West African Archbishop Tilewa Johnson died suddenly of an apparent heart attack yesterday whilst playing tennis. He was 59.
The Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa, Archbishop Tilewa Johnson died suddenly of an apparent heart attack yesterday whilst playing tennis. He was 59.
The Most Rev. Solomon Tilewa Johnson (27 Feb 1954 – 21 Jan 2014) was born in Bathurst, now Banjul, in the Gambia. Educated in mission schools, he trained for the ministry at Trinity College, Umuahia in Nigeria and was ordained deacon in 1979 and priest in 1980. He then went on to receive a BA (Hons) degree in theology from the University of Durham and undertook further studies at Oxford University and in the United States. In 1990 he was elected the sixth Bishop of the Gambia, the first Gambian elected to the post.
The 2012 meeting of synod divided the Church of the Province of West Africa into two internal province: West Africa and Ghana. Archbishop Johnson was elected primate of the province and archbishop of the internal province of West Africa, while the Bishop of Kumasi, the Rt. Rev. Daniel Yinka Sarfo was elected Archbishop of Ghana.
An avid sportsman, Archbishop Johnson was a member of the Gambia national basketball team from 1970 to 1977.
Archbishop Johnson attended the 2013 Gafcon conference in Nairobi, but had not joined the organization’s primates’ council as of the time of his death. In November 2013 he was elected to the central committee of the World Council of Churches at the group’s 10th Assembly in Busan, South Korea.
“He was a highly motivated and effective church leader,” said the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC on hearing of Johnson’s death. “I came to know him in 2013 at the assemblies of both the All Africa Conference of Churches and the WCC.”
“He possessed a strong commitment to the vision of fellowship and common witness and service. His ecumenical leadership internationally and nationally was inspirational,” Dr. Tveit added.