CMU recognizes alumni with 2014 Blazer Awards


An MB  pastor-turned-TV producer who volunteers with people who have Alzheimer’s is among the four recipients of Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) 2014 Blazer Distinguished Alumni Awards.

CMU President Cheryl Pauls is pleased to present the awards to Kathy Bergen, John Neufeld, Lorlie Barkman and Odette Mukole on Sept. 27, 2014, during the university’s Fall Festival.

The Blazer Awards are presented annually to alumni from CMU and its predecessor colleges: Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC) and Mennonite Brethren Bible College (MBBC)/Concord College. The awards celebrate alumni who, through their lives, embody CMU’s values and mission of service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society.

“We are humbled and inspired by the honour and care all four of these alumni extend to people who are often marginalized,” Pauls says. “We give these awards to thank them for the example of their lives.”

2014’s CMU Blazer award recipients:


CMU Blazer Award Winners 2014 - Kathy Bergen

  • For the past 32 years, Kathy Bergen (CMBC ’72) has dedicated her life to working for justice in Israel-Palestine. Bergen lived in Jerusalem from the time of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 until after the Gulf War in 1991, working with MCC. Her career includes seven years as the program coordinator for the Friends International Center in Ramallah, a Quaker ministry in the West Bank, and 12 years as national coordinator of the Middle East Program of the Peacebuilding Unit for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that works for peace and justice around the world.


CMU Blazer Award Winners 2014 - John Neufeld

  • A 1995 graduate of CMBC, John Neufeld earned a Master of Social Work at the University of Toronto and worked for 11 years in foster care. After completing a Master of Business Administration at Wilfrid Laurier, he took on his current role as executive director at House of Friendship, a Kitchener, ON-based organization whose mission is to serve low-income adults, youth, and children in need of support. “I think it’s critical to our common humanity that we all feel we belong, so I want to be engaged in work that makes people feel they belong,” he says.


CMU Blazer Award Winners 2014 - Lorlie Barkman

  • Pastor and television producer are two titles on Lorlie Barkman’s resume. Barkman (MBBC ’90) spent 15 years with Family Life Network, a communications arm of the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba, where he co-created a family TV series called “Third Story” that aired across much of Canada. Before and after his time in TV, Barkman worked as a pastor. Now retired, Barkman enjoys volunteering in seniors homes, where he does a form of art therapy for people with Alzheimer’s by drawing pictures of memories that they share with him. “The Lord has kindly provided many mercies – guidance, forgiveness, encouragement, love,” Barkman says. “I’m very grateful to God.”


CMU Blazer Award Winners 2014 - Odette Mukole

  • Concern for her family’s safety motivated Odette Mukole to move to Canada from the Congo with her three daughters in 2000. She graduated from CMU in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Social Science and currently works as a case coordinator at Family Dynamics, a not-for-profit, community-based agency in downtown Winnipeg that helps newcomers to Canada adjust to life in a new country. “I really like what I’m doing, helping people and making sure they get what they need,” she says. “And when I talk to clients, it’s from my own experience.”

The public is invited to meet and interact with Bergen, Neufeld, Barkman, and Mukole during an event at 4:00 PM in CMU’s Laudamus Auditorium. During this hour, the award recipients will reflect on their personal and professional journeys. There will be time for questions and interaction.

2 Comments on “CMU recognizes alumni with 2014 Blazer Awards

  1. Thank you for the beautiful stories of the works that are done from genuine dedication to Him. I respect brothers and sisters of Mennonite Brethren Church because I was taught Jesus as the Savior and Redeemer from sin of mine and humanity by a missionary who was sent to Japan after the Second World War, who had served as an army nurse in Japan as a MB christian. He was a genuine conveyer of the Gospel and put it into my heart through man-to-man Bible reading and explanation, with good witness of his speaking words and behavior followed. His name is Mr. Sam. H. Krause, who was already gone, in heaven with Him. I sometimes remind him and is reminded that the best and the safest guide is in the Bible. The first I met him was 45 years ago, when I was a student at university.

    • Thank you for glorifying Jesus by sharing some of your testimony here, Noboru Tanizuka. We’re glad to hear that these stories of people faithfully following God’s call are an encouragement to you.

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