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Public Events & Important Dates

Public Lectures

Canadian Mennonite University presents a number of annual lecture events, including:

Other past lectures


The J.J. Thiessen Lecture Series

Founded in 1978 by Canadian Mennonite Bible College, the J.J. Thiessen Lectures are named in honour of a founder and long-time chairperson of the CMBC Board. The lectures seek to bring to the Canadian Mennonite University community something of his breadth of vision for the church.

2022 J.J. Thiessen promotional poster

Picturing the Bible: How Artists Tell the Story

with Dr. Robin W. Jensen
Patrick O'Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

October 18–19, 2022

Contrary to what is often assumed, both Christians and Jews made pictorial art for their worship spaces no later than the early second century CE and have continued to do so through history. From the first, these artworks were never simply decorative but drew upon stories from both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. As such, they served and still serve an exegetical and even theological purpose and not simply an illustrative one.

The first of these lectures will consider the question of what early Christians (and Jews) considered idols and why depictions of their sacred stories were not among them.

The second lecture will consider the function and purpose of sacred art and consider the ways that artists’ works through the centuries have illuminated and interpreted biblical narratives as well as theological dogmas. This lecture will also explore the relationship between verbal and visual exegesis.

The third lecture in this series will explore the emergence of non-pictorial sacred art in the modern era, and discuss how such works may still engage viewers through more abstract forms and formal elements of color and shape.


Lecture #1: Tuesday, October 18, 11:00 AM
CMU Chapel

The Second Commandment and the Myth of Jewish and Christian Aniconism


Lecture #2: Tuesday, October 18 7:00 PM
CMU Chapel

Visual Exegesis: Exploring, Expressing, and Expanding the Text


Lecture #3: Wednesday, October 19, 11:00 AM
CMU Chapel

Beyond the Text: From Icons to Abstract Art

John and Margaret Friesen Lectures logo

John and Margaret Friesen Lectures

The John and Margaret Friesen Lectures in Anabaptist/Mennonite Studies are co-sponsored by Canadian Mennonite University, the Mennonite Heritage Centre, and the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies. The inaugural lectures in November 2002 were delivered by Dr. Abraham Friesen (Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara), the generous donor who initiated the lecture series.

2023 Friesen Lectures poster

"The Neglected Role of Dutch Mennonite Innovators in the Scientific Revolution and Early Enlightenment"

with Dr. Gary K. Waite, PhD, FRSC; Professor Emeritus, Dept. of History, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB

[ news release ]

Thursday, March 9, 2023

These interconnected lectures foreground the neglected role played by Dutch Mennonites in the development of new ideas in theology, scripture interpretation, social and religious organization, the promotion of religious toleration, and in technology, science, and philosophy.


Lecture 1 | “Mennonites as Social and Technological Innovators in the Sixteenth-Century Netherlands

11:00 AM | MHC Gallery (610 Shaftesbury Blvd.)

“Mennonites as Social and Technological Innovators in the Sixteenth-Century Netherlands,” traces these developments among Mennonite groups from the end of the apocalyptical Münsterite Anabaptist movement into the seventeenth century. As most Anabaptists turned away from their earlier eschatological expectations, they followed Menno Simons in establishing a godly community of the faithful focused on obedience to the gospels and separation from the world. Many also practised a form of spiritualism which privileged the inner spiritual experience over the literal reading of scripture and external rites and confessions. This latter approach dominated the Doopsgezinden, as seen in their two-Word hermeneutic giving precedence to the “Inner Word” or Spirit over the literal text. This approach provided greater flexibility in breaching tradition not only in theology, but also in medicine (many Doopsgezind preachers were medical practitioners), science, and technology, leading to significant innovations like Pieter Pietersz’s new windmill technology or Cornelius Drebbel’s invention of a working submarine that amazed England’s King James I.

Lecture 2 | “Mennonites as Innovators of Philosophical Thought in the Dutch Golden Age

7:00 PM | Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.)

Mennonites as Innovators of Philosophical Thought in the Dutch Golden Age,” highlights examples of Mennonites contributing in significant ways to new philosophies, whether through their own writings or through their participation in the Collegiant meetings which pioneered a non-clerical, democratic form of worship and whose members discussed scripture and philosophy in innovative ways. We will focus on three thematic case studies: 1. Spirit and Reason, or how spiritualism and rationalism worked together in Doopsgezind and Collegiant circles to lay the groundwork for René Descartes’s Cartesian philosophy as well as for Spinoza’s Theological-Political Tractatus of 1670. 2. Ecclesiology and Liberty: how Collegiants and Mennonites contributed to arguments in favour of religious diversity and tolerance and to the development of practical forms of egalitarian organization leading into the Enlightenment. And 3. How Doopsgezinden carried the scepticism of the devil from the Spiritualist/Anabaptist David Joris through to the Enlightenment, publishing the region’s major anti-witch-hunt treatises and profoundly shaped the thinking behind the Cartesian Reformed preacher Balthasar Bekker’s The World Bewitched of the 1690s, which explicitly removed demons from the natural world. These are merely a few examples of the major ways in which Mennonites were actors, rather than mere spectators, in the intellectual discourse of their day.

CSOP logo

CSOP Lecture Series

"Going Local with International Crises: The Storytelling Dilemma"

with Monika Maria Kalcsics, a journalist with more than 20 years of experience in public service media, print, TV, and film as a reporter, producer, and commissioning editor of award-winning documentaries and reports

Tuesday, June 13, 2023 | 7:00–8:30 PM (CDT )
Livestreamed and in-person: Marpeck Commons (2299 Grant Ave.)


How do international non-governmental organizations tell their stories when the pressure from news outlets is increasingly to create a hyper local connection?

  • 30-minute presentation with Monika Maria Kalcsics
  • 10-minute response from Susan Tymofichuk – Managing Editor, CTV News Winnipeg
  • 30-minute Q&A with audience

About Monika Maria Kalcsics

Monika Maria Kalcsics

Currently employed by the science, education, and society department at Austria 1, the national information radio channel of ORF (Austrian Public Broadcasting Corporation), Kalcsics is also the head of the multimedia initiative "Fixing the Future – Casting New Ideas." She is also a founding member of the production company name>it positive media, covering underrepresented areas in the media. Across this time, she also made emergency aid missions, establishing communication lines.

Kalcsics' combined career as a journalist and emergency aid worker has allowed her to understand the challenges we face when confronted with a humanitarian disaster and the need to report it. She was granted a fellowship at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University to research the relationship between aid organizations and the media in a "competitive compassion market".

– View the livestream below on June 13 at 7:00 PM (CDT) –

Join us on June 14 for "Dignifying Story Angles: The Ethics of Representation Dilemma," a professional development event with Monika Maria Kalcsics.  [ click for more info ]


Past Public Lectures


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