All posts by Staff Report


SPSU prepares for MLK Day march

Members of the JU campus community make posters in preparation for the Knoxville Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade. Anyone in the JU community is invited to march with Students Promoting Social Unity. Vans will leave for the march at 8 a.m., Monday from in front of the PW.


A day in review: campus wide service day




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The Origins: Johnson University K-Day

Knoxville– Johnson University students take the Christian calling to the next level imbedding it into their mission statement and living it out with a day dedicated to serving the Knoxville community.

David Legg, dean of students, said the idea of a campus wide service day was discussed between himself and Dr. Richard Beam, former Vice President of Academics, a few years before the service day was put into effect. Legg said no action was taken on the topic at that time. Later, the Student Government Association approached them about starting a day dedicated to service.

This day is commonly referred to as “K-Day,” or “K-18,” the last two digits representing the year of service.

Every year, SGA plans a day off from classes so students can go out into the surrounding communities to serve. This year, K-Day had an impact on the cities of Knoxville, Maryville, Alcoa, Sevierville, and Seymour. This annual event started on Sept. 9, 2009.

SGA published fliers this year that referred to the service day as a day of remembrance for the lives lost during the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

According to Legg, this day of service was originally intended for students to be able to serve the greater Knoxville community as a school body.

“It [K-Day] gives our students an opportunity to live out who we say we are, as a community,” Legg said.

SGA Representatives on K-Day

While K-18 is only a one-day event for many students on campus, for SGA it is an event that has been in the making for months.

“Today we get to step back and see all the hard work that has been put in over the year,” Ashton Lowery, student body president, said.

The SGA Spiritual Life Committee, headed up by Carli Long, dedicated hours to gather the needs of the Knoxville community and plan for the upcoming service day.

Lowery said that getting students out in the community to serve has always been a challenge. However, when students get started on the day, they immensely enjoy it and want to engage in service more often.

“It’s an adrenaline high of a day of serving,” Lowery said.

Lowery’s first year as student body president has impacted how she participates in K-18. “It’s a learning experience to step back and not do everything myself,” Lowery said “It’s a humbling experience.”

Members of SGA were scattered among the different sites, participating as team leaders.


Bethany Snowden, Senior

Beth Snowden, a member of the Spiritual Life Committee, helped lead a group serving at a local ministry, Knoxville Area Rescue Ministry. Snowden said she had never volunteered at KARM before, but remembered hearing that “they do great ministry downtown.”

Snowden’s group was mainly working on renovating the third floor of the KARM building into a living area called ‘The Berea House.’ Snowden said the house will be a place homeless men can live while also attending classes, work, and participate in community service.

As her team sanded walls, cleaned, painted, replaced ceiling tiles, and polished doors and baseboards, Snowden said, “I like knowing these small things will go towards helping better the life of someone.”

Snowden said the impact of K-18 on students is important.

“It’s great to so manual labor, it helps us gain a servants’ heart,” she said.


Kayla Senor, Sophomore

Kayla Senor, unofficial vice president of the sophomore class, spent the service day leading a group at the Young Women’s Christian Association in East Knoxville.

The ministry has a focus on social justice issues. One aspect of this ministry includes empowering children, helping them with reading and writing skills.

Senor’s group had the opportunity to paint encouraging murals on the bathroom doors and organize supplies, all in hopes to help facilitate a better learning environment for the children.

“I’m really excited to be here because I love social justice and empowering kids,” Senor said. “One of my passions is helping kids to read. It’s really cool that I ended up in a place that fits my passion so well.”

The Student Perspective

JU’s athletic teams were slated to work for the Knoxville Leadership Foundation for their day of service. Each sports team was supposed to be stationed at sites building ramps, along with other household improvements for those in the community who cannot afford to do it themselves.

Due to the significant amount of rain the past few days, KLF decided that the work could not be completed Thursday. Athletic Director Brandon Perry said the athletes will be working on these projects in the upcoming weekends.

