Bringing forth new creative individuals

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Making a difference in this world of technology, paradox, and incredible possibilities, was the underlying message during Conrad Grebel University College’s convocation service on April 9, 2006. Degrees were granted in the Master of Theological Studies program, and achievements of University of Waterloo undergraduates who have participated in Grebel life were recognized.

Jim Pankratz, Academic Dean, commented:

This was my first experience of graduation at Grebel. It was remarkable how the central values of the college were reflected so consistently throughout the day. Faith, scholarship, service and community were integrated in this celebration the way they are in the daily routines of the college and in the lives of our graduates.

Dr. A. James Reimer, Professor of Religious Studies and Christian Theology at Conrad Grebel and Academic Advisor at Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre gave the keynote speech entitled “Ctrl Delete: When the Wisdom of the Ages Meets Innovation.” Speaking about how the university

brings forth a new creative individual…a person made up of body, soul, and spirit,

he encouraged students to remain open to great truths of ancient wisdom and divine truths that transcend technological innovation.

Over fifty undergraduate students took the stage to be congratulated by President Henry Paetkau and Dean of Students Mary Brubaker-Zehr. The students had participated in Grebel's residence program or were receiving a degree in Music, Peace and Conflict Studies, or Mennonite Studies. Each graduate spoke briefly about their next step in life. Their plans included further education (many going to teacher’s college), new jobs, voluntary service, marriage, and travel.

Duncan Taylor, an active Grebel student of six years, graduating with a degree in Systems Design Engineering, was valedictorian. He reflected on how at Grebel the students found laughter, comfort, challenges, and harmonies (from both the choir and construction jackhammers during the recent construction). In addition, they found games, similar and different ideas, inspiring people, friends, companions, and for some, even spouses. Many students are now asking themselves, “Where do we go from here?” Taylor encouraged the graduates to

give of themselves – give your time, give your energy, and give your heart.

 Michelle Cameron, Kerrie Engler, David Nicol, Janet Bauman, and Chip Bender.

Since 1992 Conrad Grebel’s Master of Theological Studies program has graduated over 50 students. This year there were a record six graduates - evidence of the program’s recent growth. This year's graduates were Janet Bauman (Biblical-Theological Option), Chip Bender (Ministry Option), Michelle Cameron (Biblical-Theological Option), Kerrie Engler (Biblical-Theological Option), Reynold Friesen (Ministry Option), and David Nicol (Biblical-Theological Option). Nicol, Friesen, and Bender are all currently in pastoral positions. Cameron is a chaplain in a local Catholic High school, Bauman a teacher at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate and Engler plans to participate in a voluntary service term.

If experience, worship, ethics and theology can be merged and integrated together like the traffic in a roundabout,

observed Janet Bauman on behalf of her graduating class,

our faith development will be enriched and broadened.

She noted that the study of theology has been an invitation for her to sit more comfortably with paradox and to awaken a little more to the greatest paradox of all, the mystery of the incarnation. Bauman said,

My hope and prayer is that we can take what we have experienced here at Grebel and construct bridges, bridges to span the chasms in our culture—between generations, between denominations and religions. Bridges between suffering and miracle, and bridges that help others cross back and forth to experience the transcendent, mysterious nature of God and the immanent, ever present God who stands beside us.

Nolan Andres, a 1998 graduate, was awarded the college’s 2006 Distinguished Alumni Service Award. The award recognizes former Grebel students who have, in some notable way, demonstrated the ideals and purposes of Conrad Grebel University College by making a unique contribution to the church, community, nation, or world. Andres is the founder of PeaceWorks, a computer consulting firm that provides affordable computer solutions to the non-profit sector and to small businesses.

After accepting the award, Andres inspired the graduates with stories about Edna Ruth Byler – founder of Ten Thousand Villages, Wayne Silby – leader of America’s divestment movement in South Africa, and Andre Trocme – the first person in Chambon, France to hide Jews in 1940. Andres said:

When ordinary people allow their lives to be touched by the lives of other ordinary people, community happens. That's what these stories are about; that's what PeaceWorks is about; that's what Grebel is about.

Andres finished with the words of Margaret Mead:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

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