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Staff Feature: Katherine Barnhart

KISSIMMEE — Katherine Barnhart works at Johnson University Florida as the Administrative Assistant of the School of Education and the Assistant Coach of the girl’s basketball team.

Katherine’s husband, Jay Barnhart, accepted the position as Florida’s first-ever women’s basketball coach in June 2018. Katherine joined Johnson staff in August 2018. She said it has been a joy for them to work together.

This is not their first time coaching together, however, as they both coached teams through Camps for Christ. Camps for Christ is a summer camp program that teaches students aged 7-18 about basketball and Christ. Jay Barnhart started this program at age 19 while still attending Messiah College. These years of experience shape how they now teach the girl’s basketball team.

Katherine calls herself the coach mom. It is not just basketball for them, it is a discipleship opportunity.

“I see myself in a position of just being there for the girls,” Barnhart said. “Whatever their needs are, whether they are personal or basketball related.”

Katherine believes the Lord prepared her for this type of position. She grew up in a small rural town in Amherst, Va. She is the fourth born child out of 14. Growing up, she had to be very independent and hard-working. She was required to grow up quickly and took on a motherly role among her siblings. She was very prepared for life once she left her home.

“It was really a blessing because it was training me to be a leader and an example in my own household,” Barnhart said.

When it was time to have her own kids, Katherine decided to be a stay-at-home mother like her mom. She home-schooled all three of her children.

“I really enjoyed being home with the children to nurture, care and guide them,” Barnhart said.

Katherine enjoys spending her time praying and fasting. From a young age, her parents taught her to prioritize prayer in her relationship with God. It was often her practice to spend time outdoors in reflection and prayer.

She also enjoys writing short stories, poems, parables, and plays. She published her first book, Where are you? Am I dead?: Words of Wisdom with Westbow publishers in April 2018. This book is a result of extensive reflection on the story of Adam and Eve found in Genesis. She hopes to one day direct plays for the benefit of the body of Christ.

When asked what was the highlight of working at Johnson, she said it was the opportunity to work with the girl’s basketball team. Nothing compares to the joy of discipling future leaders. She wants students to know she cares for them and that her door is always open if any student wants prayer.

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JU Students and Professor Attend Leadership Conference

This past week, two JU students and a professor had the opportunity to attend the United States Naval Academy Leadership Conference in Annapolis, Md.

The theme of this year’s conference, “Inside Out Leadership”, was primarily focused on helping leaders know themselves first so that they could better lead those they’re in  charge of. There were a multitude of speakers and panels covering the various facets of leadership.

Some of this year’s speakers were former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg, the 16th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Peter Pace, and President of Operations at NPR Loren Mayor.

“(The speakers) were excellent,” sophomore Elijah Muller said. “They gave me a lot to think about when it comes to my leadership abilities.”

This was the largest attendance the conference has ever had with over 400 delegates coming from over 120 institutions around the world. The delegates were allowed to discuss the information they were learning at the conference as well as get leadership tips from one another in discussion groups that were moderated by midshipmen at the academy.

“One of the most enjoyable parts of the conference was getting to interact with the other delegates,” Dr. Daniel Overdorf said. “Getting to meet with students from other universities and military academies and also seeing the caliber of the students at the Naval Academy was amazing.”

Throughout the week, the delegates from JU got to explore the grounds of the Naval Academy, tour a patrol boat, and explore downtown Annapolis.

Dr. Gerald Mattingly, who helps coordinate the trip for the JU delegation every year hopes that the students and professors that go will return and use what they learned at the conference to better JU.

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JUFL Cycling Event Raises over $30,000 for Missions

Over Spring Break (March 17-21) faculty and students from JUFL participated in the Key West Bike Ride 2018 (#KWBR2018), a cycling tour created by Ends of the Earth Cycling (a division of New Mission Systems International).

In 2016 Ends Cycling hosted the Tennessee Bike Ride in conjunction with JU—a 300-mile trek from JUTN to VA and back. After experiencing near-freezing temperatures in the Cherokee National Forest in March 2016, Ends made a decision to host this year’s JU-partnered tour in Florida.  

The KWBR2018 took more than 30 cyclists, and support staff from NMSI headquarters in Ft. Myers to the southernmost point of the U.S. in Key West. Cyclists included students Christian Arnold, Jessica Hammock, Rodrigo Monteroso, Leah Hardin, and Dr. Les Hardin (Professor of NT). Seth McManus (student, SGA President) and Elisabeth Arnold (alumnus) provided support staff for the tour.

Ends Cycling hosts tours specifically to raise money and awareness of worldwide mission work. This year’s KWBR2018 sought to raise money for Africa Hope’s School of Youth Ministry Training. The median age on the continent of Africa is currently 18 years old, making youth ministry key for the growth of the Kingdom there.

