Young Voices

From church to yoga studio

‘As I encountered contradictions to my teenage understanding of faith, yoga offered a contemplative approach to spirituality,’ Sarah Steiner writes. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Yoga has become more than simply an athletic pursuit for Sarah Steiner. (Photo by Michelle Kauntz)

For many years the church provided me with a place where I felt like I belonged.

Celebrating differences, learning to work together

Jacquelyn Janzen is one of two representatives appointed by Mennonite Church Saskatchewan to sit on Mennonite Church Canada’s Joint Council. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Janzen)

Travelling to places like Honduras has shaped Jacquelyn Janzen’s worldview. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Janzen)

‘[I hope] that we can still come together for the greater good,’ Jacquelyn Janzen says of the churches that make up MC Canada. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Janzen)

Jacquelyn Janzen, pictured second from right with Brad Taylor, Heather Driedger and Dave Whalley, volunteers on the board of Parkland Restorative Justice, a faith-based organization that supports prisoners and people who have been released from prison. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Janzen)

When someone suggested to Jacquelyn Janzen that she get involved with the new Joint Council of Mennonite Church Canada, she knew it was something she wanted to do.

Wrestling with challenging texts

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe and Erin Froese ‘yarn-bombed’ a tree on CMU’s campus as part of a project exploring ecofeminism. (Photo courtesy of Erin Froese)

Laura Carr-Pries created a worship resource in the CMU course, Feminist Perspectives on Bible and Theology. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Alyssa Sherlock created a photo project exploring themes of perfectionism, self-image and faith. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe and Erin Froese pose with their crocheted work. (Photo by Anna Goertzen Loeppky)

Most upper-level university classes end with a final essay, not a photography project, prayerful meditations or a “yarn-bombed” tree. Sheila Klassen-Wiebe, however, took the road less travelled for Feminist Perspectives on Bible and Theology.

Working together for the common good

Representatives from a variety of faiths gathered in Vancouver in March for Celebrating Our Diversity Now, an interfaith dialogue. (Armenian Diocese of Canada photo)

Celebrating Our Diversity Now was a time of sharing between different religious and cultural groups. (Armenian Diocese of Canada photo)

Constantinos Economos, parish priest at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Vancouver, speaks at Celebrating Our Diversity Now. (Armenian Diocese of Canada photo)

‘It was great to have an intentional and safe space to share and learn about religious diversity in Canada,’ writes Annika Krause. (Armenian Diocese of Canada photo)

Participating in Celebrating Our Diversity Now showed Annika Krause that there are many young people who desire to have conversations about faith and religious practices. (Photo courtesy of Annika Krause)

This past March, I participated in an interfaith dialogue for young people in Vancouver, hosted by the Armenian Diocese of Canada.

Studying the Bible through a feminist lens

Around 10 women and female-identifying people meet weekly at Erb Street Mennonite Church in Waterloo, Ont., for Feminist Bible Study, an initiative supported by Pastors in Exile. (Photo by Jessica Reesor Rempel)

‘In the framework of my churches that I was at growing up, women weren’t portrayed as powerful people God worked through,’ says Caitie Walker, left, pictured with fellow Feminist Bible Study participant Emily Leyland. (Photo by Jessica Reesor Rempel)

Kim Rempel, a Feminist Bible Study participant, takes part in a March 22 discussion about the ‘Gospel according to Mary Magdalene.’ (Photo by Jessica Reesor Rempel)

‘Feminist Bible Study has helped me connect with my faith,’ says Katie Steckly, right, pictured with Caitie Walker, left, and Jessica Reesor Rempel, centre. (Photo by Emily Leyland)

Around 10 women and female-identifying people sit in a circle at Erb Street Mennonite Church in Waterloo, every week, drinking tea and discussing biblical texts through a feminist lens.

‘Just doing my best’

Grace Kang has made art since she was a child. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Grace Kang’s installation at Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg consisted of 400 prints depicting different pairs of feet suspended in the air using twine and surrounding a large ceramic bowl. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘Suffering will always be a part of my art, because it’s such a big part of being human,’ Grace Kang says. (Photo by Gabrielle Touchette)

‘I wanted people to face the places they had been and realize . . . Jesus wants to meet us where we’re at,’ Grace Kang says of her installation at Bethel Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. (Photo by Aaton Epp)

Grace Kang isn’t sure what her future holds, but she knows it will include making art. (Photo by Calvin Strong)

Grace Kang can’t remember a time when she wasn’t making art.

