Category: News

News about activities of importance to Johnson University.


First career fair for Johnson University campus

Johnson University’s Tennessee campus held its first career fair on Jan. 23, in an attempt to help the students connect with 31 local and abroad organizations.

These organizations ranged from simple non-profit summer camps to other university’s graduate school programs and churches. Even a mortgage company was present at the event.

The Russell Preaching Center housed the church booths, while the PW Gymnasium held the non-profits and other miscellaneous organizations not necessarily tied to the school’s religious affiliation.

In the long joining hall between the two major rooms, universities were able to show off their various programs. Among them were Lincoln Christian University, Asbury Seminary, Milligan College and  the University of Tennessee.

The fair was arranged by the Department of Student Life and Career Services Center in an attempt to engage students and aid them in their search for jobs after college. Both the offices show interest in the lives of their students.

Kara Smith, Senior in the counseling program, attended the career fair to see what it had to offer.

“Between getting jobs, and being an intern or a temporary job there was a great variety,” said Kara Smith.

Smith expressed her concern that the Career Fair had no booth present that dealt specifically with her interests.

“I didn’t really think there were enough people there,” Smith said. “They could improve by having more counseling and other majors outside of the Bible majors.”

Along with the lack of counseling related organizations, Smith also noted that the time in which the event took place made it somewhat difficult to attend.

“The time slot for the career fair was a little bit constricting considering there was class all day and it ended at two,” said Smith.

The time for which the fair took place was among the several items in which Smith believed that the university should try and improve in the future. This was the first attempt, and it still led to a handful of students getting hired.

The Career Services Center plans on hosting another event within the next year. They want to build, improve and expand upon the foundation they have created. They hope to include more organizations outside the realm of Biblical Studies as well.


Students react to new form of social media

Yik Yak, a new form of social media that allows its users to be anonymous when posting, has become a subject of controversy among the Johnson University student body.

With so many social media sites already in existence, it was only a matter of time before yet another one emerged. Yik Yak is an application created for most modern smartphones and allows those who use it to post statuses anonymously, or with only a username.

According to Yik Yak’s website, it uses a GPS location system designed to show what others within a 1.5 mile radius are posting.

The app includes a user controlled rating system, which allows participants to vote comments up or down.

If a certain post gets enough up votes, that post can become part of the sites history. If any post gets enough down votes, then the post will be deleted.

Some students have expressed a concern about the potential harm such an app can cause. Heather Sharp, 21, a Johnson student, is one of the many who refuse to take part in this new form of social media.

“I feel like people have too many opinions and that they can hurt people with their opinions,” she said. “Like, it can be fun, where you can say hilarious stuff and it’s funny but some people just take it way too far.”

Tyler Dantzler, 22, another Johnson student has a more positive view of the site.

“As a person who grew up in the church, I grew up believing you had to put up a front,” he said. “You had to pretend to be this perfect person so I feel that Yik Yak is a way to let your true colors show and be the real you.”

Dantzler acknowledged the potential harm that could come from the anonymity of the app, but nonetheless still looked at the app with a positive outlook.

“There are also people who like getting on there because they like getting on people’s nerves,” Keith Boyd, another student at the university, said. “They like pushing buttons. You know some people are like that.”

He mentioned how many people have taken to posting Bible versus on the site.

“Spamming with Bible verses is just another way to get on people’s nerves” Boyd said.

Boyd was referring to other students who have been posting Bible verses in response to profanity and other crude statements.

He said that it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but he questions whether or not posting the verses will have a long-term positive effect.

There are some students who are remaining neutral, neither partaking in the social media nor rallying against it.

For now, Yik Yak remains the topic of many conversations around the campus. Whether or not the application will be banned in the near or late future has yet to be determined.



Retreats and Ethics: A closer look at how the senior capstone class works, and what the students learn in it

As many college students go through their senior year, many new things start to happen that do not typically happen in the years preceding it.

As seniors in college approach graduation, they face a variety of new experiences and changes.

