Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3G6
Grebel uses the word “community” a lot. While the word may seem overused, it is by far the most accurate way to describe the atmosphere and sense of belonging here at this College. From a warm welcome on move-in day, to life-long friendships as alumni, community is the foundation of Grebel.
David DeVries, a graduating physics student, reflected on the relationships he built over five years at Grebel. “I learned that friendships are a balancing act between holding tightly onto old friendships and accepting new ones. I learned that as each new year arrived at Grebel, I benefited from embracing my old friendships in one arm – tightly – and accepting new ones in the other. This balancing act is community.” He encouraged current students to connect on a deep level. “You get to shape what this place is and what ‘community’ will be. It’s up to you now to sculpt and shape it into an even more beautiful place than I’ve found it to be.”
In this issue of Grebel now, you’ll hear from current students and alumni from across the years, echoing this common theme. Grebel is “Community.” It is a value we cherish, and as we move into our sixth decade, it is clear that it will continue to be a central part of the College’s essential makeup.
By Susan Schultz Huxman
Conrad Grebel University College is an Anabaptist-inspired liberal arts college affiliated with the world-class University of Waterloo. Our mission is “to seek wisdom, nurture faith and pursue justice and peace in service to church and society.”
In the early 1960s, the recently established University of Waterloo offered the Mennonites in Ontario an amazing gift: the invitation to establish a Mennonite liberal arts college alongside three other faith-founded colleges on its new campus. Visionary church and civic leaders from three Ontario conferences—that later came together to form Mennonite Church Eastern Canada (MCEC)—worked together to establish a college in 1963. They named the school “Conrad Grebel” after the first Anabaptist of the Radical Reformation from Zurich, Switzerland in 1525, for his articulation that infant baptism be replaced with voluntary baptism of adults.
Conrad Grebel University College continues to seek and foster links within the broader Mennonite Church. We gift the church with our academic resources and contribute to the scholarly excellence and vibrant student experience at the University of Waterloo. Our distinctive residence draws nearly half its students from Mennonite and other historic peace churches, while our undergraduate and graduate programs attract thousands from the main campus. Grebel is the only Mennonite academic model of its kind in North America.
Grebel’s “signature” programs—Peace & Conflict Studies, Music, Theology, and Mennonite Studies—grow out of our faith tradition. Through our connection to the Faculty of Arts and our support from the wider church, the College is an integral, welcoming community on the larger Waterloo campus. We are strongly committed to “challenging mind & spirit”; to educating the whole person in the spirit of active peacemaking and compassionate service.
Today we launch our next half-century. We are mindful of the strong reputation Conrad Grebel has cultivated inside and outside the classroom around building community, promoting peace, and modeling a life of service at home and around the world. Our many loyal friends and strong alumni base have spoken eagerly and clearly in our commissioned research as to why they generously support us!
In the next five years we envision “extending the Grebel table.” We do so in the spirit of the round table and our all college Community Suppers first envisioned by founding president, Winfield Fretz. We will focus on community building through innovative and collaborative goals that engage our growing constituencies, elevate our distinctive programs, enhance our facilities and campus presence, and enrich people and positions. These four priorities and more than a dozen initiatives constitute the strategic visioning “placemat” to “set the table” for our next five years.
“Advancing peace requires many hands. It requires shoulders to lean on, and to stand on. It is sustained by the mundane tasks that make daily life possible,” explained Paul Heidebrecht, director of Conrad Grebel University College’s MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement. “Peace becomes possible when we experience genuine community.”
Glimpses of peaceful community experiences are evident in many of David L. Hunsberger’s iconic photos. Focused on Ontario Mennonites in the 1950s and 1960s, his photos speak to more than Mennonites.
Partnering with the Hunsberger family, the Mennonite Archives of Ontario, the Institute of Anabaptist Mennonite Studies, and the MSCU Centre for Peace Advancement at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario, have created a photo exhibit featuring a select number of Hunsberger’s photos.
