President Showalter presents core values for a living faith in opening address

GOSHEN, Ind. — The first day of Goshen College 2003-04 classes, Aug. 27, opened with President Shirley H. Showalter’s opening address, “Living Our Faith,” to the campus in which she called students to deepen their relationship with God by living out the core values of Goshen College: a Christ-centered community of passionate learners, global citizens, compassionate peacemakers and servant leaders.

Addressing a crowd of more than 800 students, faculty and staff members in the Church-Chapel, Showalter began by summarizing author Anne Lamott’s spiritual conversion, described in Lamott’s book “Traveling Mercies.” Showalter welcomed students to a community of Christians and related that Lamott met people who lived their faith, “You need to find God in order to find your own voice,” Showalter said, “one that implanted within you while your creator knit you together in your mother’s womb.”

Prior to entering the Church-Chapel, students received their first “business cards,” imprinted with the five core values of Goshen College. Showalter said the card is important. “It is a business card because it is about the most important business of your life,” she said. “If we, with God’s help, choose now to make these words live a little more fully every day, this little card could turn the world upside down.”

Showalter called the campus to rally around the mutually upheld beliefs. “We are a diverse group. What we have in common is our focus on these core values. This is where we find unity amidst our diversity,” she said.

As part of her presentation, Showalter described each core value and challenged students to embrace them as their own.

The first value, being Christ-centered, is the fundamental reason “we have a college,” said Showalter. “The purpose of this college is to be an instrument in God’s voice calling you to be your own unique self.”

As an example of the second core value, being a passionate learner, Showalter pointed to the Maple Scholar students who have been doing research side by side with professors all summer as one example of passionate learners. “Sometimes God calls us through the gift of our minds,” she said. “I invite you to stretch your mind as far as it will go — and that is farther than you know now.”

The third core value is that of becoming global citizens Ð “passionate learners who are no longer bound by their own culture and who learn to listen in other languages,” Showalter said. She gave the 10 percent of the student body who are from another country and the 64 percent of the student body who study abroad while at Goshen College as examples of this value.

In describing the fourth value, Showalter said, “Servant leaders think about how to serve others first, as Christ did. Leadership will result, but service is the objective. Because of this order, servant-leaders are the best leaders of all.” She highlighted the voluntary service of student athletes who helped move furniture and people into the dorms and to students who helped clean up fallen trees on campus after a violent storm Tuesday night.

Finally, Showalter said, the value of working to be compassionate peacemakers will be central to the coming school year through the general education theme of “Cultivating a Culture of Peace,” with many opportunities to hear speakers on the topic and engage the issues surrounding peacemaking.

Showalter ended her message by saying, “All our core values boil down to one thing: God has designed us for a purpose. We will keep working to be qualified for that job. We invite you to join us on an exciting journey to the very core of our beings.”

Showalter then invited everyone to join in an “applause avenue” and told the new students, “This whole college has been waiting for your arrival. Go receive the applause of welcome and the embrace of peace.”

The “applause avenue,” created a joyful noise and energy of new beginnings with hand clapping and welcoming each other to campus. Faculty, staff and students — including the 173 first years, 16 new international students and 61 transfers — paraded past their peers, then joined and extended the lines and continued the applause until the sanctuary was empty and the lines stretched more than 50 yards outside along the sidewalk.

Goshen College is a national liberal arts college known for leadership in international education, service-learning and peace and justice issues in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program and exceptional educational value, GC serves about 1,000 students in both traditional and nontraditional programs. The college earned citations of excellence in U.S. News & World Report and Barron’s Best Buys in Higher Education. For more information, visit

Editors: For more information, contact Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or