Archbishop S. Tilewa Johnson, Anglican primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa and a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC), died of a suspected heart attack at the age of 59 on Tuesday 21 January.
According to the Freedom Newspaper in The Gambia, Johnson was playing tennis when he was taken ill.
“He was a highly motivated and effective church leader,” said the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC on hearing of Johnson’s death. “I came to know him in 2013 at the assemblies of both the All Africa Conference of Churches and the WCC.”
“He possessed a strong commitment to the vision of fellowship and common witness and service. His ecumenical leadership internationally and nationally was inspirational,” Tveit added.
An Anglican bishop since 1990, Johnson was elected primate of West Africa in October 2012. In November 2013 at the 10th Assembly of the WCC at Busan, Republic of Korea, he was elected a member of the WCC Central Committee.
Johnson was born on 27 February 1954. He studied in The Gambia, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States. His areas of expertise included church history, missiology, Christian-Muslim relations, international aid and development. From 1970 to 1977, he was a member of the Gambian national basketball team.