For now, the athletes had the opportunity to work at the university, cleaning up the campus grounds.

Some of the athletes and Perry said that they were disappointed the sites were canceled, but are looking forward to helping these people later in the semester.

“I’m kind of disappointed,” Kenyon Helmuth, a member of the class of 2020, said. “I felt it was a great opportunity for the teams to get together and be unified.”

Some of the JU athletic representatives said that K-Day is a great way for the teams and the school to give back to the community and live out the Christian lifestyle.

“To me, K-Day is about giving back to our community,” Perry said.

Some students said they enjoy the opportunity to minister outside of campus, in the local area.

“JU has a K-Day so students have an opportunity to give back to the community, so that we can serve and show God’s love,” Luci Evans, a member of the class of 2022, said.

Students hope K-Day is impactful 


L. Thomas Smith Jr. inaugurated as Johnson University’s seventh president

Written by Drew Tapp and Jenna Stahlman

KNOXVILLE   On Friday, Sept. 21, at 3 p.m., in the Phillips-Welshimer gym, Johnson University inaugurated its seventh president, L. Thomas Smith Jr.

Various faculty, institutional leaders, community members, students, and others, welcomed those in attendance    in person and online via livestream.

“Your presence also represents your participation, prayer and encouragement towards the achievement of Johnson University’s mission and your prayerful support of Dr. Smith’s role in leading the pursuit of that mission,” said Jon Weatherly, Provost. “For those we are especially grateful.”

Former President Gary Weedman gave his thoughts titled “Reflections of a Presidential Mentor” to encourage and show support for his successor.

“As provost you had to deal with deans, faculty and accrediting agencies,” said Weedman. “Now you have a Board of Trustees and senior administrators and staff and faculty and the budget. You have students and parents and alumni and friends of the university, and the budget…You have a wife and children and grandchildren and in-laws and yes, the budget. You get the point.”

Smith was welcomed into presidency with three gifts    a Bible that was compiled and signed by Ashley S. Johnson, the founder of the university, a medallion with the college motto, and a portrait of himself which will be hung in the Marble Hallway of the Phillips-Welshimer Building, beside the portraits of the previous six presidents.

 The Board of Trustees, the campus community, and the extended community all pledged to pray for the new president.

Former President David Eubanks also spoke and encouraged Smith with charges from Jesus, Paul, and other various biblical figures.

Smith gave his inaugural address which was titled “Take Care Lest We Forget” from Deuteronomy 6:10-13. In it he said that he and the university must not forget to take care of the great gifts that we have inherited from those who have gone before us and charged the university to be a good steward of its many gifts.

The Johnson University choirs performed throughout the event.

Following the ceremony, was a reception at the White House lawn where students, staff and alumni were invited to socialize and celebrate with the new president and first lady.



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JU Students celebrate alongside new president

The student event kicked off at 6 p.m. with the Cruze Farm ice-cream truck on campus to give away ice-cream to the students, faculty, and campus guests. Other events included games like Kan Jam, corn hole, and 9 Square Up in the Air which President Smith played along with students.


President Smith and some of the students who played with him in 9 Square Up in the Air.

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Morgan Kast, a sophomore majoring in Intercultural Studies, said that she is excited to see what President Smith will do for the university.

“…I think that he’s a really humble leader already,” Kast said. “I can see that off the bat, so I’m really excited and I think that he’ll do great things for our school.”


Morgan Kast

Kast also said that she enjoyed the events of the day.

It was really unique and it was really cool to be able to be a part of history for our school, because something like that will probably not happen (again) before I graduate,” Kast said.



