Wednesday, February 17, 2010

National anthem dialogue and implementation to continue at Goshen College

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

GOSHEN, Ind. – Goshen College President Jim Brenneman sent the following letter today to the campus community, the Alumni Board and the Parents Council:

I am writing today on behalf of the Goshen College Board of Directors and the President's Council to give you an update on the national anthem decision and related action taken last weekend by the board. Last month, with the full support of the President's Council, I led the decision to allow an instrumental version of the national anthem to be played on campus prior to some sporting events beginning this spring. Throughout our 14-month conversation leading up to the decision, we heard from many of you on campus on this issue – some in favor, some opposed.

Over the past several weeks we also have heard from many alumni, friends and members of the larger Christian community – some in favor and more who oppose this decision. In the midst of strong emotional responses and appeals to overturn the decision, we have been reminded of the deep love many people have for Goshen College, as well as the deeply held beliefs in the Mennonite peace witness. We strongly affirm both of these.

This past Friday and Saturday, members of the Goshen College Board of Directors engaged several agenda items during their quarterly meeting, including addressing the national anthem decision. Amidst prayerful deliberations, we discussed ways the process could have been improved, the Board's feedback in December when it was requested, the rationale for the decision, and the reaction on and off campus. The Board then took the following action:

"As the Board of Directors of Goshen College, we affirm the decision of the President's Council to play a music-only version of the national anthem at select sports venues. We recognize the deeply held and divergent opinions around this decision and ask the leadership of Goshen College to create opportunities for thoughtful and prayerful discernment in ongoing structured dialogue, especially with those beyond the immediate college community (alums and others). We encourage the open exchange of ideas characterized by respect for each other and the church that is central to the teaching and learning commitments of Goshen College. This decision will be reviewed by the Board in June 2011."

I appreciate the Board's meaningful engagement and look forward to working with them to design continuing dialogue. As one example, we will convene a symposium to discuss the anthem in the larger context of Mennonite identity, peacemaking and civic engagement. We will also work with the Board to determine the criteria for reviewing the anthem decision after a year of implementation.

Many wonderful and challenging things are going on at Goshen College right now, but I want you to know that we will continue to take this issue — and what you think about it — seriously. In the coming weeks and months, I invite your continued questions and feedback. I will let you know soon about future opportunities to participate in this important conversation.

I welcome your prayers for the President's Council as we strive to lead Goshen College, and for the entire campus as we engage the complex problems of this world in which we live.

President Jim Brenneman

Editors: For more information about this release or to arrange an interview, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or


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

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Goshen College
1700 S Main St
Goshen, Indiana 46526
phone: +1 (574) 535-7569
fax: 535-7660