Collection Title:

Jess Johnson Papers, 1936-1988, undated


The Helsabeck Archives of the Stone-Campbell Movement
Emmanuel Christian Seminary Library at Milligan
1 Walker Drive
Johnson City, TN 37682


Johnson, Jess


Jess Johnson Papers, 1936-1988, undated

Collection No.



2.4 cubic feet (3 boxes)





This collection contains sermons, writings, class notes, and correspondence of Jess Johnson. Jess Johnson was a Stone-Campbell Movement minister, student at Butler School of Religion under several notable Stone-Campbell Movement personages, president of Milligan College from 1968 to 1982, and founder of Emmanuel School of Religion.

Biographical Note:

Jess W. Johnson was born on May 19, 1917 in Kansas City, Missouri, but grew up in North Hollywood, California. While Johnson was a teenager, his family moved to Salem, Oregon, where Johnson became a Christian and grew active in a local church, including preaching. Johnson attended Northwest Christian College (now Bushnell University) and continued in ministry, becoming ordained and serving at various churches. After obtaining a degree from Northwest Christian College, Johnson obtained the Bachelor of Divinity degree from Butler School of Religion (now Christian Theological Seminary). While in Indiana at Butler, Johnson continued in the ministry.

Jess Johnson came to First Christian Church in Johnson City, Tennessee, in 1959, where he would serve as minister until 1966. Milligan College (now University) awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1959. After serving as Executive Vice President at Milligan for two years, Johnson succeeded his former Butler School of Religion Professor Dean Walker as President of Milligan. Johnson was president of Milligan from 1968 to 1982. His legacy at Milligan includes the founding of Wonderful Wednesday and the building of the Lacy Fieldhouse and the Science Building. Johnson was also a founder of Emmanuel School of Religion (now Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan). After moving back to Oregon for a few years after his retirement from Milligan, Johnson came back to the Johnson City area and served at Downtown Christian Church from 1991 until his death in 2008.


The collection was found in the Helsabeck Archives around 2017-2018. The two boxes of papers were marked with the date 1-2-92, so presumably the collection came in in 1992. In 2023, Archivist Katherine Banks processed the collection, including refoldering the entire collection. The collection came in a somewhat recognizable order but was rearranged into clearer series as much as possible. Those series are I. Series: Class Work, 1936-1964, undated; II. Series: Correspondence, 1949-1988, undated; III. Series: Writings and Speeches, 1948-1988, undated; and IV. Series: General Files, 1940-1985, undated. All series are arranged alphabetically with the caveat that a few items are slightly out of order to maintain a chronological order within a subject. Some folders contain a sticky note on the inside of the folder transfer from the original folder that contain some contextual information on the contents of the folder. The author of the notes is unknown, but may be Jess Johnson.

Scope and Content Note:

The papers of Jess Johnson are arranged into four series: Class Work, Correspondence, Writings and Speeches, and General Files.

The Class Work series spans 1936 to 1964 and contains undated material. It contains papers, notes, and material from classes Johnson took at both Northwest Christian College and Butler University School of Religion (now Christian Theological Seminary). Johnson had classes under several notable Stone-Campbell Movement people, including Dean Walker, Toyozo Nakarai, and F. D. Kershner.

The Correspondence series spans 1949 to 1988 and contains undated material. It contains correspondence between Johnson and a variety of people.

The Writings and Speeches series spans 1948 to 1988 and contains undated material. It contains various sermons, speeches, and other writings by Jess Johnson. Of special interest are files on religious broadcasting that contain scripts from Johnson’s radio broadcasting work.

The General Files series spans 1940-1985 and contains undated material. It contains files that did not easily fit into other series, including writings by other people.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information:

Accession 1992-001

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

This collection does contain grades of Jess Johnson’s college work, but because he is deceased, these files were determined to be allowed to be open.

The archivist reserves the right to determine on a case-by-case basis if certain folders within the collection that have been requested for viewing cannot be made available due to various restriction compliance, including but not limited to student information, private personal information, and organizational information of a restricted nature.

Preferred Citation:

[Item], Jess Johnson Papers, Collection HSC0010, The Helsabeck Archives of the Stone-Campbell Movement, Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan Library, Johnson City, TN.

Processing Information:

Processed by Katherine N. Banks

Completed in 2023.

