Category: faith life (Page 1 of 2)

Living on campus: Close to class, closer to community

You live 15 minutes away from here? Why do you live on campus? Isn’t it way more expensive than living at home?

1P5C1503

Well the practical answer is easy. Look at our roads right about now. Look at your thermometer, or, the weather app on your phone. Check your bus schedule, and find out that your daily commute is over an hour each way, and that’s when those Winnipeg buses are actually on time. 

So if I choose to live at home, I can either spend a pile of money on a car, or spend my most valuable resource – time – out in minus-40 weather.

That was enough to sell me on dorm life, and I hadn’t even set foot in Poettcker Hall yet.

The first thing I noticed was how great dorm life is as a stepping stone to adulthood. There’s no one checking in on you, making sure you follow rules or get to sleep at a decent hour, but you don’t have to worry about what to cook (or how to cook) every day. Ted Dyck and his crew take great care of that, and the food is unlimited!

6th year

Right from the start, you find out that there are always exciting events on campus, and there’s something for everyone. From incredibly talent-filled coffeehouses to Blazer game days at the Loewen, and everything in between, there’s always something to do. You’re a 30-second walk from chapel twice a week, Wednesday Night Worship, fellowship groups and many more opportunities to discuss and worship God.

There are some challenges as well. Chances are you will quickly have a new sense of appreciation for your mattress at home, or simple things like laundry machines that don’t require your hard-earned-Bible-camp salary to operate. You might come back to your room on a Sunday night to find 2000 water-filled Dixie cups covering every square inch of floor and table space, but hey, you left your door unlocked so what do you expect?

1st year

Most importantly, living on campus is the best way to experience community at CMU. I’ve lived in dorm, then at home, and now in apartments on campus and it’s clear that I’m closest to the people here when I live here. In my first year, I found myself staying up until two or three in the morning regularly, engaging in deep faith discussions with other first years. These were people going through the same life changes, anxious and stressful moments as me. I can honestly say that I learned more about my faith in those talks in my first semester than I had in any sermon or lecture.

CMU is a community, and the best way to experience it is being present all the time, and engaging in everything it has to offer. Take the plunge, move in, and you’ll feel it.

Thomas Friesen is a senior Communications and Media student from Winnipeg, Manitoba.

From South Carolina to the South Side of Grant

Andi Jacobs - from South Carolina to the South Side of Grant

Throughout high school I knew I wanted to do something different for college. I didn’t want to attend the same four universities that nearly everyone from my high school chose. So when my family was visiting friends in Toronto, and I learned about International Development, a degree that is not widely offered in the States, I felt the opportunity to take a different path. It sounded like it would be just the right fit for me.

After a quick search on Google, I learned about Canadian Mennonite University. Not only did CMU offer a degree that was different, but it also offered small class sizes and a real relationship with my professors, which was definitely something I wouldn’t have if I attend the larger state schools in South Carolina.

CMU also offered a schooling option that was affordable. It’s no secret that American schools are crazy expensive, especially if you are considering attending university in a different state or a private institution. So even though I’m an international student, CMU is just as affordable as staying in my home state of South Carolina. Not only am I going to a great school, but I will also graduate with relatively no debt (thanks mom & dad).

I’ll admit that I was a little nervous going to university so far from home, as this would be my first time living on my own. Not only was the school far away, but it was also in a different country, which was nerve-racking, yet also exciting at the same time. The unknown is what frightened me, yet the possibility for new friends and a new city to explore far outweighed the risks. Thankfully, the community I found once I arrived at CMU was more welcoming and supportive than I could’ve ever imagined. True to their stereotype, Canadians are a friendly bunch.

Another important factor in my choosing a university was whether I would have the opportunity to play competitive volleyball. I had never considered looking at schools in Canada, but I’m so thankful I did. Last January I visited Winnipeg (my parents wanted to make sure I had a chance to experience Manitoba in winter), toured the campus, and practiced with the volleyball team. My visit sealed the deal. CMU was a perfect fit.

IMG_8496a

The support on campus for academics and spiritual growth is something I have already learned to treasure. There are both chapels and fellowship groups during the week, and the leaders guide us through different worship styles whether that is contemporary, traditional, or something different altogether. While this Christian community is a big part of CMU, you can be as involved or uninvolved as you want. Regardless of your beliefs, you will be accepted for who you are as an individual.

Not only are the people welcoming, but CMU’s location is a welcoming place too. It is a smaller, more traditional campus with wonderful scenery, yet it’s only a few short minutes from being in downtown Winnipeg. If I need some fresh air after studying, there are miles of walking trails in the Assiniboine Forest, right behind campus. It is really the best of both worlds.

