Bishop Thomas “TJ” Johnston has a passion for things that grow, whether it’s plants and trees in a Haitian ecosystem or local churches in the United States. The rector of Saint Peter’s in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (outside of Charleston), he is committed to growing a vibrant community of faith that releases the transformation and hope of Jesus, and he has chosen to bring his passion for missional Anglicanism into C4SO. In partnership with Bishop Todd Hunter, he will continue to cultivate Christ-followers and church leaders in the southeast United States.
Johnston and Bishop Hunter are long-time colleagues and friends.
“TJ Johnston is one of the most forward-thinking bishops in the Anglican world,” Bishop Hunter says. “Ever grounded in the historic faith and practice of the church, he is also attuned to our times such that he is an effective local church pastor and excellent coach of next-generation leaders. I am thrilled to have his influence in C4SO and his episcopal help with our churches in the Southeast of America.”
“Over the years, I have had an incredible relationship with Todd,” Johnston says. “He is now leading a gospel- and mission-oriented group of people who are working toward unlocking in creative ways Christ’s call to go that lies at the heart of ACNA. C4SO is gathering those people who are willing to relentlessly pursue that mission mandate. The missional collaboration of C4SO is creating a Joshua 1:9 culture that is living courageously and creatively for the sake of others.”
Johnston is excited to take his place among a community of brothers and sisters in Christ who share his lifelong passion for mission and initiating new work.
“I have a passion for the local church and the richness of the body of Christ – every piece being essential,” he says. “I also have a divine discontent that’s focused on entrepreneurial mission and leadership. That combination in my heart and soul, I believe, will be most effectively expressed in ACNA and through C4SO.”
Johnston’s entrepreneurial approach to the gospel has played out in many different contexts. Since high school, he felt a passion to work among the poor and those at risk. He served with Young Life, where he started a mentoring program for middle school kids in the Spartanburg community of South Carolina. He earned a degree in forestry from the University of the South and began a career in land and timber in Virginia. A few years later, he earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence and translated his love for the land into an environmentally-focused law practice in Charleston.
During his subsequent years as a lawyer, he lived out his heart for mission by spearheading rural education and healthcare partnerships in Haiti, a country where he and his family lived for an extended period of time and return to work each year. He was also involved in a number of Haitian reforestation and gardening projects. The next step in his faith journey was returning to Sewanee to earn a Masters of Divinity and begin a life’s work serving the local church.
“I was formed through following Jesus into areas where people were working out their faith by serving those in need,” he explains. “My wife Rees and I looked at each other at one point and said, practicing law is great but, like the C4SO motto says, our passion is for leading the Church into a full-on Gospel engagement with others.”
Johnston has spent the last 15 years as a priest and bishop, and a founding member of The Anglican Mission. During that time, he networked with creative and thought leaders in missional Anglicanism. His desire is to serve, encourage, and give away anything that he has gleaned over the years as he finds his way into C4SO.
“Within the context of ACNA, I am drawn to C4SO’s clarity of thought and passion to live courageously for the sake of others,” he says. “I have sensed in my conversations with Todd an expansive focus on Gospel mission, a willingness to persevere in that mission, to make painful and risky decisions, and extraordinary energy. It is a cause to which I am willing to engage and offer my life and energy.”