Alumni Profiles Articles

Dr. Angela Reed: Spiritual formation from Winkler to Waco

In the Baptist circles of Waco, Texas, she’s known as “the Mennonite.”

Angela Reed (CMBC BTh ’96, CMU BA ’00) is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Director of Spiritual Formation at the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University.

“I haven’t actually been a member of a Mennonite church for 10 years, but that doesn’t matter,” Reed says. “They absolutely, wholeheartedly around the seminary refer to me as ‘the Mennonite,’ and seem to say that with great affection.”

Angela ReedOn faculty at Truett since 2010, Reed spends half her time teaching courses in spiritual formation and discipleship, and half her time directing the seminary’s spiritual formation program.

The spiritual formation program at Truett invites all students to develop habits that support personal and communal spiritual formation that may sustain them through the challenges and joys of ministry.

The program is based upon small group discipleship. Each student is part of a six- to eight-person “covenant group” that meets weekly for prayer and spiritual formation.

Reed’s work also includes providing spiritual direction in groups and with individual students, as well as researching and writing.

Her most recent book, Spiritual Companioning: A Guide to Protestant Theology and Practice, co-authored with Richard R. Osmer and Marcus G. Smucker, recently won the Martin Institute and Dallas Willard Center Book Award.

“What I most enjoy about my work is building relationships with students, helping them to discern their vocation and calling, and helping them to prepare for that,” Reed says. “Part of that preparation is to see them grow in Christian character, and in relationship with God and others.”

Reed grew up an hour and a half southwest of Winnipeg on a farm near Winkler, MB. As a child, she enjoyed reading the Bible on her own, and as a teenager attending Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church, she developed a strong interest in personal spiritual disciplines.

Studying theology at CMBC led to pastoral work at Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. She went on to earn her Master of Divinity through CMU and the Faculty of Theology at the University of Winnipeg.

During this time, Reed worked part-time as a spiritual director at Springfield Heights Mennonite Church. While finishing her MDiv, Reed began considering further study.

Her interests in spiritual formation and spiritual direction led her to Princeton Theological Seminary, where she graduated in May 2010 with a PhD in Practical Theology.

More than a decade after leaving southern Manitoba, Reed’s Mennonite roots still run deep. She recalls CMU’s emphasis on community in theology classes, Bible classes, and in chapel.

“I appreciate having come from this small community,” she says, adding that it has influenced her work at Truett. “Creating small group community within the larger context (of the seminary), I think, has been very important to me.”

“That commitment to community that I had within the Mennonite Church is a very strong part of who I am today, how I teach, and how I write,” she adds. “I will never lose that.”

Spring 2016 Blazer Magazine CoverArticle taken from the Spring 2016 issue of The Blazer magazine produced by CMU.
Click to view the entire magazine.

Alumni Profiles Articles Faculty Profiles

CMU prof completes unfinished book by mentor, friend

Paul Doerksen’s latest book is one he hoped he would never have to work on.

Doerksen, Associate Professor of Theology and Anabaptist Studies at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), is the editor of Toward an Anabaptist Political Theology: Law, Order, and Civil Society. Published this past October by Wipf and Stock, the book is a collection of essays by the late theologian A. James Reimer.

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Paul Doerksen (right), Associate Professor of Theology and Anabaptist Studies at CMU, is the editor of Toward an Anabaptist Political Theology: Law, Order, and Civil Society, a collection of essays by the late theologian James Reimer (left).

Reimer, who was diagnosed with cancer while working on the book, called Doerksen in 2010 and asked if Doerksen would finish the book and find a publisher for it if he were to die before completing it.

“I agreed in a heartbeat out of respect for him and his work,” says Doerksen, who developed a deep friendship with Reimer after Reimer served as the advisor for his Master’s thesis. “I recall hoping that I wouldn’t have to keep good on the promise – that he would survive long enough to finish it himself. That would have been great.”

Six weeks after that phone call, Reimer died.

Doerksen and Reimer had collaborated in the past, and Doerksen approached his work preparing Reimer’s essays for publication with sadness, respect, and a sense of privilege.

“His voice comes through so clearly in his writing that it just felt like the work was continuing, only more slowly than if he had been there,” Doerksen says.

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Reimer graduated from Canadian Mennonite Bible College, one of CMU’s predecessor colleges, in 1963.

