Goshen College announces plans for national anthem's implementationby Goshen College
In January, the Goshen (Ind.) College Presidents Council, led by President Jim Brenneman, decided to allow the college's Athletic Department to play an instrumental version of the national anthem prior to some sporting events beginning this spring. In preparing for that change in practice to be implemented, beginning with the March 23 baseball and softball games, the President's Council recently affirmed the plans of the Athletic Department.
"Our commitment to peacemaking has never been stronger at Goshen College, and I believe the way we are implementing this change in practice reflects that," said President Brenneman. "I am willing to change this one practice as an act of hospitality because I know how committed we are to keeping Jesus' call to peacemaking and nonviolence as central to this college and the wider church, which I love."
The implementation plans announced today include:
* An instrumental version of the anthem will be played prior to games where it is culturally routine, as determined by the Athletic Department. This will include at least basketball, baseball and softball games.
* A U.S. flag will be placed on the court or by the field for the duration of each competition that the anthem will be played.
* The following statement will be included in programs for games at which the anthem will be played:
"Goshen College, affiliated with Mennonite Church USA, is a Christian, liberal arts college that strives to represent its five core values in all we do. These values--Christ-Centeredness, Passionate Learning, Global Citizenship, Servant Leadership and Compassionate Peacemaking--are consistent with our historic peace church heritage. We continue to strive to keep Christ's teachings, and in particular his teaching on peace, foremost in our lives. We are thankful for religious freedom, respect different viewpoints, and welcome all opportunities to share in open dialogue.
As an institution that values diversity and seeks to provide a hospitable place for all to come, learn, and experience, we welcome you to today's game. Prior to the game, we will invite you to stand for the playing of the national anthem followed by a reading of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. We offer this time as space for people to respond respectfully as they wish, recognizing that these rituals represent different things to different people. Thank you for joining us and we trust today's game will be enjoyable."
* A pre-game announcement will share the college's core values and commitment to diversity and hospitality.
* After the playing of the anthem, the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi will be read.
In mid-February, the college's Board of Directors affirmed the decision of the President's Council and asked college's leadership to create opportunities for thoughtful and prayerful discernment in ongoing structured dialogue. They also decided that the decision will be reviewed by the Board in June 2011.
Though the college has, since beginning to participate in intercollegiate athletics in 1957, had a practice of not playing the anthem prior to sporting events, it was never officially banned. The U.S. tradition of performing the national anthem before baseball games began in World War II.
For more information, read the original news release as well as related links to the decision statement, the timeline of events, the proposal by the National Anthem Task Force, answers to frequently asked questions, a statement from the Board of Directors and listen to President Brenneman's Jan. 15 sermon.
Goshen College Alumni Executive Board releases statement
The Goshen College Alumni Executive Board released the following statement today:
During the two days of meetings, March 5 and 6, we heard from faculty and administration concerning various college issues and programs including student life and enrollment. However, much of the time was spent processing the recent decision to play the national anthem before select sports events on campus.
The Alumni Executive Board presented the administration with strong concerns and responses from the alumni at large. Many have expressed their dismay, regret and strong opposition towards the decision to play the anthem while others have been supportive. Members of the Alumni Board also brought a wide range of personal views on this issue.
President Jim Brenneman listened to the concerns and addressed the Board with his vision and rationale for the decision. He stated his desire for Goshen College to keep its role as an institution of 'prophetic utterance' and 'engagement' in balance. While it is difficult to convey the full impact of his talk, we would encourage alumni to listen online to his sermon at the chapel service on Jan. 15.
Vice President for Institutional Advancement Jim Caskey expressed regret for not informing or including the Alumni Executive Board prior to the final decision.
Associate Professor Doug Schirch spoke on behalf of a group of faculty and staff who disagree with the decision to play the anthem. Their open letter to the editor was published in the March 4, 2010 issue of the Goshen College Record.
The Alumni Executive Board now has a better understanding of how and why the decision was made and is confident that the core values of Goshen College remain strong. We also believe the historic Anabaptist peace witness continues to provide a strong foundation for Goshen College.
Although we are not in unanimous agreement on playing the anthem, we are confident in the future of Goshen College and the leadership of President Brenneman. We look forward to continuing dialogue and encourage alumni to engage in a constructive and respectful manner with Goshen College and the Alumni Executive Board on this issue.
Tim Manickam '82
President, for the Goshen College Alumni Executive Board
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