Graduation becomes a more frequent topic that pervades thought and conversation, post-graduation housing plans are made, and that huge mountain of school debt begins to rear his ugly head, with his friend, interest rates following behind him.

The students of Johnson University have experienced many of these exciting and worrying things, that are typically part of senior year. One thing that is special about senior year at Johnson is the Senior Capstone course, which is an ethics class that all seniors are required to take in order to graduate.

Senior Capstone began six years ago by Johnson Professors, Ron Wheeler, and Tommy Smith. They hoped to instruct seniors in ways of Christian Ethics that may appear in the various careers that the students will pursue after graduation.

The basic goal of this class is to show students how ethics play into every professions.

One of the biggest features of this class is the Capstone Retreat, which is the turning point of the class. Students shift from traditional class lectures to the focusing on case studies, and independent student meetings based on their respective projects.

On a surface level, Senior Capstone does not seem very special, beyond a unique class structure. Many underclassmen at Johnson might not understand the inner workings, or the point of the course until they take it for themselves.

“I know that several of the seniors, when they finish the project, they have changed the way that they think about offering advice to people,” professor Ron Wheeler said.

“Many of them who have just thought of something right off the top of their head now want to…step back, think about looking at the issues, and the complicated settings, and then do some research, then come back to whoever has asked the question.”

Wheeler said that everyone who has taken the class before has generally become thoughtful and careful in regards to moral issues, and spiritual advice.

“You can tell from the reflections essays, an essay that the students write on the entire research presentation… a good 50 percent [of the students] will write essays, ” he said. “And they will say this has changed my thinking about the decision making process, and here are the things that I’m going to do in terms of looking at making decisions.”

It should be noted that a part of each student’s group project, is a 20 minute presentation of their research, a conclusion about how to deal with the case study they have chosen, and a poster showing brief highlights of their research

The posters are displayed in the top of the Gally Commons  towards the end of each semester.

Wheeler explained that,  just like the quality of each student’s reflection essays, the presentations and posters are usually of very good quality.

“In general they turn out well,” he said. “ Some of them turn out very well. We would be very pleased to take the top 1 or 2 of these presentations, and put them against any professional presentation.”

Wheeler said that approximately 60 percent of last semester’s Capstone students received A’s, 30 percent B’s, 10 percent below B, and that no failing grades were given as far as he could remember.

In turn, students often meet and exceed those standards.

Wheeler said he is always impressed at the good character and ethical attitude of the students who have taken the class.

“They are more willing to engage and they really see the value of what we do,” he said. “I think we see a lot of maturation take place.”

“I think we see incremental jumps from individuals, to groups in how they engage their work with each other, and how they think about applying all the education that they’ve had,” Wheeler said.

Many students can attest to this idea of using their educational experience, in new ways. Rebekah Gordon, senior at Johnson, explained how her group picked their case study, which deals with the issue of physician assisted suicide.

She said that her group picked this case study because nobody in her group had a very solid opinion on the topic, and thus could approach it from an unbiased angle.

Factors her group discussed included: man bearing the image of God, what point life is no longer worth living, financial aspect, and the moral aspect.

“We are trying to look at the Christian support of the death and dignity laws, so that in the alleviation of suffering we are doing Christ’s work,” she said.

Gordon said the debate over death with dignity will definitely impact the terminally ill, but also their friends and their family.

She said it could impact the church, hospitals, Christian doctors and ministers.

“How to do you do a funeral for someone who has chosen to end their life?” she questioned.

After the retreat, the students return to Johnson with a very different view of their case study.

Gordon said, “I knew from previous student that we would be given a hypothetical situation that we had to work through as a group, but I was looking forward to the latter half of the class.”

She said that after the retreat she did not think her opinion had changed much, but she did say she realized that Capstone is based off the students willingness to put in effort.

She also said that humility is necessary when approaching these issues.

