Donald G. Johnson of Freedom, NH, an expert in motivating young people to determine their vocational direction through faith and theological discernment, has been named Vice President of Student Development at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP). He begins his work early in 2013.
In his new post, Johnson will be responsible for managing Admissions Department activities within the seminary's Enrollment Services program. Johnson will also work with staff of the LTSP Foundation to solicit major gifts from individuals and organizations in support of student scholarships. In directing the seminary's Admissions outreach, Johnson will oversee a strategy for visiting and maintaining contact with Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) colleges, campus ministry, and outdoor ministry locations. He'll collaborate with a network of LTSP admissions contacts within various additional programs or denominations, such as the seminary's Urban Theological Institute, initiatives concerned with Latino and Asian outreach, and the United Methodist, Episcopal, Baptist, and Church of God in Christ (COGIC) denominations.
For the past seven years, Johnson has directed Project Connect of the Eastern Cluster of Lutheran Seminaries, assisting more than 1,000 young people to explore the possibility of seminary education. Of these, 331 have enrolled in seminary or divinity school. Among other Project Connect endeavors, he led discernment retreats through which 93 of 491 participants have decided to enroll in seminary. He thus transformed the initiative from a simple idea to a program with name recognition and energy across 21 synods (Lutheran jurisdictions) of the ELCA.
Prior to taking on Project Connect, Johnson served for 35 years as Executive Director of Calumet Lutheran Camp and Conference Center, West Ossipee, NH, and the President and CEO of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries of New England. Under Johnson's leadership, Calumet grew over the years from a summer camp for children into a thriving, year-round center involving 15,000 persons of all ages each year. Johnson is a rostered ELCA leader, bearing the title of Associate in Ministry. He has been a certified camp director since 1978, and is currently vice-chair of the Board of Directors for the Green Mountain Conservation Group. Johnson is a member of Lutheran Church of the Nativity, North Conway, NH.
"We have the finest team imaginable with Don as part of our team," said LTSP President the Rev. Dr. Philip D.W. Krey in making the announcement. "With his plan to develop a Seminarian Sponsor Program so that seminarians will be funded by individual and organizational sponsors, we will be able to help students manage their debt load, which is a missional issue for the church."
"I see this new challenge as an opportunity to build upon my experience in developing leaders for the church of today and tomorrow," Johnson says. "I have a passion for promoting a strong 'culture of call' for talented young people who see their faith and talents as resources for making a difference. LTSP is the best place for me to be right now to make the kind of difference I believe God has empowered me to make."
Johnson and his wife, Janet, are parents of two adult daughters, Heather Beth Johnson-McCormick and Kristina Lynn Johnson-Maksimowicz. The couple has four grandchildren.