Young Voices

Young people invited to be ‘rattled by the radical’

Shekinah Retreat Centre is located on 116 hectares in the North Saskatchewan River Valley. Mennonite youth from across Canada will gather there in the summer of 2019. (Photo by Irma Sulistyorini)

Leaders from MC Saskatchewan and MC Manitoba are planning a youth gathering in Saskatchewan this summer. (Photo by Krista Loewen)

‘We want [youth who attend] to encounter the living God,’ says Kathy Giesbrecht, co-organizer of ‘Shake: Rattled by the radical.’ (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

Kirsten Hamm-Epp is co-organizing ‘Shake: Rattled by the radical.’ (Photo courtesy of Kirsten Hamm-Epp)

Leadership from two of Mennonite Church Canada’s regional churches are inviting youth from across Canada to a gathering in Saskatchewan next summer.

“Shake: Rattled by the radical” is happening from July 28 to Aug. 1, 2019, at Shekinah Retreat Centre, near Waldheim. The event will feature worship, learning and activities for young people in grades 6 to 12.

Soaking it in

Gavyn Stroh spent 370 days travelling through 34 countries by bike. (Photo courtesy of Gavyn Stroh)

Gavyn Stroh watches hot air balloons take off at sunrise in Göreme, Turkey. (Photo courtesy of Gavyn Stroh)

Gavyn Stroh explored Sarajevo’s abandoned 1984 Olympic bobsled and luge track. (Photo courtesy of Gavyn Stroh)

‘To connect more intimately with the place where you are is a good thing,’ Gavyn Stroh says. (Photo courtesy of Gavyn Stroh)

Gavyn Stroh spent more than 150 nights camping during his trip. (Photo courtesy of Gavyn Stroh)

When Gavyn Stroh decided to spend a year exploring Europe, he wanted to do it in a way that aligned with his values. 

“I chose a bicycle . . . to minimize the [environmental] impact, the carbon emissions of travelling,” the 26-year-old says.

A most excellent Christmas

Remembering a Christmas homemade gift exchange: ‘I presented my brother Thomas with a jar filled with 150 encouraging notes.’ (Photo by Aaron Epp)

‘My brother gave me a pillow inspired by my favourite movie, Ghostbusters, that he sewed himself.’ (Photo by Aaron Epp)

The author, dressed as Santa Claus in 2006. (Photo by Timothy Dyck)

I love Christmas. The tree, the lights, the music, the food, gathering with family and friends, special church services. I look forward to all of it. 

I still go with my siblings to the mall so that we can have our picture taken with Santa, and I’ve even dressed up as the jolly old elf a time or two (or three) myself.

Lost and found

Luke 15 includes three stories about being lost and found that all tie together. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Jesus calls us to a radical love that bridges boundaries, Moses Falco writes. (Photo courtesy of Moses Falco)

We love boundaries.

These boundaries may help us to define who we are, but they also can lead us to assume we know others based on appearances. Most of the time, if people aren’t like us, we consider them lost.

Avoiding avoidance

Avoidance may temporarily decrease your stressor, but it doesn’t solve the actual problem. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

There are strategies you can use to help when you feel overwhelmed. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Facings your fears and stressors will better your life, Laura Abraham writes. (Photo courtesy of Laura Abraham)

Do you ever find yourself starting something and not completing it? If so, then you’re familiar with avoidance behaviours.

From Kitchener-Waterloo to Kenya

Amanda Snyder is the co-founder of Camp Marafiki Pamoja. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Snyder)

Children at Camp Marafiki Pamoja get a little messy with some science experiments. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Snyder)

In addition to singing, playing games and learning, campers receive two meals. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Snyder)

‘They have changed my life,’ Amanda Snyder says of the people she has met in Nairobi. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Snyder)

A young woman is impacting the citizens of a community 13,000 kilometres away from her home in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.

No Village

Kuri is the solo project of singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Scott Currie. (Photo by Rachel Pick)

Nevado Music re-released Kuri’s debut EP, Human Nature, on Oct. 12. (Photo courtesy of Sweiss PR)

‘I hope my music brings healing in some way to listeners,’ Scott Currie says. (Photo by Rachel Pick)

Prior to his solo career, Scott Currie, second from left, performed in Oh Village with David Dueckman, Stephen Dahl and Matthew Jake Janzen. (Photo by Abbye Dahl)

After releasing two full-length albums and an EP with experimental alt-rockers Oh Village, musician Scott Currie is striking out on his own. The Abbotsford, B.C. native, who performs under the name Kuri, recently signed a record deal with Nevado Music.

An exciting opportunity

Manitoba native Annalee Giesbrecht is serving a three-year term with MCC in Haiti. (Photo by Elizabeth Peters)

A view of the Caribbean Sea outside the city of Jacmel on Haiti's southern coast. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Jean Wesley blows bubbles at MCC partner Sakala, a community centre in the historically marginalized Cité Soleil neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince. At Sakala, kids learn about building peace through urban gardening and soccer. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

The sun rises over the mountains of Haiti's Artibonite Valley, where MCC has been working in reforestation, agriculture and community development since 1982. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Members of an agricultural collective in Haiti's Central Plateau start a meeting with a song. This agricultural collective, orgwoupman, is supported by PDL (Partnership for Local Development by its initials in French), an MCC partner that provides training on conservation agriculture and community development. (Photo by Annalee Giesbrecht)

Annalee Giesbrecht is getting more than she bargained for when she agreed to serve with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)—and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

When she arrived in Haiti to work with the relief organization, she planned to be away from Canada for a year. A few months later, however, she was offered the opportunity to extend her term to three years.

