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CMU celebrates start of school year with Fall Festival and opening program

For Eric Wiebe, attending Canadian Mennonite University’s annual Fall Festival event this past weekend was like coming home.

Wiebe, a retired high school physics teacher who lives in Kamloops, BC, graduated from Canadian Mennonite Bible College, one of CMU’s predecessor institutions, in 1966. He wanted to be at Fall Festival because members from his graduating class were gathering for their 50-year reunion.

“I haven’t seen many of them in the interim, so it was interesting to see what they’ve done with their lives,” Wiebe said, adding that attending Fall Festival was a reminder of “how significant CMU is.”

Wiebe was one of more than 1,000 people who gathered at Fall Festival Sept. 23-24.

FallFest2016Celebrated at the end of each September, Fall Festival features opportunities for students, alumni, friends, donors, and community members to connect, learn, play, and celebrate the CMU community.

In addition to class reunions, the weekend included community meals, a farmers market, a folk music festival, a bicycle race, a CMU basketball game, and a Face2Face community discussion featuring Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies, a 30-minute documentary by alumnus Brad Leitch that explores Indigenous-settler relations in the small town of Laird, SK.

Fall Festival concluded with CMU’s annual opening program, a time of worship to celebrate the start of a new school year.

CMU President Dr. Cheryl Pauls delivered a message based on CMU’s chapel theme for 2016-17, If We Walk in the Light (1 John 1:5-7).

“We seek to witness to the truth that God is light,” Pauls said. “My prayer is that the light of Christ will emanate through all who are touched by this learning community in some way—students, staff, faculty, board, council, alumni, friends, guests of all sorts, and many others.”

Distinguished Alumni Award recipients:
Distinguished Alumni Award recipients (l-r):  Adrienne Wiebe, Peter Guenther, Ron Toews, and Brad Leith

The opening program included the presentation of the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards, which annually recognizes alumni who, through their lives, embody CMU’s values and mission of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.

Pauls presented the awards to Peter Guenther, who served as the head of numerous correctional institutions during a 39-year career; Adrienne Wiebe, an international development worker; Ron Toews, a pastor and professor committed to leadership development in the Mennonite Brethren Church; and Brad Leitch, a filmmaker and peacebuilder.

At its best, CMU’s impact is evidenced in the life stories of alumni, said Vice President External Terry Schellenberg.

“While we would never claim full credit for who our alumni become or the good they contribute, we know that CMU does open imagination and passion and skill, and that this university lays foundations for faithfulness,” Schellenberg said.

Later in the program, Dr. Harry Huebner, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Theology, and Dr. Paul Dyck, Professor of English, presented a Festschrift honouring Dr. Gerald Gerbrandt, who served as CMU’s first sole President from 2003 to 2012.

Titled A University of the Church for the World: Essays in Honour of Gerald Gerbrandt, the Festschrift—a German word for a collection of writing that is meant to honour a scholar—is a series of essays that reflect on the work being done at CMU.

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President Emeritus Gerald Gerbrandt comments on A University of the Church for the World: Essays in Honour of Gerald Gerbrandt, the Festschrift—a gift from CMU faculty to honour Gerbrandt’s impact on CMU during his administration.

The book takes its name from a phrase Gerbrandt coined to describe CMU. Huebner noted that as president, Gerbrandt shaped CMU’s vision and mission, gave leadership in molding its faculty, and created a climate of open, free exchange of ideas and respect for difference.

“The essays in this book are all written out of a deep appreciation for this culture of open discussion, of open debate, guided by a commitment to the Christian faith,” Huebner said. “In a small way, it is an example of what a university of the church for the world might look like.”

Gerbrandt expressed his thanks for the book, particularly to the authors who took time to write essays for it.

“I really do look forward to reading each one of your reflections and seeing what I can learn from them,” Gerbrandt said, adding later: “I do trust that… the various contributions in it serve to help CMU and perhaps other universities to become more effective to serve the world and the church.”

Ultimately, opening program—and Fall Festival as a whole—was about gratitude; gratitude not only for the contribution of alumni and a former President, but gratitude for the community that supports CMU.

