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Young Voices

Playing for fun and credit

Anna Lysack has played the violin for 15 years. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 22, 2017

Legendary rock ‘n’ roll drummers Keith Moon and Neil Peart inspired Matt Schellenberg to get into percussion, but it’s Bach and Beethoven that he will be playing when he performs next month.

Schellenberg is one of a handful of young adults who are members of the Mennonite Community Orchestra (MCO) in Winnipeg. The MCO is the orchestra-in-residence at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and consists of more than 50 professional and amateur musicians; it will perform its annual spring concert on April 9, 2017, in the chapel at CMU.

Field of dreams

Kalynn Spain's  interest in agriculture led her to visit 130 small farms throughout Manitoba. (Photo courtesy of Kalynn Spain)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 08, 2017

What are the risks and rewards for people who choose a life on the farm? Young Voices spoke with three young Canadian Mennonites who work in agriculture to find out.

Jedidiah Morton, 23
Didsbury, Alta.

Jedidiah Morton isn’t the first person in his family to work in the dairy industry. His great-grandfather, Abram Lowen, settled in the Beaverlodge area in northern Alberta in the late 1920s and shipped cream.

“I guess you could say I’m bringing dairy back to my family,” Morton says.

Finding belonging

Katrina Woelk is looking for a new church home in Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of Katrine Woelk)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Mar 08, 2017

Finding a new church to belong to can be difficult. Just ask Katrina Woelk.

Woelk grew up at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Winkler, Man., but now lives in Winnipeg, where she is studying social work at the University of Manitoba. After four years of commuting home for weekends, the 22-year-old is ready to deepen her roots in Winnipeg, and that includes finding a church home in the city.

‘I eat your garbage’

This meal brought to you by dumpster diving. (Photo courtesy of Nathaniel De Avila)

Young Voices | By Nathaniel De Avila | Feb 22, 2017 | 1 comment

I am a thief. I steal our food system’s waste.

Let’s be clear. Grocery stores throw edible food into their dumpsters. I go to those dumpsters and jump in. I dig through boxes and bags, and salvage everything I can find. I take it to my house and painstakingly sort through it. I cut and clean vegetables and fruit. I repackage damaged and open packages of dry goods. I rinse and re-label canned goods. I dry herbs and peppers. I freeze bread, meat, cheese, vegetables, fruit and almost everything else.

Passion for reconciliation leads to recognition

Allison Goerzen has worked for Mennonite Central Committee Alberta for the past year-and-a-half. (Photo courtesy of Allison Goerzen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Feb 22, 2017

An organization that works toward ending poverty and achieving a better world has recognized a young Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta employee for the reconciliation work she does with indigenous peoples.

The Alberta Council for Global Cooperation named Allison Goerzen to its annual Top 30 Under 30 list of young people who are creating a more just and sustainable world. The 2017 list was announced at the beginning of February in a special magazine the Council published.

Bringing courage and hope to Burundi

Jackson Nahayo started a clinic in the East African country of Burundi that helps thousands of people. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Feb 08, 2017

Jackson Nahayo knows a thing or two about turning tragedy into triumph.

Left for dead as a child in the jungles of his native Burundi by the rebel soldiers who kidnapped him, he eventually made his way to Canada. After receiving his education, he returned to the East African country from which he hails to start a community hospital.

“When I came back [to Burundi] . . . I asked myself, ‘How can I help with issues like malaria? How can I bring courage and hope?’ Because no one was doing anything,” he says.

Songs about growing up, climate change and empowerment

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Feb 08, 2017

In the last issue of Canadian Mennonite, we introduced you to Sparky and the Plugs, a bluegrass quartet from the Saskatoon area that got its start playing music in church. Read about three more music acts with Mennonite roots who have new albums out.


You guessed it. Winnipeg music duo Rosebud takes its name from the sled belonging to the titular character in Orson Welles’ classic 1941 film, Citizen Kane.

Carving a new peace path

Teachers want to integrate peace education into their classrooms but don’t always have the time or resources to do so, Katie Gingerich says. (Conrad Grebel University College photo)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jan 25, 2017

A young woman in Waterloo, Ont., is using her passion for peace to positively impact students.

Katie Gingerich, 24, is director of The Ripple Effect Education (TREE), a peace-education initiative that integrates conflict resolution and social-justice concepts into social studies curriculum in elementary school classrooms.