Thought-provoking pop

Experimental rock sextet Royal Canoe will release its new album at the end of January. (Photo by Sam Katz)

Begonia’s new single ‘The Light’ showcases singer Alexa Dirks’s powerful, soulful voice. (Photo by Leeor Wild)

On the first single from his new album, Shad asks listeners, ‘What are you afraid of?’ (Photo courtesy of Secret City Records)

Looking for new music? Check out these singles from three exciting Canadian acts:

Evening the score

Jessa Braun, right, says that playing sports has shaped her character. (Photo courtesy of Jessa Braun)

A lifelong athlete, Jessa Braun currently competes on her university’s cross country team. (Photo courtesy of Jessa Braun)

Jessa Braun is the founder of (Photo courtesy of Jessa Braun)

Jessa Braun and other members of Breslau (Ont.) Mennonite Church pose for a photo with the Toronto Furies soccer team. (Photo courtesy of Jessa Braun)

When Jessa Braun observed a dearth of media coverage for professional female athletes, she decided to do something about it.

Braun is the founder of, a website that aims to raise gender equity in sports and empower women in sports by shining a light on female athletics.

Following the signs

American Sign Language

Rachel Braul is an American Sign Language-English interpreter. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

When Canadian students learn an additional language, it’s typically French or Spanish. Not Rachel Braul, though. As a student at Queen Elizabeth High School in Calgary, she learned American Sign Language (ASL).

Learning to be human

Working with enVision Community Living clients like Joanne, centre, profoundly changed Daniel Rempel’s life. (Photo courtesy of Jo-Anne Dalton)

‘It is my hope and my prayer that [we] continue to welcome and engage people with intellectual disabilities,’ Daniel Rempel writes. (Photo courtesy of Daniel Rempel)

When I was first hired as a disability support worker at enVision Community Living in Steinbach, Man., I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know many people with intellectual disabilities and I certainly didn’t know what it meant to support someone with intellectual disabilities.

Rethinking the Safe Third Country Agreement

Madalene Arias is part of a Student Christian Movement committee protesting the Safe Third Country Agreement. (Photo courtesy of Madalene Arias)

Peter Haresnape is the general secretary of the Student Christian Movement of Canada. (Photo courtesy of Peter Haresnape)

Petition e-1755 calls upon the House of Commons to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement. (Courtesy of

Did you know that Canada is a signatory to the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States? It is an agreement based on the idea that both countries are equally safe places to seek asylum, something clearly disproven by recent world events.

Encountering hospitality in rural India

I caught this fish with my own hands! (Photo by Sara Wyngaarden)

I snapped one quick pic before they pulled me into the dance! Some of the men are drumming and singing, ladies are dancing in a line on the right, kids are here, there and everywhere! (Photo by Sara Wyngaarden)

When your feet are dirty, having them washed by others is a humbling experience. (Photo by Sara Wyngaarden)

The pitcher and basin my hosts used for washing the feet of guests. (Photo by Sara Wyngaarden)

A mud, manure and water mixture is used to make and maintain homes. (Photo by Sara Wyngaarden)

Carrying water on my head. (Photo by Sara Wyngaarden)

Winnowing rice. (Photo by Sara Wyngaarden)

For the past year, Sara Wyngaarden of Elmira, Ont., has been in India, participating in the Serving and Learning Together program (SALT) of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). This reflection originally appeared on her blog.

The gospel in seven words

Describing the gospel in seven words ‘gives us something to think about and chew on that I hope will bring us deeper into relationship with our creator,’ Moses Falco writes. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

In his book (Re)union, author Bruxy Cavey describes the gospel using one, three, and 30 words. (Photo courtesy of Herald Press)

Moses Falco attempts to capture the gospel in seven words. (Photo courtesy of Moses Falco)

As part of the discussions at the pastoral care team meetings at the church I pastor, we often talk about what the journey of faith is like. How can we walk with people? What does it mean to evangelize? What is faith really about? How would we even describe this good news (gospel) message of Jesus?

The courage to be vulnerable

‘My classmates and I came to CMU as vulnerable newcomers, and . . . we will walk into many more situations that need vulnerable people,’ Jason Friesen says. (Photo courtesy of CMU)

Jason Friesen was the valedictorian for CMU’s Class of 2018. (Photo courtesy of CMU)

The players on CMU’s men’s volleyball team committed themselves to doing weekly Bible studies during the 2017-18 school year. (Photo courtesy of CMU)

Most of us don’t like to be in vulnerable spaces. The uncertainties of those spaces leave us with butterflies fluttering around in our stomachs. Conceding power is uncomfortable. Yet, Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) is a place that exemplifies and guides us into those vulnerable spaces.

