Change abounds at Goshen College! It is visible not only in the colorful foliage that brightens our campus in the fall, but also as we have welcomed our largest incoming class since 2009, one that represents our increasing diversity and celebrates the welcoming nature of our community. A transition in leadership has occurred over the past few months as we bid farewell to President Jim Brenneman ’77 in July and welcome President Rebecca Stoltzfus ’83 in November. I have been honored to serve as interim president these past four months and to be part of facilitating positive change in a time of transition.
But, not everything is changing here, as we focus on our core value of “compassionate peacemaking” this year. A scan of the national and global news on any given day can illustrate where peace is missing, but this is not the case at our beloved institution. Goshen College is truly a place to learn about and to practice peace. This is not because we are perfect at it by any means, but this is a place where we continue the hard and intentional work of being compassionate peacemakers in the radical model Jesus provided us in his life.
As someone who grew up outside of the Mennonite faith, though with a Catholic appreciation for peacemaking, and as a relative newcomer to this “spot in Indiana,” I have been struck over and over again by how peace weaves through every aspect of life here. Our commitment to peacemaking is deeply embedded in our motto, in our core values, in our academic programs, in our clubs, in our study abroad program, in how we understand our identity and in our calling. It is not just in thought, but, perhaps more importantly, in action in how we demonstrate our commitment to peacemaking.
I am inspired by the diverse peacebuilding accomplishments and courage demonstrated by members of the GC community including: from current molecular biology/biochemistry major Yazan Meqbil ’19 who spoke on Capitol Hill this summer to U.S. lawmakers about being a Palestinian child growing up in the midst of conflict, to the recipients of our 2017 Alumni Awards (read more about them on p. 14). These individuals represent a small sample of the outstanding ways we are seeking peace in our world. Goshen’s impact on peace in the world is real and significant.
As we recall the words Jesus taught us in the Sermon the Mount, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9), I invite you to think about how you will be a compassionate peacemaker this year and to share your ideas with us and your friends. If you are sharing this on social media, use the hashtag #compassionatepeacemaker to help us all connect with each other, to provide a platform to learn from one another and to demonstrate to others how actions large and small can make a difference.
“Blessed are the peacemakers…”
Dr. Kenneth F. Newbold, Jr.
Interim President of Goshen College