Nike’s controversial advertisement sparks discussion at JU

Written by Domanic Hildebrand, Sydney Mckneelen, Bekah Ochs, Kayla Slichter, and Jenna Stahlman, Royal Scribe Staff


Photo from

The story behind the ad

Nike, one of the top shoe and athletic apparel companies in the world, known for its iconic slogan “Just Do It,” recently announced the face of its 30th-anniversary campaign. Nike picked Colin Kaepernick,  the controversial, former NFL quarterback, to be the iconic face of the new advertisement.

Kaepernick is known for inspiring players to kneel during pregame national anthem activities at football games. He began kneeling in protest of racial injustice back in 2016. This act of protest quickly became a popular movement among NFL players. This caused an uproar from a variety of Americans across the nation, all debating whether or not kneeling during the national anthem is considered disrespectful.

When the Kaepernick advertisement initially aired, Nike stock started to fall. However, according to Nike’s website, a few days later their stocks had regained all lost value and increased by four percent.

According to, political figures including President Donald Trump, have spoken out against the campaign and Nike’s decision to have Kaepernick as the face of their advertisement. Some of those politicians are now stepping back from their words, like Louisiana Mayor Ben Zahn who banned the purchase of Nike products in local facilities.

The Kaepernick advertisement has the phrase, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” This phrase and the likeness of the Nike advertisement has now become an internet “meme” sensation.

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The history behind Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign is rooted in the idea that they wanted to break their market scope of just athletes and widen the scope to everyone. According to, the campaign was successful when, after its 1988 launch, Nike’s sales increased by 1,000 percent. Nike officials credit the campaign with keeping the company financially afloat that year.

JU athletes see Nike campaign as business move

Some student-athletes at JU believe that the recent Nike campaign was a financial choice.

Riley Reinhardt, a JU tennis athlete, Journey Bennington, a JU frisbee team member, and Kandace Troxell, a JU volleyball athlete, share similar views on the recent Nike campaign. The student-athletes said that the recent signing with Kaepernick was a financial play.

Journey Bennington

“Most businesses need to take risks to make money and I think that is what Nike did,” Bennington said.

Similar to what Bennington stated, Reinhardt said, “Nike is a corporation, so they are going to do what every corporation does, and that is make money.”

“He [Kaepernick] is a provocative character and Nike has made more money because they chose Colin Kaepernick, because people are talking about it,” Reinhardt said. “It doesn’t really affect me because I understand that Nike is a business and they want to make money.”

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Kandace Troxell

Within the past year, Johnson University signed a six-year contract with Adidas. According to Ben fair, Assistant Athletic Director, the decision was made before the Nike campaign.

“We explored all of our options,” Fair said. “Adidas was going to give us a quality product at the best price.”

JU athletes propose alternative representative for Nike campaign

All three student-athletes advocated for a different icon to represent the Nike company. This does not change their views on the quality of the merchandise.

Both Reinhardt and Troxell suggested that Lebron James would be a strong representation for the tagline that Nike created with their campaign, “Just do it, even if it means sacrificing everything,”

“I don’t think that Nike had to pick some provocative athlete,” Reinhardt said. “I’m not a huge fan of Lebron James but what he has done in the community has been a great example of how athletes should give back and how athletes should set an example for how they want to lead their communities.”

Troxell agreed.

“He definitely cares about social justice and he is well-liked by most people…”

According to GiveMeSport, Lebron James, basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, is a strong example of what a sacrificial athlete should look like.

Reinhardt, Troxell and Bennington agreed that the campaign does not impact whether they will buy Nike products in the future.

Though some feel the financial play Nike made by choosing Kaepernick may not have been the best representation for a sacrificial athlete, the choice has brought an increase in publicity and sales.

While these student-athletes may not have agreed with the choice, the recent campaign has not phased them enough to alter their relationship with Nike.

JU athletes’ opinions on Kaepernick’s sacrifice

JU athletes had varying opinions on whether or not Kaepernick sacrificed everything when he decided to kneel in protest of social injustice on the football field.

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“In speaking out for what he believed in, he sacrificed what was his everything – which was his football career,” Trent Fleming, JU basketball player, said.

