I Believe in Honoring Those Who Stand For What is Right, by Jennifer Carr

As a girl, my father, a former football player, would tell stories of the glory days of Southwest Conference football from the early 1950’s in Texas.  Dad would get a far away look in his eye and speak of an era that is gone by.  It has taken me the past 40 years to understand why he was so nostalgic.

There was one tale that made an indelible impression on me.  To me it seemed to celebrate honor and integrity, and was proof that the Team, the Coach, and the University held those same ideals.  It was about TCU.

In October of 1954, TCU played the University of Oklahoma in a game that the Horned Frogs were not supposed to have any chance of winning.  A Brite Divinity student named Johnny Crouch was Captain of the TCU team, and had been selected the 1952 – 54 All-Time Letterman.

The TCU boys took an overnight train to Norman, Oklahoma sleeping on the train so the Athletic Department would not have to pay for a hotel.   Arriving the next morning at a railroad track siding across from the field house, they had to haul their gear to the stadium.

According to the Quarterback of the TCU team, Chuck Curtis, “We held the lead until the end of the game, and then late in the 4th quarter I threw a pass to Johnny Crouch in the end zone that would have given the Frogs a victory.”  A touchdown was signaled and the points were put onto the scoreboard, however Johnny went to the referee and said “Sir, I did not catch that ball, it hit the ground first.”

Astonished at the young players’ honesty, the official went to the sidelines and approached Coach Abe Martin.  “Coach Martin, your team captain says he didn’t catch it.  I’ve already signaled, what should we do?” Without hesitation, Martin was said to have replied, “If Johnny Crouch says he didn’t catch it, then he didn’t catch it.”

The points were removed from the scoreboard, and Oklahoma went on to win the game 21-16.

The following week Sports Illustrated wrote, “The most genuinely amazing development in college sports this week prevented rather than instituted an upset.”

With football championships worth their weight in gold, it would be difficult to turn away from a big victory for any collegiate team.  It might even mean a dismissal for any coach who allowed that to occur.  Abe Martin wasn’t just any coach.  Martin was known to be a fatherly figure whose players adored him, they lived and died to win for him, knowing that he stood for doing the right thing, no matter the cost.

It says something about the climate at TCU that Johnny Crouch wasn’t criticized for his simple act of honesty; instead he was awarded a great honor as the Most Valuable Player of the Year and given the 1954 Rogers Trophy for his outstanding leadership and athleticism.

I believe that we at TCU continue to honor those who stand for the right, the good, and the best in humanity.  It is a legacy that lives throughout this campus and this University, and it is what makes me proud to be a small part of what happens here.

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GA TIB BOOK Jennifer Carr

Jennifer Carr is a vocal instructor at TCU’s School of Music.  She received her Masters degree at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where she studied Voice with Susan Clickner. She was a fellowship recipient to the Aspen Music Festival, performing with the Aspen Choral Institute and Aspen Opera Theater. While living in New York City, Jennifer sang with the Opera Orchestra of New York in Carnegie Hall, New York Choral Artists, Regina Opera Theater, NY Gilbert & Sullivan Players, and the New York Opera Forum. Ms. Carr made her Lincoln Center debut under the direction of Zubin Mehta with the NY Philharmonic Orchestra. Ms. Carr is an active singer, vocal coach, accompanist, and choral director. She resides in Fort Worth, TX.

I Believe There is More Than One “Right” Way to Worship, by Dr. Harry Parker

When I was young, I grew up attending Crown Heights Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ church in Oklahoma City.  My parents remained active members at Crown Heights Christian all their lives, serving in various leadership roles including terms as an Elder for my dad, and many years of adult Sunday School teaching for my mom.  My sister and I were both baptized at Crown Heights Christian, and it was our church home.

However, when I was in grade school, there was a period of a few years when my parents also started attending a non-denominational church called The Christian Center.  We would attend Crown Heights Christian on Sunday mornings, but on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, we were often at the Center (as we called it).  These two churches had vastly different worship services.  Crown Heights Christian had a very traditional, high-church Sunday morning service, with robed clergy, organ music, a traditional hymnal and choir anthems, and a quiet, formal liturgy.  The preaching was sophisticated and philosophical.  We used to note that it seemed our senior minister there quoted Shakespeare and Thornton Wilder in his sermons as much as he quoted scripture (this was OK with me; I was already into theatre).  At The Center, no one wore robes, and the music was much from a gospel and praise background.  The Center had a piano, rather than an organ, and often guitars and drums as well.  The preaching was much more expository, and scripture based.  And the style of worship was much more informal and loud.  Folks frequently lifted their hands to pray, and called back in call-and-response prayers.

When I would ask my parents why we attended The Center, in addition to Crown Heights Christian, they told me they were looking for more.  The traditional worship at Crown Heights didn’t always satisfy their desire for praise and worship.  Why then, I would ask, don’t we just go to The Center and stop going to Crown Heights?  Their answer was that we were members at Crown Heights (I don’t think we ever “joined” The Center, just attended rather regularly for several years), and that was a commitment they took seriously.  Crown Heights had done nothing to drive them away, and they had many friends and ministries there that they cherished and wouldn’t abandon.

I don’t know what happened to The Christian Center over the years.  I know that, in time, my parents stopped attending and taking us there.  But I have many memories of great music, great people, and great worship from both of these widely disparate churches.  It taught me a lesson about worship – and about life, actually – that has served me well.  The lesson is this: I believe there is more than one “right” way to worship.  The worship I experienced at the quiet, contemplative high church of Crown Heights fed me as a young Christian, but so did the raucous, gospel church of The Center.  I believe there are as many ways to authentically worship God as there are churches – probably as many as there are people.  I am grateful to my parents that they taught me, while I was young, that there was more than one “right” way to praise God.

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GA TIB Book Harry ParkerHarry Parker is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Theatre at TCU, where he has been on the faculty since 2003.  He has directed more than 100 professional and academic theatre productions across the country.  Originally from Oklahoma City, he has a BFA in Theatre from TCU, and an MA and Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Kansas.  He is the former National Chair of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, and the Founding Managing Director for the Trinity Shakespeare Festival at TCU.  He is an associate member of The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.