Grace College Adds Bowling

Bowling

I don’t know why I was attracted to this story in a local Indiana newspaper. Perhaps it was because I recently taught this text. Whatever the case, I think it’s cool that Grace College, a Christian college in Winona Lake, Indiana, now has a bowling team!  Congrats!

Here is the press release:

WINONA LAKE – Grace College is pleased to announce the addition of men’s and women’s bowling to the sports lineup.

Bowling will remain a club sport for the first year with an eye to progress toward varsity status in 2021.

Grace’s Director of Athletics Chad Briscoe also announced the hiring of the program’s first full-time head coach, Rob McDonald, who will direct the men’s and women’s programs.

McDonald is a mainstay in the area for bowling. He has helped coach at Warsaw since 2013, including serving as the head coach of the girls’ team since 2015.

“We look forward to Coach McDonald leading our bowling programs at Grace. He has a tremendous passion for Christian excellence and desire to impact lives through bowling,” Briscoe said. “His experience and extensive background coaching a successful high school program will serve him well as he recruits and establishes the culture of our program.”

While coaching the Tigers, McDonald has led Warsaw to two sectional championships and a conference title in 2013-14. The Tigers have reached the semi-state level twice (2013-14, 2016-17).

On an individual level, McDonald has proven to guide student-athletes to state-wide success. During each of the past five seasons, a Tiger has qualified for semi-state, including two bowlers in 2016-17.

“I am excited for this opportunity, not only to help Grace enter the bowling realm, but even more to help spread God’s love through the sport of bowling. I am humbled by the opportunity to share my knowledge of the sport,” McDonald said. “This is an exciting new chapter in my career as a bowling coach, and I am proud to be taking this step with Grace College.”

Grace is poised to become the fifth Crossroads League school to add varsity bowling. The sport is one of the fastest-growing in the country.

Bowling was recognized as an NAIA championships sport for the first time in 2019-20. There are currently over 100 men’s and women’s teams competing at the NAIA level.

It marks the second sport Grace has added recently, joining the newly-launched esports program led by Andrew Palladino.

Interpreting the Billy and Helen Sunday Home

BillySundayHome

 Billy and Helen Sunday Home, Winona Lake, Indiana

Since Messiah College started the Digital Harrisburg Initiative a few years ago, I have developed a real appreciation for digital and public history projects at small colleges and universities.  In 2011, I spent a day at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana.  I was there to deliver a lecture, but I also spent some time touring an on-campus museum which would eventually become the Winona History Center.

Winona Lake was a popular vacation resort and Bible conference for evangelicals and fundamentalists in the 20th century largely because it was the home of the revivalist and former baseball player Billy Sunday.  The nation’s most popular preachers and speakers passed through Winona Lake every summer, including William Jennings Bryan and Billy Graham.

Recently, Grace College and the Winona History Center won a grant to create an interactive digital tour of the Billy and Helen Sunday Home.  Here is a taste of InkFreeNews’s coverage:

WINONA LAKE — The Winona History Center in Winona Lake, was one of 18 libraries, schools, and museums to receive grants from Indiana Humanities and Indiana Landmarks this spring. The History Center, which is owned and operated by Grace College, has received an Historic Preservation Education Grant of up to $1,700 to create an interactive digital tour of the Billy and Helen Sunday Home for those unable to access the building.

“Funding a wide range of thoughtful and creative programming that connects so many Hoosiers to the depth and breadth of the humanities is core to our mission,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. “We are encouraged every year by the innovative programs proposed by the grantees and the opportunity to touch the lives of residents all over Indiana.”

The project, which is being developed by museum director Dr. Mark Norris and museum coordinator Karen Birt, will produce an interactive map on an iPad of the layout of the second floor of the Billy and Helen Sunday Home, making it accessible to the mobility challenged. Users will be able to click on the artifacts pictured in each room and receive an audio, visual or textual provenance of the artifact.

The project will allow Sunday Home visitors to interact with the home, which is located at 1111 Sunday Lane, about four blocks from the Winona History Center in Westminster Hall on the Grace College campus.

Read the rest here.  Congratulations!

What Is Happening at Grace College?

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Grace College and Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana fired three white employees when they posed for a mock rap album cover.

Inside Higher Ed reports:

Three Grace College and Seminary employees were fired this month after a work-sanctioned photo drew criticism and accusations of racial insensitivity, The Indianapolis Star reported.

The photo, which drew attention after it was posted on an employee’s Facebook page, shows five white employees posing for a mock rap album cover. It was taken as part of “wrap day,” a themed day for the college’s marketing team that also benignly included wrap sandwiches at lunch.

In the photo, one employee appears to be wearing an Afro wig, and another has “Thug Life” written across his knuckles, as well as a fake tear-drop tattoo. Other employees are wearing hoods, chains and backward baseball caps. In the corner, text spells out “N.G.A.” — shorthand for students and staff that means “not Grace appropriate.”

Evan Kilgore, one of the employees fired and the school’s former special projects director, said the term “N.G.A.” is used jokingly on campus to refer to behavior that the private religious institution deems inappropriate.

“When we named our fake album, we never were implying that how we looked or what were dressed like was ‘not Grace appropriate,’” he told the Star.

Read the entire post here.  This is unfortunate.  I have spoken at Grace and have friends who teach there.  It is a fine institution of Christian higher education.  Of course I don’t know all the details of what happened here, but if the reporting is accurate I am willing to say that the behavior of these employees does not represent the culture of the school on matters related to race.

What happened at Grace, an evangelical institution, reminds me of what happened recently at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.  At Grace, the employees were fired.  At Southwestern, the employees (all members of the preaching faculty) were not fired.

"Becoming Grace"

As some of you know, I have been writing an institutional history.  This kind of history is not easy to write.  Readers like to read about people’s lives, wars, politics, etc…, but not many folks get excited reading about an institution.  Things get really tricky when the institution you are writing about is still functioning. Some institutional histories are merely promotional pieces for the institution.  Others try to connect the institution to a larger historical context.  Whatever the case, there is a good chance that no one will pleased.

So when I run across and institutional history done well, I take notice.  That is definitely the case with Becoming Grace: Seventy-Five Years on the Landscape of Christian Higher Education in America. Grace College history professors Jared Burkholder and Mark Norris have put together a collection of essays situating this small Grace Brethren college and seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana in the larger world of American fundamentalism, evangelicalism, and Christian higher education.  

Want to learn more about Grace College? Read about my visit  in September 2011.

Want to learn more about Becoming Grace?  Check out Jared Burkholder’s recent post at The Pietist Schoolman.


Here is a taste:

Cold War Evangelicalism. Though Grace is no longer homogeneously conservative when it comes to politics, the 1960s through the 1980s were years that were characterized by a convergence of various facets of religious and cultural conservatism. History classes routinely promoted Cold War doctrines, eschatological understandings helped to explain “godless Russia,” fundamentalists such as John C. Whitcomb promoted flood geology and second degree separation, and others promoted patriotism in response to war protesters on other campuses. As we dug into our history, we realized there were lots of interesting (if sometimes disconcerting) avenues to explore here and these themes offer what we hope is a fascinating look into Grace’s journey into, and then out of, American fundamentalism.