“CMU’s present and its future is nowhere if it’s not held within a network of friends and alumni, parents and grandparents, (and) congregations who undergird the possibilities of this university,” Schellenberg said.

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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CMU Discussion Series Kicks Off with Screening of Award-Winning Documentary

Directed By Alumnus Brad Leitch, ‘Reserve 107’ Explores Indigenous-Settler Reconciliation

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) will host the Manitoba premiere of the new documentary short Reserve 107: Reconciliation on the Prairies during its first Face2Face community discussion event of the 2016-17 school year.

Face2Face_Sept2016The documentary explores Indigenous rights and title to the land in the small town of Laird, SK, where an old injustice is providing new opportunities for dialogue, friendship, and a fierce determination to right the wrongs of the past.

The public is invited to watch the 32-minute documentary on Friday, September 23 at 7:30 PM. The screening takes place in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.). A Q and A with Brad Leitch, director of the film and a CMU alumnus, will precede the screening, and a panel discussion featuring people from the film will follow. Admission is free, and everyone is welcome to attend.

“We are excited to screen Reserve 107 and host a discussion about the important themes of Indigenous rights, claims to land, and reconciliation that it explores,” says David Balzer, Assistant Professor of Communications and Media at CMU, who will moderate the discussion.

In Laird, Mennonites and Lutherans discovered that the land they live on is in fact the former reserve of the Young Chippewayan First Nation.

In 2006, Mennonites, Lutherans, and the Young Chippewayan First Nation gathered on the sacred hill of Stoney Knoll/Opwashemoe Chakatinaw. With goodwill and shared goals, they signed a memorandum of understanding, committing themselves to finding justice for the Young Chippewayan First Nation.

“Our film picks up the story a decade later to see what’s happened and how the communities are doing,” Leitch says. “I’m very interested in seeing what peacebuilding looks like in a practical sense, and film is a great tool for showing that.”

The discussion following the film will feature a handful of people who appear in the documentary, including Barb and Wilmer Froese, who run a family farm in Laird; Ray Funk of Prince Albert, SK, who is a board member with Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan, which helped fund the film; and Chief George Kingfisher, hereditary chief of the Young Chippewayan First Nation.

The audience will be invited to participate in the conversation.

Balzer notes that in each year of its existence, CMU’s Face2Face discussion series has included an event relating to Indigenous-settler issues in an effort to promote reconciliation and being good neighbours.

Reserve 107 picks up on an element of the story that our discussion events at CMU haven’t addressed before,” Balzer says. “The people participating in the panel are on the ground level of what is happening in Laird, so it will give people who come to the event an intimate look at how people negotiate treaty relationships in their lives.”

Reserve 107 Kingfisher and Funk
A scene from the film Reserve 107 shows Chief George Kingfisher and Ray Funk discuss themes of Indigenous rights, claims to land, and reconciliation.

Described in reviews as “beautifully photographed,” “wonderfully accessible,” and “a valuable resource,” Reserve 107 was an official selection at this year’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver, BC, as well as the Speechless Film Festival in Mankato, MN, where it was given an award of merit. To watch a trailer and learn more about the film, visit reserve107thefilm.com.

Started in 2013, Face2Face is a series of conversations organized by CMU, designed to engage the community on a wide variety of current events and issues at the intersection of faith and life.

“Journey to Renewed Covenants” is the first of four Face2Face events CMU will host during the 2016-17 school year. For details, visit cmu.ca/face2face.

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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John Ralston Saul to speak at CMU’s Canadian School of Peacebuilding

‘Living with Uncertainty: The Road to Peace’ title of lecture

Respected public intellectual and award-winning writer John Ralston Saul will give a lecture exploring refugees and immigration at the Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP) next month.

Ralston Saul will present the lecture, titled, “Living with Uncertainty: The Road to Peace,” at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, June 14. He will speak in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.) at Canadian Mennonite University. Admission is free, and all are welcome. A book signing will follow the lecture.

