What About Other Protestant Colleges?

P&R News conducted a survey of other Protestant colleges, in order to ascertain whether they would have a choir sing in a Roman Catholic mass. The questions we posed were: "Would a choir from your school under any circumstances sing in a Roman Catholic mass? Why or why not?" Here are their responses.

Biola University (non-denominational). Rob Westervelt, Public Relations. "We would definitely not do that, and I can't imagine a circumstance where we would. Why not? Because of the obvious distinction between some of our core beliefs and the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. There are also some 'Protestant' churches we wouldn't sing in, either. We don't want to create any confusion in the mind of the world or our constituency. It would cause all kinds of problems trying to explain to prospective students, alumni, and donors. We are very intentional about co-laboring with other evangelicals." [13800 Biola Avenue, La Mirada, California 90639; (562)903-6000; rob.westervelt@truth.biola.edu]

Bob Jones University (independent). Jonathan Pait, Spokesman. "We wouldn't. The very fact that we are Protestant should answer that question as to why. We are theologically not compatible. Never in a million years would we sing in a mass. We might consider singing in a community concert in a Catholic building, but even then, we probably wouldn't for the sake of our testimony. We can't give any credence to the Roman Catholic theology by participating in one of its services." [1700 Wade Hampton Blvd., Greenville, South Carolina 29614-0001; (864)242-5100; jpait@bju.edu]

Concordia University Wisconsin. Dr. Kenneth Kosche, Music Department. "The official policy of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is not to participate with denominations with which we do not have 'altar and pulpit fellowship.' To participate with those with whom we don't agree doctrinally is called syncretism. Public confession with bodies you don't agree with sends some very strong mixed signals. When you do combined worship, you send mixed signals." He stated that in 1988, he was put in an embarrassing and tricky situation, when the choir was scheduled to sing in a folk festival in Limerick, Ireland; upon arriving, they discovered that they were going to be part of a Roman Catholic service. Even on that occasion, the professor made sure that the songs they sang were acceptable to Lutherans.
Dr. Kosche affirmed that he must abide by denominational policy. "I, as an official of the Synod, by being a professor here, can't take it upon myself to set that policy aside." [12800 No. Lake Shore Drive, Mequon, Wisconsin 53097; (414)243-5700; kenneth.kosche@cuw.edu]

Geneva College (Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America). Dr. John A. ("Jack") White, President. "I can't think of a circumstance where we would do that. Unless there were very unusual circumstances, where we were controlling the content; but I can't imagine that that would happen during a mass. Would we accept an invitation from a Catholic church, to present a concert? Absolutely. But not a mass. [Why not?] Because we object to the nature of the mass. It's contrary to our commitment. We would be implying by our participation an approval of transubstantiation." [3200 College Avenue, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania 15010; (724)846-5100; jhwhite@geneva.edu]

Gordon College (independent). Mr. Chris Underation, College Communications. "Not as a part of a mass, but we do perform concerts in Roman Catholic churches. Why not masses? We believe it might raise some questions of conscience for members of our choir, and instead of getting bogged down in an ongoing debate of freedom versus right belief, we have decided this is the better way. It would be along the lines of eating meat sacrificed to idols. Some people don't have a problem with that, and some do. So we should be mindful of those who might have a problem with this." [255 Grapevine Road, Wenham, Massachusetts 01984; (978)927-5000; cunderation@hope.gordon.edu]

Pensacola Christian College (independent). Dr. Joel Mullinex: "No. It would violate our understanding of Biblical separation." [Pensacola Christian College, Pensacola, Florida 32523; (850)478-8496, ext. 2777]

Bryan College (independent). Mr. Tom Davis, Director of Public Information. "We would sing in a Roman Catholic mass. It would be an opportunity to minister. As our choirmaster said, They're asking us to be guests, not to join the church. Also, it's usually a good physical setting in which to sing. We have sung in High Episcopalian and Church of England churches, and this would not be that far a step from the Church of England or High Episcopalian." [PO Box 7000, Dayton, Tennessee 37321; (423)775-2041; davisto@bryan.edu]

