Month: April 2019


JUTN presented student awards, recognitions, scholarships April 25

KNOXVILLE – Johnson University and its individual schools presented awards and recognized students in the last chapel of the semester, April 25.

There were approximately 200 students that made the Dean’s List. This consisted of those who carried at least 12 credit hours and held a grade point average of 3.67 to 4.00. Out of those students, 47 achieved a 4.00 for the Fall 2018 semester.

Beth Ridge was awarded the Friends of Students Award for being so dedicated and invested in the students of Johnson University.

17 seniors who served as Presidential Ambassadors were recognized. These seniors were Hannah Baker, Nathan Bloomfield, Ashley Curtis, Austin Garrett, Cameron Jeffries, Hunter Long, Zach McPherson, Sara Martin, Yeni Martinez, Isaac Morris, Rebekah Owsley, Shae Pierre-Jean, Nick Ridenour, Jacob Smith, Jordan VandenHeuvel, Lauren Warden, and Julia Yule.

Scholar Athletes, All-Region Teams, All Americans, and the Pete Maravich Award Recipient, Taylor Gilpin, were recognized.

In addition, the School of Arts and Sciences, School of Bible and Theology, School of Business and Public Leadership, School of Communication and Creative Arts, School of Congregational Ministry, School of Intercultural Studies, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and the Templar School of Education provided awards and scholarships to students.


A year in review

KNOXVILLE – In the words of President Tommy Smith, “This has been a year of celebration.” At the end of his first year in office Smith feels like he has accomplished a few of the goals he walked in with.

Among those goals was: being a student friendly president, putting an emphasis on athletics, math and science, and getting the ARC finished while working on the strategic plan of the university.

In regard to his first goal of being a student friendly president, Smith said that he wanted to make as many events student oriented as possible. He also said that he wanted to be an accessible president to the students.

“I want students to know that they can come talk to me,” Smith said. “I may not always do what they want me to do, but I will be glad to listen and really hear their concerns.”

His second goal of putting an emphasis on athletics, math and science Has also been successful, according to Smith. The ARC is almost finished and will open in mid-May and Smith and First Lady Debbie Smith have also been to a lot of athletic events this year. The university has hired a new math professor, according to Provost Jon Weatherly, and is also in the process of hiring a new chemistry professor.

Weatherly said that former President Gary Weedman “crystalised” the idea of a Third Way institution that Smith has embodied well and carried on in. Weatherly is glad that Smith is putting an emphasis on math and science, and says that he hopes the progress that is being made in those fields will boost enrollment and the intellectual diversity of the student body. Weatherly hopes that the addition of new resources to these fields will increase overall student awareness and ability within these fields.

“We have all heard the jokes about Johnson math,” Weatherly said. “But soon those jokes won’t add up. It will quickly become inappropriate to say ‘I can’t answer that because I go to Johnson and I can’t do math’. It will be ‘I go to Johnson, I have friends that do math.”

Weatherly also says that he is happy with the current state of the faculty and how they have continued to progress this year. He also pointed out that professors go through the same challenges everyone does, and he hopes that they realize that they are loved and supported by everybody at Johnson.

“Those kinds of experiences continue to transform them to better teachers in the regard that they become more mature exemplars of genuine Christian faith,” Weatherly said.

In regard to Smith’s third goal, the ARC will be open on May 19, and the administration is working on the new master plan for the future of the university. He says in the years to come the focus will be on deferred maintenance that needs to be done. He also says they are talking about what the next big project will be, which he says could be transforming the gym in the PW to an 1100 seat chapel.

Freshman Drew Algate says that he feels he has been adequately challenged academically this year but ultimately loves the “uncommon community” of Johnson. Junior Micah Magee says that he concurs with Algate.

“Junior year was the most challenging year,” Magee said. “It was a great semester. I finished up my last semester of Greek…yeet! I loved the culture of the dorms. It’s something that I’m not going to have next semester, so I have been trying to take it all in.”

Smith ultimately says that chapel has been good, student morale is up and that he is encouraged by the success of the capital campaign so far. He has plans for a busy summer, but is excited for what next year will bring.


