In college Elder Paul Vere Johnson of the First Quorum of the Seventy was preparing for dental school and planned to take over his father’s practice.
He was also teaching at the language training mission, the precursor to the Missionary Training Center. Elder Johnson does not remember a moment when he knew dentistry was no longer in his future, but he does remember the reaction from two important people when he told them seminary teaching was in his future.
First was his father’s: “If I had chosen something different, I would have become a teacher.”
The second was his fiancée’s. She began to cry. She had secretly wanted to marry a seminary teacher because of a family she once knew. She always loved the feeling in their home.
Elder Johnson was born in Gainesville, Florida, on June 24, 1954, to Vere Hodges Johnson and Winefred Amacher Johnson. He grew up in Logan, Utah, and married Leslie Jill Washburn in the Logan Utah Temple on August 18, 1976.
Elder Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in zoology at Brigham Young University. He earned a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from BYU and a doctorate in instructional technology from Utah State University.
Elder Johnson taught seminary for 12 years in Arizona and Utah. He has since worked in a variety of curriculum development and administrative positions in the Church Educational System in Salt Lake City, including as administrator of religious education.
His years of working with youth and young adults has taught him at least one thing: the future of the Church is bright. “The prophets talk about this generation, and what they say is true. There are extremely strong young people in the Church.”
Prior to his call to the First Quorum, Elder Johnson served as an Area Seventy, counselor in a stake presidency, stake high councilor, bishop, and ward Young Men president. He served in the Norway Oslo Mission.