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Public Events & Important Dates

Public Lectures

Canadian Mennonite University presents a number of annual lecture events, including:

Other past lectures


The J.J. Thiessen Lecture Series

Founded in 1978 by Canadian Mennonite Bible College, the J.J. Thiessen Lectures are named in honour of a founder and long-time chairperson of the CMBC Board. The lectures seek to bring to the Canadian Mennonite University community something of his breadth of vision for the church.

2022 J.J. Thiessen promotional poster

Picturing the Bible: How Artists Tell the Story

with Dr. Robin W. Jensen
Patrick O'Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

October 18–19, 2022

Contrary to what is often assumed, both Christians and Jews made pictorial art for their worship spaces no later than the early second century CE and have continued to do so through history. From the first, these artworks were never simply decorative but drew upon stories from both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. As such, they served and still serve an exegetical and even theological purpose and not simply an illustrative one.

The first of these lectures will consider the question of what early Christians (and Jews) considered idols and why depictions of their sacred stories were not among them.

The second lecture will consider the function and purpose of sacred art and consider the ways that artists’ works through the centuries have illuminated and interpreted biblical narratives as well as theological dogmas. This lecture will also explore the relationship between verbal and visual exegesis.

The third lecture in this series will explore the emergence of non-pictorial sacred art in the modern era, and discuss how such works may still engage viewers through more abstract forms and formal elements of color and shape.


Lecture #1: Tuesday, October 18, 11:00 AM
CMU Chapel

The Second Commandment and the Myth of Jewish and Christian Aniconism


Lecture #2: Tuesday, October 18 7:00 PM
CMU Chapel

Visual Exegesis: Exploring, Expressing, and Expanding the Text


Lecture #3: Wednesday, October 19, 11:00 AM
CMU Chapel

Beyond the Text: From Icons to Abstract Art


John and Margaret Friesen Lectures logo

John and Margaret Friesen Lectures

The John and Margaret Friesen Lectures in Anabaptist/Mennonite Studies are co-sponsored by Canadian Mennonite University, the Mennonite Heritage Centre, and the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies. The inaugural lectures in November 2002 were delivered by Dr. Abraham Friesen (Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara), the generous donor who initiated the lecture series.

2022 Friesen Lectures Poster

"Reading Mennonite Writing Now"

with Dr. Robert ZachariasAssociate Professor of English, York University


Thursday, March 3, 2022

Mennonite literary studies in North America is in a period of transition, with new scholarly avenues opening as critics respond to a fast-growing body of Mennonite fiction, poetry, and life writing. What does Mennonite literature look like today, and how can we read it most productively?

Lecture 1 | “Distant Reading, Mennonite Writing: On the Past of Mennonite Literature in North America”

11:00 AM | CMU Chapel

The first talk in this two-part lecture will consider the quiet role that literary history plays in focussing our collective critical gaze, and draws on recent work in the digital humanities to reconsider what we think we know about the emergence of Mennonite writing in English. What happens to our understanding of Mennonite literature, I want to ask, if we take a step back and rethink the assumptions and parameters that helped to establish it as a field of study?

Lecture 2 | “Endure: On the Future of Mennonite Literature in North America”

7:00 PM | Marpeck Commons

The second talk will build on our distant reading of the field’s past with close readings of two works of contemporary Mennonite literature: in Little Fish, Casey Plett presents a vibrant but vulnerable community of trans women in Winnipeg, several of whom are looking to the Mennonite past in search of a future community; in “Fallow,” Sofia Samatar weaves together theological and migration histories to present a colony of intergalactic Mennonites far in the future. In the work of Plett and Samatar we find not only two of the most acclaimed works of Mennonite writing in recent years, but also two of its most generous investments in possible Mennonite futures.

CSOP logo

CSOP Lecture Series

"Choosing Love in the Wake of Wounding"

with Dr. Johonna McCants-Turner
Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo

2022 CSOP Lecture Series poster

Thursday, June 16, 2022 | 7:30 PM
Livestreamed and in-person: Marpeck Commons | 2299 Grant Ave.

[ News release ]

Join us as Dr. Johonna McCants-Turner will talk about how women of colour essays, activists, organizers, and practitioners in the restorative and transformative justice movements reflect on the role of love in responding to violence through healing and accountability without punishment.

McCants-Turner is Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo. She formerly served as a special education teacher with the District of Columbia Public Schools, the founder and director of the Visions to Peace Project, and an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, where she earned her PhD. She also holds a Certificate in Urban Youth Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Maryland. Dr. McCants-Turner is a founding advisory board member of Life Comes From It, a US-based grant making fund that invests in Black, Indigenous, People of Colour-led movements for restorative justice, transformative justice, and Indigenous peacemaking. She is currently working on her first book, In the Wake of Wounding: Black Womanist Ethics and Reparative Justice (Wm. B Eerdmans Press).

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Past Public Lectures


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