By JESSE DAVIS
Goshen College has turned over a new leaf.
The school began its baseball game Tuesday against rival Siena Heights with an instrumental version of the national anthem, the first time the school has used the song since it began participating in intercollegiate athletics in 1957. Following a January decision by the college’s President’s Council, the anthem will now be played before all baseball and softball games. In addition to playing the instrumental, the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is read.
The break from tradition drew not only the local news media, but also representatives from the Indianapolis Star, the New York Times and The Associated Press.
“It’s not so much the day as that we knew it was coming eventually, and we think it’s good move and hopefully it will represent us well with opponents who can understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” baseball Coach Josh Keister said. “I think it will be well-received.”
After the first inning of the game, GC President Jim Brenneman took time with attending media to make a statement on behalf of the college and to field questions. According to his statements, college officials took into account the wide variety of student backgrounds and beliefs in making their decision, as well as multiple dialogues across campus that have included students, faculty and athletic staff.
“At Goshen College, our entire learning process is framed by a commitment to address complex problems, no matter the discipline, and to do so with academic rigor and civility,” Brenneman said. “Playing the national anthem or not before our games is one such complex issue for us.”
According to Brenneman, the practice will be reconsidered after a one-year trial period. A prior statement from the school noted that Mennonite Church USA does not have an official position on the anthem’s playing and that practices among other Mennonite schools vary.