‘Sparky’ music

Jill Wiens, left, Curtis Wiens, Zac Schellenberg and Clay Buhler are Sparky and the Plugs. (Photo courtesy of Zac Schellenberg)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jan 25, 2017

They might perform at cafes, bars and festivals throughout the Saskatoon area these days, but bluegrass quartet Sparky and the Plugs got their start playing music in church.

Guitarist Zac Schellenberg says that doing special music and accompanying hymns at Mount Royal Mennonite Church gave the group a safe place to get their feet wet.

‘We must act and we must do it now’

Our faith calls us to work for justice, writes Brandi Friesen Thorpe, pictured at right with Minnesota-based Black Lives Matter activist Kendrick Hall. (Photo courtesy of Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

Young Voices | By Brandi Friesen Thorpe | Dec 21, 2016

This is a critical time in the world. From environmental threats like the Kinder Morgan pipeline, to the troubling rhetoric coming out of the United States after Donald Trump’s presidential win, many people are wondering: How can I make a difference and work for positive change?

Caring for the forgotten

Working in a multicultural, multifaith environment has shaped Jared Redekop’s beliefs. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Dec 21, 2016

Jared Redekop has seen and done a lot in just over a year of working as a spiritual health practitioner at the Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg.

One experience that most sticks out is when a family asked him to say a prayer at their teenage daughter’s interment. He had journeyed with the family, which was not religious, for the six weeks from when their 14-year-old was in an automobile accident to when she died.

“I have a special spot in my heart for that family,” he says. “I’m grateful that they allowed me into their lives.”

Voices singing ‘Let’s be jolly’ . . .

American singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens is well known for his 10 Christmas EPs. (Photo by Denny Renshaw)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Dec 07, 2016

Nolan Kehler knows a thing or two about music. In addition to studying vocal performance at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, the 22-year-old works part-time as an AM radio DJ and also as a producer for CBC Manitoba.

Kehler has played drums for a number of Winnipeg musical acts, including Pocket Change, Kenzie Jane, and Rhia Rae and the Rubies. If that weren’t enough musical involvement, he is also the founder and editor of a blog that is posting reviews of each album on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 500 greatest albums of all time.

Painting as problem-solving

‘The Walls Fall Back and the Night is Fluid’ (2016) by Megan Krause is one of several pieces included in her Fertile Ash exhibit. The painting was created using India ink, acrylic and oil on panel.

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Dec 07, 2016

For Winnipeg artist Megan Krause, painting is a process of problem solving.

“I never plan a piece ahead of time. Not anymore, anyway,” the 32-year-old says. “It’s all intuitively done.”

Krause starts her paintings by playing and experimenting with how to apply the paint, dripping here and splattering there to see what happens. Then she begins to shape the painting.

Ain’t misbehavin’

Anna Wiebe began playing the guitar when she was 10. She wrote her first song five years later. (Photo by Vanessa Tignanelli)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Nov 16, 2016

Old behaviour influenced the music on singer-songwriter Anna Wiebe’s latest musical release, New Behaviour.

The 24-year-old folk-pop songstress based in Guelph, Ont., partially attributes growing up in the Mennonite church for the way the album sounds.

On plausibility structures and faith

Students enjoy a potluck at the Menno Simons Centre, a student residence near the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. (Photo courtesy of Thomas Bergen

Young Voices | By Thomas Bergen | Nov 16, 2016

From 2011 to 2013, I was a resident of the Menno Simons Centre, a not-for-profit student residence located near the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver. At Menno, I found a tight-knit community, a sense of home in a new city and inspiring Christian friendships. I also found my wife Cara.

In June 2014, Cara and I moved back “home” to be the residence coordinators of the Menno Simons Centre. Since then, we have experienced tremendous joy in helping others find the same things that we found there.

Reaching out to help other people

Being involved on campus at the University of Manitoba is important to Johise Namwira. (Photo courtesy of Johise Namwira)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Nov 02, 2016 | 1 comment

For Johise Namwira, being a student and being an activist go hand in hand.

During the 2015-16 school year, the 19-year-old was involved with a variety of different groups on campus at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. She served as the women’s liaison on the Arts Student Body Council, ensuring that all of the group’s events were inclusive of women. Namwira was also a member of the Justice for Women student group, as well as the university’s Oxfam group, which organizes events to raise awareness about global poverty and injustice.

