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Young Voices

Winding down

‘Realizing how far we’ve come is a highlight,’ Laura Carr-Pries, second from right, says of her involvement with EVI, a group that also included Alex Tiessen, Anneli Loepp Thiessen, Jonas Cornelsen and Tim Wenger. (Canadian Mennonite photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Nov 15, 2017

A group of young adults who formed in response to proposed changes to Mennonite Church Canada (now dubbed the nationwide church) has disbanded.

The Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) announced its closing in a statement posted to its website on Oct. 31, two-and-a-half weeks after MC Canada’s Special Assembly 2017 in Winnipeg.

Fifteen years after inspiration struck

Far Beyond Inspired album cover

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Nov 15, 2017

Attention, music fans: Next month marks the 15th anniversary of the release of an album you’ve likely never heard of. Let me tell you about it.

On Dec. 8, 2002, at Douglas Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, we began selling copies of Far Beyond Inspired, a CD featuring original compositions by nine musical acts from the congregation. The 16 songs on the CD encompassed an eclectic range of genres, including rock, folk, praise and worship, rap, children’s, pop and punk music.

You might even know a few of the musicians involved.

Writing that 'really, really works'

Winnipeg teacher Justin Rempel is publishing his first book next year. (Photo by Aaron Epp).

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 18, 2017

Justin Rempel has been making up stories ever since he learned to write. The animals on his parents’ hobby farm near Gretna, Man., and the stories he heard while attending Sunday school at Blumenort Mennonite Church in Rosetown, Man., were his initial inspiration.

“Very naturally, the first stories that came to me at 6 were an amalgamation of those things,” he says. “All the biblical figures would be swapped out for pigs and sheep and all the things we had on the farm.”

From Mexican Quaker to Canadian Mennonite

Andrea De Avila enjoys her role as associate pastor at Sargent Avenue Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. (Photo by Aaron Epp).

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 18, 2017

Ask Andrea De Avila when she first wanted to become a pastor and her answer is simple: “I didn’t.”

While studying at Hesston College in Kansas, and Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Harrisonburg, Va., De Avila became involved with Mennonite Church U.S.A. As part of her biblical studies at EMU, she participated in the Ministry Inquiry Program, which allows young adults to explore pastoral ministry. At the same time, she enjoyed attending MC U.S.A. conventions, and had a hand in organizing the 2013 gathering in Phoenix, Ariz.

Serving students and learning from mistakes

Niamh Reynolds wants to see students at Columbia Bible College ‘going on a journey with God.’ (Photo courtesy of Niamh Reynolds)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 04, 2017

In addition to faculty and staff, student council members can play a key role in shaping campus life at colleges and universities. By advocating for their peers, planning social events and organizing service projects, these young leaders have a big impact on what goes on between and after classes.

Canadian Mennonite spoke with the student council presidents from the three Canadian post-secondary institutions affiliated with Mennonite Church Canada about their hopes and dreams for the 2017-18 school year.

The kids are all right ... aren’t they?

‘I would say this to older Christians: Don’t be afraid to offer guidance,’ Gil Dueck says. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Bible College)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 04, 2017

Gil Dueck doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all plan for how churches can better engage with the young adults in their congregations, but he has some ideas.

While questions about “how the kids are doing” can quickly become cliché, he says, ultimately, they are healthy.

Hard work pays off

Chloe Penner competed in mountain bike and road bike competitions at the 2017 Canada Summer Games. (2017 Canada Summer Games photo by Paul Reimer)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Sep 20, 2017

One of the biggest events in Winnipeg in recent months was the 2017 Canada Summer Games. From July 28 to Aug. 13, 2017, 4,000 young athletes from across the country competed in a variety of sports. It was the 50th anniversary of the Games, and drew an estimated 20,000 visitors to the city. Canadian Mennonite spoke with three young people from Winnipeg about their involvement.

Chloe Penner
Chloe Penner represented Manitoba in both the mountain bike and road bike competitions at the Games.

‘Over and over again, day by day’

Sarah Moesker, front row right, and her fellow companions share the daily rhythm of the sisters’ life. (Photo courtesy of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Sep 20, 2017

When Sarah Moesker began asking herself how she could deepen her faith, living in an Anglican convent for almost a year was the answer.

Moesker, a student at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg, spent September 2016 to the end of this past July in the Companions on the Way program, during which she and a group of other young women lived in residence alongside members of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in Toronto.

‘We need to learn to dream as a church’

Sharing their hopes and dreams for the church, left to right: Lisa Carr-Pries, Gabby Martin, Colin Reimer, Claire Hanson, Melanie Kampen, Rebecca Janzen, Annika Krause.