Picture perfect

Documenting his fishing experiences piqued Jay Siemens’ interest in photography. (Photo by Jay Siemens)

Jay Siemens spent 250 days on the road last year working. (Photo by Jay Siemens)

Jay Siemens has raised nearly $45,000 for charity through sales of calendars that feature his wildlife photography. (Photo by Jay Siemens)

Photography has taken Jay Siemens around the world. (Photo by Jay Siemens)

‘Stay focussed and don’t get discouraged . . . keep snapping the shutter,’ Jay Siemens tells aspiring photographers. (Photo by Jay Siemens)

Jay Siemens was set to begin photography school in Winnipeg when, three days before classes started, his friend called him with a compelling proposition.

“He said, ‘You’ve got to drop out of school and film a fishing show with me,’ ” Siemens recalls.

So he did.

Taking charge

‘There’s been a lot of experience and wisdom we’ve been able to tap into,’ Katie Steckly says of the podcast. (Photo by Michelle Reiner)

Katie Bentz and Katie Steckly host Bossy Women, a podcast about entrepreneurship. (Photo by Michelle Reiner)

Katie Steckly and Katie Bentz met while living in residence at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ont. (Photo by Jennifer Lyon)

Two young women from Mennonite Church Canada congregations are the creators of a new podcast about entrepreneurship.

Forming intentional community with young adults

Terri Lynn and Thomas Friesen are the founders of the Vine and Table intentional community. (Photo courtesy of Terri Lynn Friesen)

Located in Saskatoon’s Riversdale neighbourhood, the Vine and Table can accommodate 10 residents. (Photo courtesy of Terri Lynn Friesen)

Eating delicious, healthy food is central to life at the Vine and Table. (Photo courtesy of Terri Lynn Friesen)

‘It’s kind of a step in faith,’ Terri Lynn Friesen says of starting the Vine and Table. (Photo courtesy of Terri Lynn Friesen)

When Thomas and Terri Lynn Friesen met, Terri Lynn was a guest at the Burrow, an intentional community Thomas was living in with eight other young adults.

This coming September, a few weeks before the couple’s second wedding anniversary, they will embark on a new adventure together: opening their Saskatoon home to form an intentional community called the Vine and Table.

Worth the wait

No stranger to the stage, Kenzi Jane grew up performing music with her family. (Photo by Lynette Giesbrecht)

Kenzie Jane recorded her EP in Altona, Man., where she grew up. (Photo by Robyn Adam)

‘Love Me From Scratch [means] love me for who I am,’ Kenzi Jane says. (Cover art by Sydney Friesen)

If good things come to those who wait, exciting times are ahead for Kenzie Jane.

The Winnipeg-based singer-songwriter recently released her debut EP, Love Me From Scratch, more than three years after she first started recording it.

Celebrating differences, learning to work together

Jacquelyn Janzen is one of two representatives appointed by Mennonite Church Saskatchewan to sit on Mennonite Church Canada’s Joint Council. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Janzen)

Travelling to places like Honduras has shaped Jacquelyn Janzen’s worldview. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Janzen)

‘[I hope] that we can still come together for the greater good,’ Jacquelyn Janzen says of the churches that make up MC Canada. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Janzen)

Jacquelyn Janzen, pictured second from right with Brad Taylor, Heather Driedger and Dave Whalley, volunteers on the board of Parkland Restorative Justice, a faith-based organization that supports prisoners and people who have been released from prison. (Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Janzen)

When someone suggested to Jacquelyn Janzen that she get involved with the new Joint Council of Mennonite Church Canada, she knew it was something she wanted to do.

Wrestling with challenging texts

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe and Erin Froese ‘yarn-bombed’ a tree on CMU’s campus as part of a project exploring ecofeminism. (Photo courtesy of Erin Froese)

Laura Carr-Pries created a worship resource in the CMU course, Feminist Perspectives on Bible and Theology. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Alyssa Sherlock created a photo project exploring themes of perfectionism, self-image and faith. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe and Erin Froese pose with their crocheted work. (Photo by Anna Goertzen Loeppky)

Most upper-level university classes end with a final essay, not a photography project, prayerful meditations or a “yarn-bombed” tree. Sheila Klassen-Wiebe, however, took the road less travelled for Feminist Perspectives on Bible and Theology.

Working together for the common good

Representatives from a variety of faiths gathered in Vancouver in March for Celebrating Our Diversity Now, an interfaith dialogue. (Armenian Diocese of Canada photo)

Celebrating Our Diversity Now was a time of sharing between different religious and cultural groups. (Armenian Diocese of Canada photo)

Constantinos Economos, parish priest at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Vancouver, speaks at Celebrating Our Diversity Now. (Armenian Diocese of Canada photo)

‘It was great to have an intentional and safe space to share and learn about religious diversity in Canada,’ writes Annika Krause. (Armenian Diocese of Canada photo)

Participating in Celebrating Our Diversity Now showed Annika Krause that there are many young people who desire to have conversations about faith and religious practices. (Photo courtesy of Annika Krause)

This past March, I participated in an interfaith dialogue for young people in Vancouver, hosted by the Armenian Diocese of Canada.


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