Others believe that he made the decision to take a stance on his own, so the repercussions are his to deal with.

“He chose to separate himself from the notions of the NFL,” Thomas Williams, JU baseball player, said.

Troxell believes that Kaepernick sacrificed his career. However, she said it is a far cry from military sacrifice.

“I think a lot of people will compare that to military sacrificing everything, which I think is a pretty stark contrast,” Troxell said.

Troxell said that she does believe Kaepernick sacrificed his career and reputation. “He was a really well known, really liked football player until he made the stance, and now he’s very much hated by a lot of people and he can’t play football ever again,” she said.

Troxell said that she believes Kaepernick did not intend to disrespect military, but that he only wanted to shed light on social injustice in the country. However, she said many others who are familiar with this controversy view it differently.

“I have a brother who is in the military, so for me it has kind of always been a struggle, because I understand where he’s coming from, but I also understand why these people are mad,” she said.

Troxell said she comes from a large military family, and her brother, Jake Troxell, has served in the Navy for a year and a half. She said because of this, she understands what sacrifice means to those who serve and their loved ones.

Reinhardt said that another face he believes would represent Nike’s sacrifice campaign well would be Pat Tillman. According to USA Today, others agree with this as well.

After the September 11 attacks, Tillman left his NFL career behind in 2002 to enlist in the United States Army as an Army Ranger, so that he could fight for his country. In 2004, Tillman was killed by friendly fire while serving in Afghanistan.

Pat Tillman

Pat Tillman representing the Nike campaign in a mock ad (Photo from

JU athletes indifferent to sporting Nike gear

The impact on the athletes’ relationships with the company is minimal. The students who were interviewed for this story, and who purchased and wore Nike products before, said they are going to continue doing so without any thought over the politics of it.

Troxell said that since she believes Nike chose Kaepernick as the face of their campaign simply as a financial move, it does not necessarily make her want to purchase more Nike products.

“I don’t think it’s changed a lot, especially because I don’t think it’s a lot of a social justice move on their part,” Troxell said. “I think maybe if I felt that way I would like Nike more, but I just think that they did it from a financial standpoint.”

The Biblical perspective from JU student and Staff

Whether they agree with it or not, Kaepernick’s definition of sacrifice has caught the attention of fellow Christians.

Cal Kinman, a preaching and youth ministry major, defined sacrifice as “giving up one’s desires or aspirations for the sake of a greater cause.”

In Christianity, the ultimate sacrifice was Jesus dying on the cross. In comparison to this, Kinman said he believes that Kaepernick had more selfish intentions with his sacrifices.

Rafael Rodriguez, Professor of New Testament, agreed with Kinman, saying, the ad itself had selfish intentions behind it. “Nike cares less about Colin Kaepernick and more about you,” he said. “What Nike actually wants you to do is buy their products.”

On terms of biblical sacrifice, Rodriguez compares Jesus on the cross to the shoe company’s advertisement.

“Jesus on the cross — there is a picture of sacrifice where I can say, ‘that cost him something,’” he said. “Then I look at a shoe company using that same word [sacrifice], I’m going to get a bit cynical about that.”

“Buying shoes is different than sacrifice. Buying shoes is consumerism,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not a bad thing, but not a noble thing either.”

Heather Gorman, Associate Professor of New Testament, defined sacrifice as “giving up yourself or something that is yours, for the benefit of others.”

Gorman said she actually finds similarities between the actions of Kaepernick and what Jesus did for his people.

She said, “The idea of sacrificing your reputation for the good of others, especially the oppressed and those experiencing injustice, is very consistent with what we see in the Bible.”




Fall semester brings all new changes in Royal Scribe staff

Staff Photo-1

Johnson University’s official student publication, The Royal Scribe, has brand new staff for the 2018-19 academic year.