John Ralston Saul Poster“We are excited to have John Ralston Saul at the 2016 Canadian School of Peacebuilding,” says Wendy Kroeker, co-director of CSOP. “His writing and thinking is incisive and provocative. He pushes us as Canadians to consider our national values as well as the actions that should emerge from those values, and calls us to remember our Aboriginal heritage.”

The lecture arises from Ralston Saul’s observation that Canada is more and more isolated from its allies because, without exception, the United States and European countries are shaping themselves towards internal divisions and external fear.

One of the curiosities of the continent is that every year over the last 70 years, it has received large numbers of immigrants, and yet it has never been able to admit that this would require massive changes in how they imagine themselves.

In many ways, this crisis is all about an immigration continent, which cannot admit that reality, and so, has no immigration policy. In the lecture, Ralston Saul will posit that only by embracing concepts of uncertainty can they find ways to live together, both within their countries and with their neighbours.

Declared a “prophet” by TIME magazine, Ralston Saul is included in the prestigious Utne Reader’s list of the world’s 100 leading thinkers and visionaries. His most recent book, The Comeback—an examination of the remarkable return to power of Aboriginal peoples in Canada—has greatly influenced the national conversation on Indigenous issues in the country.

CMU caught Ralston Saul’s attention last year when he heard about a few significant events at the university, including a forum about the possibility of an urban reserve at Kapyong Barracks and the university hosting Iranian students from the International Institute of Islamic Studies in Qom, Iran.

“The work faculty and students have been cultivating is remarkable,” Ralston Saul tweeted. “Creating bridges and fostering dialogue.”

In addition to delivering the public lecture, Ralston Saul will co-teach the CSOP course “Reconciling Our Future: Stories of Kanata and Canada” with Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair.

“That John is co-teaching with Niigaan speaks of the importance of friendships in working through challenging issues,” Kroeker says. “John’s participation indicates a strong interest in furthering people’s grappling with the violent legacy of negotiations with Indigenous peoples in Canada.”

An institute of Canadian Mennonite University, CSOP is a learning community of diverse peacebuilders who come together to learn, network, and engage in peacebuilding. CSOP offers a selection of five-day courses each June that can be taken for professional or personal development, or for academic credit. CSOP is for peacebuilders from all faiths, countries, and identity groups. Learn more at csop.cmu.ca.

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Canadian Mennonite University Celebrates Class of 2016

Eighty-nine graduates honoured during university’s annual commencement exercises

“What are you going to do with your degree?” is a question all university graduates are familiar with. Jonas Cornelsen tackled the query head on during his valedictory address at Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) graduation service.

“I believe the opportunities we have had to sit in class or outside of class and wrestle with deep, complex questions about life, about faith, and about the world have… enhanced also our capacity to love each other, to love God, and to love all of creation more deeply,” Cornelsen (BA, Four-Year, Political Studies, Communications and Media) said during the service, held on Sunday afternoon, April 24 at Immanuel Pentecostal Church.

During the address, Cornelsen meditated on the Class of 2016’s graduation verse, Philippians 1:9: “And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight.”

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Jonas Cornelsen, Valedictorian for CMU’s class of 2016

“Education is a great gift and we can all respond in gratitude by humbly sharing the knowledge and insight we have gained and (received) from others, by showing love to all of those we meet, living by the Creator’s grace, Christ’s example, and the Spirit’s hope in a broken world,” Cornelsen concluded. “That is what you can really do with a degree.”

It was an eloquent, hope-filled message delivered toward the end of a weekend filled with reflection, laughter, and tears as graduates and families enjoyed stories, songs, presentations, and meals along with CMU faculty, staff, and current students.

The graduation service culminated with CMU President Dr. Cheryl Pauls conferring 84 undergraduate degrees, four Master of Arts degrees, and one graduate certificate in Biblical and Theological Studies.

“On this day of celebration, we collectively honour work well done by 89 fine men and women,” Pauls said before addressing the graduates directly: “We as faculty and staff draw courage in the generosity of being that shapes your faith, your character, your tangible skills, and your vibrant imagination.”

