Story Magazine - Fall, 2009

Luther Seminary Donor Sees Fruits of Her Labor Nearly a Decade Later

by John Klawiter, M.Div. Junior

Sylvia Johnson impacted Adam Dvorak when he was a fifth-grade Sunday school student, and now he's pursuing biblical studies.

Do you remember your fifth-grade teacher? Now dig a little deeper. Do you remember your fifth-grade Sunday school teacher?

Adam Dvorak does. In fact, when the honor student graduated from North St. Paul High School this spring, he was asked to select a teacher who made a difference. He chose his fifth-grade Sunday school teacher, Sylvia Johnson, at First Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake, Minn.

"Frankly, I was just shocked that I had made such an impression on him," says Johnson. "He said that I took a bunch of very active boys and turned them around. We had a fun class." Johnson is a donor to Luther Seminary, and her late husband, Pastor Dwight Johnson, was one of the founders of the Global Mission Institute.

"In the years after that, even up through high school, I remember seeing her still teaching Sunday school, attending services and just being active around the church," said Dvorak. "She is a model of service and volunteerism." Johnson still teaches Sunday school, and Dvorak is attending Bethel College and working toward a degree in biblical studies.

"Sylvia was a factor in my decision to pursue biblical studies. Not only did she educate me about the basics of my faith, I think she might have planted the seed of my interest in theology," said Dvorak. "She has the heart of a servant. I also have a passion for serving others. I think that passion for serving was probably influenced by the example that Sylvia showed me."