In chapel on Tuesday, February 19, Trevecca hosted the national launch of Called to the Fire: A Witness for God in Mississippi, The Story of Dr. Charles Johnson (Abingdon Press, $21.99, 2013), written by Trevecca alumnus Chet Bush. This book, Bush’s first, recounts the story of Charles Johnson, an African-American minister, who accepted his first pastorate in 1961—a church in Mississippi during the summer of the Freedom Rides. It was not the place where Charles Johnson wanted to go, but he sensed that God wanted him to accept that church—and not the one in California that Charles preferred.
Once settled in Mississippi, Johnson became acquainted with three young voting rights activists who were later murdered in Mississippi, and that friendship resulted in Johnson’s being called to testify in the trial that became known as the “Mississippi Burning trial” and the one that resulted in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Through those experiences Charles Johnson became a civil rights leader in Mississippi, and he has devoted his entire ministerial career to the church he accepted in 1961.
“Dr. Charles Johnson knew that in order to be called to the fire, one must be called by the fire,” said Bush Bush. “His passion flowed from a center more fiery than the furnace of racism.”
The choir from Johnson’s church, Fitkin Memorial Church of the Nazarene in Jackson, Mississippi, , provided the music for the chapel service and received positive responses from the audience of more than 800 in the Courts of Trevecca Community Church of the Nazarene, where chapel was held.
Chet Bush is the pastor of the Church of the Nazarene in Oxford, Mississippi. He earned a degree in religion from Trevecca Nazarene University (1996) and a master of divinity from Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri (2000). He is an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene.
In 1986 Trevecca honored Charles Johnson with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his service to God and ministry to people.