Pastors' Memoirs

Roscoe Chesterman Johnson, 1903-1987

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Roscoe Chesterman Johnson was born May 8, 1903 in Richmond, Virginia. He was the eldest of the four sons of Asa Johnson and Ethel Chesterman Johnson. This Christian family was active in Clay Street Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Roscoe was baptized in Clay Street Church as a child and later made his profession of faith there. This act of commitment was the beginning of a dynamic and effective Christian life.

When Clay Street Church was closed in 1919, Roscoe united with Centenary Church in Richmond. He immediately became involved in the activities of the young people. For the rest of his life Roscoe was greatly interested in work with young people. As a pastor he wanted them to find all of the good things offered in the church youth program.

Roscoe was always keenly aware of God's hand in his life. His mother once said that he wanted to be minister from the time he could talk. At the age of 18 he was finally able to begin his academic preparation for the task God had for him. He entered Randolph-Macon College in September of 1921 and graduated in June of 1925. The following September he was received on trial into the Virginia conference and ordained a deacon. He was appointed to serve the Corinth-Maple Grove Charge in the Richmond District. While there he attended Union Theological Seminary in Richmond. He came into full conference membership in 1927 and was ordained an elder in 1929.

In August, 1929, Roscoe married Lucille Fuller in Centenary Church in Richmond. She was also interested in work with younger persons and joined him in leading young people and young adults in programs of spiritual growth and programs of wholesome recreation. They had no children of their own but shared in a splendid way in the lives of children from so many Methodist families.

Roscoe was interested in the entire Christian education program of Methodism. He was president of the Virginia conference Board of Education for several years. There were years of exciting growth in the Sunday schools and other activities in Christian education.

All of these things were important and meant a great deal to this good man, but they were not the most important or meaningful things in his life as a minister. Above all, he was a pastor of God's people and a preacher of God's Word. In his 46-year ministry he served these appointments: Corinth-Maple Grove, East Pittsylvania, Hyco, Ferrum, Scottsville, Cottage Place, Pace Memorial, South Roanoke, First in Lynchburg, Front Royal, Clifton Forge, Williamsburg, Washington Street in Petersburg, First in Salem, and Larchmont. He retired in 1971 and he and Lucille lived in Richmond.

Roscoe died in Richmond Memorial Hospital November 17, 1987. He is survived by Lucille, his wife of 56 years, and two brothers, Sherwin of Danville, California, and Frank of Richmond, Virginia. His brother Byron died in 1985.

His memorial service was conducted in Trinity United Methodist Church in Richmond November 20, 1987 by Bishop Robert M. Blackburn, the Rev. Bernard S. Via Jr., and Dr. F. Douglas Dillard. He was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Richmond.

During the memorial service the congregation was reminded that nothing in life or death can separate us from God's great love in Christ Jesus. Roscoe Johnson knew and preached that all of his days in God's service. He now experiences that love in the very presence of God.

-Donald H. Traylor



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