Eastern University is pleased to announce that Rev. Dr. Kimberlee A. Johnson has accepted appointment to the position of Interim Dean of Palmer Theological Seminary.
Dr. Johnson is an educator, administrator, passionate preacher, social justice advocate, and clergy leader whose love for God and humanity have fueled a lifetime of service in academic, church, and community settings. She has served in higher education since first joining the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary staff in the 1990’s and in 1997 she joined Eastern University as its first Coordinator of Service Learning and Campus Ministries (and Missions). She has served in numerous capacities including Program Director of the BA and MA in Urban Studies, Coordinator of the Urban Immersion Program, Director of Student Leadership and Formation, Urban Studies Department Chair, and faculty in Youth Ministry and Urban Studies.
Dr. Johnson has taught Eastern’s high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, in traditional, accelerated, online, and on-ground delivery formats. Chairing the Graduate and Professional Studies Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee, developing curriculum and new programs, fundraising, managing budgets, serving as a faculty senator, and coordinating social justice events are among the many ways she has served the academic community.
Dr. Johnson was the first woman ordained at Tasker Street Missionary Baptist Church (American Baptist Churches USA), where she went on to serve in several leadership capacities including Lead Minister during the pastor’s prolonged leave of absence and Christian Education Director. She has decades of ministry experience spanning across various socioeconomic, cultural, national, and denominational contexts. She has done ministry in other parts of the world including Peru, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Kenya, many times alongside university students. She supports the personal and ministerial formation of women in ministry through the nonprofit organization she founded—the Fellowship of Women Clergy.
Dr. Johnson is also the founder and Director of the Prison Education Program, which was birthed as a result of her research on ways Christian higher ed institutions can address the problem of mass incarceration and be a redemptive tool. She coordinates many local events and training opportunities in her role as Director of the Center for Community Engagement. She has been an advocate and commentator at the national level on matters of faith and criminal justice reform. She has served as a policy leader for the Christian Community Development Association’s (CCDA) Locked in Solidarity initiative, a board member for faith based organizations such as Bridge of Hope National (a ministry to homeless moms) and Christians for Social Action, and is currently part of the national leadership network of Red Letter Christians. She is also co-editor of the Journal of Urban Mission.
Provost Kent Sparks shares, “Dr. Johnson brings to this position 24 years of experience at Eastern University and 30 years of ministry experience. I and the search committee, and the President of the University, believe that she’s a great fit for the needs of Palmer Theological Seminary at this critical point in its history.”
Of her appointment, Dr. Johnson shares, “I am incredibly excited and deeply honored to serve the faculty, staff, and students of Palmer Theological Seminary and Palmer College. My commitment is to faithfully use my God-given gifts, skills, and experiences in service to Palmer in such a way that we thrive as we live out our motto: The Whole Gospel, for the Whole World, through Whole Persons.
Please join us in welcoming Dr. Johnson into her new role.