More slowly, and not as fun. Reimer was a humorous, engaging man who enjoyed cooking for friends and family.

“I missed all those things,” Doerksen says. “Nonetheless, the voice and the development of an argument – and the passion for what he was trying to do – was sort of a constant companion when I was working with his material.”

Political theology is a burgeoning field. In the book, Reimer argues for a more positive embrace of law, order, and civil society than Anabaptists have historically offered.

“He was trying to do Anabaptist work in the field, but in a way that was far more open to classical Christianity, especially the kind that was developed in the first four centuries,” says Doerksen, adding that he appreciates the comprehensiveness of Reimer’s project. “I think it’s a fresh voice.”

Reimer was Professor of Religious Studies and Christian Theology at Conrad Grebel University College and at the Toronto School of Theology, and was named Distinguished Professor Emeritus upon his retirement in 2008.

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Doerksen with Reimer’s wife, Margaret Loewen Reimer, at the Waterloo launch for the book.

He was an alumnus of Canadian Mennonite Bible College, one of CMU’s predecessor colleges. In 2010, CMU presented him with a Blazer Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his contribution of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.

Toward an Anabaptist Political Theology is the third book by Reimer published posthumously.

Christians and War: A Brief History of the Church’s Teachings and Practices was published the month after his death, and La dynamique de la foi chrétienne: Quand les dogmes libérent l’imagination – a French translation of his 2003 book, The Dogmatic Imagination – was published last year.

Reimer’s wife, Margaret Loewen Reimer, says she is happy Toward an Anabaptist Political Theology is available.

“Paul did a really good job of presenting the essays,” Loewen Reimer says. “Jim would have been delighted.”

Alumni Profiles Articles

Storytelling experience in the classroom equips student for work in radio

As a reporter for CHVN 95.1 radio, Matthew Veith is doing what he loves—storytelling.

Veith is responsible for seeking out local news stories, conducting interviews, writing pieces for CHVN’s website, and reporting live. Through the stories he tells at CHVN, Veith says he has seen how God is working in many different places and ways.

“So many spaces we might have expected can be redeemed by God to do incredible stuff,” he says. “God can do more than we can conceivably ask or imagine.”

Using stories to invite listeners or readers to be a part of an event or opportunity is one aspect Veith enjoys about his job.

“It’s very easy to dismiss something if it’s simply being presented to you as fact,” he says. “When something is presented to you in the form of a person, as a unique story, it’s so incredible to experience that.”

Matthew Veith (CMU '13)
Matthew Veith (CMU ’13)

Veith graduated with a BA in Communications & Media from Canadian Mennonite University in 2013. He says his interest in graphic design and photography made a communications degree a logical choice.

“The degree is relatively open ended, but still gave me a lot of instruction broadly in terms of communication and media,” he says.

During the course Media Workshop, Veith gained hands on experience in radio production. Along with fellow classmate Amy Davey, Veith hosted a radio program called Let’s Talk as part of a class assignment.

“It introduced me to how incredibly rewarding, interesting, surprising, and humbling it would be to say ‘I’m here to listen to what you have to tell me,’” he says.

Veith says CMU equipped him with the skills in how to work in radio and that having a BA makes a radio host an interesting interviewer. Having a degree provides the interviewer with a deeper understanding of the larger context within which radio programs operate, according to Veith.

“Doing a university degree gives you a sense of the greater reality of what radio is doing—the idea that media figures into the way that communities sustain themselves, the way public opinions are formed, the way that politics unfold,” he says.”

In all his communications work—Veith also works as a freelance graphic designer—Veith says he is regularly reminded of the importance of storytelling.

“There is nothing more true about communications than the need to keep telling stories,” he says. “I see myself as a storyteller, bringing ideas to people, helping people see things that they might not have seen.

Note: As of early December, Veith has been lending his voice as the talk show host to the morning and afternoon drive shows due to staff transitions at CHVN. He aims to return to the news department in the near future.

Ellen Paulley is the Writer & Social Media Coordinator at Canadian Mennonite University

Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profiles–Simon Hamm (CMU ’14)

This video features Simon Hamm (CMU ’14) at With Gratitude, April 26, 2014. With Gratitude is a CMU graduation weekend event at which class members share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance. The event brings together family members, graduates, students, faculty, and staff, and affords graduates a valuable opportunity to showcase what their studies have meant to them. Here, Simon reflects on the deep appreciation that his Mathematical studies at CMU have given him for the Unreasonable Effectiveness of studying that which is fascinating and delightful before that which is “practical”.

