On July 17-18, 2015, the Goshen College Board of Directors met. “After a multi-year review of our current hiring practices, offering prayers for divine guidance, listening to and consulting various constituencies and key stakeholders, and considering relevant legal changes, we voted to update the institutional Non-Discrimination Policy,” said Conrad Clemens, chair of the Goshen College Board of Directors.
The updated policy:
Goshen College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or any legally protected status. As a religious institution, Goshen College expressly reserves its rights, its understandings of, and its commitments to the historic Anabaptist identity and the teachings of Mennonite Church USA, and reserves the legal right to hire and employ individuals who support the values of the college.
The college’s hiring practices and benefits will now expand to include employees in same-sex marriages. The hiring processes are focused on hiring the best people that enable the college to live out its core values and mission.
“As an institution rooted in the Anabaptist tradition, we reaffirm our strong relationship to Mennonite Church USA,” said Goshen College President James E. Brenneman, “and recognize the diversity of interpretation of Scripture on this issue within our denomination and the broader Christian church, a diversity reflected within the board of directors and on our campus as well. We seek forbearance and grace amidst our differences. We deeply affirm the goodness of marriage, singleness, celibacy, sexual intimacy within marriage, and a life of faithfulness before God for all people.
“As a liberal arts college, we strive for an educational environment that encourages critical thinking, loving and respectful dialogue, and continual pursuit of living into our Christ-centered core values. We affirm the equal value and worth of each unique member of our community as a beloved child of God, and we seek to be a hospitable community for all — including those who disagree with this decision — as Christ modeled to us.”
Clemens added, “We acknowledge and welcome that the board of trustees of our sister school, Eastern Mennonite University, is announcing a similar decision today. At the same time, we want to particularly express our deep respect for fellow Mennonite and Christian institutions which make choices different from our own. We know that, like us, each is seeking to be faithful in discerning the best paths forward, and we continue to support and advocate for the freedoms afforded to religious organizations to operate according to their religious convictions.”
Why is Goshen College changing this policy?
This decision is in keeping with our commitment to non-discrimination and our Christ-centered core values.
Who establishes the college’s hiring policies?
The Goshen College Board of Directors has the authority to set policies for the institution. Many human resources practices and policies are set by the administration. This policy change is within the purview of the board, though it consulted the Mennonite Education Agency Board of Directors prior to making the decision.
Did the recent Mennonite Church USA resolutions at Kansas City have an impact on the board’s process or decision?
Out of respect for the denomination, the board of directors wanted to provide time for the next steps in the church’s discernment process before making this decision. The actions taken by delegates at the convention were taken into consideration in the board’s deliberations.
Did the recent Supreme Court decision impact the board’s decision?
Making decisions about how we relate with our LGBTQ+ students, employees and alumni is something that we at Goshen College have been working at and addressing in various ways for more than 40 years. The board of directors has been considering these questions carefully over the past several years. Though the court’s decisions were part of the board’s considerations, they were not the impetus for this shift in institutional policy.