Elyse Minson and Bishop Alfred Johnson

A Life Lesson from Bishop J: Listening to be Transformed

One of the things I admire most about Bishop J is his willingness to listen. This is not a value that many church leaders I have come in contact with espouse; but, of course, it is one of the most important traits of a great leader. It is one thing to listen to a colleague, or to listen to a friend, or to someone with a Ph.D., or to listen to a superior. It is altogether unique and admirable to listen to a person, who by oppressive social standards, does not possess a voice worth listening to: a young person, a woman, a person with an intellectual disability, a LGB person, a transgender person, a black person, a Latina/o. Yet, I’ve observed Bishop J making space for all of their voices not only for the well-being of Church of the Village, but for the sake of allowing them to have an effect on him as a person. Bishop J displays humility that reflects the willingness to listen and be transformed, even as Jesus demonstrated (e.g., Jesus and the Syrophonecian woman in Mark 7:25-30). More than his accolades or his hospitality toward me and my spouse or his great sermons, this memory will persist. Through his actions, he taught me that everyone’s voice has value, that no matter how great a person gets in life, there is always room for growth by the words of another, and that God speaks through anyone, especially persons experiencing marginalization, for the sake of my own transformation. For these gifts, I am grateful. Thank you, Bishop J. 

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of stories from parishioners and others about about Bishop Alfred Johnson, or Bishop J as we affectionately call him, and his ministry among us. You are invited to share stories of the first time you met him, or perhaps something that Bishop J did or said that was important, life-changing, or hilarious to you. Whether you express your story in a few sentences, a haiku, or a page, we want to read it! We’ve extended the submission date to Wednesday, June 10. To submit, please send your story to our Bishop J Story Editor, Selby Ewing.