Universal Outreach

Universal Outreach Church

Our Journey

The vision for the formation of Universal Outreach Church was conceived in the heart of our leader in the late 1990s. After much prayer, Pastor Johnson, joined by his wife, Dr. Richel Sion-Johnson, and their children, Ashley & Rendell, began to initiate plans to start a ministry in Irmo, SC. They were also joined by some members from our sister church, Bowman Temple, Bowman, SC, where Pastor Johnson was serving as the Pastor. The first outreach was a community fest held on Saturday April 14, 2001. On the following day, we held a worship service at Harbison West Elementary School with 15-persons in attendance. During those early months, members from Bowman Temple were instrumental in assisting with the outreach programs, the basketball league, the music ministry and in other areas. On Mondays we met with the children in the community in the gym, taught them, provided recreational activities and served them a meal. We served 50-60 children weekly. As these activities increased, the church grew and needed more space. 

In order to meet this need, we purchased a building at 7232 Broad River Road, Irmo, SC, which was subsequently renovated and dedicated in February of 2004. Soon afterwards, we started the Universal Leadership & Arts Academy (ULAA). Through ULAA, we reached out to neighborhood children throughout Irmo. We also partnered with the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice to provide outreach programs for the community. Hundreds of children were served and several families were added to the church through these outreach efforts. Universal has also been actively involved in promoting unity and service among local churches, within and outside of the Church of God in Christ. We were one of the supporting congregations for the Global Day of Prayer in Columbia. This interdenominational, interracial gathering of churches brought thousands of believers together to pray throughout the Midlands, in the Colonial Center, the Columbia Convention Center, and in local churches. Some of our members continue to support prayer and ministry gatherings that grew out of the Global Day of Prayer. 

In the interim, we out grew our facilities in Irmo and looked for a period of time before settling at 25 Bluebird Trail Irmo, SC, in September of 2013. We experienced our greatest growth, established more ministries to our members and expanded our community service during the nearly 3-years that we spent at 25 Bluebird Trail. It was a very significant step on our journey, but it was not to be our destiny. As a church family, we prayed that God would provide us a location in a residential area, where we could better serve and have more direct access to families. Our prayers were answered in August of 2016 as God opened the door for us to relocate to the former Columbia Church campus at 220 North Royal Tower Drive, Irmo, SC, in the heart of Friarsgate, Irmo’s largest residential community.  With the purchase of this property, our ministry has been positioned to fulfill the ministries that will best equip us to make a significant impact in the lives of the people in our city.

Serving Our Community

As a church, we are called to minister to hurting people, just as Jesus did. How we serve those in need: Partnerships & Linking Arms With Other Ministries & Groups: UOC actively partners with local and national organizations and churches to meet the needs of our community, state and world. 

Local groups with whom we have partnered and served:​ Sharing God’s Love, Harvest Hope Food Bank, God Cares Charities, Sister Care, Christ Central Ministries, Food Pantry and Universal Leadership and Arts Academy.

National & International Missions Organizations:​ Our church has provided support to national and international organizations, including: The COGIC Missions Department, COGIC Charities, Life Outreach International and Compassion International

Our Beliefs & Practices

Universal Outreach is a member congregation in the Church of God in Christ, Inc. (930 Mason Street, Memphis, Tennessee). We serve in the Capitol District of the South Carolina Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ. Our pastor, Dr. Alonzo Johnson, is the Superintendent of the Capitol District and he is also an Administrative Assistant to our Jurisdictional Bishop.

Statement of Purpose

Our Purpose is to Share the Message of Jesus Christ by Living, Teaching, and Preaching the Gospel!

Our Goal

Our Goal is to Empower, Train, and Equip Believers to Live Spirit-filled Lives and Walk in Prosperity Through Worship, Evangelism, Fellowship, Teaching, and Service!