King College (PC(USA)-affiliated). Dr. Pat Flannagan, Director of Music. "Unequivocally yes. I view people who proclaim Christ to be their Lord to be brothers in Christ, no matter what their denominational flavor. I would also say to the choir members, You are not permitted to observe the sacrament of the Eucharist, unless you are a confirmed Catholic." [1350 King College Road, Bristol, Tennessee 37620; (423)968-1187; WPFLANNA@king.edu]

Montreat College (PC(USA)). Dr. Mark Johnson, Professor of Music. "I'll go anywhere, anytime, to anyone." Regarding singing in a mass, he said: "Absolutely! . . . Our Christianity doesn't just come in one flavor. I think it important for students to have a broad exposure to Christian experience. I've not had the opportunity to take my students into a Roman Catholic mass, but I certainly would." He added: "The most recent President of the college has been very encouraging of ecumenical activities. Under previous administrations, there might not have been that same openness." [PO Box 1267, Montreat, North Carolina 28757; (828)669-8011; mjohnson@montreat.edu]

Nyack College (Christian and Missionary Alliance). Professor Paul Liljestrand, Director of College Chorale. "It wasn't a mass, but we sang at an ecumenical service in a Roman Catholic church. I would not have a personal objection. I would regard the mass almost ecumenically, since it has its roots in early Christian tradition. I question whether a Roman Catholic church would permit my choir to participate." However, he did recall his touring the Czech Republic last summer with a youth choir from New Jersey: "On two Sunday mornings, the children actually sang the portions of the mass." Professor Liljestrand heads up the music program at a United Church of Christ congregation in New Jersey. He was the person to whom the administration referred P&R News; however, he cautioned: "I really can't speak for the school. I certainly would abide by the policy of the school." [Nyack, New York 10960; (914)358-1710]

Tennessee Wesleyan College (United Methodist Church). Dr. Jim Dawson, President. "Yes, they would, if invited. As a United Methodist-related institution, we have an inclusive philosophy about all religions and beliefs." [College Street, Athens, Tennessee 37303; (423)745-7504]

Toccoa Falls College (independent). Dr. Phillip Hayner, Director of the School of Music. "Yes, if it were part of a course requirement. It would be up to the teacher in consultation with the administration." He stated that he personally would have "no qualms" about participating in a mass, depending on the setting and purpose of such an event. "If the purpose is primarily educational, that is, to introduce students to a liturgy which has existed in some form for nearly 2000 years, then it is my view that the educational import of such a performance would justify it. A student would certainly be given the opportunity to exclude himself/herself from such an event, for reasons of conscience. . . . We've required students to attend a mass," but, as far as he knows, no choir from his school has ever sung in a mass. [Dr. Hayner stated that he was not speaking officially for the school; however, he was the person to whom the college administration referred P&R News.] [Toccoa Falls, Georgia 30598; (706)886-6831; phayner@toccoafalls.edu]

Not Sure
Dordt College (Christian Reformed Church-affiliated). Mr. Jim DeYoung, Director of Public Relations. In discussing the question, "we decided that for us it is an entirely hypothetical situation. We've never faced it at Dordt. If a request came our way, we'd have to face it then." [498 Fourth Avenue NE, Sioux Center, Iowa 51250; (712)722-6000; Jim@dordt.edu]

Probably Not
Belhaven College (PC(USA)-affiliated). Dr. Roger Parrott, President. "If our choir was asked to sing in a regularly scheduled Catholic Mass, that would not be an invitation we would be likely to accept. But if it was some special event or another unique circumstance, there could be a reason to participate." He added: "Colleges don't get run theoretically. It doesn't work that way." [1500 Peachtree, Jackson, Mississippi 39202; (601)968-5919; president@belhaven.edu]

Reformed Bible College (independent). Dr. Ken Bos, Music Director. "Probably not. Because the administration would object very strenuously. That'd be because of a concern of a response from our constituents. There wouldn't be a theological objection on my part." [3333 E. Beltline NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525; (616)363-2050; kenalanbos@aol.com]