The Goshen College board made a decision to drop the Mennonite religious requirement in the faculty hiring policy.
Effective immediately, faculty will be hired based on their adherence to the five core values and, as it was before, that they are Christian.
The old policy specified that 80 percent of the faculty at Goshen College had to be Mennonite and all faculty had to be Christian. As part of the interview process, job candidates would answer questions about their lives in relation to the core values, write a faith statement and would need to be a member of a Christian church.
“[The new policy] takes out the Mennonite/non-Mennonite component and is placing [hiring] in context of the core values,” said President Jim Brenneman. “It’s really just wording things differently.”
Anita Stalter, the academic dean, said it used to get tricky to determine if a person qualified as an Anabaptist. To prove her point, she gave board members scenarios and had them decide whether or not a person should be considered Mennonite. Sure enough, the board members disagreed with each other as to how a person should be classified.
One example Stalter offered was a person who grew up Mennonite but had since stopped attending a Mennonite church. More scenarios were of a Mennonite who married a person of another denomination and who now attends a Presbyterian church or a Catholic who now attends a Mennonite church.
Brenneman says that the new policy will place more emphasis on the core values.
“I am putting heavy weight on the core values and that they were made based on a deeply Mennonite ethos and carry out what the Mennonite church is about,” said Brenneman.
Another reason for the change is to give the college greater flexibility to hire diverse people. Even though the Mennonite church pledges diversity and the college’s strategic plan wants diversity, last year’s cultural audit pointed out that greater diversity in students and faculty was needed.
Both Bluffton University and Bethel College don’t have Mennonite affiliation requirements, yet over 50 percent of their faculty are considered Mennonite.
Brenneman and Stalter insist that the change is not a big one.
“[Applicants] know what the Mennonite stance is when they come to meetings and they agree that they will support the institution’s Anabaptist position,” said Stalter. “Many have different interpretations on the issues but support what GC stands for.”
Brenneman said, “We are just wording things differently.”