Category: 2017-2018


Alumni gather for special memorial garden,columbarium dedication

KNOXVILLE — Alumni, friends, faculty and staff gathered together yesterday for a special dedication of Shiloh on the Heights: Columbarium, Memorial Garden and Prayer Oak.

The Columbarium is a collection of niches designed to house the cremated remains of loved ones. The word ‘columbarium’ translates to “sleeping places,” and was the original name for Christian grave sites.

Judeo-Christian tradition viewed death as sacred, initiating church property as locations for cemeteries. Shiloh on the Heights Memorial Garden, Columbarium and Prayer Oak extend and enhance the sacred space of the gravesites.

Below are highlights from the dedication:


Indiana cowboy wins PBR Knoxville Invitational


Ryan Miller’s 88 point ride on Fist City.

KNOXVILLE     Ryan Miller, a Waterloo, Indiana cowboy, won the Professional Bull Riders Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Knoxville at the Thompson-Boling Arena, Saturday night.

Miller rode Fist City in the long round — the first event in which all 40 cowboys each ride a bull —  earning the highest ride score of the night with 88 points. In the championship round – which consists of the top 10 riders from the long round – Miller received a score of 86 points, atop True Story. With 174 points total, Miller captured the win, taking home $7,300, 120 points towards the PBR world standings, and a guaranteed spot at the Ty Murray Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, March 16-18.


The Knoxville Invitational was Miller’s first Velocity Tour win in a few years.

“I won an event in Cleveland Ohio, probably three or four years ago, so it’s been kind of a dry spell at these events since then,” Miller said.

Miller said he was excited about the bulls he rode, as he had seen them buck before, and he knew they were going to be good for him.

“It felt like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” Miller said regarding his win.

Miller celebrated with fans afterward, signing autographs and taking photos.

Second place went to Reese Cates with 172 points, while Fernando Henrique Novais and Jesse Tillman tied for third, each with 170.5 points. Cody Casper took the fifth spot in the standings.


Bull and Rider face off at Knoxville Invitational.

Local cowboy, Cody Clint Brewer, of Cookeville, earned a score of 79 points in the long round, ranking him 16th out of the 40 bull riders who competed.

“Overall it was a good event — you couldn’t ask for a better crowd or everything,” Cody Ford, who placed 14th in the night’s event, said. “It’s always good to come to Knoxville.”


Local Crown College in state of mourning

KNOXVILLE — Last week Crown College entered a time of mourning as one of their own, Blake Smith, a junior, was found dead Feb. 5, after going missing over the weekend.

Crown College held prayer vigils Sunday, Feb. 4 and Monday Feb. 5 for Smith, according to Knox News.

Tuesday, Founder and President of Crown College, Clarence Sexton, released a message asking for continued prayers for the family and friends of Smith.

WATE reported that around 1,000 Crown College students gathered Wednesday to pray for Blake Smith’s family and to remember the kind and Godly man he was.

Also on Wednesday, Sexton said on Facebook, “We’re going to be alright because God is still on the throne, and He is still able to help us through anything. Let’s trust Him in it.”

According to Knox News and the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, the cause of death has been linked to “hypothermia/drowning, and his death appears to be accidental.”

Smith, 20, was last seen on Saturday, Feb. 3. Knox News reported that he had left work at Weed Man Lawn Care and stopped at his dorm before leaving again.

His last known location was determined to be Admiral Farragut Park in Knoxville, according to a photo he posted to Instagram Saturday, Feb. 3.

Smith’s car was found Sunday, Feb. 4, wrecked at a construction site off East Old Topside Road in Louisville, roughly 7½ miles from the park, wrote Knox News.

Feb. 5, a body was recovered half a mile from the construction site. Tuesday, the Knox County Regional Forensic Center confirmed the body to be Smith.

Investigation is still underway and more is yet to be released.

Crown College plans to hold a formal memorial service for Smith at a later date. Johnson students are encouraged to pray for Smith’s family and friends in this time of mourning.

For full story coverage visit:

Knox News: Sheriff: Crown College student died of hypothermia, drowning

WATE: Crown College staff, students remember Blake Smith during chapel service



Royal Wellness adds children’s classes to their program

KNOXVILLE — The Royal Wellness program is dedicated to providing tools for healthy living on Johnson University Tennessee campus, and now they are introducing a new class specifically aimed at the children of the community.

Associate Professor of Sports and Fitness Leadership and founder of the Royal Wellness program, Dr. Trevor Egli, gave his input on the just what newest addition of the program, ‘Royal Kids’, involves.

“Essentially what it’s going to be is functional movement for kids” Egli described. “The age range was initially 5-9 years of age, but we actually have from four-year-olds, at the youngest, to 12-year-olds.”