Simon Hamm
Bachelor of Arts, 4 Year
Majors: Mathematics, Biblical and Theological Studies

Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profiles–Stephanie Crampton (CMU ’14)

Stephanie CramptonThis video features Stephanie Crampton (CMU ’14) at With Gratitude, April 26, 2014. With Gratitude is a CMU graduation weekend event at which class members share their experiences through spoken word or musical performance. The event brings together family members, graduates, students, faculty, and staff, and affords graduates a valuable opportunity to showcase what their studies have meant to them.

Here, Tirzah Lyons provides piano accompaniment for  Stephanie’s performance of Perfect As We Are from the opera Little Women.

Stephanie Crampton, mezzo soprano
Bachelor of Music
Concentration: Performance; Voice

Alumni Profiles

CMU alumnus awarded prestigious $50,000 fellowship

Fellowship supports Rebecca Bartel’s PhD work on faith and finance in Colombia

How are people in Colombia formed by finance? What are the hopes of everyday people in their use of credit cards, bank accounts, as well as alternative economic systems, in a country at war?

Those are the questions at the heart of the dissertation Rebecca Bartel is writing to fulfill the requirements of her PhD program in the Department for the Study of Religion and the Center for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto.

Bartel-[2]“My dissertation is about the soul of finance—the good, the bad, and the structural,” says Bartel, who graduated from CMU in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Theology, with a minor in Political Science. “I am convinced that a road to peace and justice will necessarily consider economics, and more specifically, our financial system.”

This past summer, Bartel became one of 16 inaugural recipients of a Weston Fellowship. Presented by the University of Toronto and The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, the fellowship is dedicated to international experience at the doctoral level. Each recipient was given $50,000 to further their research and broaden their skills and networks in a global setting.

Bartel is currently in Bogotá, Colombia for a year of fieldwork and teaching at the National University of Colombia. She is no stranger to the country, with more than a decade of academic and life experience in Colombia.

During her last year at CMU, Bartel became curious about how “the politics of Jesus” could be, and were being, practiced in the face of armed conflict and the deep injustices in the world.

“I became very concerned with the question of war, why it happened and how it could be resolved, and I decided I wanted to pursue graduate studies in armed conflict resolution in a place where an armed conflict was currently going on,” she says.

Close friends who had spent time in Colombia encouraged Bartel to consider studying there, so she did.

“The experiences of the Colombian Anabaptist churches as beacons of light for justice and peace in the midst of structural and physical violence were an inspiration that I wanted to learn more about,” she says.

Bartel received a Master’s degree in Political Science, which was focused on the political economy of war, as well as a graduate specialization in armed conflict resolution from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá.

During and after her studies, she worked for two years with the Colombian Mennonite Foundation for Development (MENCOLDES) as a Mennonite Church Canada volunteer, and then for four years with Mennonite Central Committee as Policy Analyst and Educator for Latin America and the Caribbean.

For Bartel, studying at CMU was foundational academically as well as personally and spiritually.

“CMU pushed me to take the gospel seriously, put it into action, and seek out the face of Christ in places where darkness and violence seem to prevail,” she says. “CMU taught me that community, simplicity, and critical thinking can pull back the veil of darkness and reveal the illuminating hope of liberating action.”

Bartel hopes to graduate with her PhD in 2015. She would like to land a tenure-track position in a university, begin a study-abroad program to Latin America, and continue writing and teaching on religion and economics.

Bartel realized at CMU that while she may not see the fruits of all the acts of resistance and liberation that churches and communities in Colombia live out each day, her life must be a testimony to the faith that one day, peace with justice shall reign.

“This faith is what pushes us to believe, indeed know, that war will end, and God’s promise of equality, justice, and a life without fear will be real.”

Alumni Profiles Articles

Royal Canoe guitarist talks about how CMU has shaped his life

Royal Canoe guitarist Bucky Driedger (bottom left) graduated from CMU in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences, with a concentration in Communications.

August 22, 2013 – With its forward-thinking blend of pop, rock, hip hop, dance, soul, and electronic music, as well as its energetic live shows, Royal Canoe has made a name for itself as one of Winnipeg’s most exciting bands.

