Young Voices

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Spreading the word about GROW

Sarah French and Mary Fehr start their trip on May 18 at Mile 0 in Victoria, B.C. (Photo courtesy of Sarah French and Mary Fehr)

Mary Fehr and Sarah French will stop at each of Mennonite Economic Development Associate’s seven chapters across Canada to give presentations about their work with Bike to Grow. (Photo courtesy of Sarah French and Mary Fehr)

Mary Fehr just learned to ride a bike a few years ago, when she was 17. Now she and Sarah French are cycling thousands of kilometres across Canada—from Victoria, B.C., to St. John’s, Nfld.—to raise money for Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) through its Bike To Grow campaign.

CMU graduate from Kenya wants to make a difference at home

Joseph Kiranto (red t-shirt) stands with his family (from left: Elizabeth, Joy, Joel and Kaleb) at a CMU event in September 2014. The Kirantos moved from Kenya so that Joseph could study at CMU. (Photo courtesy of CMU)

Joseph Kiranto was the valedictorian for CMU’s Class of 2015. He wants to use his training in peace and conflict transformation to make a difference in his home country. (Photo courtesy of CMU)

Daniel Friesen

This article is the first in a series called Voice of the Marginalized. These articles were written by students in Canadian Mennonite University’s Journalism: Principles and Practice course. Voice of the Marginalized connected writers with people on the margins of the community.

The Mennonite and the Lurmen

Kyle Rudge is the founder of Geekdom House, a ministry devoted to loving and serving the nerd and geek community. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Rudge)

Conrad Stoesz is an archivist at the Mennonite Heritage Centre, a ministry of Mennonite Church Canada in Winnipeg.

Are there parallels between the Star Wars universe and Anabaptism?

I asked myself that recently after watching an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an animated TV series.

‘Interaction/Isolation’

The WhizBang Shufflers returned to Mennofolk after first performing at the event in 2005. From left: Donald Willms, Luke Enns, Curtis Wiebe and Rick Unger. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Clockwise from bottom right: Jodi Plenert, Charlie Enns, Brent Retzlaff, Brandon Bertram, Thomas Krause and Clare Schellenberg organized Mennofolk 2015. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘Mennofag,’ a mixed media piece by Jordan Weber, depicts the artist’s struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Well Sister, a folk group fronted by Jaymie Friesen, pictured, was one of three musical acts that performed at Mennofolk 2015. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Jaymie Friesen and Davis Plett of Well Sister perform at Mennofolk 2015. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘Living in the Fast Lane,’ an acrylic painting by Danielle Fontaine Koslowsky. Twenty visual artists ranging in age from 18 to 55 displayed artwork at Mennofolk 2015. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘To a Mad Farmer’s Manifesto,’ a linocut by Laura Tait. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘First Fruits,’ a watercolour painting by Mary Anne Isaak. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘First Fruits 2/First Fruits Too,’ a watercolour painting by Mary Anne Isaak. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Luke Enns and Curtis Wiebe of the WhizBang Shufflers perform at Mennofolk 2015. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

When Jordan Weber began making visual art four years ago, he wanted a new way to express himself.

“I never expected my art to be on display for anybody to see,” the 24-year-old said. “It’s super exciting that people have been coming up to me and saying they like my work.”

Countercultural mountain music

For Quiet in the Land, music is meant to be participatory and community-building, an approach that was shaped by the duo’s Mennonite upbringing. (Photo by Meg Harder)

Dan Root and Laura Dyck grew up in the mountains of Pennsylvania, which has influenced the themes in their music. (Photo by Meg Harder)

Quiet in the Land released their debut EP, Songs to Set These Hills on Fire, last year. (Photo by Meg Harder)

Dan Root and Laura Dyck quickly became friends after they met in the fall of 2009 and realized how much they had in common. Both were living in the Conrad Grebel University College residence in Waterloo, Ont.; both were studying international development at the University of Waterloo; and both had a deep love of folk music.

SOS for Syria

Jeremy Enns is asking more than 50 of his friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances to participate in his SOS for Syria campaign.

In the early 1900s, SOS became the worldwide distress signal, but typically in maritime situations. These days it’s used as a sense of urgent message or appeal for help from anybody in any situation.

