Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College have withdrawn from the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities following their decisions to adopt hiring practices that welcome employees in same-sex marriages, the council and the colleges announced on Monday.
The two institutions announced the changes in their hiring practices in July, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on gay marriage. Some of the council’s member colleges found fault with the group’s decision to seek feedback from the presidents of the members on the changes at Goshen, in Indiana, and Eastern Mennonite, in Virginia.
Union University, in Tennessee, and Oklahoma Wesleyan University withdrew their memberships in August, citing the council’s “ambivalence” as the reason for their “move in a different direction,” Christianity Today reported.
The council’s board said in a news release on Monday that it had “maintained the historic Christian view of marriage, defined as a union of one man and one woman, in its employment policies and student academic program conduct codes.” The board said the change had placed Goshen and Eastern Mennonite “outside the bounds of the CCCU’s membership,” and recommended that its members consider moving them to “nonmember affiliate status.” The two colleges chose to withdraw voluntarily instead.
The council also said in the release that it had become evident that “a lack of clarity, purpose, and common understanding exists” around the council’s associational categories. The release stated that the council had appointed a task force to review those categories, and to “explore how the council will remain rooted in historic Christianity while also fruitfully engaging with other institutions seeking to advance the cause of Christian higher education or religious freedom.”
“We value the many years of partnership with other CCCU colleges committed to a Christ-centered mission,” Loren E. Swartzendruber, Eastern Mennonite’s president, wrote in his letter of resignation from the council. Mr. Swartzendruber also resigned from his position on the group’s board.
“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,” said James E. Brenneman, Goshen’s president, in a news release. “It would distract us, and the CCCU, from the other important work at hand.”
The council’s board said the group “remains enthusiastically committed to the high calling of Christ-centered higher education.”