Themes of bridges, building, and relying on Jesus Christ were explored as Canadian Mennonite University faculty, staff, students, alumni, and supporters gathered to mark the beginning of the 2013 school year.
“Walls, Bridges, and Living Stones” was the title of CMU’s opening program, a time of worship held on Saturday, Sept. 28 as part of the university’s Fall Festival.
In a meditation he gave during the program, Andrew Dyck, Assistant Professor of Ministry Studies, drew from 1 Peter 2:4-5, suggesting that each person in the room—students, donors, friends, and employees—were living stones.
At the centre of CMU’s mission statement is Jesus Christ, whose life, teachings, death, and resurrection moves and transforms the community, Dyck added.
“When we build on this living cornerstone—both wonderful and inscrutable—we will eventually discover that God is using our various efforts at building walls and bridges to accomplish something greater than anything we could ask or imagine: a house of healing, a house for all peoples, a house for God’s Spirit!”
Earlier in the program, during his CMU update, Vice President External Terry Schellenberg noted that the university’s enrolment is up two per cent from last year, with 629 students at the Shaftesbury campus. This includes students from 12 countries, including Chile, Cina, Congo, Germany, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Paraguay, South Korea, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe.
Schellenberg added that construction has started on CMU’s new Library, Learning Commons, and Bridge. $10.2 million of a total $14 million has been given and committed, and people are invited to contribute in a variety of ways.
“If it takes a village to raise a child, it certainly takes a generous and visionary community of supporters and alumni to move CMU forward for a new generation,” Schellenberg said. “Thank you for your support of this project and your interest in a vital university mission, of the church, in and for the world.”
The opening program was the culmination of Fall Festival, CMU’s annual homecoming weekend.
Fall Festival started on Friday, Sept. 27 with the presentation of the 2013 Blazer Distinguished Alumni Awards, which celebrate alumni who, through their lives, embody CMU’s values and mission of service, leadership, and reconciliation and society. CMU President Cheryl Pauls presented the awards to John Siebert, Leonard Doell, Robin & Zachary Heppner Entz, and Carol Penner.
Pauls also presented the Blazer Distinguished Community Service Award to Selma Loewen, Sara Stoesz, Susan Giesbrecht, and Linie Friesen, the four women who started the first Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Thrift Shop.
The evening concluded with, “Oh My God! – Making Sense of Everyday Talk,” a presentation by CMU professors David Balzer and Gordon Matties on the use of the phrase “Oh my God” in today’s culture.
Earlier in the evening, CMU’s women’s and men’s basketball teams won their pre-season games, 62-45 and 101-85, respectively
Fall Festival continued on Saturday, Sept. 28 with a variety of different activities, including a farmer’s market that included more than 10 vendors from the community, as well as a pie bakeoff.
A bicycle race, folk music festival, learning samplers—where faculty and staff shared an aspect of their teaching and work—were also part of Fall Festival, as well as a community supper and class reunions.
Reflecting during opening program on her time at Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC), one of CMU’s predecessor colleges, alumna Sherry Sawatzky-Dyck said that CMBC taught her that the love of God and the peace of Christ are the cornerstones of her faith and work.
“What I learned here, and who I learned it from, became my foundation,” she said. “Like those pillars that will support our new bridge over Grant Avenue, my foundation became strengthened.”