Articles Faculty Profiles

Faculty: In Their Own Words – Dr. Irma Fast Dueck

Dr. Irma Fast Dueck, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, began her teaching career at Canadian Mennonite Bible College, one of CMU’s predecessor colleges, in 1991.

What do you love about your work here?

I love the students and I love my colleagues. I also love the fact that we’re a small enough university that we can’t develop silos. Theology spills into music, which spills into math, and so on. Our lives don’t fit into neat categories—most of our lives are this muddy, murky in-between—and we have a university that embodies that.

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What did you teach this past year that most excited you?

Theologies of Power. It’s an upper level course in theology, and students come from all over the place, including business and communications. It was fascinating to teach them a concept in thinking of power, and then watch them take that concept and read it through their discipline. Power is so insidious—it’s everywhere. For these students to recognize that and work in this interdisciplinary way was awesome to watch.

What are you researching and writing right now?

I’m working on a book about baptism, which I’ve been researching and writing for three years now. The big question that I’ve been wrestling with is: Why aren’t young adults getting baptized? I’ve noticed in my tradition, Mennonite Church Canada (MC Canada), many young adults are actively involved in church organizations but aren’t baptized. Why is that? Why are they hesitant to make commitments to the church? What’s going in in terms of how they interpret the meaning of baptism?

What are you reading for enjoyment?

I just finished reading Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal, about a marathon runner who becomes a refugee. And, I’m always reading poetry, so Mary Karr and Kei Miller are two poets that I’m working through right now. Someone introduced me to them when I was on sabbatical in Scotland. I read a poem a day by each of them.

What do you most long for in your work?

What I long for is that love is at the core of who students are, even as they are aware of the complexities and problems of life, and deal with very real fears. I hope that in spite of the complexities, they don’t slide into cynicism or despair, but that they still love—they love God, they love creation, they love the wonder of this world, they love each other, and they love those who are different from them.

Do you have any interesting projects underway in the broader community or church?

I just finished the Listening Church project with my friend, Darryl Neustaedter Barg, where we interviewed Mennonite LGBTQ people about their experiences in MC Canada congregations and created a video. That was a great project—it gave me a sense of hope for the church. Right now, I’m on the steering committee put together by MennoMedia, MC Canada, and Mennonite Church USA that is overseeing the development of a new Mennonite song collection. We are trying to figure out what congregations need and how the church can resource them for their singing and worship. I’m excited about it.

General News News Releases

Students Thank Donors on Tuition Freedom Day

IMG_5247.JPG John,Katie Epp & grandd Becky Longhurst 144KBDecember 13, 2012 – Canadian Mennonite University gathered on November 26, 2012 to celebrate Tuition Freedom Day, recognizing the assistance of donors and of the Government of Manitoba for their generous contributions in support of higher education throughout the year.

Tuition Freedom Day is the time of year by which revenues from student tuition fees would technically run out, in terms of   paying actual costs for the student’s university education, and support from the community essentially kicks in to pick up budget costs  for the remainder of the year. From Tuition Freedom Day forward, money from government grants, from donor gifts, and funds from University’s operating budget are utilized to make higher education possible for CMU students.

CMU President Cheryl Pauls welcomed guests and brought greetings to the event from Manitoba’s Minister of Higher Education and Literacy, Hon. Erin Selby. Pauls noted that CMU operates with a budget of $13.4-million, out of which approximately $4.7 M (35%) is paid through student tuition and fees.  The Manitoba Government supports CMU with an annual grant of approximately $4.0 M (30%) while $2.9M (22%) is raised through ancillary business, meal plans, and campus rentals. The final 13% of CMU’s budget, $1.8M, reflects the generous giving of individual donors and businesses along with the undergirding of Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Brethren Church congregations, together supporting the Annual Operating Fund and designating support to student scholarships and bursaries. In sum, the combined gifting of government, donors, and the Church is truly significant in support of the learning of CMU’s students.

“I am honoured to be here on behalf of the CMU student body to say thank you to all of those who so generously support our education,” says fourth-year  CMU student Gabrielle Lemire, who iscompleting her Bachelor’s degree in Bible and Theology and Mathematics. “Education is so much more than just information or the way to get a job. Education has the potential to help us learn who God has created us to be in a supportiveenvironment. And this is exactly the kind of environment that CMU provides.”

“This is a time not only to celebrate what a great university CMU is; this is a time to highlight the importance of having a community to surround the students, staff, and faculty at CMU,” says Lemire, addressing the large Tuition Freedom Day gathering in CMU’s Chapel. “Going to CMU would not be possible for many of us if it weren’t for the financial support that our broader community has given. On behalf of all the studentshere at CMU, thank you for investing in us, and entrusting us with this precious gift.”

