I would like to share with you that the leadership team at Evangel University, including our Board of Trustees and the President’s Cabinet, have made the decision to change our official EU mascot, currently a Crusader. It is my desire that you hear directly from me as to how and why this decision was made.
Evangel University’s mission is to educate and equip students to become Spirit-empowered servants of God who impact the Church and society globally. We recognize that the Crusader inhibits the ability of students to proudly represent the university in their areas of global work and ministry. We feel strongly that now is the time to make this change as a continued effort to fulfill our mission and empower students for global impact.
The world has changed significantly since the 1950’s, when the Evangel College community, intending to depict strength, honor, and commitment to the faith, first identified a Crusader as the school’s mascot. Today, we live in an increasingly connected world where information is readily available, and where, through media and the internet, we are very much a part of a global community. An increased level of awareness as to how we are perceived by others prompts us to consider how any representation we make as a university has the power to impact, both positively and negatively, the Church’s reputation.
Essentially, we understand how our reflection of Jesus Christ is marred by our representation as Crusaders. The nearly universal connotation of “Crusader” is tied to the Crusades of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries, when Western Christians waged a series of “holy wars,” during which thousands of Muslims, Jews, and Eastern Christians were killed, many in barbaric ways.
The negative connotation and violence associated with the Crusades are not reflective of Evangel University’s mission and values. Evangel is and always has been a faith-based institution, therefore we must be sure that our representative symbolism is in alignment with our beliefs and speaks to our core values.
Jesus taught in word and by example that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44); and believers should not add any further causes of offense by how we present ourselves (I Cor. 9:19-23).
Our students and alumni represent Evangel University, no matter where they travel or work. Because of the negative connotations already stated, the association with the Crusader is often and intentionally avoided. The university’s mascot should be one that the community collectively embraces, not one that requires intentional distance.
Much thought and effort has been put into this decision, including ad hoc committees consisting of faculty, staff, students, and alumni, going back as far as 2007, who have overwhelming recommended that the Crusader no longer serve as the university’s mascot.
Ultimately, this decision was made because I am convinced that our Christ-centered focus requires it. This is not a cultural response to political correctness, but simply the right thing to do.
More than ever, the world needs what Evangel University produces – Christ-like men and women who impact the Church and society for His Kingdom. We must do all we can to not hinder this initiative.
The university will move forward in the coming weeks to thoughtfully adopt a new mascot that represents us well. We’ve created a landing page to keep the community informed. It can be viewed at evangel.edu/mascot. Look for continued updates as the process moves forward.
We are grateful for you!
Dr. George O. Wood
As I consider the decision to retire the Crusader mascot, I immediately think about our priority goal in athletics. Our goal is to influence each of our student-athletes to have a closer walk with God. We want to win games, but our first priority is winning souls to Christ. If the Crusader name is a deterrent in any way to achieving this goal, then it is time for a change. The second thing that I think of is how many times in the Bible the name of a believer was changed to send a different message than that person’s present name sent. From Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter and when Saul was commonly called Paul, a new message was communicated. Even though I proudly gave my all in the past as a former Evangel athlete and coach and presently as athletics director under the name of the Crusaders,
I fully support the idea that it is time for Evangel to communicate a new message with a new mascot that will serve the university well in the future. Let us remember all the great works we have accomplished in the past under the name of Crusader as we move forward to even more greatness in the future with a new name. Let us be led by God to choose this new name because the message we communicate is vitally important to help us achieve the mission of Evangel University.
Dr. Dennis McDonald
As a university, God has given us extraordinary global impact, which we must steward well. Our community can most effectively love our neighbors locally and globally across cultures by replacing the crusader. With our alumni, students, and prospective students living and traveling all over the world, we have an exciting opportunity to choose a new Evangel mascot that clearly reflects our Christ-centered mission, proudly captures our vision, and positively increases our global reach.
Dr. Shonna Crawford
Chair, Department of Education
Rev. Randy Jumper
Member, Evangel University Alumni Council
My wife and I are alumni of Evangel, AGTS, and CBC. While in school, we learned the importance of Christ-likeness and Kingdom advancement. As a University we have reached the point where, unintentionally, our mascot is offensive to many. Our Assembly of God missionaries have reported to us its use is a hinderance to them spreading the gospel in some contexts. As allegiance to the Great Commission is greater than our allegiance to things, we are 100% in support of the change of mascot. In changing the mascot, we do not give in to any pressure other than the responsibility to obey Jesus’ command to “Love our neighbor as yourself.” What an opportunity we have to model humility and reflect Jesus Christ to the world. I’m excited about our future.