Goshen College announces plans for national anthem’s implementation

GOSHEN, Ind. – In January, the Goshen College Presidents 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. In preparing for that change in practice to be implemented – beginning with the March 23 baseball and softball games – the President’s Council recently affirmed the plans of the Athletic Department.

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

“Our commitment to peacemaking has never been stronger at Goshen College, and I believe the way we are implementing this change in practice reflects that,” said President Brenneman. “I am willing to change this one practice as an act of hospitality because I know how committed we are to keeping Jesus’ call to peacemaking and nonviolence as central to this college and the wider church, which I love.”

The implementation plans announced today include:

  • An instrumental version of the anthem will be played prior to games where it is culturally routine, as determined by the Athletic Department. This will include at least basketball, baseball and softball games.
  • A U.S. flag will be placed on the court or by the field for the duration of each competition that the anthem will be played.
  • The following statement will be included in programs for games at which the anthem will be played:

    “Goshen College – affiliated with Mennonite Church USA – is a Christian, liberal arts college that strives to represent its five core values in all we do. These values – Christ-Centeredness, Passionate Learning, Global Citizenship, Servant Leadership and Compassionate Peacemaking – are consistent with our historic peace church heritage. We continue to strive to keep Christ’s teachings, and in particular his teaching on peace, foremost in our lives. We are thankful for religious freedom, respect different viewpoints, and welcome all opportunities to share in open dialogue.

    As an institution that values diversity and seeks to provide a hospitable place for all to come, learn, and experience, we welcome you to today’s game. Prior to the game, we will invite you to stand for the playing of the national anthem followed by a reading of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. We offer this time as space for people to respond respectfully as they wish, recognizing that these rituals represent different things to different people. Thank you for joining us and we trust today’s game will be enjoyable.”

  • A pre-game announcement will share the college’s core values and commitment to diversity and hospitality.
  • After the playing of the anthem, the Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi will be read.

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

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.


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.