John Little Carson

January 31, 1945 - September 13, 2023

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.  Rev. Bill Tyson and Rev. John Kimmons to officiate. 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: https://pinecrestarpchurch.org/.

In lieu of flowers, donations be made to the following: “John & Sarah Ellen Carson Scholarship and Global Theological Education Initiative” (SEED Ministry) (https://www.erskine.edu/giving-old/global-education/), Bonclarken Conference Center (https://www.bonclarken.org/donations/mountainclub/), or Erskine College (https://www.erskine.edu/giving/).


Memorial Service

Saturday, September 16, 2023
2:00 PM

Chapel of Bonclarken Conference Center in Flat Rock, North Carolina - Directions
500 Pine Drive
Flat Rock, NC 28731

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  • October 30, 2023
    zoritoler imol says:
    Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

  • September 18, 2023
    Karla Patrick says:
    Dear Carson family, What a blessing it has been to know John and Sarah Ellen as part of the Patrick family over the years. Their deep love for God and for people has always been so evident! We cherish the times we were able to spend with them at White Oak family gatherings and the sweet spirit that always surrounded them. Sending much love to Sarah Ellen and the entire family and rejoicing in the truth that there will be a wonderful reunion with him in your future. Love to all. Johnny and Karla Patrick

  • September 18, 2023
    Jimmy Fayssoux says:
    John was a great athlete. I played football with the Carson boys from the 7th grade thru high school. I was lucky to have known both John and Rhett, what good men. I married an Erskine girl so I have followed John’s journey via the Erskine Alumni news and letters. He is one of the Giants that I crossed paths with. My prayers and thoughts are with the family.

  • September 16, 2023
    Anne Schwarz says:
    Herzliche Anteilnahme für dich, liebe Rebekah und deine ganze Familie. Ich hatte das Vorrecht John in entspannter, familiärer Runde kennenzulernen, wenn er zu Besuch in Berlin war. Ich lernte ihn kennen als jemanden, der freundlich wissbegierig, demütig und humorvoll war. Seine Leidenschaft zu lehren kam aus einem Herzen voll Bewunderung für Gottes Wesen, seiner Wahrheit und Weisheit. Herzliche Anteilnahme, Anne Schwarz

  • September 16, 2023
    Phil and Diane Thrash says:
    Dear Rebekah and Sarah Ellen, We mourn with you at the loss of your dear father and husband, John, who I briefly got to know in Berlin when he visited our team. I won't forget our lunch together, nor will Diane and I forget to pray for God's comfort now and as you grieve. We send our love! Grieving with you, Phil and Diane Thrash