As a child, “I was always drawing, I was always writing stories,” the 22-year-old says. When she learned that art is not something everyone does or is interested in, “I realized it was a unique way I could contribute to the world.”

Different stages

‘I understand God through inspiration,’ says writer Johnny Wideman of Stouffville, Ont. (Photo courtesy of Johnny Wideman)

Writing short stories has been different than writing plays for Wideman, pictured here with one of his Theatre of the Beat colleagues, Rebecca Steiner. (Photo courtesy of Johnny Wideman)

‘With Theatre of the Beat, I know who my audience is,’ says Johnny Wideman, pictured here performing in This Will Lead to Dancing. (Photo courtesy of Johnny Wideman)

To Aid Digestion book cover (Photo courtesy of Johnny Wideman)

Most people know Johnny Wideman as a playwright and the artistic director for Theatre of the Beat, the social justice-oriented troupe behind plays like This Will Lead to Dancing and Yellow Bellies. Now Wideman has released To Aid Digestion, a collection of 26 original short stories and poems.

Converting to Catholicism

James DeGurse attends Holy Cross Roman Catholic Parish in Winnipeg. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘I’ve come to really like things like icons and crucifixes as ways to help me pray,’ James DeGurse says. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘At CMU, I’m surrounded by people who take faith seriously,’ says James DeGurse, centre, with fellow students Marnie Klassen and Kenny Wollmann. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

It’s not every day you meet a Mennonite whose faith journey has led him to the Catholic church, but that’s James DeGurse’s story.

Baptized as an infant in the Anglican church, DeGurse spent his formative years at Douglas Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. After worshipping at an Anglican church for a year or two, he began attending a Catholic church at the age of 18.

A biblical call—to justice and peacebuilding

Jessica Reesor Rempel co-founded Pastors in Exile in 2015. (Photo by John Rempel)

Jessica Reesor Rempel leads a session at PiE’s recent Winter Camp for Grown-ups’ retreat. (Photo by Jacquie Reimer)

‘I don’t think anyone else has a job quite like this,’ says Jessica Reesor Rempel, right, pictured with PiE co-founder Chris Brnjas, left, and Tamara Shantz, centre, PiE’s current pastor. (Photo by Dave Klassen)

Jessica Reesor Rempel lives in Kitchener, Ont., with her husband Steven and their daughter Anna Julian. (Photo by John Rempel)

Participants worship in Victoria Park in Kitchener, Ont., at an Easter sunrise service organized by PiE. (Photo by Dave Klassen)

Jessica Reesor Rempel enjoys bringing people together and helping them find meaning.

Christian media production done right

Josh Heida first began editing films as a high school student in Kenora, Ont. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Jon Ted Wynne portrays C.S. Lewis in a scene from The Fantasy Makers. (Photo courtesy of Josh Heida)

The Fantasy Makers features an interview with English poet, priest and scholar Malcolm Guite. (Photo courtesy of Josh Heida)

When The Fantasy Makers, a new documentary, premiered at Winnipeg’s Real to Reel Film Festival last month, the credits included the name of a young Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) student: Josh Heida.

From Goshen to Peru and back again

An accomplished singer, guitarist and fiddler, Sadie Gustafson-Zook is currently pursuing a master’s degree in jazz voice. (Photo by Olivia Copsey)

Sadie Gustafson-Zook released her album I'm Not Here last summer. (Photo by Olivia Copsey)

Sadie Gustafson-Zook released her album I’m Not Here last summer. (Photo by Olivia Copsey)

I’m Not Here features artwork by Canadian artist Dona Park.

Born in Portland, Ore., and raised in Goshen, Ind., singer-songwriter Sadie Gustafson-Zook is currently pursuing a master’s degree in jazz voice at Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass.

