Award-winning alumni blaze a trail
The CMU Alumni Blazer award celebrates and honours graduates of Canadian Mennonite University (and its founding colleges Mennonite Brethren Bible College/Concord College, and Canadian Mennonite Bible College) who have served their churches, communities, and the world in significant ways, embodying CMU’s values and mission of “service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society.” Four alumni received the award at CMU’s Homecoming weekend, Sept. 25–26; two of them well-known MB figures.
Harold Jantz is known across Canada as the founder of ChristianWeek, in 1987. But MBs knew him 20 years prior as editor of the MB Herald from 1964–1985. That followed three years teaching at Eden Christian College (now Eden High School) in St. Catharines, Ont. Jantz graduated from MBBC in 1960.
Winner of the Leslie K. Tarr award in 1993 for contribution to Christian writing in Canada, Jantz left full-time editorial work in 1996, but continues to contribute to the life of the church through board work, consulting, and writing. He currently chairs the board of the local Living Waters Canada chapter, and published Leaders Who Shaped Us, collected original biographies of influential MBs, in spring. Jantz and his wife, Neoma, are members of River East MB Church, Winnipeg.
Karen Heidebrecht Thiessen was lead pastor at River East MB Church from 1990–2000 – the first woman to hold that kind of post in an MB church in North America. She graduated from MBBC in 1987, and completed an MDiv at MBBS, Fresno, Cal. She is currently pastor of Level Ground, a Mennonite Church Canada congregation in Abbotsford, B.C., created during her tenure at West Abbotsford Mennonite Church by merging with Wellspring Christian Fellowship. The diverse congregation has a particular ministry to those with a history of substance abuse and homelessness.
Heidebrecht Thiessen has served on various committees, including MCC’s Peace Colloquium Committee, and the Manitoba MB Ministers and Deacons’ committee. This past year, she and her husband, Columbia Bible College librarian Richard Thiessen, served at Meserete Kristos College, Ethiopia with MC Canada Witness.