Our Name

Our name reflects the heart and soul of our beliefs about God’s world and the human family. All human beings are created from “one blood” and in the image of God (Gen. 1:26; Acts 17:26). We are “universal” because our God is the God of all creation. Our goal is to be a place where anyone can experience God’s love in a loving community of believers. We are universal in love, mission, and vision for God’s people. We are without apology Christian, fervently Pentecostal, firmly biblical, and socially progressive in our ministry.

Dr. Johnson and his wife pictured with their adult children Randell and Ashley.

Meet the Johnsons

Our motto is "A Place That You Can Call Home." Universal Outreach is a group of believers bringing God's love to those who desperately need it in our daily lives and local neighborhood. Pictured are the Johnson family, Universal Outreach founding family.

Dr. Alonzo Johnson, Senior Pastor

In his professional career, Pastor Johnson has served and continues to work in many distinguished  capacities, among them are: member of the Board of Trustees of the Charles Harrison Mason  Theological Seminary, Atlanta, GA and the Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, GA.;  member of the American Academy of Religion; past member of the National Association of  Professional Geriatric Care Managers; Professor of Religious Studies at the University of South  Carolina, Columbia, SC. From 1991-2003; Commissioner of Education for the Church of God in  Christ (COGIC) ; in this capacity, he was the Founding President of All Saints Bible College,  (COGIC) in Memphis, Tennessee (The far-reaching programs which were initiated and/or developed  during his tenure continue to guide the educational programs of the Church of God in Christ to this  day, including All Saints Bible College); Executive Consultant and Dean for the W.L. Bonner College,  Columbia, SC; faculty member at Benedict College, Columbia, SC and Claflin College, Orangeburg,  SC. Moreover, he has been adjunct Professor at McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL and  the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, Columbia, SC.  He was President & CEO of Agape Health Services, LLC, a full-service home health care agency  serving persons throughout South Carolina. The business once employed more than 100 persons in  full and part-time positions, providing skilled and unskilled health care to persons of all ages.  ​   Dr. Johnson was born, reared and educated in the public schools of Goose Creek, SC. He graduated  with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Claflin University. He also has earned a Master of Divinity,  Master of Sacred Theology, Master of Philosophy, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Union  Theological Seminary, New York City.  He has traveled extensively and has authored several books including, Thought You Knew  Everything About Church? Think Again; Good News for the Disinherited; Isn’t Gonna Lay My 'Ligion  Down' and Dancing with The Spirit.  Pastor Johnson enjoys the loving support of his wife and closest confidant, Dr. Richel V. Sion- Johnson; she is the "sweetheart" of Universal Outreach. A native of the Republic of Suriname, she is  avidly committed to missions and community outreach & youth ministries. They are the parents of  two adult children Rendell & Ashley.​

Dr. Richel V. Sion-Johnson, 
​First Lady & Church Administrator

Dr. Richel Sion-Johnson, a gifted teacher, counselor, and administrator, has a special passion for the nurture and care of children, the development of strong family units, and for the promotion of women’s ministries. She was born and reared in the Republic of Suriname, located in South America. Upon graduation, she worked in the banking field. She later relocated to Rotterdam, Holland, where she lived for three years. In 1976, she relocated to New York City. There she joined the First Church of God in Christ in Brooklyn, under Bishops Frank and Ithiel Clemmons. At First Church, she met and later married Elder Alonzo Johnson in July 1982. They moved to South Carolina in April 1986, after her husband was appointed pastor of Bowman Temple C.O.G.I.C. At Bowman Temple, she organized the tutorial program, developed the Children’s church, taught Sunday school, and served as president of the Women’s Department. In the fall of 2000, she organized a Girl Scout troop for local children in their Columbia neighborhood. These efforts helped to lay the foundations for Universal Outreach, which was started in the summer of 2001. Dr. Johnson works in several capacities at Universal, including her role as the Church Administrator. Dr. Johnson is employed as a Psychologist for Richland School District II in Columbia. She has also worked in the same capacity at the Department of Juvenile Justice, Richland School District I and in Lexington School District II. She attended Hunter College and Fordham University in New York and received a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Master’s, and a Ph.D. degree in Psychology from the University of South Carolina.