Goshen College prepares to play anthem while campus dialogue continues

GOSHEN, Ind. – Goshen College will play the national anthem before sports events for the first time on March 23 and will hold a campus-wide dialogue on the issue on March 24.

In January, the Goshen College President’s 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. That change in practice will first be implemented at the Tuesday, March 23 home baseball and softball games.

The Goshen College baseball team is playing a doubleheader against Siena Heights University at 1 p.m. The softball team is playing a doubleheader against St. Joseph’s College at 3 p.m. All games are free and open to the public.

There will be a statement included in the game programs and a pre-game announcement will also be made to share the college’s core values – Christ-centeredness, compassionate peacemaking, global citizenship, servant leadership and passionate learning – and commitments to diversity and hospitality. After the playing of the anthem, the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi will be read.

The instrumental arrangement that will be played was written by Peter Breiner in 1994 and was used as part of the 2004 Athens Olympics medal ceremonies. This arrangement was jointly chosen by the college’s Athletic and Music Departments.

On Wednesday, March 24 at 10 a.m., the college will hold a campus convocation in the Church-Chapel about “Perspectives on the Anthem.” President Jim Brenneman will introduce differing perspectives on the playing of the national anthem at Goshen College. This event is free and open to the public.

President Brenneman recently said at a gathering of alumni: “It would have been far easier to maintain the status quo and to avoid the discussion and decision regarding the playing of the national anthem on campus than not. However, at Goshen College our whole learning process is framed by commitment to address complex problems, no matter the discipline. I believe Goshen College is different than other colleges in exploring complex issues such as racism, climate change, sexuality, faith as it relates to patriotism. Indeed, at the heart and soul of a great liberal arts education is a commitment to dialogue with others of differing viewpoints.”

He added, “In my opinion, the biggest cultural issue exposed by our discussion, isn’t about a God/country confusion alive and well in this country that rightly needs to be challenged. Bigger still is a culture of uncivil discourse – the growing lack of tolerance for different views other than our own that undermines the common good. This all pervasive tendency to think our point of view is the more important (especially when our identity is at stake) is as old as time and serves as the fountainhead, the source, of violence.”

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 had a practice of not playing the anthem prior to sporting events, since beginning to participate in intercollegiate athletics in 1957, it was never officially banned. The U.S. tradition of performing the national anthem before baseball games began in World War II.

Goshen College is owned by Mennonite Church USA, an historic peace church. The denomination does not have an official position on the playing of the national anthem, and there are varying practices among the other four Mennonite colleges and universities.

The baseball and softball field complex is south of the Roman Gingerich Recreation-Fitness Center on the south end of campus. For directions and a campus map, visit: www.goshen.edu/aboutgc/map.

Visit the national anthem overview page, with more news and views about the college’s decision.

Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview or request a photo, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or jodihb@goshen.edu.

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Goshen College, established in 1894, is a residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit www.goshen.edu.

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