While sitting in church one day, The Woodlands UMC’s Pastor of Caring Ministry, Joy Johnston, began to wonder what it would be like to preach.
It seemed like the sharpest of turns for her. After studying geology at Purdue University in her native Indiana, Joy was working as a hydrogeologist for a company dealing with hazardous waste issues. In addition, she was relatively new to church, having only started attending when she and her husband, Joel, needed to find a place to get married. Nonetheless, Joy says she always “felt a call towards God and being connected.”
“I looked into how to get into ministry — quietly on my own — and thought, ‘This could never work,’” she says. “Because at that point I had a six-month-old and a just-turned-four-year-old at home. But eventually God worked all of those details out, and I was able to apply and got a scholarship to go to SMU Perkins School of Theology.”
Her new career seemed off to a great start when she was offered the role of senior pastor at Splendora’s Countryside UMC upon finishing seminary. “It was an older congregation, and I found myself doing several funerals,” Joy says. “In that experience, I just developed this passion for working with people when they’re grieving and hurting.”
When The Woodlands UMC approached her about joining the church’s Caring Ministry team, Joy knew it was the right step to take, even if it meant leading her away from preaching regularly.
Since joining the staff in July 2015, her days have been filled with doing the gritty but vital work of the church.“Primarily what that entails is caring for people when they’re in a time of need or crisis,” Joy says.
Whatever the struggle, Joy’s job is to be the church’s first point-of-contact for people going through a tough time. “We’re here to visit you in the hospital,” she says. “We want to know if you’re ill. We want to come and pray for you. We want to visit with you.”
In 2017 Joy expanded her role to include being Pastor of Special Needs Ministry. She truly loves sharing the Gospel of God’s love to all people. She feels blessed to be a part of a church that offers worship services and Sunday school classes designed specifically for those with special needs and their families.
Joy and her husband, Joel, have three children: Evija, Jeremiah and Josie.