Young Voices

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.

‘An even bigger vision’

Kristina Toews, pictured outside of Bogotá, Colombia, where she works for Mennonite World Conference, encourages young adults to attend the Global Youth Summit in Mechanicsburg, Pa., this summer. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Toews)

Kristina Toews, left, stands with members of the YABs Committee at a meeting in 2013. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Toews)

Kristina Toews, left, pictured with a church member at Iglesia Menonita de la Ciudad Berna. Toews’s experience at the Global Youth Summit in Paraguay in 2009 and her involvement with the Young Anabaptists (YABs) Committee have fuelled her passion for the global church. (Photo courtesy of Kristina Toews)

If you are a young adult considering going to the Global Youth Summit that will immediately precede the Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly in July, Kristina Toews thinks you should do it.

From Macau to Manitoba

Chris Karasewich, a local entrepreneur with ASAP Marketing, left, and Matt Veith, a Mennonite graphic designer, centre, are presented with a provincial tech award worth $7,500 by Kevin Chief, Manitoba’s minister of jobs and the economy, at last November’s Ramp Up festival for entrepreneurs. (Photo courtesy of Innovation Manitoba)

Winnipeg graphic designer Matt Veith stepped out of his comfort zone last November and helped develop a business idea at Ramp Up Manitoba, an entrepreneurial festival. It paid off. He and his project partner, Chris Karasewich, were presented with a provincial tech award worth $7,500 by the province’s minister of jobs and the economy.

A ‘small protest’ they call home

“We know our lifestyle in North America far exceeds what the rest of the world enjoys. Building a tiny house is a small protest against that," say Jared and Rachel Regier. (Photo courtesy of Rachel and Jared Regier)

Jared and Rachel Regier are in the process of building their tiny house. (Photo courtesy of Rachel and Jared Regier)

Jared Regier designed their tiny house. (Photo courtesy of Rachel and Jared Regier)

Newlyweds Jared and Rachel Regier are building a new home in Saskatoon . . . and it’s no bigger than a garage.

The couple, who attend Nutana Park Mennonite Church, call it their “tiny house.” Jared, 35, designed it, and he and Rachel, 29, are building it from the ground up, all 14 square-metres (150 square feet) of it.

Marching to Zion

The streets are packed. Hordes of people move at once, criss-crossing over the smooth stone streets and deftly navigating down many stairs. Vendors shouting in Arabic call from all sides, selling vegetables, clothes, toys, herbs and household goods. The air is heavy with the smell of people and spices.

Swords and ploughshares

“To live in the Holy Land, you must be crazy, or you must believe in miracles,” farmer Daoud Nassar tells our group assembled in a cave just outside of Bethlehem. He is sharing the story of his family’s land and their struggle to keep it. Yet the man sitting in front of us does not seem crazy. He has quiet, intense eyes and a resolute tone. There is fire behind those eyes, but not insanity.

Nursing the soul

It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse. It takes someone who will stay up all night rocking and singing to a screaming child. Someone like Carly Penner who will respect diverse faith traditions and care for a child while their mother goes to say her prayers five times a day as required by the Islamic faith.

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