On Monday, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities held a board meeting to decide on the membership standing of Goshen College and Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). The two institutions have changed their hiring guidelines to accept faculty who do not hold to the traditional Christian doctrine of marriage. As subscription to traditional Christian belief and practice is a tenet for membership in the CCCU, both the institutions in question and the Council thought it best that they part ways.
Goshen and EMU informed the CCCU of their decisions to change hiring policy in July, at which time the CCCU began consulting with member presidents to determine whether it was possible for Goshen and EMU to remain affiliates. In early September, CCCU, an organization encompassing 180 institutions, conducted a board meeting in which 75% of the members agreed with the Board’s recommendation to consider moving Goshen and EMU to non-member affiliate status. Nearly 20% were in favor of Goshen and EMU continuing as full members, and less than 25% did not support either member or affiliate status for the schools.
The CCCU statement on the decision, issued Monday afternoon, says that the organization’s mission, purpose, and commitment have not changed since its founding in 1976. CCCU has a continuing dedication to higher Christian education and freedom of religious expression via a unified voice of Christian colleges and universities. The statement thanks Goshen and EMU for their participation and contributions to the organization, as well as their willingness to step down as members and affiliates. Dr. Loren Swartzendruber, president of EMU, has also voluntarily resigned from the CCCU Board.
Upon news of the resignations of Goshen and EMU, Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU) and Union University expressed concerns with the process and withdrew membership. In a conference call Q&A on the statement, CCCU President Shirley V. Hoogstra said that the organization is happy to welcome back OKWU and Union University should they ever decide to reenter.
While CCCU has never required specific denominational doctrines of its members, but it does maintain that orthodox Christianity be held and practiced as terms of membership and participation with the organization’s commitments and goals. Holding to the orthodox Christian doctrine of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, CCCU has decided to require subscription to that doctrine from the faculty of member and affiliated schools.
In the meantime, CCCU has initiated a task force to look into ways to provide clarity, purpose, and a common understanding between members. The task force consists of presidents from member and nonmember affiliate schools including Biola University, Wheaton College, Dallas Theological Seminary, Pepperdine University, Warner Pacific College, Trinity International University, Asbury University, Calvin College, Tyndale University College & Seminary, Evangel University, Samford University, and Indiana Wesleyan University. Other members may be appointed as well.
“I’m excited for the unity within CCCU,” said Hoogstra, when asked about her optimism on the process and the future of the organization. She is confident that the task force will help CCCU better equip itself toward strengthening Christian academic excellence and providing opportunities for students domestic and international.