CMU President Pauls (centre) with 2016 President Medal winners Kathleen Bergen and Jonas Cornelson
CMU President Pauls (centre) with 2016 President Medal winners Kathleen Bergen and Jonas Cornelsen

Pauls awarded President’s Medals to Cornelsen and Kathleen Bergen (BA, Four-Year, Biblical and Theological Studies) in recognition of their qualities of scholarship, leadership, and service.

Earlier in the service, Sister Lesley Sacouman delivered the graduation address.

Sacouman, who co-founded Winnipeg’s Rossbrook House, which has provided a safe haven for tens of thousands of children, and who currently works with newcomers to Canada, urged listeners to consider the question: “Where for you does your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet?”

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Sister Sister Lesley Sacouman, who co-founded Winnipeg’s Rossbrook House, challenged the graduates to provide “compassionate and principled leadership” in her address

“Graduates, the world needs you. The world needs compassionate and principled leadership,” she said. “May God’s merciful gaze embolden you to walk through the door of mercy and embrace the…suffering Christ in your midst.”

At With Gratitude, a CMU graduation weekend event at which graduates share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance, Beth Downey Sawatzky (BA, Four-Year, English) reflected on how the faculty, staff, and students at CMU have cultivated “an institutional culture of kindness rather than one of prestige or competition.”

“If I have learned anything at CMU that will stay with me no matter what the future holds, it’s that if we as Christians truly believe what we claim to believe, we can always afford to be kind,” she said. “I hope whatever I become—professor, priest, mother, all or none of the above—I hope whatever I become that I will be rebelliously kind; that I will be as rebelliously courageous as my mentors of the last five years have been.”

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CMU’s class of 2016

Speaking at the same event, Nonsi Sibanda (BBA, Business Management) shared how she was fortunate to move from Zimbabwe to study at CMU.

“I got an opportunity to grow in a place where my career options are not limited (and) where there is hope for a bright future,” Sibanda said.

She added that prior to coming to CMU, she understood business and Christianity as two separate domains with no connections. Studying at CMU’s Redekop School of Business showed her otherwise.

“Business for me is not about the love of numbers anymore,” Sibanda said. “It is about the joy I have in my heart to serve others in an honest and in a diligent way.”

The Graduation Service and With Gratitude presentation were part of a number of events that occurred during graduation weekend, including a gala dinner on Friday, April 22, Spring Concert on Saturday, April 23, and Baccalaureate Service the morning of April 24.

Image gallery from the weekend’s events here.

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Student-led conference to explore social, ecological, and economic resilience

Organizers hope conference will build relationships, spark discussion

Students from Canadian Mennonite University are organizing a conference exploring alternative ways people can live well with each other and with the land.

Alternatives: Living Practices for Resilience will be held at CMU (500 Shaftesbury Blvd.) on Friday, April 8 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. All are welcome to attend. Admission is by donation.

Students will lead panel discussions exploring a diverse range of topics related to the theme, including alternatives to industrial food culture, how people can reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, and how affluent Canadians can work toward greater equality for all people.

In the middle of the day, conference attendees will meet together for a potluck lunch.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 2.33.14 PMStudents from four CMU classes are organizing the conference and will discuss research findings across disciplines. The four classes include: Citizenship, Land, and Economy; Economics of Social Change; Just and Sustainable Food Systems; and Voluntary Simplicity.

Kenton Lobe, Instructor of International Development Studies, and James Magnus-Johnston, Instructor of Political Studies and Economics, teach the classes.

In addition to the panel discussions, students from the Voluntary Simplicity class will lead a number of workshops, including an introduction to bread-making, as well as a nature walk during which students will explain how some of the voluntary simplicity practices they have adopted link to the land.

“The point of the conference is to look at ways of being that haven’t been given the significance we think they should be given,” says Matthew Dyck, a third-year student at CMU and one of the conference’s organizers. “We’re trying to bring together broad, overarching theories and individual practices so that people can live fuller, more resilient lives.”

Students from the four classes are organizing the conference in lieu of writing a final exam.