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Sep 06, 2017

Next month, those gathered at Mennonite Church Canada’s special delegate assembly will make major decisions about the structure of the church based on proposals from the Future Directions Task Force.
With that in mind, Canadian Mennonite asked young adults from across Canada: What are your hopes and dreams for MC Canada in the next 10 years?

Youth wanted

There will be room at the table for youth at next month’s Assembly 2017. (Photo courtesy of MC Canada)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Sep 06, 2017

Members of the Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) are hoping that financial assistance and special events aimed specifically at high school students will encourage youth to attend Mennonite Church Canada’s special delegate assembly next month.

EVI members will lead special discussions and debriefing sessions for youth at the assembly, which takes place from Oct. 13 to 15, 2017, at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Winnipeg. Youth will also have the opportunity to integrate with adult delegates during table discussions.

Pollution in the Heavenly Province

Vanessa Snyder-Penner recently spent a year in China’s Sichuan province. (Photo courtesy of V. Snyder-Penner)

Young Voices | By Vanessa Snyder-Penner | Aug 23, 2017

The first thought that struck me when I arrived in China’s Sichuan province was how green it was.

Somehow, perhaps from tales of air pollution and reading “Made in China” stamped on most goods, I had formulated an image of China as a grey, smoke-filled country. This image might represent some parts of the country. China is so massive that images as diverse as coniferous forests, tropical beaches and wind-swept deserts are all accurate snapshots of certain parts of the nation.

A very special relationship

Mekiah Yonda, left, and Amber Muskego have been friends since 2010, when this photo was taken. (Photo courtesy of Mekiah Yonda)

 

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Aug 23, 2017

A relationship between a Winnipeg church and a community in northern Manitoba has resulted in a special friendship between two young women.

Mekiah Yonda and Amber Muskego met when members from Yonda’s church, Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg, travelled to Cross Lake in 2010 to run a Vacation Bible School (VBS) program for children in the community. Today, the two describe each other as sisters.

Breaking the silence

While living in Cambodia, Jaymie Friesen, centre, coordinated a therapeutic photography course for women exiting the sex trade. (Photo courtesy of Jaymie Friesen)

Young Voices | By Rachel Bergen | Jul 18, 2017

For Jaymie Friesen, responding to abuse and preventing it in communities of faith is a personal calling. As the abuse response and prevention coordinator at Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Manitoba, Friesen supports churches and individuals, and works to raise awareness of abuse and trauma.

Prior to beginning her position with MCC, Friesen worked with survivors of abuse in Southeast Asia through an organization called Daughters of Cambodia, where she coordinated a therapeutic photography course for women exiting the sex trade.

The odd couple

Mike Wiebe, Raya Cornelsen, Rebecca Klassen-Wiebe and Lauren Harms visit with Erwin Cornelsen in his kitchen. (Photo of Jonas Cornelsen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jul 18, 2017 | 1 comment

When Jonas Cornelsen tells people he spent the last year living with, and caring for, his grandfather in Vancouver, they often praise him.

While Jonas appreciated his time with his grandfather, the praise makes him uncomfortable.

“The set-up sounds pretty [idyllic], like a good family movie,” says the 23-year-old, who returned to his home city of Winnipeg last month. “You know, the grandson spends time listening to his wise old grandfather, and they go to church together and do all these wholesome things. But internally I was struggling with anxiety and loneliness.” 

Walking for equality

Abby Heinrichs speaks at a rally in Ottawa, where the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights ended. (Photo by Kathy Moorhead Thiessen.)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 28, 2017

This past spring, while her Grade 6 peers were in class writing spelling tests and working on their multiplication tables, Abby Heinrichs was doing something completely different: walking 600 kilometres in support of indigenous rights.

The 11-year-old Winnipegger was one of more than 50 people who participated in the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights, a journey co-organized by Mennonite Church Canada and Indigenous Solidarity of Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Cyber security underdog

David Dyck began programming computers when he was 12 years old. He is largely self taught. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 28, 2017

Computer programming is a language foreign to most, but not to David Dyck. The 17-year-old Winnipegger is passionate about computers and knowing how they operate.

“I really like understanding how it all works and being able to make a computer do the things I want it to do,” says Dyck, who recently graduated from Westgate Mennonite Collegiate. “It’s always really satisfying to watch a program run . . . or find a bug and realize why something didn’t work.”

