The public is invited to a retirement reception for the Rev. and Mrs. William “Bill” Johnson. This come-and-go event will be held from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, at the Great Bend Convention Center, 3111 10th St.
For those unable to attend, cards and love offerings may be sent to the First Christian Church, 5230 Broadway, Great Bend, KS 67530.
Editor’s note: This article was written by Eric Johnson, son of Rev. Bill and Lois Johnson, in honor of his father’s retirement and the celebration of his parents’ 27 years of service to the community and the First Christian Church in Great Bend.
On Sept. 29, 1946, in Poplar Bluff, Mo., was born the first of six children. This young man was who you might know today as William “Wild Bill” Johnson.
Bill was very active in his hometown church, which led him on a path to the ministry. Raised by Cecil and Betty, the family attended church every Sunday, which led two of his siblings into the ministry as well. After growing up with John, Suzanne, David, Phil and Jim, Bill graduated high school in 1965.
In January 1967 he entered the Navy. After boot camp, he married his life-long friend Lois Ann Hinton on Aug. 13, 1967. They began their life together as well as beginning his tour of duty which brought them to Patuxen River, Md., and San Juan, Puerto Rico. While in the Navy he served many office duties as well as chaplain before leaving the Navy in October of 1970.
Bill then entered St. Louis Christian College, where he participated in many student ministries.
Upon graduating college in 1974, he started his career as a minister. He served churches in Warden and Ferris, Ill., until 1980. During his time in Illinois, Bill and Lois had their first and only son, Eric, in August of 1976.
Bill then moved his young family to Garber, Okla. While serving the Christian Church there he attended seminary at Phillips University at Enid, Okla. He graduated in 1953, with a Master of Divinity. Upon graduation he moved his family to Henryetta, Okla., serving the Christian Church there until 1986, when he received his call to come to Great Bend.
Bill and Lois have served the First Christian Church of Great Bend for the past 27 years.
During the Johnson’s family travels throughout the Midwest, Bill has not only served churches but the communities around them, volunteering on numerous committees and boards throughout the Christian church as a whole. Bill was also a Cub Scout leader and participated in the Jaycees, Lions Club and Rotary Club.
In 1996, Bill received a trip to the Holy Land by the Knights’ Templar of Great Bend.
For the past 46 years his wife, Lois, has been by his side serving the church and community. Lois was born in the same hometown as Bill, on March 10, 1947. They both attended the same Christian Church, where they met. After graduating from high school in 1965, Lois attended Southern Baptist College until 1967 and received her degree in music. While Bill was in the Navy she worked as a teacher in the Navy exchange and also the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While living in Great Bend she has worked within the school district, a local funeral home and Barton Community College.
Lois has always supported Bill in his churches. She has accompanied him on numerous trips out of town, visited parishioners and attended meetings. She is very active in choir, bell choir, prayer shawl ministries, church dinners, noodle making, women’s activities, early church piano and youth programs. Lois is also a member of Red Hats and Beta Sigma Phi Society.
This was just a glimpse of the life experiences and how Bill along with Lois have taught, influenced, and inspired so many people throughout their life. Both have given selflessly to family, church and community their entire life.
If Bill has influenced or inspired you in any way please join family and friends celebrating his retirement on Jan. 12, 2:30-4:30 p.m., at the Great Bend Convention Center.