Lobe likens the conference to a concert in that it gives students an opportunity to take their practices from the classroom to the wider community.

“A traditional final exam is one way to encourage students to bring together their learning from the semester, and it generally involves the individual student and the professor,” Lobe says. “This student-led conference creates a space to enlarge the audience students are engaging, providing an opportunity for them to perform some of the things they have learned in the classroom.”

Dyck, a Social Science major enrolled in Magnus-Johnston’s Economics of Social Change course, says he and his peers are enjoying organizing the conference.

“It’s exciting that we get to do something that we present to the public, beyond the academic environment of the classroom,” Dyck says.

“My hope is that people who attend the conference connect with each other and bond over common ideals, and that the conference sparks some discussions that continue on once the conference is over.”

For more information about Alternatives: Living Practices for Resilience, and to register, visit www.alternativesconference.weebly.com.

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Conference to explore human right to freedom of movement

Menno Simons College to host 9th Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies conference

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (Article 13) states that everyone has the right to freedom of movement within and across borders. Today unprecedented numbers of people are being denied this right. How can host states, origin states, the international community, private citizens, and civil society act to address the escalating global crises triggered by forced migration?

That’s the question that will be explored at the 9th annual conference of the Canadian Association for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CARFMS), taking place May 11–14, 2016 at Menno Simons College and the University of Winnipeg.

MSC_CARFMS_Poster_-_updatedThe conference, “Freedom of Movement: Exploring a Path from Armed Conflict, Persecution, and Forced Migration to Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, and Development,” will be hosted by Menno Simons College (MSC) and chaired by Dr. Stephanie Stobbe, Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution Studies at MSC.

“We are in the fields of conflict resolution and international development at MSC and part of our mandate and goal is to look at social justice and how to assist in different humanitarian crises and situations,” says Stobbe.

Academics, researchers, students, government officials, lawyers, and lawmakers, community organizations, and practitioners will explore the topic freedom of movement through four perspectives.

A conflict resolution and peacebuilding approach will encourage discussion of the root causes of forced migration and how those issues can be addressed. How can governments, non-governmental organizations, and other actors participate in supporting freedom of movement?

A human rights perspective will explore which human rights are related to freedom of movement, how those rights can be realized, and what actors and instruments can help facilitate this movement.

Discussions of development as related to freedom of movement will look at how to improve the livelihoods of people who are on the move. How can safe, sustainable environments be created that address human needs and work toward social justice?

A focus on methodology and knowledge production will examine interdisciplinary research methodologies that look at war and armed conflict, extreme violence, human rights, and development. What are standard and new research methods being used to study freedom of movement?

Four plenary sessions will feature keynote speakers: Art DeFehr, CEO of Palliser Furniture, humanitarian, and former head of UNHCR in Somalia; Elspeth Guild, Jean Monnet Professor ad personam in Law at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Professor of Law at Queen Mary University of London, and associate senior research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies; Christopher Mitchell, Emeritus Professor of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and expert on “Track Two” interventions to address international conflicts; and Loly Rico, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees and Co-Director of the FCJ Refugee Centre. Additional plenary panels will highlight scholars and practitioners in the fields of conflict resolution, human rights, and development, including International Refugee Law Judges.

“We are looking forward to exploring collaborations between scholars, practitioners, non-governmental organizations, and governments to see how we can really address these crises and move towards peaceful relationships and peacebuilding,” says Stobbe.

Concurrent sessions, a student caucus, and exhibitions will provide participants with opportunities to explore freedom of movement through additional perspectives and mediums.

“We are pleased to have exhibitions as part of the conference for the first time,” says Stobbe. “The exhibits will provide discussion material and chances for participants to be informed about the situation and learn what some responses have been.”

Doctors Without Borders will have an emergency clinic set up to display how they work in refugee camps and in situations of humanitarian crises. They will also have a photo exhibit about their work with refugees. The Bitter Oranges exhibit will focus on the work of Drs. Reiners and G. Reckinger, and photographer C. Reckinger in Italy and the situation facing African migrant workers under the European migration policies.

