Young Voices

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Bearing witness to something greater

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

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.

Uncovering the truth

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

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

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.

Letting Christ abide, from Saskatchewan to Gambia

Tending to the grapes she grows in the house she lives in provides Terri Lynn Paulson with a very tangible way of considering John 15, a chapter of the Bible she has been reflecting on in recent months. It begins: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.”

A potluck plate full of Mennonite cultures

This spring I was awarded an archival internship with the Mennonite Brethren Historical Commission that allowed me to travel to various Mennonite Brethren archives in North America to learn how they work, as well as to do some of my own research.

I visited the archives at the Mennonite Heritage Museum in Abbotsford, B.C.; the Hiebert Library at Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, Calif.; the Center for Mennonite Brethren Studies at Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan.; and the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies in Winnipeg, spending a week in each place.

On the outside looking in

“Three people in their early 20s—a Catholic, a Mennonite Brethren man and a United Church member—walk into a Mennonite Church Canada assembly.” It may sound like the set-up to a joke, but it’s exactly what happened last month.

Although they do not belong to MC Canada congregations, Catherine Richard, Nick Czehryn and Matthew Dyck each travelled from their homes in Winnipeg to Saskatoon to participate in Assembly 2016. For each of them, it proved to be a meaningful experience.

Learning to be grateful

When Claudia Dueck thinks back on the voluntary service she did in Paraguay earlier this year, it’s the Tuesdays that stick out the most.

Dueck, 19, spent three months volunteering at Kilometre 81, a Mennonite hospital in eastern Paraguay that treats people with leprosy, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Every Tuesday evening, Dueck and the other volunteers at the hospital would gather to sing for their patients. It was one of the only times when the volunteers had direct contact with them.

Laments and hopes for MC Canada

When Laura Carr-Pries got together with fellow students at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg last year to discuss the challenges facing Mennonite Church Canada, she wasn’t sure how things would go.

Out of those discussions, she and her peers formed the Emerging Voices Initiative (EVI) in response to MC Canada’s Future Directions Task Force. EVI had a strong presence at the MC Canada Assembly 2016 in Saskatoon from July 6 to 10, 2016, and led one of the event’s seminars.

Exploring alternative ways of living

Jonas Cornelsen jokes that, at the age of 22, he’s retired.

While most of his peers are looking to start their careers, the Winnipeg native and recent university graduate moved to Vancouver last month to live with, and care for, his 97-year-old grandfather, Erwin Cornelsen.

Although he is as healthy as a 97-year-old can be, Erwin and his family decided that having Jonas live with him and help him with his daily routine and chores around the house would be beneficial.

Follow the money

What is the real cost of the things we buy?

That’s the question I asked myself during Uprooted, a three-week learning tour for young adults through Mexico, Guatemala and Arizona that took place in May. Organized by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Alberta and MCC Saskatchewan, the tour looked at issues surrounding migration in Central America and peacebuilding projects in the region. Our first week was in southern Mexico and Guatemala, our second week was spent in and around Mexico City, and our last week along the Mexico-U.S. border.

Sharing faith through teaching Sunday school

Some teachers want their lessons to run smoothly, but not Benjamin Weber.

“I like a healthy amount of chaos,” says Weber, 29, who teaches the youth Sunday school class at Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener, Ont. “I open the floor and let them ask me about anything. Usually it’s about current events, so we relate that back to the topic at hand.”

Weber has taught the class for the last four-and-a-half years.

The power of film

“Watching great films is a very spiritual experience for me,” says Paul Plett. “It hits a tuning fork in [my] heart and my whole soul reverberates.”

The 30-year-old, who attends Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, is not only an avid film watcher but makes films himself. He recently completed work on Northern Folk, a documentary about folk music in Canada, as well as a three-minute science fiction film for children about a day in the life of a hologram.

Raising awareness, raising funds

A young man from southern Ontario is cycling across Canada this summer to raise awareness of mental health issues, while also raising funds for the Defeat Depression campaign.

Martin Bauman of Waterloo, Ont., embarks on the 7,500-kilometre trip on June 7, 2016. The ride will start in Vancouver and end in St. John’s, N.L., at the end of August. Riding under the banner, “Keep pushing: Martin’s ride for mental health,” Bauman hopes to raise $10,000, the majority of which will be allocated to the Waterloo-Wellington-Dufferin branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Six tips for better self-care

From the time you are 15 or 16 to the time you are 26 or 28, your brain undergoes rapid cognitive changes.

“It’s the busiest time [of brain development] since early childhood, and it will never be that busy again,” says Lynda Loewen, a counsellor at Recovery of Hope, a program in Winnipeg run by Eden Health Care Services. “That time of rapid brain development is a huge part of the reason for impulsivity in that age range.”

Contradicting the status quo

After exploring lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer inclusion in the Mennonite church in This Will Lead to Dancing, the Stouffville, Ont.-based theatre company Theatre of the Beat is setting its sights on the experience of conscientious objectors (COs) for its new production.

Entitled Yellow Bellies, the play is a historical drama that highlights the experiences and public response to Mennonite COs during the Second World War. The episodic tale takes audiences across Canada, featuring verbatim interviews, fictionalized scenes and live music.

The things that are most worthwhile

The following article was originally given as a short speech at a community supper at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ont., where Maia Fujimoto lived in residence for two years.

Looking back on my years at university, I am always brought back to my first day at Grebel. It was a hot, sweaty day. I remember seeing crowds of students already mingling with each other and thinking, “How do they seem to already know each other?” Since living at Grebel, I have now learned what “the Mennonite Game” is and that first day makes more sense.

Climbing toward a greater unknown

Spending time with his band mates is one of the first things Oh Village singer/pianist Scott Currie mentions when asked about the best part of making Ocris, the band’s second full-length album.

“My favourite part of the week was Friday mornings,” the 21-year-old says. “Every Friday morning we would get together and just talk and hang out. Sometimes we would have breakfast and chat and discuss things not related to music, and just get to know each other as people. . . . Since the album’s [been] finished, that’s kind of one of the main things I miss.”

Outside his comfort zone

Six months into his first pastoral job, Moses Falco feels very inadequate. “Am I really cut out for this?” and “Do I have the skills to be in this position?” are questions he has discussed with members of the church council and deacons.

Although he feels inadequate, Falco—who is the sole pastor at Sterling Mennonite Church, a Mennonite Church Manitoba congregation in Winnipeg with a membership of about 140—is confident that God, as well as his brothers and sisters in the church, will help him along.

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