Johnsons: a couple whose church deems ‘clone-worthy’

Originally published at Western Recorder –

Elizabethtown—They’ve been members of Severns Valley Baptist Church in Elizabethtown since 1972; they’ve seen all four of their children baptized and married in the church; they’ve sat under four pastors; they’re involved in mission trips; and they teach a senior adult Sunday School class together—among other ministries.

“When I see people like them, I always say I wish we could clone people. They are amazing,” Ray Hicks, associate pastor of member care at Severns Valley, said of Marshall and Jerry Sue Johnson.

“They model a testimony for Christ. They have a strong witness for Christ in the community and the church and they are active servants of the Lord,” Hicks added.

“When we came here, we had four little kids,” Jerry Sue recalled. “We looked for a place that had a good children’s program, and we were very pleased all through the years our kids were growing up.

“We have just been blessed to have a family grow up in the church. We were just so involved by the time our family left that we stayed interested,” she continued. “I know some folks kind of drop out when their kids leave, but we were so involved at that point that we never ceased.

“We just get more involved as the years go on,” she added. “I think that’s what keeps you in a church is being involved and being a part, feeling a part, of what is going on. We always felt a part of what is going on.”

Marshall, a general surgeon and Vietnam veteran, and Jerry Sue, an English teacher, spend much time and energy involved in the ministries of their church.

Jerry Sue was a part of the Women’s Missionary Union, has taught Sunday School for various age groups, is involved in missions, and has been a foundational part of the “International Fellowship,” a ministry to international ladies in the area, for 30 years.

Currently, International Fellowship ministers to mostly Japanese ladies whose husbands are connected to the factories in the Elizabethtown area. In addition to godly fellowship, they do Bible study with the ladies and teach English as a second language.

Marshall is moderator at Severns Valley, has been on several councils and uses his skills as a general surgeon on many mission trips. These trips include Russia, Brazil and, most recently. Nicaragua in October 2015.

Additionally, the couple pours their hearts into Marshall’s duties as a deacon, and they can often be found visiting in homes of members, Hicks said.

Marshall speaks highly of the leadership of the pastors for which he has had the honor of being on the search committee. “I think that we’ve been tremendously blessed by being under the leadership of those four men,” he said.

“Our preachers have all been like that (community focused). Our church has tried to reach out to the community, and continues to do that and be a very progressive church,” he continued.

Noting that Severns Valley is more than 200 years old, Marshall observed, “It’s not just living on its past. It’s always looking to the future. I love that kind of attitude.

“It’s just an outstanding church where—as our principle saying states—we try to ‘love people, love God, and disciple people,” he said. “We’ve just been blessed to be a part of this congregation, and hopefully we will be able to serve until the Lord calls us home. (WR)