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    Rev. Dr. Kevin R. Johnson '96 to serve as senior pastor of historic ABYSSINIAN BAPTIST CHURCH

    June 26, 2024


    NEW YORK (June 23, 2024) – After a year-plus search, Abyssinian Baptist Church – the nation’s premier Black Baptist church founded in 1808 – has voted to name a new senior pastor. Rev. Dr. Kevin R. Johnson of Dare to Imagine Church in Philadelphia was selected following a rigorous search process and a final vote by the congregation on Sunday, June 23. Rev. Dr. Johnson will succeed the late Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, who vacated the role when he passed away in October 2022.

    Rev_Dr_Kevin_R_Johnson_headshots“With profound gratitude, I humbly accept God’s call to serve as Abyssinian Baptist Church’s 21st senior pastor,” said Rev. Dr. Kevin Johnson. “This sacred responsibility fills my family and me with joy. Abyssinian is not just a church – it’s our spiritual home, and I’m honored to build upon its rich legacy. Together, we will advance God’s kingdom, serve our community by God’s grace, impact the world, and shape Abyssinian's next glorious chapter.” 

    Rev. Dr. Kevin R. Johnson is the founding Lead Pastor of Dare to Imagine Church, Inc., a ministry that started with 20 people in his home and now boosts a congregation of over 1,500 members on a $2.2 million, 6.8-acre campus in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. Under his leadership, the church has donated over $750,000 to support area organizations that provide services for citizens in need. He also serves as the founder, president and CEO of Dare to Imagine Community Development Corporation. He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Morehouse College and later received post-graduate degrees at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary, as part of the influence of Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts III, who mentored Rev. Dr. Johnson. He has been married for nearly 27 years to his wife, Kimya S. Johnson, Esq., and together, they have three children. 

    As part of his candidate process, Rev. Dr. Johnson shared his vision for the future of Abyssinian which included a focus on Aby West; education; strengthening church ministries and programs; and updating the church’s technology.

    Over 40 candidates from diverse backgrounds across age, gender, and sexual orientations were considered for the role of pastor the Pulpit Search Committee since the process began. The committee highlighted ideal candidate requirements and experience also included a proven record of at least 12 -15 plus years of successful church leadership; pastoral experience as a Senior Pastor; a Master of Divinity degree and/or preferably, a doctorate degree from an accredited theological seminary; and experience managing complex religious organizations. 

    "Abyssinian Baptist Church has selected a senior pastor who will help preserve the history and legacy of one of the nation’s most respected Black churches, while also leading it into this next generation,” said spokesperson LaToya Evans of the LEPR Agency. “It has been a lengthy and thorough search and selection process where integrity, fairness, faith and inclusivity have been paramount, and the church has selected a celebrated candidate who will carry out Abyssinian’s mission as its 21st pastor.”

    Rev. Dr. Johnson is expected to begin the role of Senior Pastor in mid-July.

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