On July 16, 1945, the United States Army successfully detonated the first atomic bomb in a New Mexico desert. Codenamed Trinity, the test marked a pivotal moment in history, as it demonstrated the feasibility of atomic weapons – ultimately leading to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. The recent box office success of Oppenheimer has prompted a new generation to discuss the origins and ongoing dangers of nuclear weapons. Building on this cultural moment, Mary Kavanagh’s exhibit, Trinity, Then and Now, located in the Grebel Gallery, explores the bomb test’s lasting impact in a narrative context
“I don’t have much of a singing voice anymore,” is something I often heard when I first started inviting people to hymn sings. No wonder. In their 90s, without many people to talk to, let alone sing with, over the past few years of masking, our voices have deteriorated. And mine wasn’t great to start with. (My failed audition for the Grebel Chapel Choir 30-some years ago is evidence of this).
Conflict Management Certificate workshops at Grebel attract a diverse group of participants, including actors, dramaturges, dancers, filmmakers, producers, and directors. This foray into the arts enriches the learning experiences of all who are involved.
This April, Grebel hosted the University of Waterloo campus finals of the Map the System student research competition, a culmination of several months of work and research for student teams. A global competition developed by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University, Map the System provides an opportunity for students to explore some of the most pressing issues of our time—from climate change to food insecurity—using a systems-thinking lens.
“The role of technology in contemporary society is expanding every day, and critical reflection on the impact of technology now pervades a growing number of scholarly and popular contexts. Not only is it a struggle to keep up with accelerating technological developments, we can be overwhelmed by a deluge of observations, opinions, and analyses of these developments. Indeed, thanks to the rise of new technologies like social media, there are many more ways that our attention is being drawn to the impact of technology.”
Until recently, technology and older adults were unlikely friends. Now I’m not surprised when a 96-year-old scrolls through their tablet to show me their latest great-grandchild, or asks their smart tech device to play some music. For many, technology has become a vital link to their faith community.
What skills do pastors need to minister well with older adults? What is the role of volunteering in later life, and how can organizations adjust as volunteers grow older? How might we make our churches more dementia friendly? How do we go about planning meaningful rituals for later life, like legacy celebrations? How do we listen well to the elders among us? What role might technology play? What about intergenerational connections? How do we talk about dying and death in the context of faith? What about MAiD—how do we navigate this in our church’s long-term care and retirement homes? What does spiritual care look like, and how can we provide it effectively in today’s world?
It may not be immediately apparent how an academic teaching and research centre like the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre (TMTC) serves the church. After all, doctoral-level education is often seen and pursued as preparation for life in the academy. Nevertheless, over the course of more than thirty years, TMTC has consistently been a bridge between the church and the academy.
“Leadership is difficult and complex, especially during the season we are in as a society where questions of faith and church are especially challenging,” reflected Betty Pries (MTS 2005), an instructor in Grebel’s Conflict Management and Congregational Leadership Certificate Program (CMCL). “The variety of workshop topics opens space for important and life changing conversations regarding faith and conflict in congregational life.”
Two years ago, Canadian Mennonite magazine published an article entitled “The church has left the building.” Referencing the closure of churches at the start of the pandemic, readers were prompted to consider what it means to be the church together when they are unable to gather. Although it felt unprecedented at the time, this expression of the church as a way of being is not new. The Mennonite church lives beyond the building, extending into the local and global community and expressing faith through relationships. In the summer of 2021, Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) partnered with the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement to contract Grebel student and now Interim Coordinator of the Centre, Victoria Lumax to map these relationships to inform MCEC’s strategic planning process.
Curious tourists, skunk invasions, biblical basement floods, incredible lake views and sunsets... just a day in the life of a Brubacher House host! What is it like to live in a museum? An exciting new digital exhibit explores this question from the perspective of the 22 hosts who have called Brubacher House home.
Advancing sustainable peace requires enthusiastic collaboration between passionate individuals across disciplines and communities, and catalyzing collaboration for impact is the mission of the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement. The Centre brings together experts, scholars, and students to work across a diverse range of local and global issues to advance peace.
This past June, scholars, practitioners, support workers, health care experts, and interested parties from across the globe gathered together virtually over the course of three weeks to advance the connections between spiritual practice and the effects of aging at the ninth International Conference on Aging and Spirituality.
Conflict occurs every day, all over the world, and it is important to have the skills necessary to resolve it. The concept of the Conflict Management Certificate Program at Grebel sprang from a Peace and Conflict Studies Department strategic visioning session that occurred in the late nineties.
A group of international attendees will gather at Grebel May 13-15, 2022 for an education conference titled Indigenous-Mennonite Encounters in Time and Place. As a preview of the conference, a sampler video as been released on YouTube. This presentation includes messages of welcome and introductions from Indigenous and Mennonite scholars, collaborators, community members, and musicians.
Through September and October, the Centre gathered more than 15 participants, research fellows, staff members, and community partners in physically-distant Circle conversations where they spoke authentically about their journeys in peace and justice work.
There has been a lot of concern about long-term care and retirement homes in 2020. Sadly, the experience in some homes has kept the public from noticing the hard work, innovations, and heart that have made others a good place to be as we ride out this pandemic.
In 2019, the Government of Canada declared the second week in September to be Mennonite Heritage Week. This occasion offers Grebel an opportunity to share about Mennonite history and culture. For Mennonite Heritage Week 2020, Grebel’s Institute of Anabaptist and Mennonite Studies (IAMS) curated some resources that speak to pressing issues in 2020.
Spring workshops have transitioned to an online format to facilitate learning from home in accordance with COVID-19 physical-distancing policies. Susan Baker, who manages the CMCP, explained that the pandemic was the impetus to bring the program’s interactive workshops online. “Engaging in the inaugural Conflict Coaching workshop opened my eyes to the potential of online learning.”