Two of the band’s singles have reached the Top 5 on CBC Radio 3, they have toured throughout North America and Europe, and they’ve earned praise from venerable publications like The New York Times to blogs like This Music Doesn’t Suck, which described the band’s sound as “a clever blend of aesthetics and genres executed with a confidence and expertise usually reserved for more established groups.”

Bucky Driedger, Royal Canoe’s guitarist, backing vocalist and co-songwriter, sees a clear connection between the work he does in the band and the time he spent on Outtatown in 2002-2003 and then studying at CMU.

“Both were experiences that shaped my worldview and gave me a desire to experience new places and try new things,” says Driedger, who graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences, with a concentration in Communications.

He adds that he studied and lived in residence with many creative people who were interested in making music and visual art.

“Being in a culture where my peers valued thinking outside the box really helped me develop my sense of taste and what I value in art,” he says. “Good art should help people . . . imagine a new way of thinking about the world.”

Studying communications gave Driedger an appreciation for the way media and pop culture interact, and the subtleties involved in phrasing a message so that it has a particular impact on its intended audience.

“Today We’re Believers,” Royal Canoe’s new album, is in stores Tuesday, Sept. 3.

CMU also equipped Driedger with some of the tools he uses to help promote the band. While Royal Canoe has a manager, booking agents, and record label support, each member is actively involved with every aspect of the business side of the music industry, from graphic design, to photo shoots, to booking tours, to writing press releases and updates for the band’s website.

“Gone are the days when you can be a mad genius in your basement, get discovered by a major record label, and have everyone do everything for you,” he says. “You need to have copywriters and booking agents in your band.”

While at CMU, Driedger sang in choir. Growing up in the Mennonite Church, he saw what an important part music plays in Mennonite culture.

“From a young age, I learned to value thoughtful music-making,” he says.

The intricate composition and harmony Driedger and his bandmates witnessed in church has made its way into Royal Canoe’s sound. Some of the group’s songs have a classical music feel, and at any given moment, four of the band’s six members could be singing at the same time, weaving different harmonies together behind the melody.

This fall, Royal Canoe will spend three-and-a-half months touring throughout North America and Europe in support of its second full-length album, Today We’re Believers, which hits stores on Sept. 3. Driedger is excited to see how people respond to the album, which the band worked on for the better part of three years.

“We put a lot of thought into every tone and lyric,” he says. “They’re not just throwaway [songs]. They all represent really important moments in our lives.”

Royal Canoe will celebrate the release of Today We’re Believers with two shows in Winnipeg this week: An all ages show at the Park Theatre tonight (Thursday, Aug. 22), and an 18+ show at Union Sound Hall tomorrow (Friday, Aug. 23). For details, and to hear the band’s music, visit

Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profile – Matt Sawatzky (CMU ’06)

Matt Sawatzky [2] - Corey Aronec
CMU alumnus Matt Sawatzky. Photo by Corey Aronec.
May 2, 2013 – Matt Sawatzky likes photography because photos tell stories in ways that words cannot.

“Learning to do that well—to be able to capture a story visually—is interesting to me,” says Sawatzky, who participated in CMU’s Outtatown Discipleship School 2001-2002 and graduated from CMU with a three-year B.A. in International Development Studies (IDS) in 2006.

Sawatzky’s latest project combines his love for photography with his interest in international development. “A Sad Sort of Clean: Hydropower in Northern Manitoba” is an exhibit opening this Friday, May 3 at Winnipeg’s Flatlanders Studio that features photography and video Sawatzky created along with Cree elder Ellen Cook.

The photos and videos feature people and waterways that have been affected by hydro development in Northern Manitoba. Sawatzky and Cook spent 11 days last spring visiting Grand Rapids, Split Lake, and South Indian Lake, three communities that are between five and 11 hours north of Winnipeg.

Commissioned by the Interfaith Task Force on Northern Hydro Development, a coalition of leaders from Mennonite, United, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic churches and The Thunderbird Lodge who aim to promote thoughtful debate on hydro issues, “A Sad Sort of Clean” asks three questions: Is hydropower clean? Are new dams a good idea? Does Manitoba need new dams or a new approach to hydro?

This image from “A Sad Sort of Clean” depicts fisherman Robert Spence of the Tataskweyak Cree Nation. Photo by Matt Sawatzky.

