Stephanie Johnson and sons

Daniel Calhoun Johnson

Distinguished Alumnus (posthumous award)

Daniel Johnson’s deafness at the age of 8 1/2 years old brought challenges, but did not prevent him from following God’s call and equipping himself for ministry.

While still a high school student, Daniel was looking for a small Christian College that would provide interpreters for Deaf students. Unable to locate any, Daniel contacted the Rev. Jerry Potter, NC Missionary to the Deaf in North Carolina about his need. Around this very time, Gardner-Webb’s then President, Craven Williams, began thinking of starting a Deaf Program at Gardner-Webb and contacted Dr. Rance Henderson, then Superintendent of the NC Schools for the Deaf for advice on establishing such a program. Dr. Henderson contacted Rev. Potter. The NC Baptist Association "loaned" Rev. Potter to Gardner-Webb for three years to set up the program.

Cheryl Potter, Associate Dean of the Noel Program, remembers Daniel.

It was Daniel's outspoken desire to receive an education in a Christian environment that led to the establishment of a Deaf Program at Gardner-Webb University. Throughout his life, Daniel worked tirelessly to bring the word of God to people everywhere. His Deafness did not hinder him, but instead was used as a testament to God's grace and to further God's kingdom.

Daniel completed his Bachelor of Arts at Gardner-Webb in 1982. He went on to New Orleans Theological Seminary for his Master of Divinity, completing his degree in 1985. In 2008, he was awarded his Doctor of Ministry degree at Sanford University’s Beeson School of Divinity. In his own pursuit of educational opportunities, and dealing with the frustrations created by the lack of disability-related support services, Daniel endeavored to make theological education accessible for others who were following God's call to ministry.

Photo of Daniel JohnsonThroughout his professional life, Daniel was an advocate for Deaf Ministry. He was particularly passionate about missions and education. He lived out his calling and shared his expertise while serving as pastor for the deaf and as a strategic church planter. Additionally, Daniel operated as a field worker and missionary for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans and the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Though the door never opened for him to pursue a career as an international missionary, God provided many opportunities for Daniel to do survey work in different countries. This led to field assignments for others to serve as Missionaries to the Deaf on the foreign mission field.

In both of his North American Mission Board appointments in Louisiana and North Carolina, Daniel worked with the Schools for the Deaf to establish Bible Studies for the students of the residential schools. Throughout his years of ministry, countless numbers of Deaf children heard about Daniel's best friend, Jesus, and made decisions to follow Him.

In the final years of his career, Daniel served as Director of the Tri-State School of Theology for the Deaf and actively served on the Board for Disability Rights of North Carolina.

Daniel Calhoun Johnson, Jr. passed away January 16, 2011. Looking back on his life, his family is confident that his calling to Deaf ministry was not accidental.

Pictured, top right: Wife Stephanie and sons were on campus to accept the award on Daniel's behalf.

Pictured, right: Daniel Calhoun Johnson