Association of Mennonite University Students
Association of Mennonite University Students (AMUS) was a Canadian student organization which began at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. On 10 December 1950 Victor Adrian and Frank Klassen gathered together about eight other students to found the Association, and on 9 January 1951 a constitution was accepted. The purpose of AMUS was "to strive for the harmonious perfection of the intellectual, the spiritual and the physical characteristics of its members for the benefit of society" (cited in CM 2:5:7). Academic debate on Mennonite history, beliefs, and culture initially occupied much of the group's meeting time. Improvement of public speaking skills, the promotion of friendship among Mennonite students, and the development of Christian character were primary objectives of the group. AMUS also periodically organized study conferences, workshops, and special studies. One conference, which was held on 10-11 March 1956 and focused on service with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), resulted in the appointment of a three-person AMUS Placement Service. The purpose of the Service was to assist students in finding ways of serving the church. In 1955, around 40 students were attending AMUS meetings in Winnipeg. Only men were permitted as members of the Association until 1956 when a constitutional amendment allowed for the admission of women as members.
AMUS remained a very small circle of students at the University of Manitoba until the mid-1950s when visions of expansion resulted in the establishment of chapters at universities in Toronto, Edmonton and Montreal. The existence of chapters in Saskatoon and Vancouver was challenged by other organizations which competed for the time and loyalty of Mennonite students. Meetings at the various chapters often included public speaking contests, debates, and guest speakers. The Toronto chapter established a student cooperative residence, Menno House, in 1956-1957 and organized an annual retreat weekend, which came to be known as the "Caledon Weekend." In January of 1960, the Edmonton chapter began visiting provincial churches in attempt to diminish the gulf between university students and their home churches.
The various chapters of AMUS slowly lost strength in the early 1960s. The creation of permanence and stability had always been problematic for AMUS, for its members and leaders quickly graduated and left the organization. The chapter in Winnipeg had derived some of its strength from the support of the Bible Colleges there, but there were tensions between the interests of university students and those of Bible college students. The growth of the Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship across Canada made it difficult for AMUS to find a unique niche for itself that did not conflict with the work of the Fellowship. In Ontario, Conrad Grebel College opened and provided a residence and community to Mennonite students. Furthermore, churches across Canada were beginning to hire university or seminary-trained pastors and were offering more attractive programs to university students. The needs of students and the complexion of university life were changing and by the end of the 1960s the various chapters of AMUS had ceased functioning.
"AMUS Sponsored Workshop Puts Spotlight on MCC." The Canadian Mennonite 4 (6 March1956): 1.
"AMUS Visits Churches." The Canadian Mennonite 8 (26 February 1960): 3.
"Mennonite Student Group Strives for Perfection of Members." The Canadian Mennonite 2 (29 January 1954): 7.
Regehr, T.D. Mennonites in Canada, 1939-1970: A People Transformed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996: 269-271.
Vogt, Reinhard."The Association of Mennonite University Students." Mennonite Life 12 (1957)
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1061. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Bender, Harold S. "Association of Mennonite University Students." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 22 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A800ME.html.
APA style: Bender, Harold S. (1959). Association of Mennonite University Students. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 22 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A800ME.html.