Johnson Service Corps is a diverse, ecumenical community of young adults ages 21 to 28 dedicated to service and social justice in Chapel Hill and Durham, NC.
The mission of Johnson Service Corps is to develop young-adult anti-racist servant leaders through participation in a year of social justice engagement, intentional community living, servant leadership training, and spiritual formation.
The vision of Johnson Service Corps is to offer transformative opportunities for young adults to re-imagine vocational discernment and pursue a life-long journey of community engagement sustained by spiritual practice.
Johnson Service Corps helps young adults discern vocation and lifestyle that flow from each individual’s unique calling. Our philosophy rests on the following four pillars:
- Servant Leadership: We embrace the values of communion, compassion, co-creation, collaboration, and character. As servant leaders, we discern our unique callings and live authentically in those callings. We benefit from the spiritual awareness that practicing these values brings to our lives and vocations. We resist the definition of success as accumulation of money and power and replace it with an understanding of abundance through shared resources and “power with” rather than “power over.”
- Social Justice: We are called to work together with our neighbors, from the local to the global, to stand against injustice in social, cultural, economic, political, and institutional systems and instead create systems of equality.
- Intentional Community Living: This model challenges us to re-imagine how our household relationships and practices are informed by and reflect our values. We become more aware of how to meet the needs of others and ourselves as we shift toward a community-minded paradigm that radically affects how we are present at home and in the world.
- Spiritual Formation: Rooted in the contemplative and social justice practices of Christian tradition, Johnson Service Corps welcomes and embraces people of all spiritual expressions who seek to journey in discernment and in discovery of ways to live out call authentically.
Johnson Service Corps is a 501(c)3 independent non-profit organization, and an affiliate of Episcopal Service Corps, a national network of similar programs around the US.
Johnson Service Corps is named for Margaret “Callie” Johnson, librarian and parishioner of The Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church in Chapel Hill, NC.
Ms. Johnson lived simply and the church leadership was surprised when she left over $300,000 to the church in her will. In light of Ms. Johnson’s life-long interest in the education and development of young people, the Vestry of the Chapel of the Cross decided to explore the idea of creating a internship program for young adults that would focus on outreach to the community.
The original name for the program was Johnson Intern Program and the first group of three young adults was welcomed in the fall of 2000.
In 2005, the program incorporated into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and hired Susan Gladin as the Executive Director. Under Susan’s leadership, the program grew from four participants to a steady eight participants each year. Susan also spearheaded the development of our Servant Leadership curriculum through her training at The Servant Leadership School of Greensboro, NC.
As more programs like us were cropping up around the country, we joined with them to found the Episcopal Service Corps in 2008. The national network of the Episcopal Service Corps has grown from 6 founding organizations to now include more than 15 programs across the U.S.
In 2013, Sarah Campbell was hired as the Executive Director after serving as a mentor and board member. Sarah completed a year of service in 2007-2008 with Discipleship Year through the Servant Leadership School, an affiliate of the Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC.
During a strategic planning process completed in the first half of 2014, the Board of Directors voted to update the program name to Johnson Service Corps and approved a plan to grow the number of young adult participants and reach greater visibility and sustainability.
Aleta Payne became Executive Director in 2017 bringing with her 16 years of nonprofit leadership experience from her work with the NC Council of Churches, which included statewide policy and advocacy efforts around issues of social justice, Christian unity, and peace.
In the fall of 2019 Aleta left JSC to return to her roots in journalism with a job with Faith and Leadership magazine at Duke Divinity School. Andrew Hudgins and Christina Balderson, both already on staff with JSC, took over as co-directors. Andrew as the Program Director and Christina as the Operations Director.
The 2020-2021 cohort was the program’s 20th, making it one of the oldest and most well-established Episcopal Service Corps programs in the country. In May 2021 an anniversary celebration was held, bringing together corps members, supervisors, mentors, program directors, and long-time supporters of the program from two decades of ministry. IronWorx Media, a film production company found by JSC alum (2016-17) Debbie Vu produced the following video in celebration of the momentous occasion:
Core Servant Leadership Values
Corps members learn about, reflect on, and practice these values throughout the year. We are ever-deepening our understanding and practice of these values in order to be the people we were created to be. By living from the depths of our true selves, we cultivate inner peace and find purpose to authentically serve our community and the world with our unique gifts.
- Communion: I am committed to a regular, transformative, centering practice of spirituality and I intend to live the moments of my life increasingly present to life and awake to who I am called to be.
- Compassion: I confess my own humanity and acknowledge the heart connection I have with all who share the human condition. I see the light of creation in every person. I embrace people who are different than me because I understand that we are all one.
- Co-creation: I hear a voice of truth above the clamor of the dominant culture, a voice that asks me to question my culture’s assumptions and beliefs. As a servant leader, I align my life with this truth and engage with others to be co-creative instruments of justice and peace.
- Collaboration: I trust in the abundance of creation to provide all that is needed, so that individuals and groups can collaborate instead of compete. I strive to engage others in full participation and lead in such a way that builds leadership in others.
- Character: I am truly accountable to those served and approach opportunities for change with awareness of community assets. I meet commitments on time and act responsibly with public and personal trust. I am accountable for my words and actions.