Goddard-Johnson Chair Fully Endowed

The fully-endowed Goddard-Johnson Chair in Christian Education at Africa University is now a reality, thanks to the unwavering generosity of hundreds of dedicated individuals. 

The campaign to endow a professorship honoring Carrie Lou Goddard and Ethel Johnson began in March 1999. The campaign goal—an endowment fund of $500,000—took nearly 20 years to achieve.

Mrs. Bobbie McMullen, Ms. Ethel Johnson, Mrs. Joy and Dr. Jimmy Carr at launch event for Christian Education Chair Endowment Campaign.The Deacons and Diaconal Ministries unit of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, led at the time by the late Dr. Jimmy L. Carr, took the lead in organizing support. Carr reached out to the national Christian Educators Fellowship (CEF) and partnered with the organization to grow the endowment. Their objectives were to support the education of persons in Africa in the discipline of Christian Education and to highlight and extend the legacies and global influence of two exemplary Christian educators.

The CEF rallied its members, many of whom made multi-year gift pledges and set up planned gifts, as did Goddard and Johnson’s friends and former colleagues. Their gifts, and the interest earned on those gifts over the course of two decades, has resulted in a current endowment of just under $540,000. A portion of the endowment earnings income will be utilized to enhance teaching, research, curriculum development, and other academic activities related to Christian Education as a discipline at Africa University.

Rev. Lloyd Rollins, a retired deacon who is a consultant to the current $50 million Campaign for Africa University, has been involved with the effort to endow the chair since 1999.

“The endowment will address the financial needs of providing a teaching position [in the Institute of Theology and Religious Studies at Africa University] into the future,” said Rollins.  

“It also provides recognition of two lives well-lived and dedicated to servanthood in God’s mission…Goddard and Johnson were considered real pioneers in formalizing Christian Education,” he said.

Carrie Lou Goddard taught Christian Education at Scarritt College in Nashville, TN.

Carrie Lou Goddard, who died in February 1999, began her career as an elementary school teacher and editor of children’s curriculum for the United Methodist Publishing House. Later, she became a professor of Christian Education at Scarritt College in Nashville, Tennessee, where she taught for more than two decades. Ethel Johnson lectured in church administration and Christian Education, and directed field education at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO). Goddard and Johnson traveled and taught extensively during their professional careers and after retirement, impacting Christian Education through their students, and those taught by their students, around the world.

Ethel Johnson taught and supervised field placements at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, (MTSO).

“The Carrs [Jimmy and his wife, Joy] made the effort a priority with the Christian Educators Fellowship, and that group was the single largest group of donors to make the chair a reality,” said Rollins.

For Ethel Johnson, the end of the campaign is cause for excitement. 

“I was ecstatic to hear the chair has been fully endowed,” said Johnson. “Education is fundamental to everything we do in the church, and I am overjoyed that this dream has become a reality.” 

At age 93, Johnson says her mind is good, and she is still very active. 

“During the two years I spent at AU, I met some fantastic students,” said Johnson, as she reflected on her time as visiting professor in Zimbabwe.

“Now that the chair is fully endowed, it is important for someone to always be in it,” she said. “If the church is going to carry on its mission, this chair must be filled at all times…I would love to live long enough to see one of the former AU students sit in the chair and carry on the mission of the church and of Jesus Christ.  That would be a dream come true.”

Story by Celinda Hughes, freelance writer.