When asked about what the classes for the kids include, Egli replied with all of the things that the program has planned.

“Really it’s getting the kids moving by doing a lot of body weight movement, and try to make it fun,” Egli said. “There may be a little bit of weights, but it will be very light, because even kids can do a little bit of weight training. At that age it’s mostly about having fun with learning about correct form, weight, and movement patterns.”

Monica McKnight, who has been connected with Royal Wellness for several years, is in charge of Royal Kids program.

“Her work with Royal Kids is completely  volunteer,” Egli explained. “She has plenty of experience and certification to be doing something like this.”

Egli explained why he believes Royal Kid’s Classes will benefit Royal Wellness program and local community as a whole.

“If we can include the family, which does include the kids, we’re able to accommodate a larger group and expand for the Johnson community.”


Johnson’s receptionist has lifelong ties to university

Betty Ann Sykes 2

Betty Ann Sykes, Johnson’s morning receptionist


KNOXVILLE    Seated behind a desk in the Bubble, an office located directly through the front doors of the Phillips-Welshimer Building, is a woman with longtime connections to Johnson University.
Betty Ann Sykes has been Johnson’s morning receptionist for four and a half years.
“I am the main receptionist,” she said. “I only work in the morning     so I answer phones, answer questions, just be the person that people see when they first walk through the door.”

Sykes said she enjoys many things about Johnson, but she said her favorite aspect is the people.
“Oh my goodness! The people, students, I enjoy the people in the business office. I just love talking to people,” Sykes said.
While Sykes has been the receptionist for a short time, she has been a part of Johnson in one way or another for many years.
“I was born here,” she said. “My father [Floyd Clark] was a professor; at one time he was the academic dean and dean of students all together, then he was just the academic dean. So, then I just went to school here.”
She graduated from Johnson with a degree in music in 1969. She came back to Johnson in 2002 to receive her teaching degree and graduated in 2005.

She taught until her retirement and that’s when she decided she wanted a part-time job at Johnson.
Sykes said that although a lot of things have changed through the years she’s been at Johnson, many things are still the same.
“The campus looks different; a lot of different people, but the core values and all are still the same,” she said. “So I think that’s very important.”
When Sykes is not working she has many hobbies to keep her busy.
“I like to read, spend time with friends, I like to travel, and I like to be outside,” Sykes said. “I’m not really a gardener but I do have flowers in the summer and that’s kind of fun to do that.”
She said she has a love of travel that has taken her to many places, and she is looking for her next adventure.
“My son and his family live in North Carolina, on the coast of North Carolina, so I like to go there. I like to go to the mountains,” Sykes said. “I’ve been to Hawaii and I’ve been to Alaska, and I went to Austria so that was fun.”

Sykes enjoys reading in her spare time and like many people, she cannot choose one book as her favorite.
“Oh my goodness, wow! I don’t know what it would be,” Sykes said. “Put it this way, I really like historical fiction – I like historical fiction books, I always have.”
Sykes had moved to North Carolina for some time, however, she said she is thankful to be living back in East Tennessee now.
“I just think we live in the most beautiful place, you know, almost anywhere you look. I’m very thankful every day that the Lord brought me back here,” she said. “You could almost say what’s not to love, usually the weather’s very nice.

“My mother use to always say, ‘it was sunny Tennessee’. We’ve had more gray days than usual but the cold doesn’t last too long, the hot doesn’t last too long and everywhere you look there’s just something pretty to see.”

Sykes said Johnson has had a major role in her life.
“Except for Jesus Christ, [Johnson University] has probably been the biggest influence in my life,” she said. “My family life, my education, I met my husband here, and you know, most of my lifelong friends are from here. And now my work is here. So it has definitely shaped who I am.”






ICS student passionate about translating Bible for unreached groups


EDITOR’S NOTE: Some of the names in this story have been changed to protect the identity of students going into missions in sensitive locations.

KNOXVILLE — Johnathan Tyler is a freshman at Johnson University Tennessee campus. He is in the School of Intercultural Studies, focusing on linguistics.

He came to Johnson University from his home in Mansfield, Ohio this past fall to begin his education and to move towards his goal of translating the Bible into unreached people groups’ native tongue.

“The fact that more than… 1,500 people groups don’t have access to the Bible in their language is overwhelming and it’s unbelievable that that’s the case.” he said. “Since God put onto my heart to go into this type of mission work, it’s really the only thing I can think about.”


Missions isn’t all Tyler is passionate about. He says, “I love music. I grew up around it and it has really shaped who I am today.”(Photo from Tyler)

From a young age, Tyler felt God tell him to model his life after Jesus and teach others about His Word.

Now that he is in college, he is figuring out what this calling looks like.

“Once I graduate with my undergrad, I do plan on continuing my study in linguistics,” he said. “After I finish the necessary graduate courses, I will hopefully move on to work alongside a Bible translating organization and follow where the Lord leads me.”

Tyler is currently enjoying his time at Johnson University and learning more about the Lord and what He is doing regarding unreached people groups.

“As I learned more about it [unreached people groups] I began to just model my life around this issue and live my life focusing on a solution,” he said.  “It’s just become an incredible passion of mine and when I talk and even think about it, I get so excited about the future and what the Lord is going to do.”



Black leads intramural basketball standings

KNOXVILLE—Three intramural basketball games took place Monday night, in which the black team beat the purple team and now holds the lead in the league standings.

The black team defeated the Purple team by a score of 66-61. The black team now has a record of 4-1, the best in intramural basketball.

Neither team held a lead of more than 7 at any point in the game, contrasting the black team’s previous game, which they won by close to 40 points against the brown team.

“A lot of people take intramurals seriously, but our team just [wants] to have fun out there, Isaac Fife, a player from the black team, said after their game.

In the game before, the blue team beat the red team, and in the game following, the white team narrowly beat the brown team.

Sam Baggett, an instructor at JUTN attended the blue-red game.

“I went to the intramural basketball game last night to support a friend from my church small group, but I didn’t expect to be so entertained.” He said.

He said the players were competitive and physical.

Intramural basketball will continue with three more games on Thursday night.


Players prepare for a rebound in the final minutes of the Black-Purple game.



Young Life seen from the perspective of JU student

KNOXVILLE —  Emma Sharp, a student here at Johnson University, has been volunteering at the Young Life ministry in Knoxville for almost six months.

Sharp is a media ministry major who transferred from Lee University last semester.

Sharp, who has had multiple experiences with other universities said, “this is the first school I have felt with a real sense of community and family and that I am not just a number.”

After graduation, Sharp said she would like to apply what she has learned and work in a mission’s organization or in a church as their media director.

About once or twice a week, Sharp said she spends her free time with the Young Life ministry.

Young Life is an organization where leaders go into local high schools to build a spiritual relationship with teenagers by supporting and hanging out with them.

Sharp said she is involved in Young Life because she wants to pour into these teenagers as much as her mentors did when she was in high school.

“I really have a heart for high school kids,” Sharp said. “That’s [high school] where I had the most struggles, but also the most fun.”

Sharp said she really enjoys being the constant in the teens’ lives, especially when she realized most do not have one.

She said a personal goal for herself is to get to know at least five students well enough to start a campaigner’s group and help them grow in their spiritual life.

A campaigner’s group is an in-depth Bible study, rather than the five minute devotions that introduce the students to the Bible during Young Life club meetings.

Sharp said she is excited to see how God works through each leader and witness great change within each student.


Buddy’s Bar-b-q hosts Ray Ball Singers


The Ray Ball Singers at Buddy’s Bar-b-q in Sevierville

SEVIERVILLE       Bluegrass and gospel music enthusiasts, both young and old, packed Buddy’s Bar-b-q, on Monday night, to hear local band, The Ray Ball Singers.

Spectators were not charged admission to the live music event, however, attendees had to dine in at the barbecue joint to claim a seat.

“I liked their wholehearted and soulful sound that they had,” Tori Downing, a Pigeon Forge resident, said in regard to the band. “Their aura they put off is very friendly.”20180205_184856

This event left no empty space inside the restaurant, and the full crowd was energetic.  Many people joined in by clapping or singing along with some of the popular gospel songs, such as, “I’ll Fly Away” and “Amazing Grace.”

“I have not [heard of this band before] but I liked them a lot, they brought home a country feel,” Downing said.

Downing also mentioned that The Ray Ball Singers made her consider playing bluegrass herself.

“I’ve never had the courage, before now, to bring out my inner hee-haw,” Downing said in regards to playing and singing bluegrass. “My dad could tear up a banjo, so maybe I’ll take it up myself and play like this band did.”

After hearing about the event on Facebook, Dustin Sutton, longtime Sevier County resident, said he decided to head to the barbecue joint, when he got off work, to listen to the band play.

“I’ve always been a fan of ‘I’ll Fly Away’, and I really liked their version,” Sutton said.

Sutton said he hopes to hear the band play again.

“I thought their guitar playing and picking was good, made for a good ol’ time,” Sutton said.

Buddy’s Bar-b-q’s  Sevierville location will host local bluegrass/gospel bands every Monday night, in February, at 6:45 p.m.