History of the Restoration Movement

Calvin Leonard Johnson


Biographical Sketch On The Life Of C. Leonard Johnson

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:8,9.)

Leonard Johnson, preacher, educator and missionary, died October 5, 1994 in Montgomery, Alabama after a brief illness. He was born to Madison and Ada (Trantham) Johnson November, 18, 1910 in Frankewing, Tennessee in Lincoln County, where he and his sister Jewel were orphaned as small children and reared by his grandparents. Leonard was one of the ten graduates of Booneshill High School in 1928.

He attended David Lipscomb University from 1928-1930 when it was a junior college. He received a B.A. Degree from Harding University in 1935 and an M.S. from Auburn University in 1946. He also attended the University of Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State University and the University of Oklahoma. He received an honorary doctorate from Alabama Christian School of Religion.

Brother Johnson was married to Bernice Cagle, daughter of Grover and Mary (DeBord) Cagle of Pikeville, Tennessee, June 6, 1932. He is survived by his wife and five children - David, Janice (Mrs. Kenneth Randolph), John, Marilyn (Mrs. Franklin Terry), and Richard, 12 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Brother Johnson preached his first sermon on November 11, 1928, one week before his 18th birthday. He preached by appointment while at David Lipscomb University and after graduation preached two years in Bagdad, Florida, Mobile, Alabama and other places under the oversight of the church in Pensacola, Florida, as well as in Bledsoe County, Tennessee.

After entering Harding University in 1933 he preached in many small churches in Arkansas. Upon graduation from Harding he remained for a year as principal and teacher at Harding Academy. In 1936 he moved to Nashville and preached for the 12th Avenue congregation.

From 1938 to 1954 he lived in Montgomery, Alabama where he preached eight years for the Chisholm (Eastern Meadows) church, conducted gospel meetings, and helped start several new congregations in south Alabama. During these Montgomery years he and Rex Turner co-edited-the gospel paper Sound Doctrine for several years.

In 1942, Johnson and Rex Turner, and Joe Greer, with the help of other brethren, opened Montgomery Bible School, which later became Alabama Christian College (now Faulkner University), and for several , years brother Johnson and brother Turner served as co-Presidents. For five years during this time, in order to be able to teach and preach, he rose at 3:30 every morning to deliver 650 papers.

In 1954 he moved to Chattanooga where he served as principal of Boyd Buchanan School and preached at the Signal Mountain Church of Christ.

Brother Johnson and his family spent 1956-1958 in Nigeria where he superintended eleven Christian schools, taught in Ukpom Bible College, and preached throughout much of Eastern Nigeria.

He returned to Chattanooga from Africa and served as President of Boyd Buchanan 1958-1960 while preaching at Signal Hills.

From 1960-1962 he served as president of Madison Academy in Huntsville, Alabama and preached at Mastin Lake Road and Paint Rock.

From 1962-1964 brother Johnson taught at Oklahoma Christian College and preached at Kingfisher.

In 1964 he returned to Tennessee and taught Bible and Psychology at Freed-Hardeman University until 1973 and preached at Linden and for six years at Jack's Creek. In 1973 he returned to Alabama Christian College where he served as Dean and Chairman of the Bible Department. During the five years that he remained there, he preached one year at the College church and four years at Chisholm (Eastern Meadows). In 1978 he returned as teacher to Freed-Hardeman University and as preacher at Jack's Creek. He retired from Freed-Hardeman in 1981 at the age of 70.

As Brother Johnson was a man of unusual energy, possessed of good health, he yet had productive years ahead of him. Therefore he returned to Montgomery, Alabama in 1983 to teach again at Faulkner University, which which he continued until four weeks before his death. During this time he continued to hold. meetings and preached for the church at Wetumpka, Jemison, Piedmont and Alexander City (Southview) until September, 1994. He continued to be interested in foreign mission work and led numerous campaigns to Scotland and Austria, and made a visit to the Holy Land. Four months before his death he, spent a month in Vienna, Austria teaching Bible in the International Christian University.

