Do young adults want their own Christian community?

September 14, 2011 | Young Voices
Aaron Epp | Special to Young Voices

Ana Loewen knows what it’s like to feel disillusioned with the church. As a teenager, a negative experience in the church she grew up in led her to seriously question the Christian beliefs she had been raised with.

“That affected how I viewed church and how I viewed Christianity,” says Loewen, now 30, of the negative experience. “So I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.”

It wasn’t until she served in Uganda as part of Mennonite Central Committee’s Serving and Learning Together program in 2000 that Loewen became a Christian. “After a month or two of being in Uganda, I started to feel my heart change,” she says. “I just felt that for the first time in my life I saw people living out their faith in a way that was attractive to me, in a way that seemed genuine.”

Today, Loewen is a member of Trinity Mennonite Church, DeWinton, Alta., where her husband Will is the pastor. Because she knows what it feels like to struggle with the church, she wants to reach out to young adults in Alberta who feel the same way.

For the past 10 months, Loewen has been researching whether or not a community for young adults is needed in Calgary. A project of Mennonite Church Alberta, the Calgary Young Adult Christian Community would be a group for young adults aged 18 to 35 who are not currently connected to a church, who are new to Calgary, or who simply want to meet and fellowship with other Christians. The group would provide opportunities for young adults to get to know each other, attend events, study the Bible and get involved in the city by volunteering.

While Loewen has already organized a few events and attracted a few members for the community, she says the time has really been about researching the idea and assessing whether or not there is a need—or desire—for such a community. She will present her findings in November to an advisory committee that includes members of MC Alberta’s Missions and Service Committee.

The process has been difficult because it has been hard getting a response from people to gauge whether or not such an initiative would be worthwhile. Letters she sent to MC Alberta congregations didn’t garner much feedback, and networking among her own peers is difficult because Loewen herself is new to Alberta.

“One thing I’ve found is that this isn’t really attracting people who have left the church,” Loewen says. “It’s mostly attracting those that are wanting to meet new people, those that are lonely and those that are new to Calgary.”

Loewen has established a website for the group ( and used social networking sites like, Facebook and Twitter to get the word out. Still, the events she has planned have only drawn four or five regular attendees.

Glenn Hobden, an MC Alberta pastor who is chairing the committee that oversees the community initiative, says he has mixed feelings about the response so far, but adds that it is too early to tell what MC Alberta will do.

“We’re trying to determine what is the best course of action,” Hobden says. “What [MC Alberta] is trying to do is make sure that we meet the needs of the people that are there. It’s important that we don’t just start a program [before doing] the research and making sure all the ducks are in a row, so to speak.”

Whether they think it is a good or bad idea, or an idea that needs to be refocused, Loewen invites people to e-mail her at with their feedback.

If her final report in November finds that the need is there, Loewen wants the new young adult community to be safe for those who may have been turned off by church but who still are trying to work out their faith.

“I’ve certainly learned in my journey that you can’t do Christianity alone,” Loewen says. “It’s a community thing. You need accountability and you need someone to share ideas with and to pray with, and to pray for. It would be a shame to lose some brothers and sisters in the faith because they felt they didn’t have anywhere to go.”

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