Detroit street corner named for late pastor Wilma Johnson

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She served for nearly two decades at the pulpit -- before losing a lengthy battle with cancer.

And on Wednesday, a special honor for Reverend Wilma Johnson of Detroit's famous New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church.

A new sign went up at the corner of Livernois and Pembroke in Detroit renaming the corner Reverend Wilma Johnson Avenue.

"Pastor Johnson was always passionate about the church being a light and a beacon on this corner," said Rev. April Hearn, New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church.

The renaming is a tribute to Reverend Johnson who lost her battle to lung cancer last September.

Before her passing, she served for nearly 20 years as the leader of New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church.

Her leadership at New Prospect earned her the title of first female pastor of a major African-American Baptist Church in Detroit.

"Her name - as we ride past the sign -  her name will be etched in our memories forever," said Rev. Carnel Richardson.

Johnson would often talk about giving away her joy - which is also the title of one of her books.

And for her, joy meant helping others like the children who attend the school across the street at Louis Pasteur Elementary School.

"She set up the after-school program for us and helped us raise $33,000 to send the kids to see the Endeavor in Titusville, Florida," said Sharon Lawson, principal. 

As a well-respected church leader - Pastor J - as she was affectionately called, made it her mission to make a difference in the lives of not only her congregation, but she also wanted to impact people globally.

"During Hurricane Katrina there was a pastor that Pastor J invited here," said Hearn. "And he thought he was coming to just preach but she gave him $10,000 for the rebuilding of his church and another $10,000 to rebuild his home."

Pastor J leaves behind a legacy that includes musical recordings and published books. Many believe renaming a street corner in her honor is a fitting tribute to her legacy that they will work to continue

"I believe we will now stand on her shoulders," said Rev. Dr. Craig Ester. "As we continue to build and grow this church."