For example, there is a photo of a barn raising, an image of mutual aid that has come to define the essence of community for many, including Canada’s current Governor General (and former University of Waterloo President) David Johnston. There are photos of family and friends sharing food, fellowship, and fun.
It is important to note that these photographs were taken during a time of transition for Mennonites in Ontario; a time when more and more Mennonites pursued their vocational callings in towns and cities. This was also a time when new institutions such as Conrad Grebel University College and the Mennonite Savings and Credit Union were first envisioned. And a time when there was a new awareness of the diversity of the global Mennonite church community.
No doubt this transformed context brought with it many challenges, but it also carried the blessings of a new understanding of just how far the bonds of community could be stretched. It includes a renewed commitment to peace and to sharing the gifts of the Mennonite community with the world.
Almost 5,700 of Hunsberger’s images were donated to the Archives in 2005 and many of these images are available to be viewed online through the archives database. Archivist Laureen Harder-Gissing remarked that “for 40 years, David Hunsberger’s camera was present at special occasions and ordinary days in the lives of Waterloo Region Mennonites. His love of his craft and of his subjects comes through in every frame. His collection continues to be a source of discovery and delight for anyone seeking a window into our shared local history.”
Born in Kitchener, Hunsberger was a self-taught photographer, inspired by photo journalism he learned from books and magazines. His years as a professional photographer coincided with many debates among Mennonites as to what was appropriate for Mennonite dress, and what sort of technology was acceptable in Mennonite homes.
Hunsberger’s photos of Old Order Mennonite adults are often taken from a back or side view, respecting beliefs that photographing adults was not generally accepted as it was counter to their teachings regarding vanity and pride. In contrast, for more “progressive” Mennonite groups this was an era of institution building and outreach to the world, and he was often commissioned to record these activities for posterity.
The exhibit at Conrad Grebel is comprised of three parts. In the Mennonite Archives of Ontario Gallery (3rd floor), David Hunsberger’s photographs of transitional moments in Ontario Mennonite life are complimented with commentary from Sam Steiner’s new book, In Search of Promised Lands. In the Milton Good Library (3rd floor), the Archives exhibit continues in the display cases beside the circulation desk and Hunsberger’s book, Barn Raising, is available. In the Grebel Gallery (4th floor), high quality prints of photographs are displayed on themes of peace and community.
The Hunsberger exhibit has been extended and will be on display until August.
Back (l-r): Jacob Winter, Andy Wenger, Kristen Bonney, Ryan Martens
Front (l-r): David Vanderwindt, Jonna Gladwell, Stephanie Bauman, Bekah Dejong
Because of their involvement in the MoveIn movement this year, David and Bekah received the Mennonite Foundation Spirit of Generosity Award, chosen because of the way in which they expressed their generosity.
Many students and alumni will remember Rosella Leis as the ever-smiling, welcoming face in the Grebel accounting office. As a pillar of stability for over 15 years, she worked with 5 different accountants during that time. Rosella was also part of Grebel’s Finishing and Decorating Committee for two building projects and has made a lasting impact on the look of the College.
In an amazing feat of organization and musical commitment, over 70 Grebelites spent three months creating an all student rendition of Fiddler on the Roof. Spearheaded by Rachel Pauls and Sarah Brnjas, the cast, crew, and orchestra shared a tale of family, love, human struggle, and faith. To mount this production amidst the already busy schedule of a student is a testament to the passion and dedication of all involved. Well done!
New Master of Peace and Conflict Studies graduate, David Eagle (MPACS ‘15) is a senior project manager with Mennonite Economic Development Association. David is responsible for developing and managing projects and partnerships with rural agriculture and value chain finance. He manages and provides business planning for a new MEDA project, enhancing export-linked economic growth in Ghana using high performance tree crops. Most recently, David led the MEDA Health project that aims to reduce Vitamin A deficiency in Northern Tanzania through the fortification of unrefined sunflower oil with Vitamin A. David has also worked as a consultant on MEDA’s agriculture project that is facilitating new market-based supply chains for certified cassava seed systems in Tanzania.
