I often get a lot of questions about what it is like to teach at Messiah College. I love teaching at Messiah, but I realize it is not for everyone. Messiah is a Christian college. Faculty must sign the Apostles Creed. Students must attend twenty-four chapel services a semester and sign a “community covenant” that sets boundaries on their moral behavior.
Despite such demands placed on faculty and students, Messiah is not a fundamentalist college. Neither is it a politically conservative school. Messiah IS NOT part of the Religious Right. In fact, we hosted Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Pennsylvania presidential primary. (There is much confusion about this in the press. Many lump Messiah together with places like Pat Robertson’s Regent University and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University). Actually, the school’s roots are in the nineteenth century evangelical social justice movement, the eighteenth-century pietist movement, and the Anabaptist pacifist tradition. (The college’s commitment to the latter tradition means that it does not fly an American flag on campus).
The justice, pietist, and pacifist traditions that inform Messiah’s past mean that our students are sometimes more concerned with activism than intellectual life. I must admit that at times I wonder if a “pietist, activist, pacifist college” is an oxymoron. Yet there are bastions of the college in which the life of the mind and the tradition of liberal arts education thrives. For example, I would put our history department up against any top notch liberal-arts college in the country–both in terms of teaching and scholarship. (OK–I am probably a bit biased here, but I still believe that the Messiah history department is really a hidden gem! If you don’t believe me, check out our department webpage).
Most of our students come from evangelical backgrounds. Many of them are very pious and this often translates into their performance on the athletic fields. The Christian character of our students and athletic department are on display for the nation today in a feature article on Messiah in the sports section of USA TODAY. The Messiah athletic program is truly remarkable. The men’s soccer team has won six NCAA Division III national championships since 2000. The women’s soccer team has won two national championships. Both won the national championship in 2005 and 2008. The women’s team is currently ranked #1 in the nation, while the men are currently #3. Last spring the softball team took home its first NCAA Division III national championship. The field hockey team has been to twelve “final fours” since 1984 and six title games. They are still looking for their first national championship and are currently ranked #1 in the nation. Messiah’s girls basketball team has been to two NCAA title games since 2000 and have been ranked #1 in the nation multiple times.
Check out the USA Today article to learn more about this high powered NCAA Division III athletic program.