When the Reverend Rodrecus M. Johnson, Sr., Pastor of Trinity A.M.E. parks his car and walks up to the church, he admits he often looks up at the street sign. “I am still in awe,” said Pastor Johnson. “I am still in a state of disbelief. To look up and see my name on a street sign is still surreal. That’s my name. Wow. I look at it every time I come to the church.”
When Pastor Johnson arrives at the church, he sees “Rev. Rodrecus M. Johnson, Sr. Way” sharing space on the street pole along with Hoffman Street and Collington Avenue. The sign is a timeless honor for a man whose accomplishments outside of the church are just as numerous as his achievements within its walls.
Under his leadership, Trinity offers a weekly food pantry, a citywide Back-to-School supplies drive, neighborhood cookouts and other outreach efforts. Located in Baltimore City’s Collington Square neighborhood, Trinity also conducts health screenings and job placement through their partnership with Collington Square Elementary School, the Baltimore City Fire Department, Johns Hopkins Hospital and other schools and agencies.
“My vision is community outreach,” said Pastor Johnson. “I don’t believe in sitting between the church walls. The church is a part of this community. It is extremely important because I believe churches are needed to get to the core of the city’s problems. Churches can also speak to the solution, and the solution is the family. If we can nurture the family again, and once again instill the morals and values that ought to be in families, I believe that will take care of the biggest problem in Baltimore, and that’s crime.
“The children have nowhere to go. Once they leave school, they are out there. If we don’t provide activities for them, we will continue to see violence in our streets. If we put more emphasis back on families, and show them that they matter, healing will take place in this city.”
“Family Matters,” a three-night community revival that focuses on the needs of the family is among the initiatives offered by Trinity. Pastor Johnson says the initiative was the brainchild of his wife, the Rev. Robin D. Johnson.
The church’s food pantry is also a major initiative. According to Pastor Johnson, in 2019, approximately 2500 people received food through the church’s pantry.
“We see a vast number of people and different families,” said Pastor Johnson. “They can come once a month and have to show identification. The criteria, is that they live in the immediate community, but we won’t turn away anyone. We are also looking to renovate in order to house more food items. We also want to offer culinary classes to those who receive food through the pantry.”
In 2013, Trinity A.M.E. was given Historic Landmark status by the state of Maryland and the City of Baltimore. Trinity is now in its 139th year. Pastor Johnson has led the church for nearly nine years, and the street naming in his honor took place last December.
“Currently, the church is undergoing renovations at record time and we didn’t borrow any money to pay for it,” said Pastor Johnson, noting a storm had damaged areas of the church. “In addition, when I first arrived, the church had a $100,000 deficit. Now we are debt-free. We owe no one. My motto is ‘Make it happen.’”
Under his leadership, the church created “Friday Night Live,” an initiative aimed at youth within the church and in the community. He said the church’s senior members are called ‘Young Plus.’
“In my ministry, there are two areas very dear to me, which are often left out— our young people and our seniors. Sometimes, we tend to forget we did not get to where we are by ourselves. Our seniors helped paved the way.”
However, Pastor Johnson is quick to point out that the church’s accomplishments would not have been possible without his helpmate Robin and the congregation.
“Pastor Johnson is a great leader among leaders,” said member Loutinsa Anderson. “He is a friend of the friendless. God sent us a true man of the people who cares and shows love for all.”
Pastor Johnson is a native of Charleston, South Carolina, and is an engineering specialist. He and his wife Robin have three children and four grandchildren. He shared his vision for the church whose street sign bears his name.
“My greatest hope is for Trinity to be instrumental in the future of the community,” said Pastor Johnson. “Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke from the pulpit here at Trinity. I want Trinity to continue to be a voice for the community.”