“The purpose of the project is to show the human cost of our ‘green’ energy,” Sawatzky says. “It’s not to disparage or demonize Manitoba Hydro, but rather, to counter the clean image they present themselves with by showing the people and waterways at the end of the transmission line.”

“The goal was to show that our great hydro-electricity comes at a cost,” he adds.

It was during his time in Guatemala on Outtatown that Sawatzky first fell in love with photography. When he returned home to Winnipeg, he enjoyed getting the prints back that he had shot with a small point-and-shoot camera.

Sawatzky says he enjoys photography in part because it’s a way for him to record his experiences.

“Some people have a journal that they write in, but I’ve started to assemble photo albums for every year of my life,” he says. “It’s a way for me to document memories visually.”

Elder Herb Cook of the Misipawistik Cree Nation (Grand Rapids) surveys wood debris littering Cedar Lake in this image from “A Sad Sort of Clean.” Photo by Matt Sawatzky.

Sawatzky’s Outtatown experience also led him to study IDS. The poverty he witnessed in Guatemala was eye-opening.

“Seeing the poverty, being out of my comfort zone, and seeing how the world actually operates made a big impact on me,” Sawatzky says.

In the years since, he has combined his love for photography and interest in IDS by working with non-governmental organizations in Egypt, Nepal, South Africa, and Zambia. He’s also travelled through India and New Zealand.

Sawatzky is currently working for a landscaping company and in September will start a pre-Master’s program in Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba.

“My time at CMU definitely shaped how I try and direct my life,” Sawatzky says. “Ultimately, I want to do work, whether it’s photographic or otherwise, that’s going to address inequalities in the world and work toward justice.”

“A Sad Sort of Clean” opens at Winnipeg’s Flatlanders Studio (782 Main St.) on Friday, May 3 from 7-10 PM. The exhibit will be up until the end of June. Regular hours are 1-4 PM on Saturdays and Sundays (closed May 25-26). For more information, visit the exhibit’s Facebook page at

Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profiles – Megan Klassen-Wiebe

Practicum experiences sometimes take students outside their comfort zones into new territory and new environments, giving them opportunities to do something they otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to do.

CMU alumna Megan Klassen-Wiebe’s practicum took her to Cedar Lane Farm, a small, mixed, family-run farm in Coles Island, New Brunswick for five months in 2009. There, she was involved in a wide variety of activities, including gardening; feeding and watering animals (pigs, chickens, turkeys); butchering chickens and turkeys; milking cows; collecting eggs; stacking hay bales; making granola and granola bars; and selling goods at the market.

Klassen-Wiebe graduated from CMU in 2009 with a general BA, and at first wasn’t too sure about her professional future.

“This experience gave me a chance to explore a passion in myself that I had only just discovered at CMU,” she says of her practicum. “It was a way for me to begin to look beyond the community of CMU and to see into the greater world. It made me aware of issues that I wanted to think about further in life and gave me a purpose beyond my CMU graduation.

“It was through this practicum that I decided that I wanted farming to be a part of my future, and led me to studying Agroecology at the University of Manitoba,” say Klassen-Wiebe.

Alumni Profiles Articles

Alumni Profiles – Cindy Bass (CMU ’09)

CMU alumna Cindy Bass’ practicum helped her to create a new job position and employment for herself.

As part of her practicum experiences, Cindy, who graduated from CMU in 2009 as a mature student with a Bachelor of Music Therapy degree, volunteered her services at Extendicare Tuxedo Villa personal care home in Winnipeg, where there was no music therapy program in place. She ended up with a permanent part-time job.

She now works as a Canadian Association for Music Therapy-accredited music therapist at Tuxedo Villa and at another personal care home. As well, she runs her own private-practice business for children with special needs, which she plans to expand in the future.

Cindy also fulfilled practicum assignments in Winnipeg at Riverview Health Centre, St. Amant Centre, and several elementary schools, giving her a taste of working with different clientele.

Cindy credits her practica to giving her hands-on experience and figuring out which populations and environments were a good fit for her.

“The practicum experience was definitely one of the greatest parts of the whole learning experience,” says Cindy. “There is nothing quite like hands-on experience that prepares you for the working world. It also gives you a very good idea of knowing whether it is the right profession for you or not.

“CMU definitely prepared me to get out there and do the work,” she adds.