Young adults plan spiritual retreat in B.C.

May 20, 2024 | Web First
Amy Rinner Waddell | B.C. Correspondent
Young adults will gather at Camp Squeah next month. Supplied photo.

The call of Jesus to transform the world for the better is radical, and young adults say they are willing to answer that call.

Attendees at next month’s Young Adult Anabaptist Conference for an Active Future will have the chance to connect, hear speakers, share ideas and encourage one another to pursue Jesus’s call to action in today’s world. Young Anabaptists from Mennonite Church B.C. are inviting their peers ages 18-35 from all walks of life to attend this gathering at Camp Squeah June 7-9, which will explore faith, activism and the church.

Supplied image.

Zachary Shields of Langley B.C., a peace studies major at Goshen (Indiana) College, was inspired to spearhead the retreat after attending a creation care event last year.


Shields realized there was a yearning among his peers for more tangible action to be taken by their local churches not just on creation care, but on various other topics. He and several other friends and church peers decided to coordinate an event to help broaden young adult Mennonite conversations.


The committee, which includes Shields, Ashley Rempel, Beck Talon, Liesel Retzlaff, Charlene Lauzie and Ben Heinrichs, met to establish common theological grounds, engage speakers and draft an appeal for the retreat.


Shields believes there have been few successful attempts by the church to connect with those in the 18-35 age bracket. The conference aims to reignite the spirit of the Anabaptist founders in 1525—themselves young adults at the time—by helping participants realize their own active futures, answering Jesus’s call to transform the world for the better.


 “After youth group and high school,” Shields says, “the church community often either hopes that a young adult returns after college or expects a young adult to immediately merge and mingle with the larger church body with next-to-no transitional support or programming specifically for people of their age demographic.”


Ideally, youth groups should prepare young people for the next steps in their lives and faith journeys. But, says Shields, “In the chaos that is young adult life, many of these teachings, if taught at all, can be lost in the storm of new adult responsibilities and opportunities.”


“From what I’ve studied as well as what I have learned from my own experience as a young adult Christian, is that [young adults] aren’t necessarily becoming less spiritual, but by and large have lost enthusiasm for the larger institutions that have been built in Jesus’ name, but do not fully reflect His call to action.”


The weekend will be a mixture of keynote speakers, roundtable discussions, shared meals and free time, with a party Saturday night.


Topics and speakers will include David Cramer (war and peace), Regina Shands-Stoltzfus (restorative justice), Ian Funk (climate change), Bridget Findlay (Indigenous relations), Tim Kuepfer (affordability), and Beth Carlson-Malena (inclusivity).


Planners of the conference hope to draft a document, signed by all participants, with a list of wants, desires, hopes and prayers that will be sent to Anabaptist congregations and the larger Mennonite church.


While this year’s conference will mainly have participants from Mennonite Church Canada, the group is hoping to expand the conversation to other Anabaptist denominations.


For more information about this event, visit

Young adults will gather at Camp Squeah next month. Supplied photo.

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