Current CMU student Jubilee Dueck Thiessen is the third-place finalist in the bi-national C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest. Her speech, titled "Stewards of Joy: Answering the Call of Ecological Shalom," employs the Christian creation narrative alongside indigenous voices to bring her point across that "disciples of joy" who seek to follow Jesus should pursue a "stewardship of creation in response to our need for ecological shalom." Rather than being overcome with grief, Dueck Thiessen, elaborating on her speech, suggests that "the core of this issue is one of love, we only fear for creation because we love it."
The C. Henry Smith Oratorical Contest is open to undergraduate students from any Mennonite or Brethren in Christ college/university across Canada or the United States. This contest invites participants to hone their rhetorical skills while engaging creatively with Christian peace theology as it may apply to a wide variety of contemporary concerns.
As an option for a CMU class assignment, Dueck Thiessen chose to adapt a previous research paper into her speech. "So much of what we write in university never gets read by the public," Dueck Thiessen explains. "I did not want my research to sit silently on the shelf, I wanted to inspire others with it." Wendy Kroeker, a coordinator of the contest and Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies, reflects that "The Canadian context encourages those of us within the academe to think about multiple voices, especially voices of indigenous peoples. You know by listening to Jubilee that she really cares about this and that we should too."
Not leaving the issue of creation care to the exclusive domain of research and study, Dueck Thiessen is actively involved in justice and advocacy. As co-director of the Peace and Sustainability Committee at CMU, Dueck Thiessen works to create a space for students to discuss social and environmental issues and to put words into action. Their focus this semester has been encouraging students to be involved in CMU's new composting project.
Students at CMU are encouraged by professors, who assign the contest as an assignment and offer workshops on oral communication, to craft their convictions in ways accessible to public discourse. David Balzer, a coordinator of the contest and Assistant Professor of Communications and Media, comments that "We are going up alongside big US schools with very well-established speech communication programs. I am particularly pleased that our mix of studies here at CMU has generated the kind of success we have seen."
In the past five years, CMU has done extremely well on the bi-national level, last year placing first with the speech "Finding Health and Peace Through Self-Care," presented by CMU graduate Amelia Warkentin. This year, Dueck Thiessen shared the Henry C. Smith podium with first-place winner Ronit Goswami of Goshen College, who presented on homelessness globally and locally in the town of Goshen, and Catherine Bergs of Conrad Grebel University College, whose speech touched on passivity as a non-virtue.
Dueck Thiessen, from Winnipeg, attends River East Church. She received $150 in cash and a $200 scholarship to attend a peace conference.
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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