Obituary for Rev. Dr. John Carson

John Little Carson, 78, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Wednesday, September 13, 2023. He passed away peacefully at Elizabeth House Hospice in Hendersonville, NC.

John was born in Wilmington, NC, on January 31, 1945, as the youngest son of Everett Crawford Carson, Sr., and Emmeline Mayme Little Carson, and brother to Everette (Rhett) Crawford Carson, Jr. A lifelong learner, John earned a B.A. from Erskine College (Due West, SC) in 1967, a M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson, MS) in 1973, and a Ph.D. from University of Aberdeen (Scotland) in 1988.

John met his beloved wife, Sarah Ellen Patrick Carson, while attending Erskine College, and they married in 1967. Following graduation, John taught and coached at Ashley High School before going on to earn an M.Div. from Reformed Theological Seminary. After serving as pastor of Ebenezer Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) Church (Charlotte, NC), he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. After serving as Professor of Theology and Church History at Erskine Theological Seminary, John served as Senior Pastor at First ARP Church (Gastonia, NC). In 1998, John became the 13th President of Erskine College and Seminary where he faithfully served through 2005. Following his presidency, John and Sarah Ellen traveled extensively to Africa where John taught in multiple seminaries, including African Bible University and African Reformation Theological Seminary in Uganda.

John chaired multiple Boards and Committees of the ARP General Synod & First Presbytery, including as Vice Moderator of the ARP General Synod (1982-1983) and Moderator (1989-1990). In 1991, he served as Chairman of the North American Presbyterian & Reformed Council. In 1993, he served as the Program Chairman for the Westminster Assembly 350th Commemoration. John co-edited To Glorify and Enjoy God: A Commemoration of the Westminster Assembly.

In addition to Sarah Ellen, who loved and joyfully ministered alongside him, John was dearly loved by his four children: Marana Carson Basie (John), Emma Carson Pike (Colby), Rebekah Jean Carson, James Everette “Rhett” Carson (Kathy); and 10 beloved grandchildren: Patrick, Rebekah Ruth, and Rachel Basie; Carson and Reid Pike; Eben, Emily Jane, Marie, John E., and Katie Jo Carson. John cherished and took immense joy in watching his grandchildren grow in their love for the Lord.

John lived to glorify the Lord and enjoy Him. His life verse was Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 16, 2023, at 2:00 pm at Bonclarken Conference Center Chapel in Flat Rock, NC, followed by a reception. A private burial will be held for the immediate family.

Family and friends who are unable to attend the service at Bonclarken may view the live stream courtesy of Pinecrest ARP Church:

In lieu of flowers, donations be made to the following: “John & Sarah Ellen Carson Scholarship and Global Theological Education Initiative” (SEED Ministry) (, Bonclarken Conference Center (, or Erskine College (

3 thoughts on “Obituary for Rev. Dr. John Carson”

  1. Having known Dr. Carson as neighbors living in Bonclarken, I am grateful for our brief time together. Both he and Sarah Ellen manifested an aroma of Christ toward all who were blest to meet them. His life and race run so very well will remain a model of faith, hope and love for me.

  2. The world is a little colder today. Our dear friend has gone to be with Jesus, and we (as well as African Bible University and SO many others) will miss this kind, gentle soul. He modeled the love of Christ to all who knew him. We are praying for his sweet Sarah Ellen and the entire family.

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