A former teacher dedicated to building relationships with Indigenous peoples, a former Mennonite Church Canada Witness worker invested in intercultural relationships, a long-time pursuer of justice with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), and a priest and canon theologian in the Anglican Church are the recipients of the Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) 2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards.
The Distinguished Alumni Awards celebrate alumni who, through their lives, embody CMU’s values and mission of service, leadership and reconciliation in church and society. The awards are presented to alumni from CMU and its predecessor colleges: Canadian Mennonite Bible College (CMBC) and Mennonite Brethren Bible College (MBBC)/Concord College.
Randy Klassen (MBBC ’84) of Saskatoon taught at Bethany College from 2002 to 2015, before becoming the national restorative justice coordinator for MCC Canada for more than three years, until the office was closed this spring. He has dedicated more than 10 years to building relationships with Indigenous communities, first through Bethany College in Hepburn, Sask., and then Lakeview Church in Saskatoon; he has taken young adults to Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation, where they connect with youth, get involved in the community and learn from Indigenous elders. He also spent this summer with MCC Saskatchewan as the event coordinator of the Spruce River Folk Festival, a one-day event that raises awareness for landless Indigenous bands.
Donna Kampen Entz (CMBC ’86) of Edmonton has worked with MC Alberta since 2010, building interfaith and cross-cultural relationships with Muslims, many of whom are immigrants and refugees, in North Edmonton. The ministry strives to connect people with services, build community and be a witness of Christian faith. She and her husband Loren were Witness workers in Burkina Faso from 1978 to 2008, an experience that shaped her passion for fostering interfaith dialogue and relationships “so that diverse peoples live together peacefully. Transformation happens to us as individuals and communities when we connect deeply with those who are different than us religiously and culturally.” Kampen Entz has been supported by the Mennonite church her whole life, even when her work was not necessarily considered successful by societal standards.
Eileen Klassen Hamm (CMBC ’86) of Saskatoon is the executive director of MCC Saskatchewan. She began working for MCC in 1992, taking on various program coordinator roles and becoming program director in 2007, before being appointed as executive director in 2016. “I continue to be passionate about the ministry of MCC because this organization weaves together a diverse constituency of generous donors and volunteers and church communities with the beauty and brokenness of the world,” says Klassen Hamm. “Through MCC, we are invited to step into local and global realities and offer our resources and our love, and, in turn, we are formed and transformed by the courage and teachings from many places around the globe.” Klassen Hamm and her husband Les attend Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, where she participates in leading worship and preaching.
Jeffrey Metcalfe (CMU ’09) of Quebec City was recently installed as the Canon Theologian for the Anglican Diocese of Quebec. He facilitates theological reflection in decision-making processes, helps congregations engage in vocational discernment and creates programs to further clergy education. Metcalfe was ordained in 2013 and began his PhD in theological studies at the University of Toronto’s Trinity College in 2015. His research focuses on developing an ethnographic theological methodology to explore how the Anglican church in Quebec City can resist and push back against the racism in their context. “As disciples of Jesus, the Spirit calls and empowers us to join together with those who come to dwell with us from other lands, not as a duty, but as a joy,” he says.
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