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Upcoming public lecture to explore Anabaptism in Guatemala

Dr. Patricia Harms to deliver 2019 John and Margaret Friesen Lectures at CMU

Upcoming public lecture to explore Anabaptism in Guatemala

"How do we live as a transnational Mennonite community when some within the community are implicated in the harm done to others? How do we live out the authentic witness of early Anabaptism?" These are some of the questions Dr. Patricia Harms will raise at the 2019 John and Margaret Friesen Lectures at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU).

Harms, Associate Professor of History at Brandon University, will give two lectures titled "A Twentieth Century Reformation: Anabaptism in Guatemala" on Thursday, March 21, 2019.

"Part I: Historical Factors" will take place at 11:00 AM at the Mennonite Heritage Centre (600 Shaftesbury Blvd.) and "Part II: Living the Faith" will be held at 7:00 PM in Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.).

Harms will explore the emergence and rise of Anabaptism in Guatemala in the twentieth century. She will examine the historical context of the country and the tensions of social and political violence, economic inequality, and racism.

"The people that I will be discussing in my presentations literally risked their lives for their deep faith and belief that community, non-violence, and poverty were the values they wished to live by," she says.

"I am honoured to present their stories because I believe that Guatemalan Anabaptism has a lot to teach Mennonites in Canada about the challenges of a non-violence social stance, the relevance of community and the need to address social inequalities."

"These annual lectures give us as a community the opportunity to become ever more familiar with our Anabaptist heritage and contemporary expression of faith," says Paul Doerksen, Associate Professor of Theology and Anabaptist Studies at CMU.

He adds that the topic is also meaningful for CMU because Outtatown, CMU's discipleship school, sends students to live and work in Guatemala every year.

Harms, a CMU alumna, wrote her master's thesis on the history of Mennonite Central Committee in Guatemala. She now researches and teaches topics of women's history, gender analysis, politics, and decolonization in a Latin American context.

"Dr. Harms is an accomplished scholar whose work is interdisciplinary in nature, which fits well with how we try to pursue education here at CMU," Doerksen says.

She recently co-directed a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute on suffrage in the Americas at Carthage College in Wisconsin and is co-editing a volume on the same topic.

Her book on women in Guatemala City, Imagining a Place for Ourselves, will soon be published by University of New Mexico Press.

"I believe that this story is important because the challenges that Guatemalan Anabaptists have faced are similar to those of the Reformation period and they drew inspiration, theology, and guidance directly from those earliest Anabaptists," she says. "It also challenges those of us in Canada and the United States to think about our economic, political, and social role in the world as citizens and specifically as Mennonites. 

The John and Margaret Friesen Lectures in Anabaptist/Mennonite Studies are co-sponsored by CMU, the Mennonite Heritage Centre, and the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies. For more information, visit


About CMU
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

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing; 204-487-3300 ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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