Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

Today I want to comment on a couple of items related to the middle of our country.
A Mennonite College and the National Anthem
First, I’ve been fascinated by a story about Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana. The college has been embroiled in a controversy over the National Anthem. For decades, Goshen College, a Mennonite college, has not played the National Anthem prior to athletic events, such as baseball games. The militaristic language of the Anthem was believed to be inconsistent with Goshen’s pacifist commitments. You don’t generally hear Mennonites singing about “bombs bursting in air.”
But, in recent times, as Goshen has attracted more non-Mennonite students, and as it has sought to reach beyond its sectarian traditions, the college has debated whether to play the Anthem or not. The conclusion of the debate, at least for now, was that Goshen College would play the National Anthem at the beginning of athletic events. Yesterday marked a new era in the college’s history. Predictably, the responses were very mixed.
I was impressed by statements made by Goshen’s president, Jim Brenneman.

“On our campus, we have students from many backgrounds … (those) committed to pacifism whose parents or grandparents were conscientious objectors; those with a deep suspicion of patriotic observances and (those) whose relatives served in the military and who are proud to fly the U.S. flag.”

“The crux of the matter has to do with our relationship with God and with our country,” Brenneman said. “How do we celebrate the freedoms and opportunities of this country and still challenge injustices that also exist in our midst.?”

I appreciate the effort being made by Brenneman and his college to be faithful to their Mennonite tradition and, at the same time, to engage this country and culture in meaningful ways. (As an aside, I had the chance to meet Brenneman several years ago when he was pastoring a Mennonite church in Pasadena, California. My sister and her family attended that church, and I participated in the dedication service for my nephew, which Brenneman led. Mennonites, as you may know, do not baptize infants. Brenneman was a fine pastor to his congregation for many years.)

Shine Like Stars on Tour

Second, I want to let you know about a fantastic Christian band from the midwest. Shine Like Stars is the worship band of ekklesia, a worship experience of Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, Kansas. The band leader, Dale Huntington, was the worship leader of the Veritas service at Irvine Presbyterian Church when I was Senior Pastor there. Dale is a highly talented singer/songwriter/worship leader.

Shine Like Stars is going on tour in early June 2010. They’ll be in Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska. If you’re looking for a band to play in your church or community, to lead worship or to do a special concert, I highly recommend Shine Like Stars. They’ll do an excellent job and people will love them (especially people under 30). Shine Like Stars would make a fantastic youth ministry event. (Plus, they are inexpensive. You can get the band for only $300 and a place to stay for the night. This is an unbelievable deal!)

You can reach Shine Like Stars at booking@slsworship.com. Their website is www.slsworship.com.  You can also hear their music at iTunes or MySpace.

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