Johnson University Women’s Conference to be held May 17-18

KNOXVILLE – The Johnson University Women’s Conference happening this May will be a way to relax and dive into God’s word. The event will be held May 17-18.

The theme for this year’s conference is Sincerely Beautiful. There will be workshops, worship, and fellowship with other women. The main speaker for this event is Wendy Fitzgerald from “If Then Move” ministry.

There will be housing and meals on campus available when registering for the event. The pricing for the event depends on whether a person stays on campus or not. It is $70 to stay on campus and $45 if staying off campus.



Annual Spring Retreat brought youth to Johnson once again

KNOXVILLE— During the weekend of April 12-14, churches from all over the country came together for another yearly weekend of Spring Retreat at Johnson University.

This is a time when churches bring both middle and high school students. Johnson students host them in their very own rooms for a couple of nights, while some groups stayed in additional dorm housing.

This event began Thursday night and ran all the way through Saturday evening when the final worship event took place.

Terrence Talley spoke Saturday. He left listeners with the theme of forgiveness and not living with the labels that others may place on them.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the different organizations as well as the students to get involved with the community outside of the Johnson bubble. Many get involved to help volunteer and lead students including Resident Assistants and members of Student Government Association. They encouraged students to better help understand that they are not alone in this life when they live a life committed to Christ.

The weekend finished out with a worship night that also served as a chapel makeup for JUTN students.

A senior in high school, who was a part of the spring retreat, won a preaching contest and had the opportunity to speak in front of all of the churches and college students who attended the worship night. This was a great way for the students as well as the parents and faculty to spend time in the presence of God before returning to the regular routine of school and work during the spring time.


Founder’s Day 2019 led students to tour almost-finished ARC

KNOXVILLE – Johnson University Founder’s Day provided the students with a day off from classes to celebrate their educational institution.

The morning began with the Founder’s Day chapel service where a video celebrating the university was presented. President Tommy Smith and Ashton Merriman, the Student Body President, spoke. The main focus of the morning was the new Athletic and Recreation Complex which is almost complete.

President Smith led the students to tour the ARC for the first time since the interior of the building has developed further. He requested students walk to the ARC two-by-two in a parade fashion.

The building will officially open within a month or two and the building dedication will be held in August, after the new semester starts.

The winners of the Preacher Grand Prix with President Smith.

Many students participated in the Founder’s Day events which included a dodge ball tournament, a frisbee tournament, kickball, and a cookout lunch which was accompanied with Fried Oreos and Lemon Shakeups.

The Preacher Grand Prix was held in the evening. The senior class one the event.

The evening held more events, with a A Bar-b-Que dinner held outside of the ARC.


Opinion: The Church Should be for the broken

A few months ago I woke up on a Sunday morning and went to church. While I was parking my car and walking into the building, I saw a couple having what seemed to me like a somewhat heated argument. However, not even one minute later when I saw that same couple walk into church they were fine and were as joyous as anyone else.

For the past few months, something about that hasn’t really set well with me. I find it hard to believe that they settled their argument that quickly. Even if they did, I would still be surprised that they would be so happy and joyous so quickly afterwards. This piece is not a critique of what that couple did. Rather, this is a call to the Church to be more accepting of the brokenness that walks through its doors every Sunday morning.

The Church should be a place where the broken feel they can walk in, take their masks of “being okay” off and say “here is my problem will you help me?”. Instead, the Church has become a place where we feel we must look our best and pretend like everything is fine. Of course, this does not apply to everyone or all churches, but from my experiences and from experiences I’ve heard from others, this is an epidemic that has been spreading throughout the Church for years.

Galatians 6:2 says “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Paul got it when instructing the early Church. “Carry each other’s burdens.” It’s a simple command to understand but harder to practice. The Church should be a place where we can walk in and get help or be encouraged to keep fighting the good fight. It shouldn’t be a place where we feel we have to be all dressed up and put on masks of “being okay.”