Give a little means a lot

People can learn new skills when they volunteer with organizations like Habitat for Humanity. (Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity Manitoba)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Nov 02, 2016

Two-and-a-half years ago, I took over a long-running column that appears in the Winnipeg Free Press. Each week, I write about a different volunteer in the city.

Self-discovery through improvisational theatre

Brad Leitch, pictured leading a workshop on playback theatre, discovered the art form while studying at Canadian Mennonite University. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 19, 2016

Winnipeg filmmaker Brad Leitch’s next project is a deeply personal one.

The 30-year-old, who attends Hope Mennonite Church in the city, is making a documentary about “playback theatre,” a form of performance art that involves audience members sharing a story from their lives and an acting troupe immediately playing back that story using a variety of improvisational techniques.

Shaping life on campus

Jeremy Lieuwen wants Columbia Bible College to be a place where students can ‘taste the kingdom of God.’ (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Lieuwen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 19, 2016

For many people, studying at college or university is about more than just going to classes. It’s about connecting with peers at social events, service projects and forums that happen outside the classroom.

Often, these events are planned by the student council. To find out more about the young leaders who are helping to shape life on campus, Canadian Mennonite spoke with the student council presidents from the three post-secondary institutions affiliated with Mennonite Church Canada about their hopes for the 2016-17 school year.

Bearing witness to something greater

Krista Loewen, pictured with her husband David Epp, never thought she would become a pastor. (Photo courtesy of Krista Loewen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 05, 2016

In recent months, Krista Loewen has been thinking a lot about Jeremiah 29:11: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

For Loewen, who serves as associate pastor of Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, the verse provides assurance. “I feel like I’m going to be continually discerning whether or not I should be a pastor,” the 26-year-old says. “I struggle with vocation and calling, so it’s helpful to remind myself that God has a plan for me.”

Growing up on record

Michaela Loewen’s debut album documents the last five years of her life. (Photo courtesy of Michaela Loewen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Oct 05, 2016

For some people, writing a song is a laborious process. Not for Michaela Loewen. Most of the time, the music and lyrics come to her in under half an hour. “I know if I can write it in 20 minutes or less, it’s a good one,” the Winnipeg musician says.

Loewen wrote her first song at the age of 12, less than six months after she first picked up a guitar and taught herself to play by learning songs by the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Sarah Harmer.

Mixed emotions at the end of the journey

Martin Bauman exceeded his fundraising goal by more than $2,000. (Photo by Beverley Hiscock)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Sep 21, 2016

Even though the journey was more than 7,500 kilometres, Martin Bauman almost wished it wouldn’t end.

On Aug. 29, the Waterloo, Ont., resident entered St. John’s, N.L., completing the cross-Canada bicycle trip he started on June 7, 2016 in Vancouver. (See more at “Raising awareness, raising funds.”

Uncovering the truth

Boat rides with Destani Skunk (left), Jeff Loon (rear) and their son, Raeshaun, raised new questions for Deanna Zantingh about looking at land theologically. (Photo by Deanna Zantingh)

Young Voices | By Deanna Zantingh | Sep 21, 2016 | 1 comment

I turned on the radio in time to hear CBC perfectly capture my past year’s journey in one sentence. “The thing about seeking reconciliation with indigenous peoples is that eventually you realize you also have to make reconciliation with the land,” said Caleb Behn, a Salish activist and lawyer.

I began studying theology as a way to explore the questions that my friendship with an indigenous community in northern Ontario had raised. After my first year, I was shocked at how central land had become, when reconciliation was my focus.

CM seeks reader suggestions for upcoming ‘10 under 30’ feature

Young Voices | Sep 21, 2016

Canadian Mennonite wants to know about the young adults who are making a difference in your church or community.

In a special feature we will publish in the new year, Canadian Mennonite will feature 10 young people from across Canada who care about and support the church—10 emerging Mennonite leaders who are working to make the world a better place.

Passion for worship leads to work on new hymnal

Anneli Loepp Thiessen believes there is an unnecessary tension between hymns and contemporary worship music. (Photo courtesy of Mennonite Church Canada)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Sep 07, 2016

For Anneli Loepp Thiessen, singing in church is just as much about listening as it is about making sounds.

“In a culture that is increasingly busy and full of excess noise, church can be a space for quiet listening in a way that’s countercultural,” she says. “We can do that through our music.”

This past spring, Loepp Thiessen was one of six women and six men from across North America chosen to serve on the music committee for the new song collection for Mennonite churches planned for release in 2020. At 21 years of age, she is the committee’s youngest member.