InezThe new advisor for the Royal Scribe is Inez Reyes. Inez joined Johnson last semester as a speech professor. She graduated from Orangeburg Wilkinson High School in South Carolina. She then received her Bachelor’s in Marketing from South Carolina State University and her Master’s in Media Communications from Governors State University. Her hobbies include reading, teaching, sewing, and building things. Some of her passions include health and nutrition, as well as God and His love for humanity. She is married to Mubanga Chisulo. She has two daughters – Dania Reyes, 14, and Anya Reyes, 7. Her favorite thing about Johnson is the atmosphere and the friendliness of the campus.

Jenna-1Jenna Stahlman is the Editor of the Royal Scribe. She was born and raised in Summerville, PA. She graduated from homeschooling in 2016. This was also when her family moved to the Sevierville, TN area. She is majoring in mass communications. Although she is not yet sure what career path she wants to pursue, she would love to be involved in the horse or rodeo industry in some way. Her hobbies and passions include her horse Rusty, hiking, fishing, photography, being in nature, and southern culture. She is a country music enthusiast, specifically older country. She also has a cat and dog. Her favorite thing about Johnson is the beautiful setting of the campus, the relationships she has made so far, and the doors that have opened, bringing new opportunities.

drewDrew Tapp is Royal Scribe’s Assistant Editor. He graduated from Southport High School in Indianapolis, IN. He is a freshman studying Preaching and Youth Ministry. In addition to working in youth ministry, Drew hopes to obtain his master’s and doctorate in the New Testament. One thing he would enjoy in the future is watching a kid bring their friend to Christ and then baptizing them, as he has a heart for middle and high school students and believes that they will radically change the world. Some of his hobbies include crosswords, watching Netflix, and spending time with friends. His passions include working with refugees and supporting his friends. He wanted to attend Johnson because of the belonging he felt when visiting, and the great ministry program. He appreciates the uncommon community and the support and love people give each other at Johnson.  His favorite thing about the local area is getting to the top of a hike and looking out at the view. It reminds him that things in life may seem big and impossible to deal with, but in reality are quite small, and he serves a great God who will help him through them.

MadisonMadison Buchanan is Copy Editor of the Royal Scribe. She graduated from Robinson High School in Robinson, IL. She is currently a junior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English. With that, she hopes to teach middle school or high school English. In addition, Madison hopes to work with missional organizations and write for them. She also desires to publish a book someday. Her hobbies include reading, hanging out with family and friends, and listening to music. Her passions are writing, tennis, and social justice. She has a Husky/Shepherd named Sully, and two cats. Madison desired to go to a Christian University that offered an English degree, where she thought she would be challenged, in both her major and her faith. She loves the community of Johnson. Her favorite thing about the Smoky Mountains are the beautiful views, as she is from a state where everything is flat and in cornfields.

kyara.pngKyara Vinales is a reporter for the Royal Scribe from the Florida campus. Her hometown is Kissimmee, FL. She graduated from Gateway High school just down the street from campus. She is a senior pursuing a Bachelor’s in Worship Ministry. She hopes to be able to use that to facilitate worship in a unique way. She desires to serve along side her husband, Isaias, who wants to become a pastor. Her hobbies include playing guitar and singing, painting, drawing, and crocheting. Kyara is passionate about helping people and discipling them, and incorporating art into the Christian faith as another way of worship. In searching for a college, she wanted one that was close to home and based off of the  Word of God, and Johnson fit that. Her favorite thing about Johnson is how Scripture based the university is and that they require students to major in Bible and Theology in addition to their chosen major.


SPSU to host night of worship,prayer

KNOXVILLE— Students Promoting Social Unity will host a night of worship from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., April 27 in the PW Gym. The theme of the worship night is “Rise out of the darkness.” This event will count as a chapel makeup opportunity.

The night will consist of worship, a guest speaker, a testimony and time of prayer. Guest speaker, Pamela Laws, will be speaking on the healing power of the cross.