The Dean’s Pick is an essay contest open to all Grebel students. The winners are chosen by Dean Trevor Bechtel, who also writes the introductions to the papers and edits them for Grebel Now. These papers showcase the student work that happens at Grebel across the University’s many disciplines.The Dean’s Picks for this term are two papers which address the very contemporary topics of video games and creation care, analyzing ideas using tools available to university students. Adam Benniger approaches the problem of the human in environmental stewardship and argues that a human perspective can be useful in approaching the care of creation. He employs a variety of philosophical approaches to ethics in his analysis. In the other paper, utilizing musicological approaches, most notably including insights gleaned from Dr. Laura Gray’s music and landscape course, Marina Gallagher looks at the music in the video game Final Fantasy. She deftly combines a variety of “serious” tools to help us understand the world of the video game. The papers also appear in full online.
When referring to “the environment,” often it is easy for one to envision some entity beyond the self, separate and distinct. Anthropocentrism is a force which, unless harnessed and directed in favour of environmental ethics, works against any form of sustainability. The idea of human self-interest leading to collective good is by no means a new one, but is rarely applied to environmental ethics. When it comes to the environment, ethicists often seem to operate on the same false dichotomy: anything concerned with human-centred values is fundamentally incompatible with environmental care. In many cases this is true, such as the tragedy of the commons. In the tragedy of the commons, it is such anthropocentric ethical egoism which leads to individual gain (economic or otherwise) by exploiting resources which create distributed loss across all others. However, given the correct situational framework within which to operate, the opposite may also be true. This is a phenomenon known as the “invisible hand.” Most often the invisible hand is applied in an economic sense, in order to describe the balance between cost, supply and demand and investment of assets in various industries as they gain or lose value in a free market. This generalization of the notion of the invisible hand seems to imply that by the same principles of human-centred values and self-interest which lead to self-sustaining and growing economic systems, one may devise a system in which rational sovereign agents may make choices in their own self-interest which lead to other external positive benefits.
The inclusion of externality costs and provision of easy alternatives are all that are required to shift the same self-serving anthropocentric action from environmentally destructive to preservative.
Grebel supporters are invited to attend our Annual General Meeting on Saturday, October 3. Our Director of Finance, Sara Cressman, will have full audited statements. Early indications are that the ink will be ‘black’ for the 18th straight year. There will be a short update from our Board on the strategic plan and other year-end reports. Donors in the President’s Circle will receive a printed annual report in the mail. The same information is available.
Carol Ann Weaver
Trio Prize Winner
Structured on the Beatitudes, Trevor Bechtel’s newly published book, The Gift of Ethics, is a short, readable introduction to the major ideas in Christian ethics. Described by Margaret Adam as a way to draw “newcomers to the field of Christian ethics into an understanding of Christian identity and practice, through personal, scriptural, and cinematic stories,” Bechtel’s book provokes thought and reflection. Dr. Bechtel is the Dean of Conrad Grebel University and the College community celebrated his book with a launch on Monday, February 2.
In Search of Promised Lands: A Religious History of Mennonites in Ontario by Samuel J. Steiner describes the emergence and evolution of today’s 30-plus streams of Ontarians who identify themselves as Mennonite or Amish, tracing their history from arrival in Canada up to the last decade. “This book looks at ‘Assimilated Mennonite,’ conservative Mennonite, and Old Order paths,” Steiner summarized. “Twenty-first-century Ontario Mennonites are following the same paths as they seek the promised lands of faith and helping shape a better society in a post-Christian world.” Steiner was librarian and archivist at Conrad Grebel from 1974 to 2008 and director of the Mennonite Archives of Ontario. ~ Herald Press release
We love it when you come visit us at Grebel, but several times a year we organize local alumni reunions in various cities. This winter we stopped in Leamington, Ottawa, and participated in an “Across the Creek” event - a Raptors game in Toronto. It was wonderful visiting with all who came out! If you want to organize an alumni event in your city, let us know!
Grebel Now is published two times a year by Conrad Grebel University College.
Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3G6