Justin Hanneken, Executive Director of Ends Cycling, had the following to say about Ends Cycling’s partnership with JU:

“Following a successful Tennessee Bike Ride in March 2016, we at Ends Cycling were so excited to partner with Johnson University again. We knew the only way this would work for the Key West Bike Ride 2017 was to have the tour over JU’s Spring Break. We also knew that God would have to provide a staff member on campus to help us out. He did exactly that through our ‘bro’ and friend, Dr. Les Hardin. Les organized an incredible group of students and JU alumni who were an absolute blessing to the team! Over the course of 5 days, we became family and God was glorified as we had the opportunity to #PrayPedalRepeat for the youth of Africa.”  

Each Ends Cycling participant is asked to commit to raise funds for the designated mission. The KWBR2018 group raised an excess of $30,000 to promote and facilitate youth work in Africa.

Participants in Key West Bike Ride had the following to say about their experiences:

“The KWBR was an awesome way to spend my spring break. Even though I’m not a cyclist, I found a way to plug-in and help serve the riders by moving equipment, helping with worship, and preaching at one of the stops.” —Seth McManus, SGA President

“Intentional discipleship occurs at every part in the team: praising one another for daily accomplishments, pushing one another to work harder, and supporting one another when trouble arises.” —Christian Arnold, JUFL Alumnus and M.A. Student

“KWBR was an awesome opportunity that trained my body and exercised my faith. Carving out specific time to train 6 days a week helped me prioritize my day and even helped me do better in my classes because I was forced to stick to a strict schedule. On the ride I was constantly praying for YouthHOPE in Africa because being on the bike for 8 or so hours a day provides a great opportunity for focusing on prayer.” —Jessica Hammock, JUFL student

“The past two years (2017 & 2018), I have served as a support staff member caring for the needs of cyclists. It is such a rewarding experience as I grow close to people from different faith backgrounds all coming together to use their love of cycling for the cause of global youth outreach.” —Elisabeth Arnold, JUFL Alumnus

JUFL students will once again have the opportunity to participate in the KWBR this upcoming Spring Break (Mar. 16-21, 2019). KWBR19 will raise funds for youth work in Thailand. Anyone interested in cycling or helping as a support staff member is encouraged to speak with Dr. Les Hardin for more information.

For more on the work of Ends of the Earth Cycling, visit www.endscycling.com and follow them at #PrayPedalRepeat.

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Preparing for a New President

When it came time to find the seventh President of Johnson University, the Board of Trustees knew they were looking for someone who was a Johnson University alumnus, knew how to raise funds, and whose character is above reproach. They found their prime candidate in Dr Thomas Smith.

“We spent two to three hours in the interview,” Smith said. “(The Board of Trustees) had a long list of questions that they went through that were very tough questions. None of them were surprises to me which led me to feel like I had been well prepared.”

Smith has a long history with Johnson University. He graduated from Johnson Bible College with his B.A. in 1978. He then was in located ministry for six years. After receiving his M.A.R. from Emmanuel School of Religion in 1986 and his PhD from the University of Tennessee in 1990, he came back and began teaching at JU in 1989. After serving as a professor of history and theology, he served as the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences from 2012 to 2014 and as the Provost from 2014 to 2017 before beginning his tenure as President.

However, Smith is more than his academic and career accomplishments. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees L.D. Campbell says that Smith is personable, enjoys people,  is approachable, enjoys a good laugh and is an excellent preacher.

Professor Gerald Mattingly, who has known Smith for almost 30 years, described him as “a good person with a sound analytical mind and a disarming down-to-earth quality,” which he went on to say is good for someone who is assuming the role of the presidency.

Smith has some big goals for his presidency. Among them are recommitting the university to the mission of the university, improving math and science classes, and improving college athletics.

One of the key aspects he wants to refocus on is being faithful to the great commision. He feels the “Third Way”, which is a blend of a bible college approach and liberal arts college approach, can accomplish this goal by rounding out students’ education experiences.

The university has also begun studying how it can improve its math and science classes, which Smith feels will go a long way in benefiting Teacher Education and Health and Human Services majors among many others.

Smith also wants university athletics to recruit students based on what he called the “Johnson Triad”: people who are missionary committed, academically prepared, and competitive athletes. “There is all kind of benefits both for athletics and for the student body,” Smith said. “It boosts student morale, gives you stuff to do, and creates relationships. It’s kind of an overstatement, but in the past we’ve done athletics because we ‘had to’. I want to do it because we want to. 

This will be Johnson’s fifth inauguration in its history. He hopes students will come to the ceremony, but he also hopes to see them at the student event later in the evening as well. He asks that all students help make the campus look nice and that they themselves look nice as well.

“It’s important to me that students feel welcomed and included at this event,” Smith said.

Smith wants people to know that his inauguration is not a celebration of him or the office, but rather a celebration of the university. The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. and will be followed by a reception on the White House lawn at 4:30. The student event will take place at 6:30 on the Gally Plaza and will offer games, food and a Cruze Farm ice cream truck, which Smith said, “ain’t bad to entice students with.”