Accessing different realms of musical exploration

Luke Nickel recently completed a PhD in music composition at Bath Spa University in England. (Photo by Leif Norman)

Luke Nickel co-founded Winnipeg's Cluster New Music and Integrated Arts Festival while studying at the University of Manitoba. (Photo by Leif Norman)

Pianist Everett Hopfner performs one of Luke Nickel's pieces at the 2017 edition of Cluster. (Photo by Leif Norman)

The Cluster New Music and Integrated Arts Festival aims to bridge the gap between new music, dance and visual art. (Photo by Aaron Sivertson)

'We started thinking, how can we make a music festival that . . . gets everyone excited about experimental new work?' Luke Nickel says. (Photo courtesy of Cluster)

Since Luke Nickel was young, his parents instilled in him the value of thinking critically. He recalls one conversation—the exact topic escapes him—during which his father said to him and his siblings, “I don’t care what you think about it, as long as you think about it.”

‘The tensions of taking Scripture seriously’

James DeGurse, centre, a Roman Catholic, finds value in reading the Bible communally. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Braden Siemens’s take on Scripture is informed by attending both Pentecostal and Anglican churches. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Claire Hanson, Braden Siemens, James DeGurse, Marnie Klassen and Kenny Wollmann share their views of Scripture at CMU on Feb. 5, 2018. (Photo courtesy of CMU)

‘What actually does the Bible tell us?’ CMU professor Dan Epp-Tiessen, left, asks during his introductory remarks. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Scripture is a massive, ancient, messy archive of God’s relationship with humanity that many claim to interpret correctly.

But with such diverse understandings of the Bible, how can Christians approach it with humility while granting God’s words authority over their lives? How can young people take Scripture seriously in an increasingly secularized world?

An openness to learning is the first step

An ally holds a sign at the Winnipeg Women’s March in January 2018. ‘We need to acknowledge the fact that we are not presently equal,’ Kim Penner says. (Photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Kim Penner holds a PhD in theology from the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Kim Penner)

Kim Penner with Marilyn Legge, her PhD advisor, at Penner’s graduation last November. (Photo courtesy of Kim Penner)

Participants make their way along Main Street as part of the Winnipeg Women’s March. ‘There is clearly a lot to learn right now, and it’s really being open to learning that is the first step,’ Kim Penner says. (Photo by Matthew Sawatzky)

Kim Penner graduated last November with a PhD in theology from the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto. Canadian Mennonite called Penner at her home in Waterloo, Ont., to ask her about her dissertation, “Discipleship as erotic peacemaking: Toward a feminist Mennonite theo-ethics of embodiment and sexuality,” and what her work has to offer the Mennonite church.

Unfiltered Falk

The Generational Gaps DVD features 70 minutes of material Matt Falk developed after the release of his first album, Apple Pie & Scars. (Photo courtesy of Matt Falk)

Comedian Matt Falk’s first-ever DVD, Generational Gaps, is in stores on Feb. (Photo courtesy of Matt Falk)

Matt Falk has performed across North America with veteran comics like Gilbert Gottfried and Dave Coulier. (Photo courtesy of Matt Falk)

‘It feels amazing,’ Matt Falk says of the upcoming release of Generational Gaps on DVD. (Photo courtesy of Matt Falk)

For most comedians, delivering unfiltered material means cursing a blue streak. For Matt Falk, it means something else entirely.

On the court and in the classroom

Growing up in Morris, Man., Jessica Edel played sports starting in elementary school. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Mennonite University)

Jessica Edel is a first-year student at Canadian Mennonite University. (Photo courtesy of Canadian Mennonite University)

‘Your team starts to act as a second family,’ writes Jessica Edel (No. 9). ‘They always have your back.’ (Photo courtesy of Canadian Mennonite University)

Growing up just south of Winnipeg in Morris, Man., I was involved in sports starting in elementary school. I participated in many school sports but invested most of my time in basketball, playing competitively from Grade 5 until Grade 11.

Caught in the tension between belief and fear

‘Praying hands at sea’ by Tinus Badenhorst. (publicdomainpictures.net photo)

Moses Falco is the pastor of Sterling Mennonite Fellowship in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Moses Falco)

Time is a significantly gracious yet controlling dynamic. It’s a dimension from which we cannot escape, but our experience of it varies depending on our context. We move from day to day, month to month, year to year, growing older and hopefully wiser, sometimes caught off guard by the realization that time doesn’t wait for our approval.