Where do we go to talk about our everyday traumatic experiences that we do not believe are worthy of sharing? In her “Not Traumatic Enough for a Shock Blanket exhibit,” Yasmeen Nematt Alla explores this question, and how art spaces can become gestures of care to those who feel unworthy of their trauma.
Time to celebrate! On February 13, staff from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC) and Grebel gathered with additional Anabaptist Learning Workshop (ALW) stakeholders for a time of celebration and thanksgiving for five successful years of collaborative learning within the ALW program. The photo above features current and former ALW staff, Steering Committee members, instructors, and other resource people who attended the February event.
Two notable lecture series took place at Grebel in January and March
Before COVID 19 event restrictions, Grebel was able to host two of it's lecture series programs in January and early March. The Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies gathered farmers and agriculture experts to discuss the relationship between food and faith, while the annual Fretz lecture discussed Anabaptist archives and their social history. Read on and enjoy recordings of each lecture.
These statistics may appear very dry and uninteresting to the outsider, but . . . I must confess that working with them cost me sleepless nights and nightmares, as all these faces rose up from the past. ~ Agatha Schmidt
These statistics may appear very dry and uninteresting to the outsider, but . . . I
must confess that working with them cost me sleepless nights and nightmares, as
all these faces rose up from the past. ~ Agatha Schmidt
Universities and colleges are increasingly confronted with new kinds of expectations. Governments and other funders expect that teaching and research will make a demonstrable economic, environmental, and social impact. Communities expect that hosting scholars and students will help them be more enlightened, culturally vibrant, and relevant. And students themselves expect opportunities to apply their passions and skills to make a difference in the world.
After studying science for my undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo, I wanted to grow in my personal relationship with God and discern his calling on my life, so I enrolled in the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program.
Nearly seven out of ten students at the University of Waterloo are enrolled in a co-operative education program. That ratio is expected to increase with the addition of Honours Arts Co-op in September 2020. Since beginning with just 74 students in 1957, the co-op program has grown to draw in thousands of students every year.
This summer, I participated in the PACS 625 Internship course and had the incredible opportunity to work alongside the Refugee Resettlement team at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Kitchener, Ontario.
Every Tuesday, a diverse team of UWaterloo students gathers for prayer, small group discussion, song teaching, and worship service planning. These students are part of the Worship Apprentice Program offered by Grebel’s Music Department as a skill-building opportunity within the Church Music and Worship Program.
Over 100 talented and dedicated Grebel students mounted a highly successful, student-driven, completely sold-out musical over a fun-filled March weekend. The crowds loved Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and so did our students. Congratulations to all involved!
Spiritual directors, healthcare workers, seniors, chaplains, caregivers, clergy, counsellors, and others will come together at Grebel June 13-14 for a rich offering of workshops, initiated by Schlegel Specialist in Spirituality and Aging Jane Kuepfer.
“Our task this evening is to go in pursuit of a mystery and its implications for how we believe and how we live our lives.” It is with these words that Dr. John D. Rempel (BA 1966, PhD 1996) began his lecture, “An Impossible Task: Trinitarian Theology for a Radical Church?” in front of a packed audience at the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre (TMTC).
Grebel’s 2019 Bechtel Lectures in Anabaptist-Mennonite Studies snuck up on me. Dr. Irma Fast Dueck’s topic “Take me to the Waters: Baptism, Commitment, and the Church” did not initially pique my interest or engage the relevant parts of my psyche until I was already immersed in the subject. It was not until Dueck started sharing her research around the newfound hesitance Christians have towards participating in the ordinance of baptism, that the voice of curiosity within me rose up in unison with the concerns she brought forward.
“My grandfather had a little yellow piece of paper with a list of names and birthdates. The names were written in an unintelligible gothic script, but my grandfather was familiar enough with it to interpret them.... I recognized that there was a great deal of information hidden in that little list.”
The University of Waterloo is a rigourous academic institution and our students are incredibly dedicated to their studies. How fortunate then, that each term, Grebel’s Music Department offers hundreds of students a way to connect to others, a way to express emotion and passion, and a way to take a break from their studies.
The Grebel Gallery, located in the heart of the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement, is pleased to showcase “New Fraktur,” an art exhibit by alumnus Meg Harder (BA 2013). Until October 25, visitors will be treated to works that draw on fraktur folk art, an imaginative and densely detailed illuminated calligraphy, historically produced by early Mennonite settlers.
At the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement, we have been asking: How can technology be positively used to create a more peaceful and just world? PeaceTech has become a convenient shorthand for many of the initiatives and innovations that call our Centre home.
In keeping with the long tradition of Reading Week service trips, 14 Grebel students used their February study break to help repair flood-damaged homes, learn skills, and build relationships through Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS).
Mindfulness has been defined as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” And while it is not a new concept, it has become a popular buzzword of the 21st century that is more often associated with meditation than with conflict and mediation.
“The force of the human voice is unmatched.” On March 8 and 9, Grebel welcomed an extraordinary musician as the 2019 Rodney and Lorna Sawatsky Visiting Scholar, Dr. Ysaÿe M. Barnwell. Barnwell is a commissioned composer, arranger, author, actress, and former member of the African American female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock.®
Since its creation nearly five years ago, the mission of the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement has been to advance peace locally and globally by catalyzing collaboration among partners and participants. This winter, the Centre facilitated a new opportunity for students at UWaterloo to advance peace through a global competition called “Map the System.” On April 8, the Map the System University of Waterloo Campus Final was held at Grebel, and an interdisciplinary team of Grebel students was selected to represent Waterloo at the Canadian Finals at Ryerson University.