Dave Bergen, representing Mennonite Church Canada, spoke at the event on behalf of the church ownership bodies. In addressing CMU’s students, Bergen says: “It is a privilege to be here at this annual event celebrating the different partnerships and connections that make it possible for you as students to receive university education at CMU, and to be forming your understandings of vocation and life through the lens of Christian faith and theological understandings.”

MC Canada, he notes, is simultaneously an owner, a donor, and a huge cheerleader for the work of CMU. “We are one of a number of partners who believe in and support Canadian Mennonite University and its mission,” says Bergen.  “We are proud that CMU is deeply rooted in the church, and that its graduates are inspired to engage in the mission of God in many different ways. We thank God for the opportunity to be partners with you in this amazing educational endeavor.”

As part of this year’s Tuition Freedom Day 2012, CMU’s Development Office featured a special announcement of a generous endowment fund that has been created through donations from Portage Mennonite Church, which closed in July 2012. The endowed funds will generate two annual scholarships of $2,500 each for future CMU students. CMU Church Relations Director Abram Bergen was pleased to introduce Gerald and Grace Loeppky, Alma Pankratz, Tony and Astrid Peters, and Margaret Thiessen, congregational members from Portage Mennonite Church who were present to represent their church for this important announcement.

“This ‘small church that could’ leaves a large legacy, as it will support the training of future leaders and musicians at CMU,” says Bergen.

Each year, over a thousand individualdonors support CMU. Representing this important group was retired pastor couple John Epp (MBBC ’53) and Katie Epp, former music faculty member at Mennonite Brethren Bible College. The Epps have served in a number of Mennonite churches in Winnipeg since 1976.

“We are thankful to be regular and faithful donors,” says John Epp. “We support CMU with prayer and finances because it is a place of learning committed to seeking, teaching, and living the truth, as a Christian university of the church for the world.”

In 2003, he comments, the colleges Mennonite Brethren Bible College, (MBBC, a CMU predecessor college) and CMBC jointly planned and celebrated their 50th anniversary on the CMU campus. “We were two small classes with a combined total of 27 graduates, which by 2003 had shrunk to less than 20.  At our 50th celebration, we established the Class of ‘53 bursary fund of $20,000. Over the intervening years,” says Epp, “we have assisted nine students with a total of $5,836.” Eligibility for this bursary is open to all disciplines of studies.

“Our personal support for CMU combines prayer and finances,” says Katie Epp. “Scholarship and prayer are mutually complimentary, so we support and pray that all life and learning at CMU will be imbued with the heart and mind of Christ. God bless you as you keep on making it happen.”

The Epps were joined by their granddaughter, CMU student Rebecca Longhurst, at the Tuition Freedom Day celebration.

CMU Student Council President Brent Retzlaff, in closing the event, thanked guests and the CMU community for their participation and support.

Photo: Long-time donors and friends of CMU Katie Epp and John Epp, with CMU Student and granddaughter of the Epps, Rebecca Longhurst


General News News Releases

Denominational Leaders Jack Suderman And David Wiebe Welcomed

For release June 18, 2010

Canadian Mennonite University today welcomed well respected denominational leaders on campus as part of its ongoing commitment to maintain vital relationships with two church bodies, Mennonite Church Canada and the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches.  2010 marks significant leadership transitions within both denominations.

Jack Suderman, Executive Secretary of Mennonite Church Canada, retires on July 23 after serving in this capacity since 2005.  David Wiebe, Executive Director of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, transitions from his leadership position at the end of 2010, having served in this capacity since July of 2000.

At the invitation of CMU, Suderman and Wiebe today joined faculty and staff for a time of reflection, at which event the University acknowledged the significance of their leadership commitments and created an opportunity for conversation with CMU faculty and staff.

“It proved to be an absorbing hour of interaction as both church leaders reflected on the present and future of each denomination,” says CMU Vice President (External) Terry Schellenberg. “Both David and Jack expressed gratitude and joy in the personal and congregational relationships which they have cultivated during their leadership tenure. Each reflected on the deep and faithful integrity of so many within the church. And each spoke about the present reality of their respective denominations and the challenges their churches face within Canadian society.”  Suderman and Wiebe also identified the hope and optimism they hold in and for the church in the coming decades, even as they spoke about the significance of the challenges that lie ahead for the church.

This was an important opportunity for a university community, committed to be a ‘university of the church for the world,’ to be in direct dialogue with leaders of the church with whom they partner.   “David and Jack affirmed the work and importance of faith and leadership formation as it is occurring at CMU,” said Schellenberg. “They reflected on the fact that each of their children graduated from CMU, with each having been formed deeply by their experience.”

CMU faculty and staff expressed gratitude for the leadership and vision that each has embodied and affirmed the importance of ongoing connections between university and church.

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU offers undergraduate degrees as well as two graduate degree programs. CMU has over 1,800 students, including MSC and Outtatown students, and is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

For information, contact:
Nadine Kampen CMU Communications & Marketing Director; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University , 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2