The conference is open to anyone who is interested in learning about freedom of movement of refugees and forced migrants as it relates to conflict resolution and peacebuilding, human rights, development, and research and methodology. The conference has attracted international interest with participants from countries worldwide.

“We’re very excited so many people are interested in coming to this conference and contributing to the discussion about next steps. It will be very interesting to have perspectives from people all over the world,” says Stobbe. “We’re hoping that after this conference people will be able to continue the networking opportunities and connections they’ve made, and be able to collaborate and work together to address this humanitarian crisis.”

For more information about the conference, visit carfms.org/conferences/9th-annual-conference.

Follow CARFMS on Twitter @_carfms.

Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #CARFMS16.

About Menno Simons College
Menno Simons College, a part of Canadian Mennonite University and affiliated with the University of Winnipeg, has been offering programs in International Development Studies (IDS) and Conflict Resolution Studies (CRS) since 1989. MSC fosters a vibrant undergraduate learning community in its newly renovated facility at 520 Portage Avenue. It offers 3-year and 4-year majors and a minor in IDS and CRS, an honours program in IDS, and an extensive practicum program. The College has over 1,000 students and hundreds of alumni working in the development and conflict resolution sectors in Manitoba, Canada, and internationally.

For information about Menno Simons College visit www.mscollege.ca.

For additional information about the CARFMS conference, please contact:
Dr. Stephanie Stobbe
Menno Simons College
Phone: 204.953.3850
Email: s.stobbe@uwinnipeg.ca

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Cellist from South Korea wins 2016 Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition

A cellist who used to dread performing in concert is the winner of the 11th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition at Canadian Mennonite University.

2015.VernaMae.PosterYunah Chin took the top spot and the $700 prize that comes with it after performing along with six other finalists in the Laudamus Auditorium on Thursday, February 11.

A native of Seoul, South Korea, Chin has played the cello for more than 15 years. She moved to Winnipeg three years ago to continue her studies, and plans to pursue a degree in music therapy.

Chin says that in Korea, she didn’t enjoy performing because it made her too nervous. That has changed since she arrived in Canada. Because English is not her first language, she has come to enjoy performing because it is a way for her to communicate with others and express herself.

“It is interesting and fun to play,” says Chin, adding that she didn’t expect to win. “I thought about showing my everything—not getting nervous, and just showing them what I prepared. I only thought about that.

Chin’s performance was breathtaking, says Dr. Janet Brenneman, Dean of the School of Music at CMU.

“She was engaging, imaginative, and inspiring,” Brenneman says. “It was clear that the audience was in awe of her performance.”

Breanna Heinrichs, a pianist in her fourth and final year of a Bachelor of Music, placed second and received $500. Third place and its $300 prize went to baritone singer Matthew Baron, also in his final year of study at CMU.

Yunah Chin, the winner of  the11th Annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition.
Yunah Chin, the winner of the11th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition.

Alyssa Hildebrand (soprano), Anneli Loepp Thiessen (piano), Elowen Braunstein-Black (soprano), and Nathan Sawatzky-Dyck (baritone) also made it to the finals, advancing from a group of 14 competitors.

Judy Kehler Siebert, a Manitoba native with an international reputation as a pianist, chamber musician, and teacher, and Monica Huisman, an acclaimed lyric soprano from Winnipeg, served as adjudicators for the finals.

Brenneman says she was impressed with the quality of musicianship in the competition.

“Each student performed in ways that demonstrated the musical growth they have made during their studies at CMU,” Brenneman says, adding that the preliminary round of the competition, which included 14 students, was also very strong. “The decision to advance students to the final round was not an easy task for CMU music faculty.”

Finalists of the 11th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition.
Finalists of the 11th annual Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition.

The competition is made possible by Peter Janzen of Deep River, Ontario, and named in memory of his wife, Verna Mae, who died of cancer in 1989 at age 53. Janzen attends the final round of competition each year.

“This is now a much-anticipated event, and a tradition that we are proud to have established at CMU,” Brenneman says. “We continue to be grateful to Dr. Janzen for his generous donation and support of this competition.”

