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For discussion

1. Mennonite schools had been designed to keep students separate from the “modernizing secular world” while Conrad Grebel College was deliberately set within a large public university. What are the advantages and challenges of this approach? How has the Mennonite Church changed as it has participated more closely with the world since the 1960s?

The Grebel vision at 50 years

In 1963, Milton Good, the first board chair of Conrad Grebel College, looked out across Laurel Creek at the College building site.

Susan Schultz Huxman stands in front of the atrium and the residential wing of Conrad Grebel University College.

The Conrad Grebel College Board of Governors from 1964 (from left): J. Winfield Fretz, Earle Snyder, David Bergey, Mahlon Leis, Hugo Harms, Jacob Fransen, Orland Gingerich, Harvey Taves, Milton Good, Henry H. Epp, Roy G. Snyder, Douglas Millar, John Snyder, Norman High, John Sawatsky, Kenneth Bender (not in photo: Elven Shantz, Ernest J. Swalm).

The leaders of the Church colleges on the University of Waterloo campus met together in 1965 (from left): J. Winfield Fretz, Alan McLachlin (St. Paul’s), Sister M. Leon (Notre Dame), A. Wyn Rees (Renison), Father John R. Finn (St. Jerome’s)

By the time the Mennonites were ready to build, this was the only church college spot left on campus. Once the University’s landscape plan enhanced Laurel Lake and its banks, the setting became idyllic.

An innovative experiment in higher education

By Susan Schultz Huxman
President, Conrad Grebel University College

For discussion

1. How has your church changed since the 1960s and ’70s? Have there been major changes in the church structures and programs? Do congregational leaders feel hopeful or anxious about the future? Are the structures and programs sustainable or does it feel as though it is time for a major shake-up?

The economy and my new pair of shoes

Shoemaker Jacinto Perez works on a pair of shoes in his Guatemalan shop. (Photo by Tobias Roberts)

Tobias Roberts models his refurbished Dockers. (Photo courtesy of Tobias Roberts)

The other morning, after dreaming to the tune of the constant patter of rain on the tin roof of my house, I woke early to enjoy a morning stroll through the mountains of northern Guatemala. After an hour or so of watching the mystical dance of clouds caressing the valleys and peaks of the green hills, I began to notice that my right foot was soaking wet.

For discussion

1. What have been your experiences of suffering, either personally or by people around you? What are the biggest challenges of dealing with long-term suffering? Have you seen someone’s identity or personality change as a result of suffering? How have relationships been affected?

For discussion

1. How big is the problem of poverty in your community? What local initiatives have tried to reduce poverty? Have they been successful? What circumstances lead to high levels of poverty? Do you have a sense of hope that the problems of poverty can be overcome?

The ART of hope

Our society is very good at dividing us into categories. We talk about the poor as though they are a separate species.

"The poor will be with you always.” That is the message that seems to have been so frequently taken away from the gospel when we talk about poverty. That’s not a very encouraging message to someone who has been tasked with coming up with a way to end it.

For discussion

1. How important is the Bible in your life? Do you think the church has lost its commitment to the Bible? Is your church presently wrestling with any passages of Scripture? Which ones have you wrestled with in the past? Are there passages that the church simply ignores?

For discussion

1. What powerful stories have you heard in your congregation? Who did the telling? What was the setting? What made the story powerful? How did it influence the teller or the listeners? Was it important that the teller was physically present and not recorded on a video clip?

For discussion

1. Who in your congregation takes a leadership role in interpreting the Bible? How do they acquire that role? What happens if anyone challenges their interpretation? Who has been most influential in the development of your personal understanding of the Bible?

For discussion

1. Bruce Hiebert says we will make better ethical decisions if our brains are filled with biblical images. Do you find his arguments convincing? Have we been doing a good job of immersing ourselves in the biblical stories? Have we been filling our minds with too many non-biblical images?

For discussion

1. Tom Yoder Neufeld says that teaching and learning are acts of faith, especially when it comes to sacred texts such as the Bible (page 6). What learning or teaching experiences have stretched or deepened your faith? Are there settings that are more effective than a traditional classroom? What factors encourage or hinder us from being eager to learn?

For discussion

1. How has your community been impacted by the drive for economic development? What has your community lost through development and what has it gained? How are decisions made about when and where development will happen? Is there a role for the church in these decisions?

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