I even remember times in my own life where I was going through hard times and yet I didn’t feel like church was a place where I could be real and be vulnerable. At times when I was at an all time low and going through the worst of my depression and anxiety, I didn’t feel like I could get any relief at church. In fact, I felt like I had to be ashamed and hide my problems. I fully admit part of that is on me and not be willing to be open, but part of that also lies on how we have been behaving in the Church for years now. It wasn’t any one person’s fault, but rather the culture of having to be “okay” or be better than somebody else that has been permeating for years now that caused this problem. I eventually did open up and the church was actually where I got a lot of the help I needed and the relief I sought so desperately, but I should have been able to walk right in and get that help instead of feeling like I had to jump through a hundred social hoops before I could.

It would be easy to make this statement about how the Church needs to be better at being for the broken people and then leave it at that but that doesn’t solve the problem. So, here are a few things I think the Church can do better.

First, let’s create cultures of trust and openness. If somebody needs help to get through something, they need to know that they can confide in people in 100% confidence. They need to know that what they tell them won’t be spread outside of the church. People need to know they can be vulnerable without being gossiped about five minutes later. It also means that we cannot judge others for things they are going through or things they have done. This change will not happen overnight. It will take time.

That actually brings us to the second thing we must do: be willing to invest in others. If this is going to work and if the Church is truly going to become a place for the broken, it is going to require time from people. Not just from those on the church staff but also those in the congregation. 2 Corinthians 9: 6-7 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We have to sow generously into others but we shouldn’t do this because we feel like we have to. We need to work on reorienting our hearts so that we want to be there for others. If we’re able to do this, we will be able to build a community of people who want to be there for the broken. One of the best ways we can do this is by creating and actively and consistently participating in small groups. Not only does this help stimulate the culture of belonging in the Church but it also creates specific, dedicated time to be open with others and to engage with one another in healthy ways.

It also means though that thirdly we must be genuine. If we are feeling great and life is going well, then let’s be honest about that and celebrate together. If we are feeling down and life isn’t going so well, then let’s be honest and support one another together. The only way this is going to work is if we take off our masks and say, “here I am.” This will only work if we are fully open with one another and the only way that will happen is if we create cultures of trust and are willing to invest our time.

I fully and freely admit I am not the best at this. I fully admit my flaws and how I have fed into this culture of needing to be “okay” on Sunday mornings. However, this doesn’t me that I or anyone else who has been a part of this culture can’t change. Imagine how much better the Church could be at fulfilling its role as a house of worship and a place for believers to love one another if we were able to accomplish this.

The church should be there for the broken. So let us here and now start making progress towards that goal. Let us not only do it for ourselves but also for the millions of people out there who are broken and need our love.


Health and Wellness Fair, Medic Blood Drive had contrasting results

KNOXVILLE – Johnson University’s Public and Global Health majors and the JU Health services office’s Health and Wellness Fair and Medic Blood Drive had mixed results this past Tuesday.

The Health and Wellness Fair had quite a few spectators in attendance, however, the blood drive’s numbers were lower than hoped for.

Cindi Norton, a professor of Health Education at Johnson, was very pleased with how many people supported the Health and Wellness Fair.

“It was very successful, a good turnout,” Norton said. “We were encouraged by the participation of faculty, staff, and students.”

She stated that they were very grateful for the items that were given for door prizes by various local businesses and individuals.

The blood drive was not as successful this year. Only 30 blood donations were made. 10 additional people attempted to donate but could not due to various reasons.

“I had hoped for at least twice this number and will need to do a better job educating our community on the importance of blood donating,” Kealy Mead, Health Services Coordinator at Johnson, said.

Mead stated that the Medic employees said they believe something in the culture may be changing, especially with the younger generation, leading them to have a lower number of donations everywhere.


Founders’ Day celebration to take place Thursday

KNOXVILLE – Johnson University’s Founder’s Day, which will be held April 11, is a tradition of Johnson University, during which the campus community celebrates the day Johnson was founded.

For means of celebration, students, as well as faculty and staff and their families, and other friends of the JU community will join together for a day of no classes and a full schedule of planned activities, with the goal of providing fun for all.

Some of the plans for the day include, but are not limited to, a cookout on the patio of the Gally Commons, recess time, which includes a mixture of stations that participants can visit in order to participate in some of the fun, Fried Oreos and Lemon Shakeups, several athletic tournaments, the Preacher Grand Prix, as well as many other activities.