‘The best possible reward’

Iranian graduate students meet with Charlie Nelson, an indigenous elder from Roseau, Man., third from left. (Photo by Harry Huebner)

Lisa Obirek, a student at CMU, was one of the hosts when a group of graduate students from Iran visited the university in March. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

“I’ll intentionally call you my sister, for I have two and I love them so much. Now I have three and I love them all to the degree that I’m ready to die for them. So you are really beyond a friend for me.”

Growing Mennonite

There is a terrifying amount of paper documenting Mennonite history, and more than a few gems hidden in the vault.

Photos in the Archives document the experience of conscientious objectors during the Second World War.

Olivia Klippenstein grew up in Altona, Man. She explored her Mennonite heri-tage during a practicum placement at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Archives.

It wasn’t until Grade 6 that I realized it was possible to be more than just a Mennonite. Our teacher asked us to come up with one word to described ourselves. One of my classmates chose the phrase, “Russian Mennonite.”

Nerdy fun

Community Mennonite Church face off against East Zorra Mennonite Church at the 2014 Bible quizzing event. (Photo courtesy of Jeramie Raimbault)

Hawkesville Bible quizzers Liv Cento, left, Irian Fast-Sittler, Paul Cento and Ciaran Fast-Sittler discuss a team question at last year’s event. (Photo courtesy of Jeramie Raimbault)

For about 30 years, youth from several Mennonite Church Eastern Canada congregations in Ontario have looked forward to their annual Bible quizzing event. It’s centred around friendly competition, memorization of minute biblical details and application of biblical principles to everyday life.

Morning prayers at the Y

Retired pastor Erwin Cornelsen, fourth from the right, meets daily with a group of Chinese Christians to sing and pray. (Photo courtesy of Jonas Cornelsen)

Jonas Cornelsen is a student at Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg. (Photo by Matt Veith)

There is a natural dignity in the morning routine of a 95-year-old man living alone. Especially when the routine is based on building friendships across cultures.

At 6:42 a.m., the Langara Family YMCA may be the noisiest spot in South Vancouver. Among the squeaks of gym shoes and hiss of locker room showers, you can even catch a chorus of gospel music—in Mandarin.

‘We’re not strangers anymore’

Emmaus House is an intentional community for university students in Winnipeg made up of 13 people. (Photo courtesy of Emmanus House)

Kelsey Wiebe, left, and Davis Plett clean up after supper one evening. Members of the Emmaus House community eat supper together daily. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Emmaus House community member Louisa Hofer, with Remy, one of two dogs that also live in the house. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Rod and Susan Reynar are glad they have opened their home for Emmaus House. (Photo by Matt Veith)

Emmaus House is located in Winnipeg’s West Broadway neighbourhood. (Photo by Matt Veith)

When Davis Plett was considering moving out of his parents’ home, he wasn’t sure he was ready to be on his own. Moving into a 103-year-old house with 12 other people seemed like a good option.

“The danger of meeting new people and then having the additional risk of living with them excited me,” says Plett, 21, who studies English literature at the University of Winnipeg.

Rebuilding lives and languages

St. Michael’s Residential School was open for 50 years. It now stands empty and decrepit, serving as a dark reminder of past abuses, awaiting its final demolition. (Photo courtesy of Janna and Jon Janzen)

Taza rides on mom Janna Janzen’s back in Alert Bay, B.C. (Photo courtesy of Janna and Jon Janzen)

Jon Janzen explores the first nation communities in Alert Bay, B.C. (Photo courtesy of Janna and Jon Janzen)

Jon and Janna Janzen stood in front of St. Michael’s Residential School in Alert Bay, B.C., in February and they say they felt darkness in its presence.

Top marks for CMU

Brian Froese, CMU’s assistant professor of history, teaches a class. According to a recent Maclean’s Magazine report, students at CMU in Winnipeg are very satisfied with their education and their experience at the Christian liberal arts school. (Photo by Rachel Bergen)

According to a recent Maclean’s Magazine report, students at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg are very satisfied with their education and their experience at the Christian liberal arts school.

Reaping the whirlwind

Rev. Dr. David Widdicombe, rector at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church in Winnipeg, speaks about Just War theory at CMU last month. (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Peter Brown (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Lisa Obirek (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Matthew Dyck (Photo by Jonas Cornelsen)

Late arrivals had to find their own chairs as students, academics and commu-nity members filled Marpeck Commons at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) on Feb. 26 to hear Rev. Dr. David Widdicombe explain what it means to “sow the wind” by misusing Just War theory.