For Janzen, sponsoring the event is a way to contribute toward the success of CMU. He wanted to support CMU via a music competition because he and Verna met through their interest in choral singing.

“I always dreamed of someday dedicating a memorial to my wife—a wonderful, loving, sensitive, intelligent, and happy companion,” Janzen said in 2007. “Through the Verna Mae Janzen Music Competition at CMU, I can keep her memory alive.”

Additional photos from the 11th annual Verna May Janzen Music Competition can be found here.

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Menno Simons College hosts 10th annual Social Justice Fair

MSC_SJF_Poster_2016

Celebrating a decade of student-community relations

Each year, Menno Simons College’s (MSC) Social Justice Fair provides an opportunity for students and community members to connect with organizations engaged with social justice locally and globally.

Over 30 organizations will be present at this year’s fair, the 10th annual, which takes place on Wednesday, February 10 from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM in the University of Winnipeg’s Riddell Hall.

The organizations represent work in development, human rights, newcomer support, Indigenous solidarity, youth programming, environmental sustainability, restorative justice, public health, and more.

“Every year the Social Justice Fair highlights and reinforces the impact that Menno Simons College continues to have on the wider community,” says Dr. Neil Funk-Unrau, Associate Dean of MSC.

IMG_3121“By showcasing the social justice and community development initiatives around us, we can highlight the incredible work done by so many of our alumni and also present so many more opportunities for our current students to go out and make a difference in their world,” he says.

In previous years, MSC alumni or students have planned the fair. This year, Caitlin Eliasson, MSC Student Services Assistant and MSC alumna, is coordinating the fair. Eliasson volunteered with the Social Justice Fair while she was a student at MSC and was a co-coordinator of the event in 2010.

“Over the decade, MSC has developed not only an event but a networking model for the potential and sustainability of student-community connections. Thinking back over the years of SJF, it’s the faces of student organizers, staff, and community participants that beam in my mind—it has been a collective effort in building relationships and awareness,” says Eliasson.

“Organizations fill volunteer needs, students find employment opportunities, alumni return as organization representatives, collaborative ideas are inspired—it does happen, often! The 10th Anniversary on February 10, 2016 is a celebration of this shared and ongoing work for social justice,” she says.

For additional information about the Social Justice Fair, please contact:
Caitlin Eliasson
Menno Simmons College
204.953.3846
c.eliasson@uwinnipeg.ca

About Menno Simons College

Menno Simons College, a part of Canadian Mennonite University and affiliated with the University of Winnipeg, has been offering programs in International Development Studies (IDS) and Conflict Resolution Studies (CRS) since 1989. MSC fosters a vibrant undergraduate learning community in its newly renovated facility at 520 Portage Avenue. It offers 3-year and 4-year majors and a minor in IDS and CRS, an honors program in IDS, and an extensive practicum program. The College has over 1,000 students and hundreds of alumni working in the development and conflict resolution sectors in Manitoba, Canada, and internationally.

For information about Menno Simons College visit www.mscollege.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Events News Releases

Discussion series to explore cohabitation

‘How do we minister to couples who are part of our churches and living together?’ prof asks

Cohabitation is increasingly a reality in Canadian society. How ought the church respond? That’s the question behind an upcoming event at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU).

The community is invited to “Cohabitation: The Question of Living Together Before Marriage,” CMU’s latest Face2Face discussion, on Tuesday, February 9. The event starts at 7:00 PM in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.). Admission is free, and everyone is welcome to attend.

Cohabitation is a difficult topic that many people are hesitant to address, which makes it ideal for the Face2Face series, says David Balzer, Assistant Professor of Communications and Media at CMU, who will moderate the discussion.

He adds that a discussion about cohabitation is inevitably a discussion about what commitment and marriage mean in 2016.

“We’re really unpacking the question of what a marriage covenant looks like in society today,” Balzer says.

