by Robert Earl Houston
Dr. Johnnie Coleman, the iconic Chicago minister who founded and built the Christ Universal Temple, for which she led for over 50 years, went home to be with the Lord on Tuesday, December 23, 2014. Homegoing Services are pending and will be announced on the church website, http://www.cutemple.org.
The Church, now led by Rev. Derrick B. Wells, released the following statement:
On Tuesday, December 23rd, our beloved spiritual mother and founder, the Reverend Dr. Johnnie Colemon, made her transition. We lovingly hold her up in prayer as we release her into the grace, peace, and harmony of God’s presence.
We are praying with her family and everyone who was touched by her life-transforming ministry.
At this time, arrangements for a memorial service in her honor are incomplete. Additional information will be forthcoming as promptly as it is made available.
From the Christ Universal Temple Website:
The Reverend Dr. Johnnie Colemon, often referred to as the First Lady of the New Thought Christian Community, founded Christ Universal Temple, a thriving, spirited, and progressive New Thought Church in 1956. In 1974, she established an international organization of affiliated New Thought churches and study groups called the Universal Foundation for Better Living.
As a member of the International New Thought Alliance (I.N.T.A.), Rev. Colemon served as the district president and the chairperson of the 60th I.N.T.A. Congress held in Chicago.
“Johnnie”, as Rev. Colemon is affectionately called, celebrated fifty years of building and teaching in 2006, the year she retired as the Senior Minister of Christ Universal Temple. During her tenure, she built five structures to spread the “Better Living” teachings, including three churches and two institutions of learning (Johnnie Colemon Institute and Johnnie Colemon Academy). She also constructed a luxury banquet hall and restaurant in service to a community that, previously, had little access to a high end dining experience. The first church, built in 1962, was named Christ Unity Temple, with a its addition to accommodate another 1000 parishioners constructed in 1972. When the congregation outgrew the first church and the additional building, Rev. Colemon designed, constructed, and moved into the current Christ Universal Temple, located on the 100 acre campus at 119th Street and Ashland Avenue in Chicago.
The Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon’s leadership, vision, and love continues to have an impact on a global scale as Christ Universal Temple remains a ‘Light Unto All Humanity.’
From: The History Makers
The Reverend Dr. Johnnie Colemon, founder-minister of Christ Universal Temple, has a message: “Teaching People How To Live Better Lives”. Often referred to as the first lady of America’s religious community, she is the pastor of the thriving, spirited and progressive New Thought Church, which has nearly 20,000 members. Born in Columbus, Mississippi, Colemon was raised in a rich spiritual environment. Her parents, John and Lula Haley, were active members of the church and encouraged their only child to participate. Colemon demonstrated leadership skills early at Union Academy High School, graduating as valedictorian of her class. She received her B.A. at Wiley College and first became a teacher for the Chicago Public Schools and later an analyst for the Quarter Masters.
Open Your Mind and Be Healed is not only the title of her book, but her remarkable personal story of the use of universal principles of healing. After learning that she had an incurable disease in 1952, with encouragement from her mother, Colemon enrolled in the Unity School of Christianity, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, where she received her teaching certificate and became an ordained minister.
Colemon is a builder and a teacher. She has built six structures to spread the better living teachings: three churches, two institutions of learning and a restaurant and banquet facility. The first church was Christ Unity Temple built in 1956 and its addition in 1973. The congregation expanded to the current Christ Universal Temple, located on the sprawling campus grounds at 119th Street (named Rev. Johnnie Colemon Drive in 1996) and Ashland Avenue in Chicago. Close to 4,000 people flock every Sunday and are taught how to think, rather than what to think. Her experiences compel her to share with others: “Change Your Thoughts and Change Your Life.” Out of a sense of knowing that a need for a vital, new affiliation of independent New Thought Churches existed, Colemon’s dynamic leadership led to the organization of the Universal Foundation for Better Living, Inc., an international association of New Thought Christian Churches and study groups located in the USA and abroad.
Her civic positions include Director of the Chicago Port Authority and Commissioner of the Chicago Transit Authority Oversight Committee, recognition as one of Chicago’s Living Legends by the Institute for African American Youth Development. She was honored by DuSable Museum as an African American History Maker.
Colemon is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. She holds the distinction of advancing the New Thought movement and received the Minister of the Century from the International New Thought Alliance (INTA). Colemon was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree from her alma mater, Wiley College in Wiley, Texas; the degrees of doctor of humane letters and doctor of divinity from Monrovia College, Liberia; and a Ph.D. in humane letters from Gospel Ministry Outreach (GMOR). Other honors include proclamations from the States of Illinois and Michigan; the City of Chicago; the Ohio House of Representatives; the Michigan Legislature; the City of Oakland, California; Miami, Florida and many others.