Before I go

Over the past 10 years as youth pastor at Douglas Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, Paul Loewen, front right, has led 500 youth events, 25 retreats and 25 multi-day service trips, including this 2015 retreat for Grade 12 students. (Photo courtesy of Paul Loewen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 14, 2017

Paul Loewen is wrapping up his time as youth pastor at Douglas Mennonite Church and he’s given the youth he currently works with a unique gift. He wrote and self-published a book entitled Before I Go: Nine Ideas You Should Know and presented each youth group member with a personal copy last month.

The book is based on the nine devotionals Loewen presented to both the junior and senior high youth groups at the Winnipeg church this past school year. It represents a “best of” the devotionals he has given since he started working at Douglas in 2008.

Called to be a part of the church

‘When the youth let you in, it’s such a gift to be there and walk with them,’ says Carrie Lehn, second from left.

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 14, 2017

Whenever she tells her faith story, Carrie Lehn always mentions her paternal grandmother, who, she says, is a key example of gentleness and love. She always has other people on her radar, Lehn says, writing them letters or cards, bringing them dessert or giving them thoughtful gifts.

“She thinks about those little things that other people forget or don’t notice,” says Lehn, 28. “I want to be someone who is loving and finds a way to walk gently in this world the way she does.”

Breathing new life into the music

Raised the son of missionaries in Senegal, Darren Creech has aspired to be a classical pianist since he was 5. (Photo by Richard Rhyme)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 31, 2017 | 1 comment

When a Toronto-based LGBTQ orchestra approached queer classical pianist Darren Creech about performing Victor Davies’ “Mennonite Piano Concerto” with it in concert, it didn’t realize what a perfect fit he would be.

Unbeknownst to the Counterpoint Community Orchestra at the time, Creech is Mennonite and he grew up listening to the piece.

Lessons learned from the elderly

Working part time cleaning seniors’ homes sparked Danielle Raimbault’s interest in working with the elderly. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Raimbault)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 31, 2017

Danielle Raimbault’s first day of work as the chaplain at a residence for the elderly was a memorable one that quickly shattered her expectations.

When the 24-year-old arrived at Chartwell Elmira Long Term Care Residence in Elmira, Ont., a year ago, she sat down beside a resident and introduced herself.

“Did your mom give you permission to come here today?” the resident asked.

Learning to let go

Julia Klassen was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa when she was 14 years old. (Photo by Aaron Klassen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 17, 2017

When she was admitted to hospital at the age of 14, it didn’t take long for doctors to diagnose Julia Klassen with anorexia nervosa. She displayed all the classic symptoms: a fear of gaining weight and a strong desire to be thin. She was malnourished, the result of restricting her eating for three months.

Students find relaxation through ‘puppy therapy’

Columbia student Victoria Rempel gets up close and personal with a mini-Schnauzer. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Jantzen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 17, 2017

Students at Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B.C., have a unique opportunity to de-stress before exams: puppy therapy.

For the past two school years, the Student Counselling Centre has brought puppies to campus for one day at the end of each semester. Students sign up for a 15- to 20-minute slot so that they can play with the puppies.

Adventures in the Middle East

‘We really bonded as a group,’ Nathan Dueck says. ‘I’m so happy that I got to grow and maintain and create these friendships with my fellow students.’ (Photo by Alex Schonwetter)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 03, 2017

It was while she was in Bethlehem, spray painting a black heart onto the Israeli West Bank barrier, that the reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict truly began to sink in for high-school student Jaymi Fast. “I found it was easier to understand [the political situation] when I was there,” she says. “It was still confusing—there’s so much going on—but I could put places to names and I could get more out of it.”

Messages to the Class of 2017

Valedictorian Anika Reynar addresses the crowd during Canadian Mennonite University’s 2017 graduation ceremony last month at Immanuel Pentecostal Church in Winnipeg. (Photo by Paul Little)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | May 03, 2017

Canadian Mennonite spoke with the 2017 valedictorians from the three Canadian post-secondary institutions affiliated with Mennonite Church Canada, to find out who they are, what their undergraduate experience has been like, and what wisdom they hope to impart on their peers.

Jenna Song and Ryan Newman
Columbia Bible College

Abbotsford, B.C.

Walking forward changed

Brandi Friesen, second from left, stands with some of the people she travelled through Nigeria with as part of a World Council of Churches program called the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace. (Photo courtesy of Brandi Friesen)

Young Voices | By Brandi Friesen | Apr 19, 2017

For the last two years in February, I have been on a pilgrim journey to different regions of the world in need of peace and justice, and I will be doing the same for the next several years. This year, I made my way to the hot, complex and beautiful country of Nigeria.

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