Irma Janzen was the first woman to graduate from Providence Theological Seminary. Since her graduation in 1978 with an Master of Arts in Christian Education, Irma has taught Christian Education at Winkler Bible Institute, done chaplaincy training, worked with the Mental Health and Disabilities Program of the Mennonite Central Committee (1994 to 2006), and served as a part-time pastor at the Fort Garry Evangelical Mennonite Church in Winnipeg (1996 to Present), serving two extended interim periods as lead pastor. When she retired from the MCC she spent six months teaching English in China.
Irma has devoted her career to the service of the Church through service to people. In doing so, she has pursued many avenues of ministry. Beginning with the Christian Education formation she received from the Seminary, Irma branched out into pastoral care-giving, international student ministries, and teaching English. One of Irma’s lasting legacies is her tireless but gentle quest to help the Church become a place of refuge and redemption for people suffering from mental illness. She has done this professionally with MCC Canada and also through her church.
Irma has also shown considerable leadership in the development of ministries for international students through the Ft. Garry Church. Among her initiatives was the development of an Introduction to Christianity adult education elective that allows class members with limited language skills to begin to explore the Bible, the Church, and the Gospel. She also took up teaching conversational English to international families at Uni-Village in south Winnipeg. When changes in management of the residence made those English classes impossible, Irma moved the classes to the church, guaranteeing that the ministry of language teaching could continue.
As Irma reflects on her time at Providence she notes, “while I did my studies in Christian Education, my best memory, my most valuable experiences, were the courses in Old Testament. They opened up the treasures of the Old Testament for me. I already had a background in education so those courses were not as novel or exciting as the open door to the Old Testament. A lot of credit for that would go to Garry Smith!”
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Providence University College & Seminary