Preparing the Way:The process of transition

Interim President John D. Yordy

Goshen College hosts many guests on campus each year – visitors who share perspectives on a range of topics and issues,

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Heart, mind and soul journey: Spiritual formation on campus

Rachel Lapp, director of public relations

It's a common notion that college will challenge students' faith. Indeed, exposure to new perspectives and world views inevitably causes us to

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Working with the enemy: pizza, guerrillas and miracles

Based on a sermon by Doug Schirch, Jan. 7, 2005; Edited by Jodi H. Beyeler

When Associate Professor of Chemistry Doug Schirch '82 was working with the ecumenical Christian organization Witness for Peace (WFP) in Nicaragua during the late 1980s

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Bridging traditions: organ music connects generations of worship

By Anna Groff '06

Walking into Rieth Recital Hall, curious about a new kind of music resonating off the high ceilings, one is easily overwhelmed by Opus 41.

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Solving Bach's temperamental puzzle

By Jodi H. Beyeler

Bradley Lehman '86 has solved the centuries-old mystery of what appeared to be an arbitrarily scribbled design on an original copy of one of J.S. Bach's compositions
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Bulletin cover 2005 March issue
Heart, mind and soul journey: Spiritual formation on campus

March 2005



Heart, mind and soul journey: Spiritual formation on campus

Rachel Lapp, director of public relations

It's a common notion that college will challenge students' faith. Indeed, exposure to new perspectives and world views inevitably causes us to reflect on – and even question – perspectives that we have long held ourselves. At the very least, we begin to understand another's point of view; at best, we come to think of a stranger as a friend and child of God, even if differences remain.

Pearl and Ebony "When I feel as though I need to be spiritually connected, I usually go to Campus Worship Night or Gospel Choir." - Pearl Msibi '07, Mt. Pleasant, Mich. (pictured at left - on left)

"The Goshen community is close-knit, warm, caring and Christ-centered; it has enabled me to enjoy learning and expanding my comfort zone as I grow here at GC. In the future, I hope to continue my journey with the same openmindedness and exuberance that I have had while at Goshen." - Ebony Goodwin '07, Philadelphia, Pa. (pictured at left - on right)

At Goshen, a student's faith is nurtured in a whole host of deliberate and purposeful ways. From classroom teaching to weekly chapel services to residence life, Goshen College teaching and administrative faculty carefully consider and provide students with Christian guidance and support as they wrestle with life's most meaningful questions. These two activities of spiritual questioning and spiritual nourishment are not only complementary, but necessary for growth.


Sylvia "As I mentor today's student leaders at Goshen College, it's exciting to know that God is doing and will do great things with their lives. Some of my first student leaders in campus ministries are now in pastoral leadership, Christian camping, youth work and teaching. Others are pursuing graduate degrees in theology and related fields, which will prepare them for significant work in the church and the world." - Sylvia Shirk Charles, Campus Minister

Far from undermining students' faith, the process of honest intellectual inquiry at Goshen adds depth, texture and meaning to the faith journeys of our students. And the Christ-centered perspective of our academic endeavors and community life renders our students' knowledge – and understandings of how beliefs can impact everyday life and actions – both rich and enduring. For students, it is important that a college prepare them for their future – professionally, socially and personally. For parents, it is important that a college continue to nurture the values they have worked so diligently to instill in their children. For churches, it is important that a Christian college help develop students' commitment to active faith and worship, cultivating pastoral and lay congregants capable of leading church communities in the future. For Goshen College, it is important to understand the interconnectedness of these expectations, and to meet them, while also advancing an academic community of excellent Christian scholarship and teaching, stewardship, fellowship, service and leadership.

John The adventerous journey of faith offers no guarantees about how the world will react to the Christian witness to compassion, vulnerability, and love... [But] we can testify with joy that God's love is indeed stronger than our fear. - from "Choosing Against War" by John D. Roth, professor of history (pictured at left)

For everyone, discerning what it means to be Christ-centered is at the foundation of all other inquiry.

In the stories that follow, faculty and students talk about the difference that teaching for and attending a Christ-centered campus is making in their lives.

Dan "In high school, I wasn't surrounded by people who shared the same love of the Lord as I did, and that made it hard to keep myself accountable. Goshen has an environment that has really allowed me to grow. I find the best thing is my advising professor. Never in my life have I had an educator who cared so much about who I am and how my faith walk is going. Overall, the people at Goshen helped me become the person of faith that I am today." - Dan Adcock '05, Westfield, Ind. (pictured at left)

Vicky Kirkton, director of nursing

Vicky Kirkton has taught college students of all ages for more than 25 years – seven of them at Goshen College. She values having joined Goshen as a Christ-centered campus for many reasons – from the opportunity to worship "at work" to discussing important issues in a community of faith to praying with students facing challenges or with colleagues at meetings – and sees the importance of the role of the faculty-mentor for young people.