SGA is coming alongside SPSU in hosting this event. The first 100 through the door will receive a wrist band to remember the evening. Refreshments will be served in the Marble Hallway following the event.

This event is a continuation of raising awareness and serves as the third event held on campus. During the 2017-18 year, SPSU has focused on starting the conversation and raising awareness regarding all forms of abuse.

In November, SPSU started the conversation by hosting a panel discussion focused on breaking the silence on abuse. SPSU then hosted a self defense class in February to offer education and raise more awareness on campus.

SPSU invites all the Johnson community to attend and continue to raise awareness.


Lack of women in church leadership concerning to some

By Madison Buchanan and Drew Hudnall 

Royal Scribe Reporters 

KNOXVILLE — With the rise of the female empowerment movement, some people feel that evangelical groups, and some programs at Johnson University, are behind the times.


The Phillips-Wellshimer building stands at the center of the Johnson University Tennessee campus. (Provided by Johnson University)

Some students and faculty have noticed a lack of women in preaching and church leadership roles within the evangelical movement.

JU Seeks to equip students for Christian ministry, and one of the degrees offered at the university is Preaching and Church Leadership.

While Johnson enrolls both men and women in the program, statistics show a disparity in the gender demographics of students.

According to Johnson’s website, this academic year, only 6 percent of the students enrolled in the Tennessee Campus’ Preaching and Church Leadership major are women.

Women comprise 52 percent of the JUTN student body.

Daniel Overdorf, Dean of the School of Congregational Ministry at JUTN, said he acknowledged that some women have been unsure of their eligibility in JU’s Preaching and Church Leadership program.

He said he wants to make sure they know they are welcome.

“Women have played key [biblical] roles,” Overdorf said, as he invoked biblical heroines.

Of women in current leadership roles, he said that the program equips them to preach and teach in a way that is biblical.

“[Who] we are and what we do is a reflection of the church,” Overdorf said.

In 2017, a Relevant Magazine poll revealed that 39 percent of evangelicals are comfortable with female pastors or priests as opposed to 79 percent of all Americans.

April Conley Kilinski, professor and head of the English department at JU, suggests that failure to interpret scripture holistically may share part of the blame for this absence.

“I’m a literature person so I look for the story and the types,” Kilinski said. “Most people would say it’s not biblical,” she said, referring to traditions which seek to limit women’s roles in church leadership.

“‘You need to be quiet, because you’re a woman,’ [they say]. There’s got to be more to this,” she said.

Kilinski said that such a restrictive understanding discounts half the voices within the congregation.

“God does not discount us, so we should not discount us,” she said.

Kilinski said that an example of the work women did in the Bible is that they were entrusted to tell the disciples of Jesus’ resurrection.

“Women are very active in ministry,” she said, “God gives them incredible and important roles.”

Brooke McLane, a JUTN senior, said that certain aspects of women’s roles in the Christian faith seem underemphasized.

“Certain women in the Bible who have led, like Deborah, were praised for their actions, but probably not [as much] for their leadership roles,” McLane said.

Cameron Jefferies, a junior in the Preaching and Church Leadership program, believes that women should be allowed to be pastors in churches, despite his upbringing.

Jefferies said that his grandmother taught him that a woman was not allowed to teach a man within the church walls but could at home.

“I come from a family that did not support [women teaching in the church],” Jefferies said.

He said that he sees his grandmother’s view as unnecessarily divisive, dividing spiritual roles based on sex and location.

Jeffries said that people need to challenge their embedded theology and that not being informed on both perspectives creates barriers.

McLane, who is in her fourth year at JU, said she could only recall one senior sermon delivered by a female.

“I think women bring something special,” she said of women preachers.

“I think they should see where the student body is at, so they can work to change that,” Judi Addison, a senior who also said she appreciates what women offer in preaching roles, said. “I don’t know of any women that are professors in that program, and I think if [there were], women would feel more comfortable.”