Saskatchewan youth speak out

Members of the Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization, from left to right, front row: Marcus Kruger, Kirsten Hamm-Epp and Jesse Neufeld; middle row: Dannica Funk, Gabby Martin, Brandon Jantzen and Robyn Martens; and back row: Zachary Stefaniuk, Anna Epp and Hailey Funk.

Mennonite youth in Saskatchewan are raising their voices and offering a perspective on some of the controversial issues facing the denomination.

‘God was there’

Although she was diagnosed with cancer at the start of her Grade 12 year, Allegra Friesen Epp graduated on time last June.

before her cancer diagnosis.

Allegra Friesen Epp, centre, stands with her brothers Bryn and Caleb in the Indian Ocean last summer.

The Dream Factory, an organization that grants the wishes of young people battling life-threatening illnesses, made it possible for Allegra Friesen Epp and her family to travel to Tanzania last summer.

While in Tanzania, Allegra Friesen Epp and her family shared a meal with a local family. It was one of the biggest highlights of the trip.

The Friesen Epp family stand with Darryl and Shirley Peters, a couple from Winnipeg who now live in Tanzania and helped them organize their trip.

Allegra Friesen Epp’s dream trip to Tanzania included a safari where sites like this were common.

Allegra Friesen Epp’s dream trip to Tanzania included a safari where sites like this were common.

Allegra Friesen Epp’s dream trip to Tanzania included a safari where sites like this were common.

Allegra Friesen Epp’s dream trip to Tanzania included a safari where sites like this were common.

Making plans for university and picking out a graduation dress are typical activities for teenage girls in Grade 12, but Allegra Friesen Epp had something extra to contend with as she did those things last year: battling cancer.

Five reasons young adults may leave the church

Harrison Davey, left, and Danielle Morton participate in a panel discussion at CMU exploring why young adults choose not to attend church.

Kirsten Hamm-Epp, left, area church youth minister for Mennonite Church Saskatchewan, says that young adults want to be involved in worship by doing more than just reading Scripture.

Danielle Morton, left, pictured with Lukas Thiessen, says many of her peers feel like the church doesn’t need them.

For years, congregations have searched for a secret that will keep young people in the pews. Debates are had around worship style, young adult groups and the role parents play.

Glimpses of God’s kingdom

Working with people with disabilities has given Mike Wiebe a glimpse of the kingdom of God. (Photo courtesy of Mike Wiebe)

A friend throws a pie in Mike Wiebe’s face during an adults with disabilities week at Camp Moose Lake in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Mike Wiebe)

Last semester I took a class at Canadian Mennonite University entitled Anabaptist-Mennonite Theology. The course aims to analyze the works of contemporary Anabaptist-Mennonite theologians to gain an understanding of what Anabaptist-Mennonite theology looks like in the church and world today.

Where is God at the gym?

Honouring God with our bodies can be difficult sometimes, but ultimately it’s worth it, says Amanda Zehr. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Zehr)

I am not a huge fan of going to the gym. I know exercise is good for me, but so is eating vegetables, and I’m not really into that either. At the end of a work day, even though I know a trip to the gym will be good for me, it’s just so much easier to sit down with some Cheetos and watch Netflix.

‘Keeping it Riel’

The Riel Gentlemen’s Club are pictured at the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in Winnipeg. Jesse Krause is pictured carrying the flag. (Photo courtesy of The Riel Gentlemen's Choir)

The members of the Riel Gentlemen’s Club pose in front of a Louis Riel statue in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of The Riel Gentlemen's Choir)

The Riel Gentlemen’s Club sings at Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg on Louis Riel Day, 2012. Thomas Epp is pictured at left. (Photo courtesy of The Riel Gentlemen's Choir)

If an outsider were to walk into a Riel Gentlemen’s Choir practice, it would seem to be a combination of an alternative choral experiment, a boy’s club, a Manitoba fan club and a Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) reunion.

What’s so funny?

Orlando Braun has always been fascinated by filmmaking. He recalls being a child and making detective films with his father’s camcorder, but never thought he could one day make a living making movies.

“It didn’t even occur to me this is what people do as a job,” the 33-year-old Winnipegger says.

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