Folder List

Box 1

I. Series: Class Work, 1936-1964, undated

  • Acts (Duplicate Set of Notes), undated

  • Biblical Doctrine, undated

  • Butler Files, 1948, undated

  • Christian Ethics (Class Notes – F. D. Kershner), Folder 1, 1948, undated

  • Christian Ethics (Class Notes – F. D. Kershner), Folder 2, 1949-1964, undated

  • Church and State – Walker (Class), 1948

  • Church History, 1948, undated

  • Church History – Seminar – Literature of Disciples, 1948, undated

  • Church History – Seminar – Walker – Study of State, Nation, People, Church, Community, etc., 1948

  • Church History – Walker, 1949

  • Church History – Literature of Disciples Seminar, 1949

  • Church History – Literature of Disciples Seminar – Walker, 1949, undated

  • Church History – Literature of Disciples, undated

  • Church History – Problems in Anti-Nicene Church – Class Notes – Walker), 1949, undated

  • Church History – Introduction – Walker – Class Notes, 1949-1950

  • Church History – Walker, 1950, undated

  • Church History – Early Christianity – Albert – Class Notes, 1950

  • Church History – Early Christian Literature – Green of Bethany – Class Notes, 1950

  • Church History – Seminar – Historical Understanding, 1950, undated

  • Church History – Class Notes – Chromwell, undated

  • Church Management – Class Notes – Shelton, 1948, undated

  • City Church – Class – Norris, 1950-1951, undated

  • Comparative Religions, undated

  • Divorce and the Agape Paper, Christian Ethics, undated

  • Gentile Backgrounds to New Testament, 1951

  • Greek Orthodox Doctrine and Practice (Paper – Clement of Alexandria), 1950, undated

  • Hebrew – Class Notes – Nakarai, undated

  • Hebrew History, 1938, undated

  • The Holy Spirit, Christ, and Christian, 1954, undated

  • Homiletics, 1947

  • Latin Theology – Class Notes – Albert, 1950, undated

  • Life and Teachings of Jesus – Lord’s Prayer, 1947

  • Literary Study of the Bible – Notes – C. H. Phillips, Text – Moulton, undated

  • Logic Notebook, undated

  • Message of the Prophets, 1940, undated

  • Missions – Notes – Burke 1940, 1936-1942, undated

  • New Testament Canon (Duplicates), 1950

  • New Testament Church, 1948, undated

  • New Testament, Concept of Nature of Church, 1956, undated

  • Notebook, undated

Box 2

  • Old Testament Exegisis, undated

  • Parables – Method of Jesus, undated

  • Pastoral Counselling – Class Notes, undated

  • Pastoral Counseling – Psychology of Counseling – Holmes, 1947-1949, undated

  • Preaching from the Bible – Blackwood, 1950, undated

  • Protestant Doctrine – Class Notes – Albert, 1950

  • Psychology and Religion, 1947-1948, undated

  • Reformation of 19th Century – Walker, 1947-1948, undated

  • Religious Conditions in the U.S. (1800s), undated

  • Restoration History – Class Notes – Hoven, undated

  • Romans, undated

  • Typology, undated

  • Youth and Marriage, undated

II. Series: Correspondence, 1949-1988, undated

  • Butler University, 1951-1956

  • Christian Ministries Seminar, 1956, undated

  • Fleming Garden, Call to; SJCC, etc., 1949-1965, undated

  • General Correspondence, 1953-1982

  • General Correspondence, 1958-1988, undated

  • Jess W. Johnson Personal, 1978-1985, undated

  • Missionary Fellowship, 1982-1983

  • Sargent, Vi, 1949-1960, undated

  • School of Ministry/Burns Correspondence – B. C. Unity, Burks and C. Buf, 1964, undated

III. Series: Writings and Speeches, 1948-1988, undated

  • Beth-Alice Johnson Memorial Service, 1980, undated

  • Chapter III: The Roman Catholic Concept of the Nature of the Church, undated

  • Church Building, undated

  • Cooperation – What Is a Cooperative Church, undated

  • Disciples and Unity, 1959, undated

  • Finish the Word of God, undated

  • Free to Cooperate, 1988

  • God’s Way (Radio Program), 1951

  • Local Church and Fellowship, 1961, undated

  • A Model for Missionary education, 1975-1978

  • Old Sermons (Inactive), 1954-1965, undated

  • Personal Freedom from Sectarianism in Association, undated

  • Religious Broadcasting, 1948-1952, undated

  • Sermons, undated

  • Sermons – Wichita, 1965-1968, undated

  • Sermons for Publication, 1959-1982, undated

  • Speech – Fellowship – World Convention, Churches of Christ Luncheon, NACC, 1977

  • Speech to Symposium, 1974

  • Speeches, undated

  • Speeches – The Christian Liberal Arts College (N.C.C. Forum), 1973, undated

  • What Constitutes a Church’s Structure, 1972, undated

IV. Series: General Files, 1940-1985, undated

  • Biblical Archaeology, 1945-1954, undated

  • Christian Ethics, undated

  • Conception of Church Reflected in N. T. (Paper – Van Buren), 1946

  • Hermeneutics, undated

  • Homiletics Class – Dr. Johnson, 1976-1979, undated

Box 3

  • Lecture on Preaching (S.J.B.C.), undated

  • Miscellaneous, undated

  • Mormonism, undated

  • Poetry, undated

  • Preacher and His Problems, undated

  • Realism and Romanticism in Mark Twain – Dorene Erickson – M.A. Thesis, undated

  • Sargent, Robert P. Thesis, MRE, Copy No. 3, 1957

  • Schools, 1956

  • Wedding File, 1940-1959, undated

  • Weddings, 1943-1947

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