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The Church-Chapel sanctuary was the central feature of a building designed by Orus Eash in 1959. Eash's design was influenced by the work of Eliel and Eero Saarinen . Goshen College constructed and has operated this facility jointly with the College Mennonite Church, a congregation of the Mennonite Church USA, the religious denomination with which the college is affiliated. Though departing radically from traditional Mennonite meetinghouse forms, the design communicates important understandings about the nature of faith and community. The 1960 dedication program described it thus: "Essentially it is a circular sanctuary placed inside a square of educational facilities. The circular arrangement of the sanctuary provides face-to-face seating, suggesting the unity of brotherhood. The projection of the pulpit into the midst of the congregation reminds the worshiper of the centrality of the Word and the importance of its message. The cross and the living vine serve as constant reminders of the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The simple, strong materials without façade and the fullness of light are expressive of firm truth and the full light of the Gospel."
Participants in a given event at the Church-Chapel enter through multiple doors and exit a common space that can seat up to 1200 people. Though the frequency of students gathering in the space has decreased over the decades, the sanctuary still is one of the primary embodiments of the institution's ideals of community and faith. Whether the occasion is joyous (baccalaureate services or community hymn singing) or somber (services of lament on September 11, 2001 or marking the beginning of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003), the design of the Church-Chapel sanctuary provides a space that fosters those ideals.
Beck, Ervin, ed. College Mennonite Church, 1903-2003. Goshen, IN: College Mennonite Church, 2003.
Cane, Linda Nelson. Goshen College Architecture, Centennial Project. Videocassette. Goshen, IN: Goshen College Art Department, 1995.