“We have to have opinions on things, and we need to hold firmly to what we believe the truth is, but we have to hold that truth loosely, recognizing that something may come up that teaches us that wasn’t correct,” Gordon said.

This idea of holding to what you believe is true, but remembering that you could be wrong about certain things, seems to be one of the key ideas behind Senior Capstone.

But it also teaches the students to try to think about what solutions can Christians come up with that will be best for the greatest number of people, and that will honor God.


SGA: Past, present, and future

Like every College, Johnson University has gone through many changes since it’s foundation. It has been through three different name changes, old buildings have been repurposed, and new buildings have been built to meet the ever growing needs of both student and administration.

Some of the most recent changes at Johnson, have come from the university’s Student Government Association.

Just last year, the SGA adjusted its constitution so as to become more organized and better suited to be a voice for the student body, to the school administration.

This is not the only change that the SGA has gone through. According to David Legg, the Dean of Students, and current SGA advisor, the SGA has undergone many other changes since it began in May of 1952, as the Student Counsel.

Legg said that the Student Counsel’s role grew over the years, saying that they organized infrequent social events (usually 1 or 2 per semester), and tried to represent the student body to the administration.

“The student counsel operated then from 1952 until I think about 2007, or so,” said Legg. “In 2007, the Student Counsel reconfigured itself as the Student Government Association, and took on more responsibilities.”

For the next seven years, this switch from the Student Counsel to the Student Government Association, was the most notable change in the organization’s long history. However, in April of 2014, the SGA’s constitution underwent further adjustments. In hopes that it would be more organized, and efficient, at acting on the requests and best interests of the student body.

“Within the Student Government Association, we had identified a need for a more organized structure,” said Matthew Shears, the current student body president. “The previous student body president  had a committee formed which was the Constitutional revision committee.”

Shears continued to explain how the change in Johnson, since it officially becoming a university, and continued growth of students over the years lead to the decision to reorganize the SGA. He listed the five standing committees, within the cabinet:

  • The Student life committee deals with student advocacy, leadership development, communication with the school admin, and aiding student organizations.
  • The Social Activities Committee handles all parties and official school social gatherings.
  • The Major Events Committee is tasked with handling events such as Founder’s Day.
  •  The Internal Management Committee deals with the internal working of SGA, such as money, and disciplinary actions.
  •  The Public Relations Committee deals with PR needs, school announcement co-ordination, and other things of a similar nature.

Shears went on to explain, that along with these five standing committees, that a few other major changes are being put to task in SGA.

“The biggest difference, I think, is that we are able to serve and represent the student body better through these committees, and it also takes a lot of stress off of the student body president, and student vice president, and secretary,” Shears said.

Shears also said that another major change in SGA was the formation of a student senate, which helped to move some of the power from the student body president, and stated that even with the changes in SGA that the organization still retains many of the functions that it has had before.

“We are still planning all of the events that we have before, but we are doing them in a more structured way, which helps us to do them better and more efficiently, and more professionally,” said Shears.

Shears listed a few other projects that SGA will be taking on sometime in the near future.

“We have a couple things… on the backburner right now… The TV downstairs that’s broken in the EAC, we’re working on getting that fixed,” Shears said. “We’re also talking about the Washers and Dryer that are in the dorms… those have not been too successful in their operations, within the past couple of years”


Students carry chains to raise awareness

To raise awareness about the rising issue of human trafficking, the International Justice Mission Chapter at Johnson University plans to host an event called Day of Chains.

Through Day of Chains, they hopes to show students who attend the university that something as simple as a prayer can help someone else stuck in the horrors of modern day slavery.

During the event students are encouraged to sign up for a time to walk around a designated path dotted with signs of things to pray for.

Students carry chains and are accompanied by a member of the small group while they walk. Their companions serve as prayer partners and are instructed to help carry the chain if the weight is too much.

The chains they carry represent the people who are in bondage, the injustice they are facing and oppressive governments who turn a blind eye.