I am so happy with my decision to come to CMU. It truly has something to offer everyone.

Andi Jacobs is a first year student from Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

How One Step of Faith Led to a 600 km Walk

Leading up to the summer of 2017, I could never have anticipated the depth of transformation I would experience, and the alteration this would have on my daily life as a young, white, settler student, and as a Christian.

Colin Remier 2

As I prepared to work over the summer, Erin Froese (a fellow CMU student, and previous #myCMUlife blogger) planted a seed in my mind at a screening of the documentary film Split Lake last Spring, about entering the Indigenous-settler conversation more intentionally through the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights.

While I thought little of it at first, God pulled me in. After consulting with some of my spiritual advisors, I took a leap of faith and committed to the entire walk: 600 km from Kitchener to Ottawa.

Did I know what I was getting myself into? Was I prepared for God’s new, transformative path, of which he had begun preparing me for? Could I have anticipated being who or where I am now, from who I was and where I began last spring?

The answer? No.

With great joy and exhilaration I walked; learning along the way, first hand, what it meant to be an Indigenous ally, to walk the path of reconciliation, and what the struggles have been like for our host peoples over the past 150 years of colonialism. 

Colin Remier 3

Engaging with people of faith and walking day after day, I found a deeper connection and passion growing inside me for the pursuit of justice and reconciliation, believing even now that the church belongs here.

As I developed relationships with specific people such as Leah Gazan, Steve Heinrichs, and MP Romeo Saganash, this personal drive grew exponentially. 

Along the way, I contacted my parents and asked about my grandfather’s work with the Indigenous communities of Manitoba, and came to learn that my ancestry traces (at least partially) into the Indigenous community of The Long Plains. Recognizing that I am the grandson of honorary Chief White Cloud, and that indigenous peoples’ value ancestry very highly, I committed to reignite the reconciliation work my grandfather had begun back in the 1970’s.   

Colin Remier 1

Following the completion of the Pilgrimage, I found myself planning, but in a type of limbo as if waiting for some guidance as to the direction I should go. While developing a list of actions surrounding the Pilgrimage and Bill-C262 had been simple, taking initiative to provide local education and support in my hometown of Boissevain, Manitoba (Treaty 2 territory), proved to be quite challenging.

However, after several meetings with my pastor, various conversations with fellow Indigenous allies, as well as suggestions from mentors and my parents, I pushed hard for action in August. Since then, I have begun planning possible citywide events with Kerry Saner-Harvey of Mennonite Central Committee Manitoba around a variety of Indigenous issues, particularly those surrounding Muskrat Falls. 

Through the editorial assistance of a few individuals, I wrote and had an article published in the local paper, the Boissevain Recorder, where I discussed the relevance of the Pilgrimage, and the essential importance of Bill-C262 being passed. I have also become a Fellowship Group leader, leading a group on the study and discussion of Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry, a book that tackles church-indigenous relations.

Last, but not least, since the latter half of the Pilgrimage to now, I have become an activist on social media lobbying for the Bill, for Indigenous Rights, and for the positive change that can and is happening.

Colin Remier 5

While I am back at CMU, I continue to lobby and participate in various actions surrounding Bill-C262, and am excited for the future of where this new path may take me. It is here that I have found truth to the phrase, “the joy of the Lord is my strength.”

I found joy on the Pilgrimage, and in discussion and writing over the summer, and I continue to find joy and see God’s grace in the love and community that I have returned to for another year at CMU.

Colin Reimer is a third year Psychology major at CMU.

From camp to CMU: Knowing God beyond academia

I’m not sure what wild whim it was last February that had me filling out and submitting and application for Summer Staff at Camp Mennoscah.

Lizzie Schrag (far right) with her roommates from Camp Mennoscah. Lizzie Schrag: knowing God beyond academia

Lizzie Schrag (far right) with her roommates from Camp Mennoscah.

My relationship with this Kansas church camp was shaky, at best. I hadn’t gone every year as a camper, and not all the years I had attended had been particularly good experiences. From what I could remember it was hot, sandy, and full of both poison ivy and extroverts.

So when I arrived at camp last June, I had come because it was something in which I believed. I had taken enough BTS courses at that point to have a vague recognition that, when set up correctly, Christianity could be positive and life-giving instead of horribly destructive, as my own post-high school experience had led me to conclude.

Camp, then, was the best example of Christianity being “set-up” correctly, that I could think of: an intentional community that broke bread together; worked, played, and rested together; had healthy intergenerational interactions; and defied gender stereotypes—all on a place set aside as holy ground by the life-giving flow of the Ninnescah River.

