President Brenneman releases statement as national anthem is played on campus

GOSHEN, Ind. — History was made today at Goshen College as the national anthem was played before two sports events for the first time since intercollegiate athletics began at the college in 1957. The anthem was played before a 1 p.m. baseball team doubleheader against Siena Heights University and softball team doubleheader against St. Joseph’s College at 3 p.m.

After the anthem was played at the baseball game today, President Jim Brenneman read the following statement to news reporters who attended the event:

“Goshen College is a special place. It’s more than a college. It’s an academic think tank, an international change agent, a Christ-centered, spirit-filled community, and it’s home to a whole new kind of peace movement.

“Students, faculty/staff, alumni and others have come to today’s games with different opinions, different faith understandings and different convictions. And I thank God for that, because I believe at the heart of making peace in this country — and in the world — is our ability to listen to each other and respect each other’s views.

“At Goshen College, our entire learning process is framed by a commitment to address complex problems, no matter the discipline, and to do so with academic rigor and civility. Playing the national anthem or not before our games is one such complex issue for us.

“The crux of the matter has to do with our relationship with God and with our country. We are asking ourselves such questions as: how should faithful Christians order their allegiances? How do we celebrate the freedoms and opportunities of this country and still challenge injustices that also exist in our midst? And how does a church college retain its historic peace heritage while welcoming an increasingly diverse student body from other traditions?

“On our campus, we have students from many backgrounds. Among them, we have students committed to pacifism whose parents or grandparents were conscientious objectors and who grew up with a deep suspicion of patriotic observances. We have students raised as pacifists who have no objection to flying the flag or playing the anthem, particularly as part of a pre-game sports ritual. We have students whose relatives served in the military and who are proud to fly the U.S. flag in honor of their service. We have students who are children of new immigrants who love this country for the freedom it has given their families. And we have international students for whom the Star-Spangled Banner has no personal meaning.

“All of these students are a vital part of this community, and I had them in mind when I led in the decision to play the national anthem before games. I am committed to retaining the best of what it means to be a Mennonite college, while opening the doors wider to all who share our core values. And I invite others to join us at Goshen College as we make peace in all of its forms, even with the national anthem.”

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.

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.

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

There was a statement included in the game programs today and a pre-game announcement also were made before the games 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 was read.

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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