History of Johnson Street
The history of the Johnson Street Church of Christ is a story of vision and commitment. In 1898, with a vision for establishing a Church of Christ in San Angelo, Mrs. W. A. Pringle placed an ad in the Firm Foundation inquiring about church members living in the San Angelo area. The church formed in May of 1900 at a Gospel Meeting conducted by Jackson McCarty in the old County Courthouse. The original church claimed seven members. In 1903, the renowned evangelist T. B. Larrimore led a three month meeting that resulted in twenty-five baptisms. By the end of the year, the church in San Angelo was well established and growing.
In 1901, the new church purchased property on the corner of Harris and Irving Streets and converted a residence into a meetinghouse. Eight years later, the church had outgrown this small building and sought a loan of $1,200 to build a new structure. The loan was denied. Jessie P. Sewell, the local preacher at the time, donated a full year's salary to the project, and the small church was able to erect a building that served the church well into the 1930's when their numbers had grown to 500. In 1935, in the midst of the Great Depression, the church made a bold decision to construct an 800-seat auditorium. This vision resulted in a modern, spacious church building that boasted the new comfort of air conditioning. The congregation continued to flourish, and in the early 1960's the dream of moving to a four-acre site on Johnson Street was born. Due to the sacrifice of that generation, an ageless building was constructed--being dedicated on October 6, 1963.
The story of the Johnson Street church is more than a story of building. As San Angelo grew, the church saw the need for additional congregations in the community and assisted in planting churches on North Chadbourne, Ben Ficklin Road, West 16th, 9th and Main, and in the Sant Rita area. And the vision for evangelism extended beyond San Angelo. In 1953, the church began working with Gottfired Reichel in the German Radio Luxembourg program. Other mission efforts have included Oslo, Norway; Sommerset, New Jersey; Wausau, Wisconsin; Malawi, Africa; Quito, Ecuador; Motivedo, Uruguay; Cordoba, Argentine, Itu, Brazil; Guatemala; and New Zealand. Having located near the campus of Angelo State University, the Johnson Street family had a vision for serving college students. In the mid 1960's, the Christian Campus Center was constructed and continues to impact the lives of university students. The church was also among the first of Churches of Christ to recognize the need for an effective ministry to teens. Highlighted by Camp Victory, Summer Mission Trips, and Huddles, this ministry is a faithful force in shaping young disciples.
The heart of Johnson Street is seen in the church's care for others. Realizing the need for safe, affordable housing for older Christians in the area, the church formed the West Texas Christian Foundation to construct a facility to provide for those needs. In 1981, Christian Village opened its doors, and in 1998, Village East began to offer opportunities for independent living for active, retired people. With a heart to minister in the name of Jesus to those who lack the basic necessities of life, the Christian Service Center began operating on Rust Street in 1996. In an adjacent building, the Christian Life Center reaches out to ex-offenders to enable them to build the skills needed to enjoy richer, fuller lives. These two ministries have recently been combined to form the Rust Street Ministries.