‘More significant than my age’

Thomas Coldwell is the new executive director of MCC Alberta. (Photo by Angela Bennett)

Thomas Coldwell, pictured in Kampala, Uganda, this past July, learned about the Anabaptist faith as an undergraduate. (Photo by Leah Ettarh)

Thomas Coldwell replaced Abe Janzen as executive director of MCC Alberta last month. (Photo by Angela Bennett)

‘We want to be thoughtful in the way we do our work,’ says Thomas Coldwell, pictured talking with Cecile Sanou. Sanou volunteered with an MCC partner in Soroti, Uganda, during 2016-17. (Photo by Leah Ettarh)

MCC’s work is inspired by the greatest commandment, says Thomas Coldwell, pictured walking in Hebron this past November with MCC worker Seth Malone. (Photo by Don Klaassen)

Five years ago, Thomas Coldwell knew very little about Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Today, he’s the executive director of MCC Alberta.

More than a label

Steph Chandler Burns recently served as interim pastor at Bloomingdale (Ont.) Mennonite Church. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘Sometimes I feel invisible in my journey as a queer person,’ says Steph Chandler Burns, pictured with Greg, her partner. (Photo courtesy of Steph Chandler Burns)

Steph Chandler Burns, front row second from left, graduated with a master of theological studies degree from Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont., this past fall. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

‘We miss so much by putting a label on a person,’ Steph Chandler Burns says. ‘You can’t just limit one person to one piece of who they are.’ (Photo courtesy of Steph Chandler Burns)

For Steph Chandler Burns of Kitchener, Ont., talking about her faith journey means talking about coming out as a queer individual.

“I am a bisexual woman and I am a woman created in God’s image, and knowing those two things alongside each other has taught me a lot about who I am in God,” she says.

A space odyssey

AlbertaSat members, including Taryn Haluza-Delay, second from right, met with former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, centre, this past October. (Photo courtesy of Taryn Haluza-Delay)

Taryn Haluza-Delay had a hand in building Ex-Alta 1, Alberta’s first orbiting satellite. (Twitter.com/ualbertaScience photo)

Taryn Haluza-Delay is studying engineering physics at the University of Alberta. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

For most people who dream of exploring outer space, the dream dies before they reach adulthood. That’s not the case for Taryn Haluza-Delay.

The 20-year-old Edmonton resident, who attends First Mennonite Church and is currently a third-year engineering physics student at the University of Alberta, hopes to one day become an astronaut.

‘I’m aware of my sin and my need for a Saviour’

Matthew Kopperud, right, spent 2017 touring with his Close Talker bandmates Will Quiring and Chris Morien. (Photo courtesy of Close Talker)

Close Talker’s latest album, Lens, came out on Nevado Records last April. (Photo courtesy of Close Talker)

‘It’s the greatest investment you can make,’ Matthew Kopperud says of going to Bible school. (Photo courtesy of Close Talker)

2017 was a big year for Matthew Kopperud. The 25-year-old guitarist toured across North America and Europe with his band Close Talker in support of its most recent album, Lens

Finding shelter from the cold

What started as a simple book club has become a place of deep friendship and support for a group of Winnipeg women. (Photo by Rachel Bergen)

‘The novels, essays, memoirs and graphic novels I’ve read this year have challenged me immeasurably, and I’ve grown as a result,’ Rachel Bergen writes. (Photo by Rachel Bergen)

The Feminist Book Club took a trip to a friend’s cabin in May to rest, recharge, connect and talk about Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. (Photo by Rachel Bergen)

Some members of the Feminist Book Club took part in a women’s march in Winnipeg this past January to raise awareness about violence against women and to protest Donald Trump’s presidency. (Photo by Rachel Bergen)

Rachel Bergen never anticipated that the Feminist Book Club would become such an important part of her life. (Photo by James Souder)

I remember the day well. It was Nov. 8, 2016. Donald Trump, whose behaviour as a sexual predator has been widely reported, had just been elected as president of the United States. I felt the wind knocked out of me and, honestly, it felt like the world was ending. 

The time is now

Attiya meets with Steve, her abusive ex-boyfriend, in the documentary A Better Man. (National Film Board photo)

Steve and Attiya, pictured here in the early 1990s, show in A Better Man that all men can become better if they choose to. (National Film Board photo)

In the remarkable documentary, A Better Man, released earlier this year, filmmaker Attiya Khan documents her meeting with Steve (no last name), her ex-boyfriend who abused her daily more than 20 years ago.

Winding down

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.

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