CMU recognizes distinguished alumni with 2019 awards
A former teacher dedicated to building relationships with Indigenous peoples, a former witness worker invested in intercultural relationships, a long-time pursuer of justice with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), and a priest and canon theologian in the Anglican church are the recipients of Canadian Mennonite University's (CMU) 2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards.
CMU President Cheryl Pauls will present the awards to Randy Klassen, Donna Kampen Entz, Eileen Klassen Hamm, and Jeffrey Metcalfe during CMU's Opening Celebration on Friday, September 27 at 7:00 PM in the Laudamus Auditorium (500 Shaftesbury Blvd.).
The evening will feature stories and reflections from the four recipients, a performance by the CMU Singers, and a community blessing for the academic year. The event also kicks off Fall@CMU, an exciting weekend of reunions, bike races, music, a farmer's market, and many opportunities to connect and celebrate with students, alumni, donors, and community members.
The Distinguished Alumni Awards celebrate alumni who, through their lives, embody CMU's values and mission of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society. The awards are presented to alumni from CMU and its predecessor colleges: Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC) and Mennonite Brethren Bible College (MBBC)/Concord College.
"For all the right reasons, the good of a university tends to be seen in the qualities of life and faith of its current students and recent graduates," says CMU President Cheryl Pauls. "At the same time, and also with good reason, it's in the longer-term paths of vocation and commitment that alumni bear truest witness to the nurturing of their education."
Each of these alumni's diverse stories display integrity, faithfulness, and the pursuit of peace and justice. "CMU is honoured by the fine women and men receiving this year's Distinguished Alumni Awards, and trust that others too will take heart in the stories they tell," says Pauls.
Randy Klassen (MBBC '84) of Saskatoon, SK taught at Bethany College from 2002–2015, before becoming the National Restorative Justice Coordinator for MCC Canada for over three years, until the office was closed this spring. He has dedicated over 10 years to building relationships with Indigenous communities. First through Bethany College and then Lakeview Church, he has taken young adults to Beardy's and Okemasis Cree Nation, where they connect with youth, get involved in the community, and learn from Indigenous elders. "It's been a remarkable and beautiful journey," he says. He also spent this summer with MCC Saskatchewan as the Event Coordinator for the Spruce River Folk Festival, a one-day event that raises awareness for landless Indigenous bands. Klassen says receiving this award from CMU was an unexpected honour, especially during a time when his career was changing in ways that he didn't anticipate or ask for. "It is a huge encouragement to think that the different chapters of my life thus far have made a positive contribution somewhere," he says. "I'm grateful to be part of this huge legacy." Klassen and his wife Darlene have four children and five grandchildren. They attend Lakeview Church in Saskatoon.
Donna Kampen Entz (CMBC '86) of Edmonton, AB has worked with Mennonite Church Alberta since 2010, building interfaith and cross-cultural relationships with Muslims, many who are immigrants and refugees, in North Edmonton. The ministry strives to connect people with services, build community, and be a witness of Christian faith. She and her husband Loren were witness workers in Burkina Faso from 1978–2008, and experience that shaped her passion for fostering interfaith dialogue and relationships "so that diverse peoples live together peacefully. Transformation happens to us as individuals and communities when we connect deeply with those who are different than us religiously and culturally." Kampen Entz has been supported by the Mennonite church her whole life, even when her work was not necessarily considered successful by societal standards. "In granting me this award, I see CMU celebrating these 'cutting edge' experiences and initiatives," she says. She and her husband have three children and four grandchildren. They attend several Mennonite churches in the Edmonton area.
Eileen Klassen Hamm (CMBC '86) of Saskatoon, SK is the Executive Director of MCC Saskatchewan. She began working for MCC in 1992, taking on various program coordinator roles and becoming Program Director in 2007, before being appointed as Executive Director in 2016. "I continue to be passionate about the ministry of MCC because this organization weaves together a diverse constituency of generous donors and volunteers and church communities with the beauty and brokenness of the world," says Klassen Hamm. "Through MCC, we are invited to step into local and global realities and offer our resources and our love, and in turn, we are formed and transformed by the courage and teachings from many places around the globe." Klassen Hamm and her husband, Les, have two adult children. They attend Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, where she participates in leading worship and preaching. "Receiving this award is humbling," she says. "My learning journey as a young adult was shaped deeply by the CMBC community, and I have continued to be shaped by relationships and institutional activities that began then."
Jeffrey Metcalfe (CMU '09) of Quebec City, QC was recently installed as the Canon Theologian for the Anglican Diocese of Quebec. He facilitates theological reflection in decision making processes, helps congregations engage in vocational discernment, and creates programs to further clergy education. Metcalfe was ordained in 2013 and began his PhD in Theological Studies at the University of Toronto's Trinity College in 2015. His research focuses on developing an ethnographic theological methodology to explore how the Anglican church in Quebec City can resist and push back against the racism in their context. "I am passionate about welcoming many kinds of migrants, including refugees, because I believe that God passionately loves the different peoples and places that God has created," he says. "As disciples of Jesus, the Spirit calls and empowers us to join together with those who come to dwell with us from other lands – not as a duty, but as a joy." Metcalfe says he is grateful for this award and the opportunity it gives him to thank CMU for the way it has shaped and empowered him to do the work he is doing today. He and his wife Julie have two children.
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, Business Administration, Peacebuilding and Collaborative Development. CMU has 1,600 students, including those enrolled in degree programs at its Shaftesbury Campus and Menno Simons College Campus. CMU is a member of Universities Canada.
For information about CMU, visit cmu.ca.
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