A quotation he used as he spoke on the "Golden Years" expresses aptly the closing years of his life. It follows.

"Like the evening sun which seems to hang a long time on the horizon to lighten the earth and spread abroad its beauty, the old are left to serve as examples, patterns of faith, hope, dedication, and patience in suffering."

Brother Johnson maintained a lifetime interest in Tennessee Walking Horses. He raised, trained and showed his horses until he was nearing eighty years old. Wherever he lived he usually bought a farm or leased some property to care for his horses, and a trip to Shelbyville for the Championship Walking Horse Show was his annual pilgrimage.

He was a link to some noble leaders of the past. He came under the influence of H. Leo Boles at David Lipscomb University who also served as an elder when brother Johnson preached for two years at 12th Avenue in Nashville. He considered Boles the best teacher he had. Brother Johnson was a student at Harding University the last year it was in Morrilton, Arkansas and the first year it was at Searcy, and the sacrificial spirit, integrity and administrative ability of J. N. Armstrong left a sustaining influence upon him. F. B. Srygley, J. M. McCaleb, A. G. Freed, Foy Wallace, Sr., G. C. Brewer, Hall L. Calhoun, and S. P. Pittman were among a host of outstanding preachers with whom he was acquainted and who influenced the direction of his life.

Among numerous honors he received were the 1985 Alumnus of the Year from the School of Education, Harding University, and a Distinguished Alumnus Award from David Lipscomb University in 1989. Perhaps his greatest legacy is the inspiration and guidance he gave to young people for over fifty years in the classroom. He had a great love of teaching. He was demanding and challenging. He pressed his students to deeper personal consecration and wider fields of service. Throughout the world are Christians whose lives were enriched by association with Leonard Johnson.

The funeral was conducted October 8, 1994 in the meeting house of the Landmark Church of Christ in Montgomery by H. A. Beasley, E. R. Brannan and Rex Turner, Sr. His body was buried at Serenity Gardens Cemetery. A joint memorial service of Alabama Christian Academy and , Faulkner University was held in his honor at the Faulkner University Rotunda October 10 at which President Billy Hilyer, Howard Jones, Rex Turner, Sr., E. R. Brannan, and H. A. Beasley spoke.

By Kenneth Randolph, A son-in-law of Leonard Johnson

Editor's comment: I asked Kenneth Randolph to write a story about Leonard Johnson. I knew Leonard many years. I preached in gospel meetings at Jacks Creek, TN while he was the local minister there. I observed him as truly concerned for the lost. He was one of the busiest people I have known. Kenneth's story confirms that. I loved and appreciated him and hereby convey my sympathy to his widow Bernice and all the rest of his family. In our sorrow we can rejoice in gospel hope!)

Appearing In The World Evangelist, February, 1995 pages 4,5, Basil Overton, editor. Written by Kenneth Randolph

Directions To The Grave Of C.L. Johnson

Calvin Leonard Johnson is buried in the beautiful Greenwood Serenity Cemetery in Montgomery, Alabama. Just east of central Montgomery, take I-85 to Exit 3, Ann St. Exit, and go north. Go five streets to Highland Ave. and turn right. Go to the stop sign and you will be facing the entrance to Greenwood Cemetery. Instead of entering the cemetery here, turn right (on Lincoln Rd.) and pass the Serenity Gardens office and chapel on the left and continue on to the end until the road runs into Harrison Rd. Turn left into the cemetery entrance from Harrison Rd. Take the second right and go nearly to the end. Stop the car and the grave will be up the hill on the left, nearest the street. While in the cemetery be sure to visit the graves of J.M. Barnes, Clyde Fulmer and Rex A. Turner.

GPS Location of the Johnson Family Plot
32°22'05.9"N 86°15'29.2"W
or D.d. 32.368307, -86.258103

C. Leonard Johnson

History Home

History Index Page