Summer may be a distant memory at this time of year, but Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) student Jonas Cornelsen fondly recalls how he spent last July and August working as the Bible instructor at Camp Koinonia, one of three run by Mennonite Church Manitoba’s Camps with Meaning (CwM) ministry.
Cornelsen had never worked at camp full-time before and found it a meaningful summer of spiritual renewal. “Certainly that’s a place where you can become reconnected with that part of your being,” Cornelsen says. “I think I managed to carry that back a little bit with me into this [school] year, which has been great.”
All 17 members of CwM’s 2015 leadership team and more than half of its senior counsellors were CMU students or alumni.
“CMU prepares people who become stronger leaders,” says Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe, a 2015 graduate who ran the summer program at Camp Assiniboia.
Breanna Heinrichs says that studying music at CMU equipped her to be a better song leader at camp. She recalls working one summer after taking a class on leading worship, in which she learned practical skills and explored the theology of worship. “I found I could bring that understanding [to worship at camp], whether I articulated it explicitly with my fellow song leaders or not,” Heinrichs says.
While there is no direct link between CMU and MC Manitoba, Ken Warkentin, executive director of the area church, says he recognizes CMU’s importance in CwM’s ongoing ministry. “We appreciate the integrated approach to education that CMU provides,” he says. “This approach infuses the intellectual and spiritual development of the student with Christian Anabaptist values and worldview.”
For Heinrichs, working at CwM is “a way of serving the church in a meaningful way. . . . It’s a good fit with a lot of what CMU is all about: community, the church and figuring out ways of being the church.”