Orlando, FL–During the Church of God International General Assembly last week, the Division of Education conferred their biennial awards on two well-known educators in the Church of God. The presentations were the highlight of the International Educators Luncheon held Monday, July 23, 2012 at the Peabody Hotel.
Former Church of God General Overseer Dr. Paul L. Walker was recognized with the Leadership Award, while Pentecostal Theological Seminary Professor Dr. Cheryl Johns was presented the Faculty Award. Recipients are selected from a list of nominees submitted by church leaders, faculty and administration from educational institutions, missionary educators, and Ministerial Development board members inter¬nationally. Criteria is extensive, but takes into consideration his/her excellence and dedication within the Church of God to the ministry of teaching and to the spiritual formation of students (faculty), and his/her unique contribution as a leader/administrator in an educational ministry within the Church of God (leadership).
Since 1976, the Church of God has conferred the Distinguished Educator Award on recipients who have made a unique contribution to education in the Church of God somewhere in the world. In 1996, the General Board of Education added a Leadership Award designed to recognize distinguished administrators in education. The faculty educator award and the leadership award honor outstanding educators in parallel, yet distinctive roles. The list of past recipients is a virtual “who’s who” in education within the Church of God and includes college presidents, seminary and university deans and professors, administrators, and pioneers of educational programs.
Cheryl Bridges Johns, Ph.D., has been Professor of Discipleship and Christian Formation at Pentecostal Theological Seminary since 1985. Her degrees came from Lee University, Wheaton, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She was an instructor at Northwest Bible College from 1976-1979, and has been a visiting professor at several institutions around the world, including Korea, Guatemala, Canada and Ecuador.
Dr. Johns’ published works are a highlight of her educational contributions. She has been published more than three dozen times in scholarly and religious publications, and on a variety of topics. She has presented over two dozen papers, and serves, or has served on a dozen boards and committees, both in the Church of God and Evangelical circles. She is a popular lecturer on a wide variety of religious subjects, having been called to speak for conferences, seminars, and lecture series.
Dr. Johns is a past-president of the highly-respected Society for Pentecostal Studies and has been actively involved in numerous ecumenical initiatives including the Roman Catholic-Pentecostal Dialogue, Evangelicals and Catholics Together, and Church of God Mennonite Dialogue. She has represented her tradition with the World Council of Churches and Faith and Order for the National Council of Churches. Dr. Johns is currently chair of the Faculty Lilly Grants Committee for the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), where she has served on the executive board. In 1997 she was honored as a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology.
Dr. Johns is on the board for Evangelicals for Human Rights, the Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Her work has included several creation care initiatives, including “Scientists and Evangelicals Initiative on the Care of Creation.”
She is co-pastor of the New Covenant Church of God, a church she and her husband, Jackie, planted in 1989. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.
Dr. Paul L. Walker presently serves as adjunct faculty for Lee University and the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, both located in Cleveland, Tennessee. He has served in pastoral and administrative roles in the Church of God for over 50 years. In 1996, he was elected general overseer and served four years. Immediately following his tenure as general overseer, he served for four years (2000-2004) as Chancellor of the Division of Education for the Church of God supervising the worldwide educational ministries of the denomination. In 2004 he was reelected to the International Executive Committee serving as the Assistant General Overseer (2004-2006) and Secretary General (2006-2008). Following his years on the International Executive Committee, he returned to the Division of Education and was appointed as director of the Local Church Development Program, leading a much-needed concentration on the growth of local healthy churches.
Currently, he has written and is implementing a project entitled As One Approved, pastoral tools for effective ministry. He is Pastor Emeritus for the Mount Paran Church of God in Atlanta, Georgia, a congregation he pastored for 37 years prior to his election as general overseer.
His stellar ministry profile aside, Dr. Walker’s lifetime of achievements in education are numerous, highlighted by five earned degrees, including a doctorate in counseling from Georgia State University. He founded the Mt. Paran Christian School, served on the Lee University Board of Directors, integrated theology and psychology core courses to form a counseling program with Georgia State University, and developed curriculum for denominational programs. Dr. Walker has an impressive list of awards that includes distinguished alumnus at Georgia State and Lee University, and he is the author of numerous books and articles on education topics.