Teacher and community leader succumbed to COVID-19
Shepherd Dr. Manson B. Johnson II, the dynamic leader and teacher of Holman Street Baptist Church in Houston’s Third Ward, died Sunday, May 31, 2020 from complications of COVID-19. He was 71.
His powerful preaching remained ever present as the church streamed previous messages for the 7:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services. The campus has been closed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
For more than 40 years, the Shepherd Teacher was instrumental in pastoral ministry and community leadership that elevated Third Ward’s prominence politically and economically. A sharp dresser distinguished by his handlebar mustache, he also caused the church to grow in membership and impact.
Identical posts appeared just after noon Sunday on the Holman Street Baptist Church and Manson B. Johnson Ministries Facebook pages. They said:
“It is with a heavy heart but faith in God to report Shepherd Teacher Manson B. Johnson has transitioned to his Heavenly home this morning. Our Shepherd Teacher loved serving God and God’s people. We find strength in knowing that to be absent from the body is to be present with God.
At this time please keep our beautiful First Lady, his children, family, Holman Street Baptist Church family, and the entire Houston community in your prayers. More details are coming soon. In the words of our Shepherd Teacher, “Stay on TOP! Winners are always at the top! Reach for the stars. Remember losing is [a] choice that you make!”
Manson Bracy Johnson was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1948 and reared in Starkville, Mississippi. His father was a pastor and his mother worked as a teacher and principal.
After graduating from high school in 1966, he arrived in Houston to attend Texas Southern University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and government. He later received a certified degree in mathematics from Prairie View A&M University.
He taught at Cullen Middle School in the Houston Independent School District where he served as head of the mathematics department and earned a reputation for no-nonsense in his commitment to raising the performance of his students.
He united with Holman Street during his college years, accepted his calling to preach in 1975 and was later named youth pastor. He became the Shepherd in 1977.
In 1998, Holman Street Baptist Church moved into a new worship center. The sanctuary hosts two Sunday morning services and the Lord’s Supper each First Sunday evening. The church has more than 30 active ministries.
Johnson completed community projects totaling more than $7.5 million. He was appointed to statewide boards by several Texas governors including the Texas Health and Human Services Commission Council. He has served on community boards for local organizations including the Houston Texans YMCA, Crime Stoppers of Houston, Rebuild Together Houston and the Harris County Houston Sports Authority.
He founded the South East Houston Community Development Corporation, Inc. (SEHCDC) to provide affordable housing and other basic needs. In 1998, the SEHCDC opened East Side Village University, a community learning center offering adult education and job skills training for youth, adults and those returning from incarceration.
A proud Life Member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Johnson also was a Class XI fellow of the American Leadership Forum.
He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Mrs. Zelda G. Johnson, as well as three children — Manson, Matthew and Michelle — and seven grandchildren.
Arrangements are pending.