This event will focus on three main questions:

  • What clarity might we gain on the biblical, theological, sociological/cultural, and relational dynamics that underlie the reality of cohabitation?
  • What makes this practice challenging to openly discuss within our church communities, as families and with young adults we know and love?
  • How can we best resource and learn from one another?

Face2Face_Feb2016Participants in the discussion include Dr. Irma Fast Dueck, Associate Professor of Practical Theology; John Neufeld, lead pastor at The Meeting Place; and Rebecca Steiner and Paul Peters, two CMU staff members who will represent the diverse voices of young adults.

Dueck, who has researched cohabitation and presented on the topic to church leaders throughout Canada and the United States, says the reality today is that the way to marriage for many young people is to live together first.

“There is huge pressure for our young adults to live together before they get married – even sometimes from parents,” Dueck says.

She hopes the conversation on February 9 goes deeper than exploring whether cohabitation is right or wrong.

“The question is, how do we minister to couples who are part of our churches and living together?” Dueck says. “What does living together do to our theology of marriage? How do we talk positively about marriage amongst people who have seen their parents get divorced? How do we keep valuing it and keep putting it forward as an option amongst people who are living together?”

Steiner believes it is important for the church to be talking about cohabitation.

“It’s one of those awkward topics we don’t know how to address in the church,” she says. “Sometimes it feels good to engage those topics that are tricky or taboo. It can be difficult or challenging, but I’m excited for the conversation that will happen at the event.”

Balzer says that when he and his fellow organizers discussed the event recently, no one in the room could think of a time when they heard cohabitation being discussed in a public way in their respective church communities.

“There’s a sense with this event that we’re trying to open the conversation,” Balzer says. “If we accomplish simply starting a conversation, then we’ve hopefully made a contribution.”

Started in 2013, Face2Face is a series of conversations organized by CMU, designed to engage the community on a wide variety of current events and issues at the intersection of faith and life.

“Cohabitation: The Question of Living Together Before Marriage” is the third of four Face2Face events CMU will host during the 2015-16 school year.

For details, visit cmu.ca/face2face.

About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

Categories
Events News Releases

Planning Well: A Workshop for Worship Planners and Leaders

Workshop to be held January 30 at CMU in Winnipeg

Worship orders—every congregation has one. Many churches have inherited them from past generations of worship planners. Other churches have thrown out traditional worship orders and simply invented their own. But how effective are our worship orders at bringing us into conversation with God and with one another?

PlanningWell“Many congregations invest a lot of time and energy in song leading, worship leading and preaching,” says Christine Longhurst, who teaches worship and music at Canadian Mennonite University. “But far less time is often spent thinking about the worship order itself.”

According to Longhurst, “Without a good worship order, even the most thoughtful worship leading and song leading can have difficulty connecting people with God and with one another.”

Talking about worship orders can be very difficult in some congregations,” she acknowledges. But, she suggests, it is critical work.

“We have to be willing to discuss it,” she says. “It’s important to ask: Does our worship order help bring us into conversation with God, or does it come off feeling more like a program about God?”

“People today are hungry to know God and experience God’s presence,” she adds. “A thoughtful worship order can make a big difference in helping create a beautiful space where that encounter can take place.”

Helping pastors and worship leaders plan worship more effectively is the goal of Planning Well: A Workshop for Worship Planners and Leaders, January 30, at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. The session runs from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM.

Cost is $35 per person, and $25 for two or more people from the same congregation. Students are $10.

The workshop will explore a range of historical and contemporary worship patterns, and offer practical ideas for worship planners who want to help lead their congregations into meaningful dialogue with God.

Topics will include:

  • Where do our worship orders come from?
  • How did we land up with the order we are currently using?
  • How well does our current worship order bring us into conversation with God?
  • What might be missing?
  • How effectively does our worship order engage people who come to worship?
  • Are there ways in which we could strengthen congregational involvement?

The workshop is geared toward pastors, worship planners, worship leaders, song leaders, and all those who have an interest in strengthening congregational worship.

For more information or to register, contact Cori Braun at Canadian Mennonite University: 204.487.3300 or cbraun@cmu.ca, or register online at cmu.ca/leadingworship.