Karl and Julie Johnson attended New Life Presbyterian Church since shortly before they married in 1992, and Karl served as an elder from 2006 until he and Julie relocated to Chattanooga in 2023. Karl was baptized and confirmed at Rye Presbyterian Church, and first came to Ithaca as a student in 1985. He has been very involved in the Ithaca community, including jobs and volunteer work with Cornell Outdoor Education, the Ithaca Youth Bureau, and the Cayuga Trails Club. In 1996 Karl started Cornell Outdoor Education’s Team and Leadership Center.
In 2000 he started Chesterton House, a Center for Christian Studies at Cornell University. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Consortium of Christian Study Centers. Karl also worked for 13 years as Ithaca High School’s assistant soccer coach, and completed a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of recreation. His interests include conservation and human relations with the natural environment—favorite authors include Wendell Berry, Eugene Peterson, and the so-called British literary converts (C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton and company). Karl and Julie have five children and have been featured in the Ithaca Journal.