The first lay person to be appointed Chief Secretary of Church Army, Captain Philip Johanson, has been awarded the OBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List "for services to Church Army". Commenting on the award, Philip said: "It came totally out of the blue and was completely unexpected. The honour, although given personally, is I believe a recognition of all the work that Church Army Evangelists are engaged in throughout the UK."
He went on to say: "Coming at the beginning of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the honour has a special significance in that Her Majesty has also been Patron of Church Army for fifty years."
Originating from Kingston upon Hull, Philip came to faith through involvement with churches in the parish of Drypool. He was a trainee manager in a family owned departmental store called Hammonds, which is now part of the House of Frazer Group, but interrupted a management course to join Church Army. Commissioned in July 1968, he experienced a wide variety of rural children’s and youth evangelism working alongside a colleague in the Lincoln Diocese. From there he went to work on Church Army’s last mission caravan, which was operating in Northern Ireland, and then with a mobile unit known as the Flying Column based in London. He then served as a member of a Church Army Mission team working in deaneries in the Winchester and Coventry Dioceses.
With such useful up-front experience behind him, he found a niche in support and encouragement as Assistant Secretary of the then Mission Department based at Church Army HQ and became Director of Evangelism in 1984. His management and evangelism gifts were further recognised when in May 1990 the late Lord Coggan commissioned him as the first lay Chief Secretary of the Society.
Of the last 11 years, Philip said: "There has been a great deal of change in society and the Church and we have the choice to embrace it or get left behind. There is a natural fear on the part of most people regarding change and some of it has been painful. With others in the Society, we have brought about a greater understanding and recognition of Church Army and the contribution it can make to the total mission of the Church."
Apart from many concerns about Christian ministry, Philip has wide-ranging interests including listening to classical music, walking, reading biographies of leaders in different spheres of life and theatre going. His investiture will be at Buckingham Palace on 20 February.