In his first week at Mount Hebron Baptist Church, Pastor Anthony Johnson was asked to comfort a young member of his congregation who had lost her baby.
Now, 13 years later, as Johnson prepares to leave the church, the relationship he formed with the young woman has come to symbolize his groundbreaking work in East Baltimore.
Since that day, said Tammy Bradford, 28, Johnson has always been in her life, as clergyman and friend.
"He's like a father to me," said Bradford of the 4300 block of Shamrock Road. "I can't even put into words how much I'm going to miss him."
Johnson, 45, a Baltimore native, is moving to Charlotte, N.C., in January, leaving behind his church in the 2100 block of Wolfe St. and a powerful community organization he helped build.
For the past four years, he has been first vice president of Clergy United for Renewal in East Baltimore (CURE), a coalition of leaders from 260 churches who work to improve East Baltimore.
He will be replaced at the organization by Pastor Johnny Golden, CURE's second vice president.
"I don't want to say my heart isn't in Baltimore," Johnson said. "It's just that I want to take some of the things I've been able to do with my ministry and with CURE to Charlotte."
Johnson has been with the organization since it began 10 years ago, and was chairman of its People United to Live in a Safe Environment (PULSE) program, a security training partnership with Johns Hopkins Hospital. In honor of Johnson's accomplishments, CURE will hold an appreciation service at 6 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Garden of Prayer Baptist Church in the 1100 block of Homestead St.
Although he has no job lined up, Johnson said he'd like to start health-awareness programs in the churches and address the problem of domestic violence.
"I believe in every church you have victims of domestic violence and you have the men inflicting it," he said.
Pastor Melvin Tuggle of Garden of Prayer, CURE's president, said Johnson should be just as successful in Charlotte as he was in Baltimore.
"He's a very good administrative organizer," said Tuggle, "and he's a real caretaker of the people."
Pub Date: 10/23/98