This Wheaton College Chapel plaque used to read:
“GO YE AND PREACH THE GOSPEL”
DEDICATED TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN
LOVING MEMORY OF EDWARD McCULLY, PRESIDENT
OF THE CLASS OF 1949, AND JAMES ELLIOT ’49,
LIKEWISE AN OUTSTANDING ATHLETE AND LEADER.
BECAUSE OF THE GREAT COMMISSION, ED AND
JIM, TOGETHER WITH NATHANAEL SAINT EX ’48,
ROGER YOUDERIAN AND PETER FLEMING WENT
TO THE MISSION FIELD WILLING FOR
“ANYTHING–ANYWHERE REGARDLESS OF COST.”
THEY CHOSE THE JUNGLES OF ECUADOR –
INHABITED BY THE AUCA INDIANS. FOR
GENERATIONS ALL STRANGERS WERE KILLED BY
THESE SAVAGE INDIANS. AFTER MANY DAYS OF
PATIENT PREPARATION AND DEVOUT PRAYER,
THE MISSIONARIES MADE THE FIRST FRIENDLY
CONTACT KNOWN TO HISTORY WITH THE AUCAS.
ON JANUARY 8, 1956, THE FIVE MISSIONARIES WERE
BRUTALLY SLAIN – – MARTYRS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
ERECTED BY THE CLASS OF 1949
JANUARY 8, 1957
“FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST CONSTRAINETH US”
The Chicago Tribune reports the outrage of the week.
The 64-year-old plaque commemorated five missionaries slain in Ecuador, including three who were alumni of the DuPage County Christian liberal arts college. School officials are looking to replace the plaque, and a task force will review potential new wording, college President Philip Ryken said in the letter.
“The word ‘savage’ is regarded as pejorative and has been used historically to dehumanize and mistreat Indigenous peoples around the world,” he wrote. “Any descriptions on our campus of people or people groups should reflect the full dignity of human beings made in the image of God.”
Concerns about the wording on the plaque have come from about a dozen students and staff since the start of the school year, college spokesman Joseph Moore said.
Before it was taken down Tuesday, the plaque hung in the foyer of the college’s main chapel, where students traditionally gathered three times a week.
“I think inevitably language changes,” Moore said. “The meaning of language and descriptors can change over the decades, and it’s understandable that eventually we would have to examine whether something still honors people appropriately.”
The missionaries were killed in Ecuador in 1956. The plaque was donated by the college’s class of 1949, which included two of those killed.
College students Caitlyn Kasper and Isabella Wallmow applauded the decision to take down the plaque.
“I feel like it could be worded better, or more sensitively,” Kasper, 22, said.
She and Wallmow, 21, said they hoped the change would indicate the college’s willingness to revise and grapple with other past actions.
“Plaques like that have caused pain to people, and are almost a symbol of white superiority in their very presences and in how they make people of color feel unwelcome at Wheaton,” she said.