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JCSU Adds a New Dimension to School Spirit

Chaplain Kanita McGahee, JCSU student Nilfia Hazel and Spiritual Life Center Director Donnie Shell open the Care Closet to students in need.
Chaplain Kanita McGahee, JCSU student Nilfia Hazel and Spiritual Life Center Director Donnie Shell open the Care Closet to students in need.
JCSU Staff
Charlotte, N.C. (October 30, 2013) -- The Spiritual Life Center (SLC) at Johnson C. Smith University is extending its reach through new programs that inspire change while enriching religious, spiritual and intellectual life.

During its annual Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast Fellowship on Oct. 22, Rev. Adrian Harper, ’92 of New Season Christian Ministries, introduced three adjunct chaplains at the SLC who are bringing new initiatives to campus life. Chaplain Jim Hamrlik, who is also a deacon at St. Matthews Catholic Church, is leading the Friday Friends Ministry to encourage students to look around and find someone they would like to get to know better who may be of a different faith. “Diversity of faith is something we’re trying to understand as a community,” he said.

Chaplain Kanita McGahee, a minister at The Park Church, is working with students to establish a “Care Closet.” The idea was birthed out of a desire to help students with basic necessities, such as toothpaste and shampoo. Students can stop by the SLC and select items they need at no cost and “walk away with pride and dignity,” she explained. The Care Closet is set up like a store to help alleviate the reluctance and shame that may deter some students. Rev. Harper has championed the cause to raise monies and solicit products for the Care Closet Ministry. Donations of funds or items are welcome.

Chaplain Imam Khalil Akbar, with the Masjid Ash-Shaheed Islamic Center, is heading up a prison mentorship called Transitional After Care Network (TAN) for inmates who are transitioning out of prison. Students are invited to serve as mentors and pen pals in this new ministry. JCSU student Nilfia Hazel, who serves as president of the Spiritual Life Club, has developed leadership abilities by serving ex-offenders in TAN. “As a volunteer, this gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment,” she said. “The center is very instrumental in my leadership development at JCSU.”

During the breakfast, the chaplains reflected on the theme “The Woman at the Well,” the Bible story about the Samaritan woman with whom Jesus broke longstanding religious, cultural and social traditions. “Are we willing to break our religious, cultural, social and academic tradition or status to share God's love with someone we don't know?” SLC director Donnie Shell asked the audience. “Love is not love unless it is given away.” 

Shell said he wants students to experience a variety of religious backgrounds on campus and in the community to help them understand one another and move the country forward. The center’s outreach programs in the community are some of the avenues that lead to such understanding.

On the fourth Saturday of each month the SLC serves food at the Salvation Army Shelter for women and children and delivers toiletries, blankets and jackets to the women. At Christmas, the club donates toys and serves ice cream and pizza to families at Charlotte Family Housing and Hope Haven.

The SLC also partners with other campus organizations to collect school supplies for the Rural Hill Primary School in Portland, Jamaica.

For more information on the SLC call 704-378-3542 or email  

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