Summer is an exciting time, and one that most of us tend to look forward to. Warm temperatures, long weekends at the lake or on the porch, summer sports, and, for many in the younger generations, a break from school.
This summer looks like it will be a particularly exciting one. At the risk of sounding clichéd, it brings a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Mennonite youth from across Canada to attend a Mennonite World Conference (MWC) assembly on their home continent. While the assembly may come back to North America in a few decades, they will experience it differently now as youth than they will in the future as adults.
The youth I’ve spoken with are excited about the 30-plus-hour bus ride, late nights and making friends from different countries. They are excited about international soccer tournaments, experiencing alternative worship services, and being part of something bigger than themselves and their local groups.
And their excitement makes me excited. On a few separate occasions, I’ve heard Willard Metzger, Mennonite Church Canada’s executive director, comment about how meeting with youth and young adults energizes him, and this is a sentiment I share.
While I am a young adult working in the church and often find myself bringing new and younger energy to my work, let’s be honest, there will always be days when motivation is lacking and energy is low, no matter how young you are! But in those moments, more often than not, I find motivation in my work with the Saskatchewan Mennonite Youth Organization. There is something exciting about being around so much potential and energy all in one place. There is something exciting about being able to speak into the lives of the future generation of the church. There is something exciting about getting up in front of a few hundred youth and leading them in games and activities.
Wait. Did I say exciting? I may have meant scary and intimidating!
This summer, on behalf of MC Canada, I am planning the late-night activities for all youth staying in the Messiah College dorms in Harrisburg, Pa., during the MWC assembly. This is an opportunity that I find exciting and intimidating all at once! With more than 300 youth from around the world expected to stay in the dorms, there are a lot of details to be considered. Things like age range, cultural norms and languages all need to be part of the planning. But from my own experience at previous assemblies, I know the time spent in Harrisburg is going to be life-giving not only for the youth, but for the church as well.
In the midst of discussions, debates and ongoing discernment, an opportu-nity is being presented this summer to say that something matters more, and to show our youth that we can still come together and be the church. And for me, that is something exciting!
Kirsten Hamm-Epp is MC Canada’s youth coordinator for MWC’s PA 2015 assembly and area church youth minister for MC Saskatchewan.