KNOXVILLE — Faculty and staff gathered on Monday evening to serve students as a part of the annual Miller-Scott Banquet.
Associate Dean of Students, Dave Wheeler, opened the night in song by leading students in singing Christmas carols before praying for the meal provided by John Scott and Allen Miller.
After dinner, faculty and staff performed a skit based on the Disney “Toy Story” movies. Dean of Chapel, Bill Wolf, led the group of toys trying to find their way back to their owner, Andy, for Christmas, who has left for college at Johnson.
The toys eventually realized the true meaning of Christmas, with the help of President Weedman, as the night came to a close.
KNOXVILLE– Applications for Johnson students to be a Resident Assistant for the 2016-2017 school year are now available at the Student Services office in the EAC building.
Applications are due tomorrow, March 11, at 5 p.m. All students wishing to be an RA for the next school year should complete an application form and turn it back into the Student Services office.
Current RA’s are willing to talk to anyone who is questioning whether or not they should be an RA for the next school year.
“To be an RA, I believe you need to be outgoing, intentional about investing into the people on your hall, and I believe you need to have a servants heart. You should be willing to love, pour into, and share advice with your fellow hall mates.” Brianna Langley, an RA for Johnson Hall, said.
KNOXVILLE– In the 1900’s, faculty and students at Johnson Bible College were well aware of a woman known as Aunt Maggie. Aunt Maggie lived alone off Porterfield Gap Rd. in a small wooden house in the woods. She has earned a significant role in the history of Johnson University.
Booklet by Ruben Ratzlaff.
Former author of the college press, Ruben Ratzlaff, viewed Aunt Maggie as being an inspirational and exemplary woman. He wrote a brief booklet about the life of Aunt Maggie titled Aunt Maggie or A Life Hidden with Christ, which is located in the Johnson library archives.
Aunt Maggie, who is moreover known by the name of Margaret Widner, was the youngest child of three born in Feb. 1867. She was the daughter of former slave Patsy Ann Widner.
Patsy Widner and her three children encountered a frequent visitor at their house in Knoxville named Will Johnson. He came around the children while their mother was off at work, and he physically abused little Maggie.
Patsy returned from work to see her youngest daughter, Maggie, half-dead crawling from underneath the table. She thought for certain that her daughter was half-dead and she knew the cruel act had been made by Will Johnson, a man she already had her suspicions about.
In the early stages of Aunt Maggie’s life, she had experienced severe pain. Her back was full of sores and knots, and there was not an inch of normal flesh remaining on her tiny back. A fever went throughout her body and led to a life of darkness.
Aunt Maggie on the porch of her house.
Aunt Maggie became blind due to all the trauma. She had no idea what she physically looked liked growing up, but she found content in the bare necessities.
She may have lost her vision, but her faith in God and love for life itself grew much stronger. Her blindness was a minor setback; however, it did not prevent her from feeling joy.
In 1898 Maggie married a God-fearing man named John Scruggs and had three children. He would often read scripture to her and they would attend church together. Her married life ended in 1902, leaving her to be a blind widow with no company other than God and her chickens.
For financial support, Aunt Maggie walked two miles from her home to clean at someone’s house. Although blind, she was known as the most efficient wash woman anyone had ever seen. She kept her house tidy at all times as well.
When she was not attending to her chickens or cleaning, Aunt Maggie would sing her favorite gospel songs and find time to worship God alone in the stillness of the woods.
Ruben Ratzlaff stated, “As Johnson Bible College is a monument to prayer, so is Aunt Maggie a monument to faith.”
In 1935, Arvil Hurt, a former JBC student and member of New Hopewell Baptist Church, was on a hike and stopped by to visit Aunt Maggie. His first question to her was, “Do you know the Lord?” In response, Maggie replied, “Yes, sir, and the Lord knows me.”
Soon after, Hurt and other Johnson students began to visit Aunt Maggie often. They built relationships with this strange woman who lived in the woods. They would bring her food, cut wood for her, pray, sing, and worship with her.
It was evident that Aunt Maggie had faith like no other. She always welcomed Johnson students with a radiant smile, even though she could not physically see them. Maggie would often pray for JBC. “Bless the whole school group, far and near; help them to gain, help them to go through, help them to be the people they profess to be,” she once said.
Many that visited her little house in the woods were transformed by her spirit and wisdom. Maggie always had a song on her heart that she wanted to sing. Some songs mentioned were “Prayer Is the Key of Heaven,” “Faith Unlocks the Door,” and “Amazing Grace.”
Maggie was once brought to Johnson as a Thanksgiving guest. Students serenaded her with songs. “I just love to hear them preacher boys sing,” Maggie once said.
In 1951, Aunt Maggie was buried in an unmarked grave in Boyds Creek Cemetery. In response to this, Bob Jones, JBC director of development, took on the initiative to raise funds for a marker. Today at the highest point in Boyds Creek Cemetery, Aunt Maggie has a tombstone that reads, “Aunt Maggie Widener–1870-1951– I was blind but now I see.”