The day’s affairs will begin with a 9 a.m. chapel session, which has been altered in accordance with the day’s plans, and will continue throughout the entire day, until approximately 11 p.m.

Everyone is encouraged to participate in the activities for this year’s Founder’s Day. A full schedule can be viewed below.



Alumni Feature: Kayla Bowman

KISSIMMEE— Kayla Bowman works as Choir Director and Elementary Music Teacher at Mountain Missions School (MMS) in Virginia.

Bowman graduated from Johnson University Florida May 2017 with a Musical Arts degree. She and her husband, Eddy Bowman, married shortly after graduation and started working at Mountain Missions school. Eddy serves as a Bible teacher and campus minister.

Mountain Missions School is located in Grundy, Virginia. Founded by Sam Hurley in 1921, MMS is a private, residential school whose mission is to provide care and refuge for children in need. Their story is one of sacrifice and compassion. Over 200,000 children have attended the school with nearly 95% of them continuing their education through college.

The Bowmans were unsure of their future when God provided this unique opportunity. Bowman’s great aunt had worked at MMS for several years when she informed her about the choir director’s resignation. Bowman always wanted to teach music but her imagination had not featured ministry in this way.

According to Bowman, working at MMS has been a unique experience. “The big defining word [for MSS]”, Bowman said, “is different.” Children from different cultures and worship traditions attend to gain an education and a better future.

As Bowman became more involved in leading songs during chapel, she quickly realized the difference. Children are energetic and participative, but not in the same ways.

“The beauty of MMS is being able to connect with students individually,” She said. “Everything is communal here.”

One memorable moment for the couple was when an 8th grader approached Eddy after Bible class concerning baptism. Her guardians had continually removed her from school when she tried to be baptized. She no longer knew what to do. Eddy has been counseling her through this struggle.

When asked who or what from her time at Johnson was most influential in preparing her, Bowman had her answer right away.

The music program faculty,” Bowman said. “They prepared me for everything I needed for this job.”

As Bowman has reflected on her education at Johnson, her main message to current students is “everything you do now matters; it’s all useful even if you don’t see it right now.” She wants students to trust in their professors and build healthy habits before leaving. She has seen all of her studies help her in her full-time job.


JU to host Health and Wellness Fair, Blood Drive Tuesday

KNOXVILLE – Johnson University’s Public Health and Global Community Majors and Health Services Offices are holding a Health and Wellness Fair and Blood Drive on Tuesday.

The Health and Wellness Fair will take place inside the Gally Commons in Private Dining Rooms 1, 2, and 3, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event will feature presentations from students in the areas of essential oils, skin cancer, vision health, and more. The JU Counseling Center, local nutritionists, chiropractors, and other health and wellness providers will be there to provide support and resources.

“The purpose of the fair is just to provide faculty, staff, and students information on health and wellness issues to try to encourage them to have more healthy lifestyles,” Cindi Norton, a professor of Health Education at Johnson, said.

The Medic Blood Drive will be held in the Philips-Welshimer Gym from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. This provides people the opportunity to donate blood to help others in the area. According to Medic, a non-profit blood center and only blood collector and supplier for 27 local hospitals, a single blood donation can help up to three people.

“You can honestly save lives…” Kealy Mead, Health Services Coordinator at Johnson, said. “It really is a direct way where you can impact somebody.”

Medic takes various measures to ensure the safety of both donors and blood recipients.

“Each donor receives what amounts to a mini-physical – blood pressure, temperature, and iron level checks, to make sure you can donate safely,” an article written by Medic states. “The donation needle is only used once, only on you. And every unit of blood is tested for the AIDS virus, hepatitis, and other potentially harmful conditions.”

All donors receive a free Medic gift and a coupon for a free appetizer at Texas Roadhouse. On that day only, donors will also be able to purchase coffee for half price in the Underground with paper showing proof of donation.

Anyone interested in helping with the JU Health and Wellness Fair or Blood Drive in the future may contact Kealy Mead at or Cindi Norton at Any questions about donating blood may be directed to Kealy Mead.