The Rev. Kevin R. Johnson, embattled pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church, will leave the 103-year-old North Philadelphia church on Oct. 31.
Several congregants said Johnson announced from the pulpit yesterday that it was “crystal clear” after a contentious meeting of church leadership Thursday that the time had come for him to depart.
“I have enjoyed Philadelphia,” Johnson reportedly told the congregation. “But the Lord has told me it is time to move on.”
He said that because his wife is “gainfully employed” as a lawyer, he will take his time seeking another pulpit, congregants said.
Johnson’s announcement came just before the scheduled semi-annual church conference, which followed Sunday-morning services.
Johnson could not be reached by the Daily News yesterday.
Johnson, 40, became the church’s fifth pastor in 2007. He was introduced by the Rev. William H. Gray III, the late former congressman who was the third generation of his family to lead Bright Hope, on 12th Street at Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
Johnson came to Bright Hope from Abyssinian Baptist Church, in New York’s Harlem section, where he had been an assistant pastor to the Rev. Calvin O. Butts.
Bright Hope congregants said they were repeatedly rebuffed by Johnson over the years when they tried to get answers about the church’s financial affairs, including his salary.
Several congregants were upset earlier this year when Johnson announced plans to run for mayor next year – plans that he later scrapped.
Sources in the congregation said that when they reminded him of his 2007 pledge to avoid politics, he responded arrogantly: “I changed my mind.”
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