Johnson Service Corps

Chapel Hill and Durham, NC

Internship Sites: social-justice-focused non-profit agencies

Weekly Schedule: 4 days at worksite; 1 day in servant leadership training; intentional community time (meals, prayer/worship, meetings); and attending a spiritual community of your choice

Benefits: personal stipend ($220/mo), community food stipend, housing, health insurance

House Size: 2 houses of 5-6 corps members per house; some rooms are shared

Transportation: Public bus transportation is available; cars are allowed

Start Date: August 21, 2017

End Date: July 28, 2018

Based in Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina, Johnson Service Corps invites 12 young adults to engage with an intentional and simple lifestyle while practicing social justice, community living, servant leadership and spiritual growth.  JSC is centered on the Servant Leadership values of Communion, Compassion, Co-creation, Collaboration and Character, which we explore and practice together.

We are a community that is on an inward/outward journey of servant leadership.  Through the inward journey of spiritual practice we become awakened to our unique calling to an outward journey co-creating justice, peace, beauty and love in the world.

Threshold - Anna 1

Threshold is a clubhouse for adults with severe mental illness where members and staff work side by side and create meaningful relationships.

Partner Organizations
Corps members do meaningful work at fantastic organizations that serve and empower vulnerable members of our community.  Corps members are integral to the work of these organizations and gain valuable professional skills while working 32 hrs/wk.

2017-18 Partner Organizations include:

  • Club Nova – providing meaningful work and relationships for adults with mental illness
  • Compass Center for Women & Families – multiple self-sufficiency resources and domestic violence prevention and care
  • East Durham Children’s Initiative – cradle to career pipeline of services in a high-poverty zone of East Durham
  • Freedom House Recovery Center – providing life skills and support to women newly entering sobriety and substance abuse recovery
  • Inter-Faith Council – this community organizing position connects individuals receiving emergency assistance at IFC’s shelter and soup kitchen, and local congregations to organizing efforts focusing on economic and social justice issues
  • RAFI (Rural Advancement Foundation Int’l)  – working with Beyond Hunger Relief on sustainable agriculture and rural poverty, and Come To The Table food and faith conference
  • Seymour Center for Seniors – wellness, recreation, and life-long learning for diverse senior citizens, including a Caregivers Day Out program for adults with dementia
  • StepUp Durham – workforce development and life skills for adults with criminal backgrounds and other barriers to employment
  • Threshold Clubhouse – providing meaningful work and relationships for adults with mental illness
  • Uniting NC – building relationships with immigrants and US citizens so that all people can reach their highest potential; Code the Dream: teaching coding and computer programming to immigrants for greater job opportunities

Servant Leadership Training
On Fridays, corps members receive leadership training in the Servant

We visit DC to learn about servant leadership at Church of the Saviour.

We visit DC to learn about servant leadership at Church of the Saviour.

Leadership model. Servant Leadership is about discovering our true selves, understanding and owning our shadow-sides, and moving toward an authentic self that is in communion with Creator and creation, compassionate with oneself and others, and in alignment with divine power and purpose. Corps members take the 9-week Servant Leadership course alongside community members. At the conclusion of the Servant leadership course, corps members visit Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC to experience first-hand how servant leadership practice has created a unique and inspiring faith community.

Throughout the year, corps members also participate in trainings and workshops about equity, social justice issues, spiritual practices, and understanding the self, others, and group dynamics. Using these skills, corps members complete a Praxis Project including discerning a call to a particular need in the local community, developing a project plan, writing a small grant proposal and presenting it, administering the project, and completing a project report.


Exploring different spiritual practices helps us discern and grow.

Spiritual Formation
Johnson Service Corps members come from a variety of spiritual and religious identities.  Rooted the in the contemplative and social justice practices of Christian tradition, we welcome people of all spiritual expressions who seek to discern their call and live out that call authentically. We introduce corps members to a variety of spiritual practices and encourage corps members to commit to a daily centering practice. Corps members are encouraged to find a local spiritual community and attend worship or other gathering weekly. In a culture where everything seems to come in an ever-changing “flavor of the week,” commitment to a daily practice and regular spiritual community can be a profound experience. We also provide a mentor for each corps member and can connect interested corps members with a Spiritual Director.  Corps members participate in 4 community retreats throughout the year.

2013.08 Opening Retreat group dining table

Sharing a meal together is a hallmark of intentional community.

Intentional Community Living
From mid-August through July, JSC provides corps members with a furnished house, a community food allowance, health insurance (if needed) and a modest personal stipend of $220/month.

During Opening Retreat, the community is led through a process of forming a “Rule of Life,” or covenant of how they intend to live together to facilitate intentional relationships of care and support. Community life involves three weekly meals together, a weekly meeting of spiritual sharing, a weekly house business meeting, a monthly hospitality meal, and may include other structures as determined by the group. Community roles and responsibilities are determined by the group and may rotate throughout the year.

Intentional community living is counter-cultural. It challenges us to be compassionate to ourselves and to others. Corps members often point to intentional community living as the most transformative experience of the year.

Servant Leadership Values

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.