The Story of CMU
Canadian Mennonite University is the result of the amalgamation of three colleges: Mennonite Brethren Bible College/Concord College (est. 1944); Canadian Mennonite Bible College (est. 1947); and Menno Simons College (est. 1989). The origins of CMU go back to the early 1990s when people from the business community and from four Mennonite colleges in Manitoba—CMBC, Concord College, Steinbach Bible College and Menno Simons College—met to talk about inter-Mennonite co-operation in higher education. This led to formal discussions among the colleges, beginning in 1995. Steinbach Bible College withdrew from the process in 1996. In August 1998, the government of Manitoba proclaimed the charter for the creation of a university-level, degree-granting federation of Mennonite colleges. On November 18, 1998, the three colleges signed a Memorandum of Agreement, signifying final approval for the creation of the federation. On May 4th, 1999, the agreement to purchase 500 Shaftesbury was concluded. The Mennonite College Federation began offering its new, jointly sponsored academic programs in September 1999. By September 2000, CMBC and Concord College located together on a common campus at 500/600 Shaftesbury Boulevard. (Menno Simons College remained in downtown Winnipeg as CMU’s campus at the University of Winnipeg.) In October 2008, CMU became a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (now known as Universities Canada). Each of the founding colleges has its own story. Yet, from the beginning, the individual stories have often intersected and are now part of a common story—a story of how God has led them to work together on a common educational mission called CMU.
CMU is an innovative Christian university, rooted in the Anabaptist Mennonite tradition, moved and transformed by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Through teaching, research and service, CMU inspires and equips women and men for lives of service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society. CMU's mission statement, like that of any organization, is like a densely packed coil with the potential and the obligation to spring to life in a vibrant array of programs and projects, conversations and commitments. CMU's mission statement is upfront and out there in its particularity. Faithfulness to the story of God's creating and transforming work through Jesus Christ is the heartbeat, the mindfulness and the motivating impulse for the service, leadership, and reconciliation through which CMU participates in church and society. At CMU, reconciliation is academic work with all sorts of social, personal, theological, interpersonal, artistic, physical, and environmental dimensions—to name a few. Reconciliation, like education, is always about "building understandings." And "building understandings" is always about engaging in both knowledge and relationships, ways of seeing, engaging and sharing in a world that is wondrous, that is troubled, and that needs our best care and imagination. The phrase, "rooted in the Anabaptist Mennonite tradition" is perhaps best approached through the testimony of CMU students. What catches on in their minds and their hearts at once is the coherence and consistency between what the professors teach in class and how these "teachers of life" go about everyday living. Strong convictions towards reconciliation and integrity in life and faith were at the forefront of the emergence of Anabaptists in the sixteenth century. The integration of action and confession continue to be vital today, as do practices of community discernment in apprehending what is true. These convictions propose a bold vulnerability and a dynamic freedom, and these form deeply and only through relationships of trust. It is within relationships of trust and community discernment that CMU understands itself to be a church-related university, providing a forum for ongoing dialogue regarding how together we are called to speak grace and enact reconciliation in church, in society and in the world as we know it. From the flow of this mission, CMU has established four commitments that characterize its work across all of its programs and activities: Educating for Peace and Justice A commitment to educating for peace and justice colours all of our programs and our institutional life as a whole and is explicitly represented in some signature programs and in the work of several of our institutes (e.g., Canadian School of Peacebuilding). Learning through Thinking and Doing Academic analysis is complemented by experiential learning in a manner that shapes both thinking and living, particularly through our practica, Outtatown, co-op, and internship programs. Generous Hospitality - Radical Dialogue CMU welcomes all as it fosters dialogue across religious, economic, social, political, ethnic, national, and cultural chasms that divide humanity, within North America and internationally. Modelling Invitational Community CMU tempers the individualism of our time by modeling and nurturing invitational communities, which are diverse yet learn together, in which people support each other, and which foster compassion and represent hope to those in them and beyond.