Getting to Know Neighbours Theme of CMU Opening
By Rachel Bergen
The Great Commandment instructs Christians to “Love the Lord your God with
all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and your neighbour
as yourself” (Luke 10:27). That verse is the Chapel theme for 2007-08 at
Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). It also guided the singing and reflections
September 29 at the university’s opening program.
The opening program was the culmination of a weekend of Homecoming activities
that saw about 70 alumni from Canadian Mennonite Bible College and Mennonite
Brethren Bible College, two of the colleges that merged in 2000 to form CMU,
return to Winnipeg for reunions, a concert and an alumni banquet that featured
the giving of the first-ever Alumni Blazer Awards.
During the opening program, fourth-year political studies major Michael Alty
of Howden, Man. said that while politics “tends to construct artificial
boundaries,” his studies at CMU helped him to see that an “us and them” world is
an inadequate basis for living.
Dan Epp-Tiessen, Assistant Professor of Bible, said that “the basic reason
for getting to know one’s neighbour is because God loves that neighbour.” He
noted that there are many ways to get to know one’s neighbour, and many reasons
to do, and that CMU explores the many Christian ways of doing so.
Third year psychology major Jessica Rempel from Squamish, B.C. reflected on
how she gets to know her neighbours through interactions in the CMU community.
Life with others at CMU “really shapes my life,” she said, noting that she
particularly enjoys getting to know people at the university as a Residence
Assistant, where she can help others through struggles and celebrate momentous
Marcus Fowler, Assistant Director of Outtatown, reflected on how Outtatown
expands the idea of neighbour for participants by taking them to Canada’s inner
cities, to Aboriginal communities and to the developing world. Christians can’t
help everyone in the world, he stated, but they can help some. The questions God
asks everyone, he said, is “whose needs do you see? Whose needs can you meet?”
Julia Zehr of Greensburg, PA shared how her practicum assignment at a
residence for intellectually disabled people in Ireland had opened her eyes to
not only serving new neighbours, but also being served by them. In particular,
she recalled how a profoundly disabled man helped her heal her own emotional
The sharing concluded with a reflection on the life of Addison Klassen, who
attended MBBC from 1963-65. Together with his wife, Gerda, Klassen showed love
for neighbours by fostering children, being involved in services for prisoners,
helping to set up a program for children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
and by promoting alternatives to dealing with offenders.
John Longhurst, who directs Communications and Marketing at CMU, recalled
how, before Klassen died of cancer on September 1, 2007, he noted that
neighbours are “everyone, but especially the disadvantaged, the weak, and the
Rachel Bergen is a second-year Communications major from Abbotsford, B.C.
Posted October 1, 2007
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