‘I have fond memories of my time at CMU,’ says Tabitha VandenEnden
Canadian Mennonite University is pleased to welcome Tabitha VandenEnden as Pastor-in-Residence this week.
VandenEnden, co-pastor at Grantham Mennonite Brethren Church in St. Catherines, ON, will be on campus Monday, January 26 until Friday, January 30.
VandenEnden, who graduated from CMU in 2010 with a Master of Arts in Theology, and also worked as the coordinator of the university’s chapel program, is looking forward to being back on campus.
“I have fond memories of my time at CMU,” she says. “I grew my faith and was challenged to think more critically about what I believed, and it was all in an environment where people challenged you, but you could trust them at the same time.”
Now in its fifth year, CMU’s Pastor-in-Residence program is designed to encourage out-of-province pastors to live in residence, participate in the life of the CMU community, and share their faith experiences in a variety of settings including CMU chapel sessions.
“It’s really nice to have someone from the broader church constituency offer what they’re passionate about and provide pastoral care for that one week,” says Melanie Unger, Spiritual Life Facilitator at CMU, adding that the Pastor-in-Residence program also helps build connections between CMU and the churches that support it.
“The Pastor-in-Residence comes as a gift from their home church,” says Unger, noting that the church pays for the pastor’s flight to Winnipeg as well as their salary while they are at CMU. “It’s a huge way the church can get involved in the mission of CMU. Every time a pastor comes, we feel a connection with that particular congregation. It’s a wonderful gift.”
VandenEnden has co-pastored Grantham with her husband, Michael, since 2010. Michael also completed a Master of Arts in Theology at CMU.
Before joining the Mennonite Brethren church, the couple’s respective faith journeys took them through diverse Christian traditions, ranging from Baptist to Pentecostal to Roman Catholic.
While studying at CMU, VandenEnden’s thesis focused on the interrelatedness of worship and mission, and how current worship practices often diminish or distort this connection—particularly with the Lord’s Supper.
Her thesis work has led the couple to integrate new practices at Grantham that have helped the community grow into a better understanding of the relationship between the Lord’s Supper and loving our neighbour, VandenEnden says.
This has meant celebrating the Lord’s Supper the first Sunday of every month; sharing a potluck meal for lunch as a congregation after the service; and bringing the bread and juice to the church’s shut-ins so that they can partake in the Lord’s Supper and maintain a connection to Grantham.
“We’ve tried to extend the table in those ways to forge deeper connections between Christ’s sacrifice and how that brings us together as a community,” VandenEnden says.
She is currently enjoying a year of maternity leave with her three boys, Job, Titus, and Felix. The entire family will be on campus with VandenEnden during the week.
VandenEnden is eager to connect with the CMU community, and is particularly excited about speaking with students who are thinking about becoming pastors.
“I’m looking forward to being able to talk about some of the highlights of ministry, and some of the challenges,” she says.
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences and social sciences, and graduate degrees in Theology and Ministry. CMU has over 1,600 students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury campus and in its Menno Simons College and Outtatown programs.
For information about CMU, visit: www.cmu.ca.
For additional information, please contact:
Melanie Unger, Spiritual Life Facilitator
email@example.com; 204-487-3300 ext. 377
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB R3P 2N2