Category: Culture


Professional Bull Riders Velocity Tour returning to Knoxville


By Mina Blaylock and Jenna Stahlman

KNOXVILLE     Professional Bull Riders Velocity Tour will stop in Knoxville for the second year in a row, on Feb. 2, at the Thompson-Boling Arena. Bryan Titman, a bull rider in the PBR, is ready to compete in Knoxville.


Bryan Titman, PBR competitor.

Titman, a Texas native, was raised in a bull riding family with his dad and grandpa having competed in the sport. He turned down a football scholarship to pursue bull riding instead and said that he does not regret it.

“I don’t see myself getting any bigger and I’m a pretty small guy when it comes to muscle wise, so I didn’t feel like I wanted to get hit and lift a bunch of weights every day,” Titman said. “My dream was always to ride bulls so I figured I’d follow that one. Football, I just happened to be pretty good at, but it really wasn’t what I wanted to be.”
He said the most complicated aspect of bull riding is keeping your mind clear and focused.

“The most difficult is your head,” Titman said. “You can’t get through it without your head… You’re not gonna make it very far. Your head’s a big thing in bull riding.”
Titman said he hopes to win the event in Knoxville, but he is also excited just to compete there once again.

“I mean, I’m excited to be there,” Titman said. “I just love Tennessee. Texas born – Tennessee couldn’t get any better.”
The tour’s stop in Knoxville will mark a little over two weeks since the death of Mason Lowe. Lowe was a competitor in the Velocity Tour. He was bucked off of a bull, and then stepped on, at the PBR event in Denver on January 15. He later died at the Denver Health Medical Centre due to the injuries.

Titman said that this loss does affect those who competed with and knew Lowe.
“It’s a bit rough but he wouldn’t want us to be down and low,” Titman said. “He’d always been a happy person so he’d like us to just keep spurring and doing the riding for him, so that’s what we want to continue to do and just push forward. It’s a sad day but we all know what we what we gotta do just to push on, and just thank him, and he won’t be forgotten.”

This one night event will be held at the Thompson-Boling Arena on Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. The doors will open at 6 p.m. Tickets for the event can be purchased here.



Students encouraged to participate in upcoming faith, sexuality conversations

Knoxville — Johnson University’s Counseling Center is hosting round table discussions for students who are interested in diving deeper into the topic of faith and sexuality.

These discussion groups are an opportunity for students to debrief following the Faith and Sexuality lectures presented by Mark Yarhouse, here Thursday.

These discussions will be held at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, in the private dining hall. They are an open-ended conversation between students and faculty, touching on the information given by Yarhouse.

Emily Eisenhart, Director of Clinical Services, said that the conversation will mainly be “focused on what was heard from the lectures” and “continuing the idea of being hospitable to those that are different from us.”

She also said that the format of the conversations will be informal.

The format is intended to allow students to discuss their questions, comments and concerns in a safe environment. The conversation will be facilitated and guided by a faculty or staff member.

“We know that there are students that are struggling with issues of sexual identity or may be in a different place than the majority on campus,”  Eisenhart said. “And we want those students to feel welcome.. to feel hope.”

Eisenhart said that support for students thinking through sexual identity issues is available beyond the meeting Tuesday.

“If sexual identity topics are personal to them and they find themselves in that minority here at Johnson, they can receive support here at the counseling center,” she said. “We can’t stress enough how confidential their sessions are.”

All students at JU are encouraged to attend this round table discussion and become more educated on the topic of sexual identity.

“This is a topic we really need to consider and engage,” Eisenhart said.

“How can we move toward people, rather than disregard where they’re at?”

She said this is an opportunity to meet people where they are and walk with them through differences.


SPSU offers opportunity to march in Knoxville’s MLK Day parade


JUTN group that participated in the 2018 MLK Day parade. (Photo by Chastedy Johnson)


KNOXVILLE    Johnson University’s Students Promoting Social Unity invites students to participate in the Martin Luther King Day parade in Knoxville.

The parade will be held on Jan. 21 from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. at Midway Chilhowee Park on E Magnolia Ave.

The parade’s purpose is to offer the community a display in tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

People interested in participating can contact Shae Pierre-Jean at



Packed house for Scotty McCreery at Tennessee Valley Fair


Scotty McCreery perfoming at the Tennessee Valley Fair, Sept. 13.

Scotty McCreery opened his close-to-sold out show with a crowd hit, “Seasons Change.” The crowd went wild as their anticipation became real life. Tickets for this show were in high demand within seconds of them going on sale June 4.

Throughout the show McCreery sang some of the songs from his newest album, “Seasons Change,” as well as some of his first big hits, like “Trouble with Girls” and “I Love You This Big.” He also spent time telling stories of shared experiences with his grandpa. A crowd favorite was his love story of how he and his now wife, Gabi Dugal McCreery, met on their first day of kindergarten.

McCreery took his audience back in time with songs from artists including Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, and Johnny Cash. After saying “goodnight” to his audience and walking offstage, McCreery and his band reappeared for one last song, being Josh Turner’s “Your Man.”


JU students bring something new to the table

International Food Potluck

JU Seniors Li and Riley are enjoying the time they get to spend together in their last month of school.

KNOXVILLE — The dim fluorescent lights of Bell Hall do not reflect the warmth and hospitality to be found in the room of JU student Wynona Li.

Inside Li’s apartment the shelves are cluttered with worldwide trinkets, each with its own story. The color red stands prominently amongst all of her decorations.

The AC hums as Li and fellow JUTN student Emma Riley begin to unwrap the ingredients to the dish they both are excited to create.

Laurel Church of Christ sends a bus to the JUTN campus every Wednesday night for all students who are interested in helping with the Friendspeak program.

The program provides the opportunity for foreign internationals to meet with partners to improve their English language skills through reading passages of Scripture.

The semiannual International Food Potluck was held April 6 as an opportunity for everyone in the program to bring food that is special to them and their culture.


Everyone who brings something to the potluck writes the name and origins of their dish.

Riley and Li decided that for this semester’s potluck they were going to bring their own dish.

“Normally Johnson students just kind of all pitch in and we all get pizza, but this time I actually know how to cook some Chinese food now, because my Chinese friends taught me,” Riley said. “I guess I just wanted to be able to contribute.”

Riley and Li worked together to make braised pork belly. Their joy illuminated the room with the happy thoughts of the smiles their delicious food would give people at the potluck the next day.

“I feel like it’s a really interesting way to bring people together, because it seems like no matter what culture you come from people are always excited to sit at the table together,” Li said. “I feel like that is really exciting, especially for the international students, to have a feeling of welcoming and belonging in a new culture.”

During the dinner

JU student Karen Cooke carefully chooses from the variety of food present at the potluck.

The sounds of the children’s screams contrasted with the discussions of the adults as everyone met together for the potluck.

The medley of foods together on one table at the center of the room acted as an axis for conversation and movement.

More than 10 years ago Laurel Church of Christ began celebrating Thanksgiving with the church congregation. When the group became too large they decided to make a new event just for the international members to bring their culture’s dishes.

Doug Woodall has helped run the Friendspeak program for many years and he described his favorite part of the meal.

“Usually, if you have a partner that you are working with, [you] will want to be sure that you eat some of their food,” Woodall said. “It’s just a lot of fun. We get to share culture with other people for a bit.”

Emma Riley, Paige Peterson, Karen Cooke

The JU students who regularly attend Friendspeak were excited to eat the food brought by the people they work with.

People slowly finished their meals and began to shuffle out of the church building into the chilly spring evening. All wore satisfied smiles as if they were quietly acknowledging the good times they had just shared with one another.


JU Global Learning Center introduces language clubs

JU student Emma Riley, began working at the newly established Global Learning Center at the beginning of this semester. Riley feels that there was a real need for the Global Learning Center at Johnson University.

“There was not really a place to showcase, or display, the partnerships we have with other schools in other countries,”  Riley said. “We have all sorts of connections all over the world, and there wasn’t really a place to show that.”

The Global Learning Center was officially opened at homecoming, and she feels that more students should know about the role it plays and how they can get involved.

“It is a place to celebrate and promote all of the cultures that we have here on campus,” Riley said.

Placed on the second floor of the PW building, just at the top of the stairs, the Global Learning Center is available to anyone wishing to explore the cultures on campus.

Riley has been working for the past few months to set up weekly language clubs for all interested in learning to speak a language.

“It’s just a place for people to come practice speaking a language in a more immersive and natural setting than a classroom,” she said.

The Spanish language club meets twice a week. They meet from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday.

The French language club meets at 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Chinese language club also meets once a week  from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Riley said she wants to encourage the JU student body to become more involved with the language corners.

“Anyone is welcome.” she said. “People with interest in a language, people who are native speakers of the language — you are welcome”



Missions event offers students chance to explore field

There are many ways students can get involved in God’s mission to redeem the Earth, but sometimes it is difficult to know how to fit into that plan.

Organizers of the Next Steps Missions event are working to meet Christians where they are.

Kevin Payton, one of the organizers of Next Steps, said that it can be easy to become overwhelmed with all of the options and decisions people have to make as followers of Christ.

For students in this situation, the Next Steps Missions event might be the perfect opportunity to gather information, speak to like-minded people and prayerfully consider God’s will.

“We want to help answer the questions of people from where they are,” Payton said. “We expose them to some of the opportunities and strategies that are for mission endeavors.”

Outreach International is sponsoring this event to provide students a safe place to discuss missions with people who can help because they have walked the road of missions.

There are two Next Step Missions events during the spring semester.

The first event will be held Feb. 17-19 at Smokey Mountain Christian Camp in Tellico Plains, Tenn.The registration deadline is Feb. 3.

The second event will be held March 10-12 at Shelby County Christian Assembly in Clarence, MO. The registration deadline for this event is Feb. 24.

Event activities include presentations, panels and discussions led by missionaries.Students interested in missions would have the opportunity to explore the world of missions in a more intimate setting.

“I am choosing to go so that I can learn more about what my future looks like, and the options out there so I can be better equipped to share the truth,” said one mission student, who asked not to be identified because she hopes to work in a closed country in the future.

If interested in registering for either of these free events, head to the Intercultural Studies office on the second floor of Richardson Hall. There is a poster located on the door with a bar code to scan in order to register.

Contact Kevin or Renee Payton for more information about the Next Steps Missions event at, or by phone at 478-832-5772.