Madeline Johnson

Madeline Johnson was the founder and past President of Cooperative ESL Ministries Society. She also founded the Agape Language Centre. She holds a Bachelor of Education degree and a TESOL Diploma.

Madeline was a music and school teacher, as well as a pastor’s wife for many years. She and her husband Mel pioneered the first church, children’s, youth and women’s programs in the “new” oil town of Swan Hills, AB. She also worked alongside Mel in World Vision, joining him on several trips assessing World Vision projects in Central America, Africa and Asia.

In 1985-86 she took additional training at SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology) and subsequently was employed there for eight years. She served two terms as the first woman elected board member in her Calgary church. The Johnsons were blessed with three sons, three daughters-in-law, seven grandchildren.


CESLM started with a vision in 1999. During a prayer meeting while reading John 17 Madeline was inspired by Jesus’ words in verses 21 and 23, showing how believers would be one “so that the world would believe.” Since 1997 Madeline had been leading Agape Language Centre in Calgary and saw firsthand how God was using it in the lives of everyone—teachers, students and church members. Realizing that more churches needed to start ESL programs to reach out in love to newcomers in a way that the world would see we are one family, Madeline shared this with others who caught the vision and “put their shoulders to the wheel.”

CESLM’s first Mini-TESL Conference for church-based ESL programs was held in January 2001 at Rocky Mountain College with 28 attendees. By September of that year, CESLM held its second conference with attendance doubling to 59 people. By the third conference in 2002, it was clear that Calgary’s Christian community was catching onto the vision of welcoming newcomers through ESL—with 100 people in attendance. In 2002 CESLM applied for and received non-profit society status in Alberta and federal charitable status in 2004.

In March 2007, CESLM received a grant from the Language Training Department of Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry (now Alberta Employment & Immigration) for a Project Manager for Intercultural Appreciation and Competence. In August 2008 CESLM received another grant from the Alberta government to hire three more individuals for the positions of Community Relations and Advocacy, Training Events and Financial Administration, as well as Curriculum Research and Revision.

In October 2008, Madeline Johnson retired as President of CESLM to spend more time with her family and enjoy some much-deserved rest. CESLM is grateful to everyone who has embraced its vision over the past years, turning vision into reality with many churches offering ESL classes, Bible studies or conversation groups in Calgary and surrounding areas.

If you wish to make a contribution to the work of Cooperative ESL Ministries, please see our donation page. Thank you!!