Young Voices

More than just punchlines

What makes Mennonites funny, and what does their sense of humour say about them?

Those are the questions at the heart of That Mennonite Joke, a new documentary from Prairie Boy Productions. Written and directed by Winnipeg filmmaker Orlando Braun, the documentary follows Niverville, Man., comedian Matt Falk as he traces the roots of Mennonite humour.

Set up to succeed

I paid for my undergraduate degree with scholarships and my own savings, and graduated without student debt. I am touchy about this. I tell anyone listening about how expensive it was, how I kept my grades high and earned scholarships, what weird part-time work I did and the imaginative ways I found to save money.

The geek shall inherit the earth

Kyle Rudge and Allison Barron are the founders of Geekdom House, in Winnipeg. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Growing up, Allison Barron didn’t feel she could voice her interests in computer games and science fiction at church. (Photo by James Christian Imagery)

Kyle Rudge leads monthly Bible studies that explore faith by looking at television shows like Dr. Who, Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Photo courtesy of Geekdom House)

Area of Effect is a quarterly print publication Geekdom House produces. It features articles from as well as content that is unique to the magazine. (Photo courtesy of Geekdom House)

Allison Barron developed an interest in computer games and science fiction at an early age. Reconciling her pop culture interests with her Christian faith has not always been easy, though.

“I’ve never felt very ostracized or pressured because of my [interests],” says Barron, 26. At the same time, “I did not feel like that was something I could bring to church, either.”

Why I go see Santa every year

Aaron, Daniel and Thomas Epp with Santa in 1988. (Photos courtesy of Aaron Epp)

Aaron, Daniel and Thomas in their Sunday best, 1992.

Aaron, Daniel and Thomas donned Canadian tuxedos in 1995.

In 2006, Santa decided to switch things up and sit on Aaron's lap.

Daniel's partner, Anna-Marie, made her first appearance in an Epp siblings Santa photo in 2012.

Daniel, Anna-Marie, Thomas and Aaron donned Christmas ties for their 2014 photo.

As Christmas approaches, one of the things I’m most looking forward to is heading to a local mall with my siblings so we can have our picture taken with Santa.

All members of one family

Mim Harder of Rouge Valley Mennonite Church, Stouffville, Ont., and Steve Heinrichs, director of Indigenous Relations for MC Canada. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)

Mim Harder, left, presents Taylor Gibson, centre, and Rick Hill with quilts to thank them for hosting the retreat. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)

Participants dance as part of the retreat. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)

Dialogue between indigenous and settler peoples was a key aspect of the retreat, held at Six Nations of the Grand River, near Brantford, Ont. Six Nations is the largest first nation in Canada. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)

Retreat participants gather in the Mohawk Chapel. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)

Over a period of seven years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) heard more than 6,000 survivors of residential schools tell their painful stories of injustice and abuse. With the TRC’s work in hand, Christian churches can help write a better next chapter.

Challenged, changed, rewarded

We spent a lot of time on the road, travelling to meet with different partner organizations. This road is in the Drakensberg Mountains. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

Durban, South Africa, with a population 3.4 million people, was our home. It is located on the southeast coast in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

Durban, South Africa, with a population 3.4 million people, was our home. It is located on the southeast coast in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

In Durban, and KwaZulu-Natal more broadly, much of MCC’s work revolved around working with refugees and South Africans to promote peace and respond to xenophobia. This is a march on World Refugee Day sponsored by MCC’s partner, Refugee Social Services. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

The Children’s Care Centre is located in the downtown core of Durban, South Africa. It is an ‘edu-care’ centre run by the Union of Refugee Women. The centre provides a safe learning environment that brings together refugee and South African children. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

Daniel is a student at the Children’s Care Centre in downtown Durban, South Africa. The centre is one of MCC’s Global Family programs. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

The Children’s Care Centre is located in the downtown core of Durban, South Africa. It is an ‘edu-care’ centre run by the Union of Refugee Women. The centre provides a safe learning environment that brings together refugee and South African children. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

Thanks to laptops, we were able to work anywhere. Here Suzanne Braun and James Alty, who was MCC co-representative for SwaLeSA while we were there, do some work while waiting for a meeting with the director of an HIV/AIDS clinic in rural Swaziland. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

Lesotho is a small kingdom located high up on a plateau in the middle of South Africa. A dry climate, lots of soil erosion and changing seasons make agriculture very difficult. MCC works with Growing Nations Trust to promote conservation agriculture to local farmers. This photo shows some of Growing Nations Trust’s experimental plots. (Aaron Janzen)

James Alty leads a conservation agriculture workshop in a township near Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The chain he is holding provides a clear line so that the crop rows are precise. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

Most of our travel was for MCC work purposes, but occasionally we had the opportunity to travel for recreation. This photo shows some Basotho men dressed up for tourists at the top of Sani Pass, a road that connects Lesotho and South Africa right through the Drakensberg Escarpment. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