Lizzie Schrag: knowing God beyond academia

But what I didn’t bargain for when I arrived at camp was, well, the Holy Spirit, the Breath of God: that Grace, eloquently described in Hamilton’s ‘Unimaginable‘, as “too powerful to name.”

When I started working at camp, I viewed all those aforementioned aspects of Christianity as a check-list, as if I could simply mark them off once they happened. I saw them as practices that brought us closer to God. But I had gone so long without feeling that overflowing, overwhelming love, grace, and certainty in who I was as a child of God, that I couldn’t quite dare to believe that I would again.

But God has a way of overturning all our assumptions and our expectations.

Somewhere between buckets of compost, stacks of dishes, and a little turtle poop (I was the nature person after all), I regained trust in my own ability to be strong, capable, and loving in service—a living example of worship.

And between hymn sings and hug circles, notes of love from our director and quiet campers pouring out their stories, I regained trust in the loving goodness of other people.

And on my last night with campers, as I was hanging back at campfire waiting to put it out, I found myself talking to a camper whose difficult story was eerily similar to my own, and in ministering to her, (I guess that’s what listening, and sharing, and praying really is), I regained my trust in God, and God’s ability to work through what is messy, and broken, and seemingly irreparable.

Lizzie Schrag: Knowing God beyond academia

I went to camp because it seemed like a place to live out what I had learned in textbooks and lectures. But I left knowing God beyond academia.

I affirmed that I need a place to write and think, to make sense of God amidst all the dangerous, damaging religiosity I have, and continue to brush up against. But I also learned that God’s mercy forces us to reevaluate our doubts, God’s grace can sass our bitter cynicism right back, and God’s love can come in forms as small as a baby turtle, and as expansive as a prairie sky.

At camp I slammed into a God who is in all and through all. Even me.

Elizabeth Schrag is in her second year of a Biblical and Theological Studies major. 
This post was first shared in Chapel at CMU on Sept 12, 2017.

A year of living monastically

Sarah Moesker, a year of living monastically

I spent this past year living with The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine [SSJD] is an Anglican, Benedictine-style monastic community located in Toronto, Ontario.

The Sisters are an open community, welcoming people to join them for their chapel services, occurring four times daily, typically followed by a silent meal. They run a Guest House ministry, providing a quiet place for a variety of individual and group retreats. Some Sisters also provide spiritual care to the patients at St. John’s Rehabilitation Hospital next door to the convent.

The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine [SSJD]

“Why,” you ask? Now that is a great question!

Truth be told, I think I was beckoned to the convent by a God who called a timeout on my somewhat floundering efforts to do life.

God was like, “Yo, Sarah…” and there was a bunch more, but I had some trouble hearing it. I did manage to catch the gesture toward SSJD when I found myself pensively gazing, back and forth, between two things: a feeling of “You are not returning to CMU next fall” in one hand, and the emptiness of the other hand. 

Seated in the ambient sanctuary of St. Benedict’s Table’s evening service, the list of songs and announcements found its way into that empty hand, and I came across an advertisement from SSJD, calling young women to join them for a year. I sat holding those two things in my hands for the next two weeks, though the setting changed sometimes. Cue the cataclysmic word: Yes.

As for what I learned, in Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis offers a perspective on what it is like to let God into one’s life, where the life is the house and God the renovator:

At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of.”

So I guess I learned pretty quickly that there was a lot more on God’s agenda than on mine.

I learned a lot about how prayer is not just a thing one does but a way one lives. I thought, “oh la dee da, I will just go there and learn how to pray more regularly”. God responded, “Your whole life is a prayer. Come; let me show you how to be attentive to that reality.” Stepping into contemplative prayer has been like coming home to myself—the way God intended me to be, on my own, in prayer, and in relation to others.

Picture22

Through simply living the lifestyle of the Sisters, I also learned things about self-compassion, time-management, self-discipline, and the healing mystery of having structure. I developed a better sense of what a balanced life of prayer, work, leisure, and rest feels like—now I just have to remember to apply it.

There was also the healing experience of living in community, which normalized a lot of the elements of socializing and relationships that used to provoke tremendous anxiety.

Another area of growth and learning was my work as a Spiritual Care Provider at the rehabilitation hospital next door, visiting patients and helping out with the services in the hospital chapel. This experience provided some insights into not only the sort of work I would like to do but might also be good at.

These inchoate learnings are some of the things I will be taking back into my life as a student at CMU and into the community I will be living in this next year. 

Sarah Moesker returned to CMU this fall for her fourth year of a Biblical & Theological Studies major, with a minor in Psychology.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén