The board of Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness joins in mourning with a large community of his friends, the passing of David L. Johnson. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and to his wife and collaborator, Mary Ann Johnson.
David joined the LIPW board in 2011 and with Mary Ann, led the Middle East Interest Group of LIPW for the last four years. David’s spirit of ecumenism and wise counsel was a model for the board, serving those in the church community who thirst for more engagement for the people who are oppressed and impoverished by systemic injustice. David’s experience as a senior minister with the Evangelical Holy Trinity Lutheran Church of Lancaster and his service with the Lutheran World Federation in Cairo and with the AFSC in Amman, Jordan, bridged the gap between international policy and provincialism.
David and Mary Ann were the nucleus of the Middle East Interest Group beginning in 2010, joining a surprisingly large number of local professionals in Lancaster with experience and interest in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Their relationship to MEIG began symbolically when David invited the former Ambassador Warren Clark, the founder of the Churches For Middle East Peace to speak to MEIG in January 2010. David was on the board of the CMEP. The Johnson’s gathered other local professionals to share in the leadership of MEIG: Ed Martin, of AFSC and MCC, and James Wheeler and Linda Herr, who served with the MCC in the Middle East for 15 years. David and Mary Ann’s life together brought MEIG into contact with many distinguished Christian and Islamic leaders, who spoke about their current political, religious, and cultural experiences, enriching and enlightening the local residents. The Johnsons were so successful that a number of the local Islamic residents have joined the circle of MEIG.
Those of us who served with David on the board cannot overstate the effect of David’s calm and patient voice, still echoing the pitch of his mid-western upbringing. The tensions between Jews, Christians and Moslems were real to him and he recognized in many of us that our unease was informed by experiences other than his own. He understood the underlying current of hatred and fear that flows through western discourse. To that end, in the last board meeting that he was with us, he reminded us that we all worship the same God of Abraham.
David died on June 20, 2013. His memorial service was held on June 26, 2013.