Susan Ann Johnson, former HSEC Director of Operations, died July 4, 2019. She was 73. She was very active in the Episcopal Women’s History Project and was the former Archivist for the Diocese of Southwest Texas. She was the facilitator of the 2013 Tri-History Conference in San Antonio. The following article was published in the recent Timelines newsletter of the Episcopal Women's History Project.
Susan Ann Johnson majored in English, History and Philosophy when she graduated from college in the late 90’s. Going to college before that was just a dream for her, but in her studies, she studied the things she wanted to master, and she did it.
When Susan first attended school, her father, who was in the service, was stationed in France, and Susan’s native language for the first years of life was French. Her family returned to Texas and Susan was middle school age. She didn’t know English, she was in fluent French, and the school system couldn’t know what to do with Susan.
She eventually landed in the 5th grade, and from there she began being an American kid.
For Susan, the Episcopal Church offered everything she loved—the services were in English, the Episcopal Church was full of history, and the theology fed her love for Philosophy. Susan was born in Del Rio, Texas, but most of her adult life she lived in Harlingen, Texas. As a member of St. Alban's Episcopal Church, a parish that has been active in that community for more than 100 years, Susan was a member of the Episcopal Church Women in her parish. She attended her first Women’s Gathering at Camp Capers. That experience helped her find a calling in service through the work of the women, and soon she became active in the ECW of the Diocese of West Texas.
Susan desired to grow spiritually and to give more through that growth. She made a retreat to the Order of Julian of Norwich in Wisconsin. She embraced the love and the goals of St. Julian and ultimately became an Oblate in that order. She then joined the Order of The Daughters’ of the King and was active in the service of the DOK in her parish.
There were many ways to serve the Church as a woman, and Susan embraced it all. She served on the ECW Diocesan Board, then she became the Province Representative on the National ECW Board. She became an officer on that board. Then she learned about The Episcopal Women’s History Project. She became an active member of that organization and then joined the Board of that organization, where she was serving at the time of her death.
The work of the EWHP brought together to her three loves, English, History and Philosophy. She helped organize the Seneca Falls Conference in 2011 called “Making It Do, Gettng It Done.” The Seneca Falls settng was where the Suffragettes began their work.
The highlight of that event was a panel led by The Rev. Barbara Schlachter, with members of the team who were part of the famous Philadelphia Eleven.
At Seneca Falls, Susan learned of the story of Artemisia Bowden, a Black Woman from North Carolina who was recruited to Texas by Bishop Steptoe Johnson to teach Black Women at St. Phillip’s College in San Antonio in 1902. Susan decided that Artemisia Bowden belonged in the Book of Contemporary Saints.
She took on that mission. She engaged many others and began the process of acknowledging the work of Artemisia Bowden to the church. Because of the work of Susan Johnson, Bowden became a Saint at the 2015 General Convention of the Episcopal Church.
The story of Artemisia is now celebrated as a new Saint in The Great Cloud of Witnesses, the Episcopal Book acknowledging the newer Saints in the Kingdom.
Susan Ann Johnson has been a bright light in the work of the women of the Episcopal Church. She will be greatly missed by all.
Susan Ann Johnson
Servant, Well Done!
This Link will take you to Susan Johnson talking about the Artemisia Bowden project.
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