Headstone of Aunt Maggie at Boyds Creek Cemetery.
Maggie was featured in The Blue and White in Oct. 1987 and The News Sentinel on August 23, 1987
She can also be found today in the upper-level of the Phillips-Welshimer Building on the walls. Aunt Maggie had no idea just how much she impacted the people around her, but her memory will forever be a part of Johnson history. She is remembered for her zest, faith, and contagious enthusiasm about life.
Bill Wolf, dean of chapel, graduated from Johnson University with both a media communications and a masters degree and in New Testament.
It was not long after that Wolf graduated, that President Weedman approached him about taking on a new role as dean of chapel. Wolf is now in charge over every detail pertaining to chapel.
“I think I’m called to Johnson to help us worship well,” Wolf said. “I have no idea how to do that, but I’m working hard, praying and listening as closely as I can to God so that we can all figure that out together.”
He wants to shed light on the importance of corporate worship. To do this, Wolf asks questions like, “What is it that we should do when we gather to worship, and why it is we should do it?”
In his time here Wolf feels like he has made an impact on how chapel is run and organized. He does not think it is this way because he is an amazing organizer but simply because he comes with to this job with experience.
When it comes to the impact, that he made on the Johnson community, Wolf admits that he does not know.
He hopes to have made a positive impact both spiritually and theologically on the students that are closest to him, as well as his hope that he brought more meaning to worship.
The fourth annual Heels and Wheels Duathlon will take place on campus, April 18.
The event will begin at 9:30 a.m., with registration at 8 a.m. Wells Fargo will sponsor the event along with other corporations, which will feature running, biking and walking, and allow entrants to raise money through pledges for a participating non-profit of their choice.
“It’s unique. Not many people do something like this,” said Ken Underwood, Johnson University athletic director. “It’s unique, and it’s cool, and it’s here. And, it’s a great way to help a bunch of other people.”
The duathlon will consist of a 5k run, followed by an 18k bike ride and a 3k run. Participants can compete individually, as a team, or opt to partake in the less competitive 5k run, or fun walk. Underwood said registration fees run $35-$50 per person.
In addition to pledges, charities will receive a portion of the registration money at the discretion of Johnson University.
“We will clear over $50,000,” Underwood said.
“This event, it requires a lot of coordination, and a lot of volunteers,” said Underwood. The event needs around 60-100 volunteers. Johnson students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to help and should stay tuned to upcoming campus announcements.
Members of the Johnson community are also welcome to compete in the event. Anyone interesting in registering can visit the Heels and Wheels website.
Thomas Harvey, dean of Oxford’s missions, graduated from Wheaten Collage, Asbury Theological Seminary, the University of Notre Dame and has a Ph.D. in theology from Duke University. He has also spent 15 years living between China and Singapore and wrote a book entitled, “Accented with Grief“.
President of Johnson University, Gary Weedman said Harvey and his wife, “have a deep heart and passion to extend God’s kingdom among all nations.”
Harvey said that the reason Oxford’s Centre for Missions studies was founded is to bring fresh air back into the failing western missions culture.
“Western missions have become deeply implicated with western imperialism and western colonialism,” he said.
This made western missions almost fruitless. Some countries did not even want missionary’s to come anymore because they could not separate the idea of a missionary from a conqueror.
When the OCMS was founded in 1883 they made new principles that would allow them to reach back into the mission field in a new way.
They made it a point to have at least 60 percent of their conceal of trustees be from the two-thirds world.
Along with this, their research brings together faith and action. “we listen to our students,” Harvey said. After that he showed a presentation of the grad student’s studies.
Harvey said he believes that missions is one the most exciting fields a person could get involved in.
He left the stage challenging the Johnson University students to get involved with missions.
Melissa Keck, secretary to Kevin O’Brien, says that the Homecoming sessions are still on schedule.
Due to last nights flurries, Johnson University’s homecoming was threatened to cancel.
After watching the weather report and roads, the university decided to put regular classes on delay, but keep the main sessions on schedule. After awhile the roads seemed to clear up and become drivable again.
Johnson University still wishes to encourage caution to those commuting the event. Knoxville, Tennessee may still have on and off fluries the rest of the night, and a winter weather advisory will be in place until 4 p.m. this evening.
“We understand that not everyone will be able to make it,” Keck said. “But the show must go on. Whoever makes it will make it and whoever doesn’t, doesn’t.”
The first session is scheduled to open this evening at 7 p.m. A reception will follow directly after and at 9:15 p.m. the Council of Seventy will meet in Kevin O’Brien’s office.
Knoxville is averaging 85 percent humidity and tonight’s temperature will be dropping below freezing around 9 p.m., so there may be ice collecting on the roads before commuters retire for the night. A gentile breeze will also bring windchill, making it feel on average four degrees colder. All attending should dress for freezing temperatures.