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Shalom-pursuing alumni teach and inspire

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CMU distinguished alumni 2017: Henry Neufeld, Joanne Thiessen Martens, John Longhurst, Ken Esau.

Gifted teachers do not simply educate; they inspire their students to apply their lessons, says Ken Esau. The long-time Bible professor at Columbia Bible College, Abbotsford, B.C., was one of this year’s recipients of the Canadian Mennonite University distinguished alumni award.

The award celebrates alumni who embody CMU’s mission of “service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society.” It is presented annually to alumni from CMU and its predecessor schools MB Bible College/Concord and Canadian Mennonite Bible College.

MBBC alumnus Esau (1983) loves teaching and loves the Bible. Though he has given his Old Testament survey course 90 times, it’s never the same course twice, because he “teaches students, not subjects” about the Bible’s “transformation metanarrative.”

“This is an excited and terrifying time for communicators,” says MBBC alumnus (1979) John Longhurst (1979), who discovered his calling to tell stories there. Having served the communications departments of nearly every Mennonite organization based in Winnipeg and as a regular newspaper columnist on faith, Longhurst takes time to mentor to young professionals. His goal is to create space for new communicators to address the challenges of this time with stories of pain, joy and hope.

CMBC graduates Henry Neufeld (1952) and Joanne Thiessen Martens (1996) were also recognized for their work with Indigenous peoples and agricultural research, respectively.

Canadian Mennonite University aims to train agents of reconciliation, says president Cheryl Pauls. CMU’s Centre for Faith and Life offers formal and informal learning to churches, and its Centre for Resilience, launching in 2017, invites enterprises with a focus on social and environmental health to interact with students and churches.


The numbers:

  • 674 students on the Shaftesbury campus
    • 552 undergraduate students
    • 70 graduate students enrolled in one of 3 masters programs,
    • 52 students with the Outtatown Discipleship School, a 1-year cross-cultural, discipleship and faith learning adventure
  • more than 250 registered through Menno Simons College
  • 12 percent international students from 24 countries
  • 9 students from Peguis First Nation in the Indigenous transition program.

Watch their acceptance speeches here:

Updated Oct 11, 2017: numbers corrected and videos added

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