"Students are at a very significant point in their faith development when they enter college. I feel they want to talk about it as they are sorting out and looking for role models and answers. As professors, we need to be sensitive to where they are in their faith development and what they need spiritually, and recognize that one size does not fit all," Kirkton said.

Kirkton described a classroom experience of showing nursing students a very concrete example of Christ-like behavior – sharing her faith in what could have been only a clinical explanation of a skill.

"When I was teaching how to give a bed bath, I told the students that they are not only going to give a great bed bath to their patients, but they are going to give a bed bath like only a Goshen College nursing student can do," Kirkton recalled. "Sixteen eyes turned and looked at me and wondered if I had gone off the deep end. I said, ‘Let me tell you how a bed bath given by a Goshen nursing student is different. You are not only organized and prepared, you will be sensitive to the individual patient's needs and you will listen and care. You will care for this person in a holistic way – you will give a bath as Christ would give.' Of course, that led to more discussion."

In helping her students to recognize their own unique gifts and calling, Kirkton said she refers to Psalm 139:13-14: "You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Jo-Ann "One of my goals is to teach students to find God in the wilderness. Students are leaving support structures they know, and while we want to find deliverance and sing songs of joy, we need to learn also how to lament, to wrestle with God, how to petition and get on our knees and say, 'I need.' I want to give them the awareness that they may feel 'in the wilderness' for a while, but that they can find strength in themselves and in community."
- Jo-Ann Brant, professor of Bible, religion and philosophy (pictured at left)


Bob Yoder, youth ministry program director

Though the degree he earned at Eastern Mennonite University was in biology, it was to ministry that Bob Yoder heard a vocational call. He began seeking a path in church leadership, but never imagined he would take a faculty position at Goshen, where he is an assistant professor of Bible. But now he "firmly believes Christ has called me to serve his church at this time and place."

In addition to teaching, Yoder is the adviser for Nebula, a ministry club for students. He vividly recalls his professors from college and seminary who were "exemplars in the educational setting who helped me discover how I could live out Christ's reign of peace, justice, shalom, reconciling love and passion on this earth." At Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, he said, he found influential mentors: "Mary Schertz furthered my love for Scriptures and helped me see the relevance of Biblical Greek and Hebrew. Willard Swartley always had us memorize Scripture for class. Marlene Kropf let me know that riding on my bicycle on the various county roads could be a form of prayer … and there are others." In the classes he now teaches, Yoder asks his own students to memorize biblical passages to present to class, and "make space to engage in various kinds of spiritual disciplines so they can hopefully discover if ‘bike-riding prayers' connect them to God."

Yoder, who has served in youth ministry leadership for the Indiana-Michigan and Ohio Mennonite conferences, said he "has a passion for helping others do what God has called them to do in life, so I am eager to walk alongside young adults as they ask important questions about their lives." Part of his role at Goshen is also to help students think about "the faith they have been brought up in, and [to] assist them in ‘filling it out,' ‘going deeper' and in maturing in Christ, deliberately owning their faith so that they have a better understanding of what it means to follow Jesus."

Keith "One of the reasons I teach at Goshen College is the opportunity to explore with students what it means to be Christ-centered in a business environment," Al Weldy recently told a group of pastors. "In the management classes I teach we have multiple opportunities to discuss how being Christ-centered might impact choices made by a business manager or an entrepreneur. We talk about spiritual gifts and how to evaluate the gifts God has given each student. This discussion often leads to the issue of ‘calling' and how might a student determine if God is calling them to use their gifts to manage or lead an organization." - from "My Faith Pilgrimage," a chapel talk by Keith Graber Miller, professor of Bible, religion and philosophy (pictured at left)

Al Weldy, associate professor of business

"One of the reasons I teach at Goshen College is the opportunity to explore with students what it means to be Christ-centered in a business environment," Al Weldy recently told a group of pastors. "In the management class I teach we have multiple opportunities to discuss how being Christ-centered might impact choices made by a business manager or an entrepreneur. We talk about spiritual gifts and how to evaluate the gifts God has given each student. This discussion often leads to the issue of 'calling' and how might a student determine if God is calling them to use their gifts to manage or lead an organization.

In the fall of 2003, Weldy, who practiced law before joining the faculty, was teaching an Entrepreneurship class, in which these topics often arose. He shared with students that his church was studying Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life, which he said examines "the question of how we can perceive and answer God's unique call in each of our lives." He challenged students to read and reflect on themes in the book.

Kendra King '04 accepted the assignment. She wrote, "The Purpose-Driven Life has profoundly impacted my life more than anything else in the past year, so much so that I read it twice… it has altered my life, my morals, my conduct, my decision-making processes and the way I relate to others. As a Christian soon to enter the world of business, I believe that the lessons and values gleaned from this book will greatly impact the way I engage in business. … If I succeed or fail, if I am prosperous or only making enough to scrape by, my ultimate focus in life should be to serve God. [This has] been instrumental in helping me to put my priorities in line, especially as I look toward graduation and entering the world of work and responsibility."

