First Lady Lora Johnson, Pastor Emeritus Lloyd T. Johnson andPastor Harold T. Johnson, Sr. (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

After serving the community for eight decades, Harmony Missionary Baptist Church celebrated their 80th year of rendering spiritual, physical and educational resources throughout South Los Angeles.

Led by Pastor Harold T. Johnson, Sr., for the last nine years, the congregation has maintained their commitment to spreading the Gospel and continues to positively impact people near and far.   Even in the midst of a pandemic and enduring changing demographics from African American to Latino, Harmony is making a difference in the lives of those stopping by their campus on 41st Place and San Pedro Avenue

“God is still smiling on Harmony Missionary Baptist Church. That’s why we celebrate this grand 80th year because it’s monumental, especially when you look back at our history,” noted the pastor.

When the church was organized in 1942 by the late Rev. Dr. Chester A. Hemphill, the neighborhood was nearly all African American, recalled Johnson, who added, “Probably 40% of the members lived within walking distance of the edifice. That’s how my family started going to Harmony – we lived only a couple of blocks away.”

Johnson’s father – the Rev. Dr. Lloyd T. Johnson – was installed as Harmony’s second pastor in 1959 and under his leadership, the membership grew spiritually resulting in 19 ministries being established and 21 young men accepting the call to preach. Also, the fellowship renovated the building twice and purchased additional parcels of land to expand the campus.

“My Dad pastored for 55 years before he retired and became Pastor Emeritus Johnson. And he’s still around and doing very well. I keep him active,” said Pastor Johnson, who became the spiritual leader in July 2014 and founded Harmony Bible Institute Theological Seminary one month later. The accredited institution offers Associate, Bachelor and Master degree programs.

Pastor Johnson, Sr. and Assistant Pastor Harold T. Johnson II (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

“As a matter of fact, we had our first commencement ceremony in 2021 and we graduated over 20 students – men and women of God,” the pastor said. “There are men and women who need this study and we’re just so happy to that we’re able to supply it.”

Johnson added that his son, the Rev. Harold T. Johnson II, who is also the assistant pastor, serves as the institute’s overseer and is planning to add a Doctorate degree in Theology to the curriculum. Also, Harmony sponsors a popular radio ministry, which broadcasts on Sunday mornings on KALI 900 AM

As for the future, Pastor Johnson is quite optimistic about the church’s potential to inspire and uplift South L.A. In his opinion, “Harmony will remain a beacon of hope and a historical landmark in the community. We are fully dedicated to equipping the membership to do God’s will, encouraging the membership to build each other up and edifying the membership with the goal of being what God has called them to be,” he insisted.

“As we look to the future in these uncertain times, we are even more committed to evangelizing and winning lost souls to salvation.”

The anniversary committee commissioned a special ice sculpture for the celebration. (Courtesy photo)