Crystal Rossman, 21, a Johnson student and member of the IJM chapter at JU attended Day of Chains last year.

“Day of Chains to me is bringing awareness of those who are trapped in domestic abuse, sex trafficking, pornography and don’t really have a way to escape it,” she said. “It gives them a voice.”

Christina Newbold, 20, a public relations major at the university, also attended the event last year.

“It’s to help people remember that there are people out there still that are still hurting, that they are still affected by slavery,” she said. “It’s not a past thing, it’s still very real.”

According to The World Bank, there are currently seven billion people in the world. An estimate given by The Global Slavery Index of 2013 says that out of that seven billion people, 30 million are enslaved with 76 percent located in 10 specific countries.

These countries include India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The United States of America is ranked at 134 with an estimated 59,644 people enslaved according to The Global Slavery Index.

The International Justice Mission works to bring justice to those who support slavery and they are a voice for the voiceless. They work in numerous countries across the globe, including the United States.

While the IJM chapter on Johnson’s campus is small in number they have taken the steps into shining a light on injustice around the world and in their own back yard.

Day of Chains will be Nov. 20.

For more information concerning modern day slavery visit and



Bottle of water opens door to salvation

Sitting in the room in which he once detoxed, Samuel smiles and said, “Its only because of God that I am here today.”

Stephanie Mitchem, the director of Water Angels, said the first time she met Samuel he told her, “I tried that Jesus character once. He did nothing for me.”

Samuel Burgin is a current student at Johnson University who struggled with homelessness and drug addiction.

“Water Angels has the power to change lives,” he said. It changed mine and without it I don’t want to think where I would be.”

Mitchem is the founder and current director of Water Angels ministry and has witnessed the change Christ has made in Samuel’s life first hand.

“The best thing about this ministry is getting to see God work, to see life change right there in front of you and even if this ministry was only for Samuel, it would be worth it,” She said.

Stephanie met Samuel one day under the bridge , the usual homeless hangout in downtown Knoxville. When Stephanie first met Samuel and asked if she could pray for him he said no. Samuel at that time, was only under the bridge to buy drugs in between buses from Atlanta to North Carolina, where he is from.

“Its amazing to see how God works, His timing is flawless,” Stephanie said.

“We exchanged emails and I continued to pray for him. In one of those emails I had told him about the rehabilitation house we have here at Water Angels,” she said. “I wanted to let him know that if he ever wanted to find out who Christ is that he always has a place here.”

Sure enough, Samuel responded and wanted to give up drugs to find Christ.

“This room we’re in was once my home,” Samuel said. “It had four of us packed into this little area.”

“The first thing I did when I got clean was tell Stephanie that a change is needed here,” He said.

Samuel professed Christ as his personal Lord and savior shortly after his move into the house and was baptized in the mountains not to long after.

“Samuel immediately dove into scripture. I mean really, unlike I have ever seen,” Stephanie said. “He loves to study and the change in his life was noticeable immediately.”

While at Water angels, Samuel worked well with the kids in the 180 Gang, a gang for troubled youth who are either homeless or at risk in the Knoxville area.

Stephanie noticed this and recommended to Samuel that he think about becoming a youth minister.

After Samuel applied to Johnson University, Stephanie had her doubts.

“I thought to myself, there is just no way, I mean he got his GED in prison, there is just no way he will get in,” she said.

But Samuel was soon accepted to the school.

“After four nerve racking months, I got an email with the subject line ‘Congratulations!’, and I just could not believe it.” Samuel said.

“I was surprised that he got in, but then the issue became how is he going to pay for this?” Stephanie said.

Samuel never lost faith.

“I had to encourage Stephanie, I told her that if this truly is God’s will, He will provide a way for me to finance this tuition,” Samuel said.

Before starting the Fall semester, Samuel had obtained more than $14,000 in scholarships.

“Sure enough, he’s there,” Stephanie said. “ He is hoping to get into student ministry and he still comes to Water Angels on Sundays to volunteer here for our kids.”