Joy "Developing a healthy spiritual life was a highlight of the summer I spent in the Ministry Inquiry Program. Reading Scripture and contemporary theological texts, spending time in prayer and in silence, and composing my thoughts and realizations through words and art on paper were ways that I persistently expanded my daily spiritual practices." - Joy Houser '05, Phoenix, Ariz. (pictured at left)

Sam Moyer, sophomore physics major

Moyer, who is from Vermont, said that he values involvement in Campus Worship Night as part of a worship music team. A spring break trip organized by Campus Ministries also became significant and, he said, "left an imprint in my mind about what I would like to do with my life – making me want to seriously consider doing some sort of service in the future."

Sam found encouragement and mentorship from professors like Valerie Hershberger, associate professor of physical education and intramurals coordinator through Student Life, who asked him to become a student assistant working with the intramural program, as well as in older students, like his small group leader. He said, "My small group was probably the most spiritually positive and challenging for me consistently throughout the year. I found it really helpful to hear other students' points of view on Christian issues – even if we didn't always agree. It was a place that we all felt safe to ask questions about God and life in general."

Jessica Schrock '04, youth ministry, Zion Mennonite Church (Archbold, Ohio)

For Goshen students, connecting to God often comes from the experience of leaving behind the blessings of a known community and exploring our wonderfully multicultural world. Schrock went to the Dominican Republic two years ago with plenty of theological knowledge, and questions about her place in the church. In her Study-Service Term (SST) journal, she wrote, "God became very real for me on SST. Suddenly I found myself without a familiar community and I finally realized what I had been lacking in my understanding of life. My life had always been founded on my identity as a Christian, and all of a sudden I was in a place that had no category in which to place me… I found that being a beloved child of God, accepting that and living for that surpasses all cultural boundaries."

Her experience brought about a respect for differences among Christian churches and strengthened her own desire to be an active part of the church.

Nancy Geiser Kauffmann '73, Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference regional minister

Kauffmann, who spent 19 years on the pastoral team at College Mennonite Church before accepting her current role with Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference, recalls the course that illuminated for her the idea that all of her learning "must be held up to the light of faith." She said, "I still remember my first assignment in my first science course … a reference search on land in the Bible. I remember it dawning on me that land and its use was clearly a faith issue. My experiences at Goshen helped to lay a solid foundation for living out my faith in service to the church. These experiences continue to have a major impact on my ministry after all these years."

Landon Yoder '04, World Vision United Nation's Office, Mennonite Voluntary Service

In the recently published "Students Talk About Service" booklet in Mennonite Mission Network's "Missio Dei" series, Yoder, who is living in Manhattan while serving in World Vision's U.N. office, wrote about his experience through the Service Inquiry Program (SIP), a program unique to Goshen College inspired by the Mennonite Church USA's Ministry Inquiry Program. Through SIP, Yoder served in Denver, Colo., with Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection (DOOR), and was a volunteer coordinator hosting one or two high school youth groups each week for an introduction to urban ministry. He learned perhaps as much through discussion about his beliefs as he did about his interest in service through leading others.

"I learned much from simply volunteering and observing," he stated. "[It was challenging to] live with people who think about God in very different ways, be a leader of high school students and volunteer for difficult, tiring hours. One particular learning experience occurred at the Love Kitchen, a small gathering place for people to get a free meal. The founder of the kitchen initiated a discussion with me because of my anti-death penalty T-shirt. I learned that his brother had been a pastor and was shot by a man in his congregation one Sunday morning. The founder was in favor of the death penalty – he believed that the murderer needed to be held accountable for his crime. We disagreed on how to hold him accountable. I learned that winning the argument was unimportant, but addressing the pain he experienced from his brother's murder was important. I learned to address situations of conflict as points in a process of kindness, patience and compassion rather than with a goal of persuasion to my point of view."

Allison Brenneman, junior business education major

Because her parents and sister attended Goshen, Brenneman's journey with Goshen began many years ago. She heard stories about their college experiences, and visited campus numerous times before she enrolled as a student. But Goshen has exceeded her expectations, she said, adding, "For me to come here and make my experience meaningful to me because I had a different experience than my parents or my sister did – and I'm still in the process of that – is exciting."

Brenneman, who is from Kalona, Iowa, talks about her friendships at Goshen and her Study-Service Term experiences as being significant aspects of her college journey. She is also enthusiastic about her professors in the business department – their passion for their vocation as well as their excellent connections in the community – as well as Campus Ministries.

"I think at Goshen there are many opportunities for spiritual growth. There are many organizations and programs, especially student-run programs, to be part of. For example there's Campus Worship Night on Wednesday," she said. "And I also think part of the spirituality at Goshen is in the students here, and you see it in the professors. That's what I appreciate most, just the general atmosphere of spiritual community and of faith that can be alive in the classroom, in the dorms – I feel open and welcome to talk about my faith or my spirituality in all aspects of my life here."