took root, and then began to grow until it became a reality.
In Halifax, N.C., there was a holiness church. This is where Sherrod C. Johnson first heard the holiness message preached. Here is where he deeply considered holiness. To the other spectators who came mostly out of curiosity, the words might have been the fanatic babbling of some fanatic minister.However, for Sherrod his entire soul cried out for the gift of the Holy Ghost. One night while in bed, God poured out on him the gift of the Holy Ghost, as it was received in the Bible in Acts 2:4. His cup was indeed filled to overflowing. From the moment that he received the Holy Ghost, he went around fighting for Christ, as much as he knew.
Eventually, he moved to Philadelphia, PA., where he came in contact with a man who told him about water baptism in Jesus’ name. He immediately went to 1720 South Street and was baptized, thus completing his salvation according to God’s eternal Word.Bishop Johnson became pastor of his first church (a storefront) in 1919. He became a member of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith in New York City, and was ordained by presiding bishop, R.C. Lawson. He apparently had a problem with some of Bishop Lawson’s teachings. While he accepted some of the main points of Lawson’s theology, Sherrod became “tired of the slack” as he put it, over the improper dress attire that Lawson allowed for women.Upon this, he separated himself from Bishop Lawson in 1932., and started his own organization, which he named, “The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic faith.”
Bishop Johnson was indeed a charismatic and unique individual. He ruled the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ with an iron fist and a velvet tongue until the time of his death. On February 25, 1961, while in Kingston, Jamacia on vacation he fell on sleep. He was 62 years of age, and said to be a multi-millionaire. He will long be remembered in the annuals of Apostolic church history as someone who marched to the beat of a different drummer. He was deeply controlled by his own convictions, and once stated that unless a man had been baptized by him in Jesus’ name, he had not been baptized.