Augusta Free Press

Eastern Mennonite University, Goshen College withdraw from Council of Christian Colleges and Universities

The presidents of Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College announced their voluntary withdrawals from the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities today. The withdrawals come in response to several CCCU institutions’ concerns following the July 2015 decisions by EMU and GC to update their non-discrimination policies and allow the hiring of married gay and lesbian faculty.

Those concerns were expressed during a listening process held by CCCU leadership. The leadership of the CCCU requested that all member institutions, including EMU and GC, hold off on withdrawing from the council until the conclusion of the process.

The CCCU is a consortium of 120-plus universities, of which EMU was a founding member and GC a long-time member.

Both institutions withdrew with regret and appreciation for the valuable relationships formed as a result of their memberships. “We value the many years of partnership with other CCCU colleges committed to a Christ-centered mission,” wrote President Loren Swartzendruber in his letter to Chip Pollard, CCCU chair and president of John Brown University. With the letter, Swartzendruber also resigned from his position as a member of the CCCU board of directors.

“EMU remains fully committed to our Christian mission and will do so as an institution rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition which attempts to reflect Jesus’ call to peacemaking and justice,” Swartzendruber added.

Goshen College President Jim Brenneman wrote, “Our Christian commitments and values have not changed, and while our desire has been to remain at the table with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we don’t want to cause further division in the CCCU. It would distract us, and the CCCU, from the other important work at hand.”

The departure comes following extensive processing between both institutions and CCCU leadership. “We affirm such a deliberative and careful approach to decision-making — especially around issues of profound difference among faithful believers — as a glorious witness to Christian charity,” wrote Brenneman.

EMU and GC presidents noted deep respect for the leadership of both Chairman Pollard and Shirley Hoogstra, CCCU president.

“We have thoroughly valued the meaningful relationships we have formed as fellow presidents, and wish you and the board all of God’s blessings as you lead CCCU into the future,” wrote Swartzendruber in his closing.