Hlobisile Nxumalo, the executive director of Acts of Faith, stands in front a recently arrived shipment of blankets and HIV/AIDS care kits donated by MCC’s constituency. These materials will be distributed by home-based caregivers to people living with HIV/AIDS in the Ezulwini Valley of Swaziland. (Photo by Aaron Janzen)

Aaron Janzen and Suzanne Braun were MCC service workers in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho from 2011 to 2014. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Janzen and Suzanne Braun)

My partner Suzanne Braun and I spent three years as Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) service workers in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho from 2011-14. As the connecting peoples coordinator and planning, monitoring and evaluation coordinator, we worked to support a wide variety of MCC partner organizations throughout the SwaLeSA area.

Solace in a subculture

It takes Anna Chemar almost two hours to dress in her favourite style. The elaborate makeup alone requires 45 minutes. Carefully slipping into the clothes—bell-shaped skirt, blouse and corset—takes another 20 minutes. The rest of the time is devoted to final touches: wig, headdress and painted lips. When finished, she looks like a Gothic-styled doll.

Cutting, burning, starving and forgiving

'The emails were just horrible. Filled to the brim with cruel hate.' (Image by Ulrike Mai/Pixabay)

Rachelle Girard is a second-year student at CMU. (Photo courtesy of Rachelle Girard)

Jessica (a pseudonym) was bullied online to the point that she attempted suicide, but she rose above the hurt by meeting her tormentor and relying on two foundations of her faith: forgiveness and love.

Goodbye, Young Voices

Rachel Bergen is leaving Canadian Mennonite to complete a term with Mennonite Central Committee’s Serving and Learning Together (SALT) program. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Bergen)

I always knew growing up that I wanted to leave home and see the world. The thought of one day volunteering overseas, listening to people’s stories and learning new languages excited me all through my adolescence and young adulthood.

That’s now a reality.

Making the time together good

Peter Warkentin’s physical and mental abilities are gradually declining, but his faith remains strong. (Photo courtesy of Amelia Warkentin)

Peter Warkentin pictured as a young man. (Photo courtesy of Amelia Warkentin)

 Amelia Warkentin

Sleeping soundly with his legs pulled into his hunched frame, my grandfather was comfortable before I woke him.

Seniors and youth find common ground at Friendship Manor

Beverley Winter has lived at Friendship Manor in Altona, Man., for the past eight years. (Photo by Paige Mierau Friesen)

Paige Mierau Friesen

For Beverley Winter, the Friendship Manor community includes teenagers from the Altona Mennonite Church (AMC) youth group. Winter looks forward to monthly Sunday morning breakfasts with the youth group, a tradition started in 2011.

 “We become a ‘nutcase’ when we’re isolated,” Winter says. “But it’s been so nice since [the youth group] have been here.”

Come together

A selection of thematically diverse prints constitute Rudolph’s contribution to “Tandem: Going Places Together.” (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudolph)

Miriam Rudolph and Terry Hildebrand met 11 years ago while studying fine arts at the University of Manitoba. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudolph)

Rudolph is an accomplished printmaker currently working on her Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Alberta. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudolph)

“Are You There?” by Miriam Rudolph. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudolph)

“Assiniboine River Trail II” by Miriam Rudolph. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudolph)

Originally from Winkler, Terry Hildebrand earned a Master of Fine Arts degree with a focus on ceramics from the University of Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Miriam Rudoph)

A tea set by Terry Hildebrand. (Photo by Terry Hildebrand)

From Winnipeg to Minneapolis to Edmonton, Terry Hildebrand and Miriam Rudolph’s journey together as artists and life partners has taken them to a variety of different places.

‘We’re not sitting on the sidelines’

Jim Cheng and Matthew Veith rode their bikes from New York City to Pennsylvania to take part in PA 2015.

Noel Dueckman

Gabby Martin

Ben Willms

Aaron Peters

Diana Jensen

Youth and young adults from all over the world went to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from July 21 to 26 for a reunion with the global Mennonite family. We spoke with a handful of young Canadians who were at Mennonite World Conference assembly  about their time in Harrisburg. Though, as one young person pointed out, MWC is something best witnessed first-hand.


Hoping for strength and unity in spite of disagreements

Coming out to Charleswood Mennonite Church, the congregation in Winnipeg that he grew up in, was an emotional experience for Dustin Loewen. (Photo by Anya Snider)

John Braun, pastor at Charleswood Mennonite Church, says he was never concerned about how the congregation would respond to Loewen. (Photo by Anya Snider)

Anya Snider

Growing up, Dustin Loewen was sometimes teased by his friends for being a “Mennonite poster boy.” He had a well-rounded Mennonite upbringing, attended Mennonite schools and has attended Charleswood Mennonite Church since he was two years old.

Then, at 27 years old, Loewen stood in front of his church community and told them he is gay.


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