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Grebel's Master of Theological Studies program is careful to include indigenous perspectives in the curriculum. This is part of the College’s commitment to following Call to Action #60 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that addresses theological schools and “the need to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right.” In particular, courses like TS 732 - “Theologies of the Global South,” and TS 733 - “Indigenous Theologies and Methods” explore Indigenous theologies with attention to experience, history, the nature of the spiritual, key figures, and important themes. MTS students who have taken these courses reflected on some of their key learnings. 

KyongJung Kim is a Mennonite pastor who serves at two churches and also works as a school bus driver for students with disabilities in the Waterloo Region. His spiritual awakening occurred after meeting Anabaptist Christians in Winnipeg from 1994 to 1997. Since then, he has continued his journey with Jesus and has remained committed to his faith no matter where life takes him.

Lori Guenther Reesor has experience as an author, speaker, and fundraising coach. After a spiritually enlightening experience during a student co-op term in Egypt, Lori has explored what it means to be generous. She also has three years of pastoral experience, and is an active member of Hamilton Mennonite Church. Her book, Growing a Generous Church, is filled with stories of how people learned generosity. The Reesor family is well known in the Grebel community; Lori met her husband, Barry, at Grebel, and both their children, Emma and Peter, also lived at Grebel. Emma followed in her parents' footsteps and met her husband, Thomas, at Grebel. 

“Holding space to have difficult conversations can be incredibly difficult,” said Samantha Coelho, an Advocacy and Networking Specialist at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Canada. “But I think having these conversations can lead to more intimate and fulfilling relationships, allow us to build empathy, and remind us to have humility about the positions we hold.”  Supporting marginalized communities, working for justice, and exploring creative approaches to addressing world issues have become a regular part of Samantha’s life, but her introduction to advocacy, justice, and peacebuilding began a decade ago during her undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo and Conrad Grebel University College where she studied Arts and Business with a major in Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS).

Like many undergraduate students, Phil Enns’ professional career wasn’t immediately clear. He wandered between Philosophy and Religious Studies courses before pursuing a master's degree in Philosophy at the University of Waterloo. “While I did enjoy what I was studying, I didn’t have the flexibility to pursue the religious connections I was making,” he remarked. In search of a personal connection to his work, Phil connected with Jim Reimer, Professor of Theology at Conrad Grebel University College. “Jim introduced me to Grebel’s Master of Theological Studies (MTS) program, and I immediately knew that was what I was looking for.” As an MTS student, Phil was able to engage in conversations analyzing the differences between cultures and religions, something that greatly benefited him in his international work after graduation.

For Margaret Sherk and Christa Van Daele, returning to academic studies after an extended hiatus has been an exciting and introspectively insightful experience. Both Margaret and Christa are Master of Theological Studies (MTS) students at Conrad Grebel University College and the University of Waterloo. Through discussions that encourage back-and-forths between professors and other students, they have experienced religious diversity that has allowed them to explore their own spirituality. Their life experiences have enriched their learning and allowed them to contextualize course content and provide valuable insights to others in the classroom. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Celebrating the Differences

At Conrad Grebel University College, theology classes are enriched by the variety of its students. For students who have just finished their undergraduate degree, or graduates looking to return to their studies after a hiatus, Grebel’s Master of Theological Studies program is a chance to get involved in the overarching theological discussion. 

“Consider where you are right now when it comes to forgiveness. Is there a burden you are carrying?” Theological Studies Professor Carol Penner asks the reader these questions in the first reflection of her new book, Unburdened. Written as “A Lenten Journey Toward Forgiveness,” her book leads readers through six weeks of Lent, daily orienting readers “toward the resurrection and Easter, toward the possibility of a new life in Christ.”

On October 24, 2023, the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre (TMTC) held a virtual Closing Ceremony to mark the end of its 33-year existence. TMTC’s mandate was to develop theological leadership for church and academy, by supporting Mennonite graduate students in theology, biblical studies, and related fields. It worked primarily with students at the ecumenical Toronto School of Theology (TST). As I reflect on what was shared at this closing ceremony, it is evident that TMTC has made important, often behind-the-scenes, contributions to the Mennonite theological ecosystem.