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Young Voices

Colombian refugees sponsored by Winnipeg Mennonites

Javier moved to Winnipeg in 2013 with his wife and three daughters. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)

Young Voices | By Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe | Aug 26, 2015

Javier and his family arrived in Winnipeg in November of 2013, on the brink of Winnipeg’s coldest winter since 1898, a bone-chilling change from their Colombian homeland, where the temperature rarely drops far below zero.

The cold was a small price to pay for safety, though. The family fled Colombia to save their lives.

Come together

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

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Aug 26, 2015

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.

Young Voices | By Rachel Bergen and Aaron Epp | Aug 12, 2015

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.


Noel Dueckman
25, Abbotsford, B.C.
Emmanuel Mennonite Church

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)

Young Voices | By Anya Snider | Aug 12, 2015

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.

“I’m a very emotional person, so I was bawling through the whole thing,” he says. “I think one of the most frustrating things about being gay is the fact that you have to tell people about it.”

Singing a new song

Darryl Neustaedter Barg (right) prepares for worship with two camp staff at CWM’s Camp Moose Lake. (Photo by Dieter Schönwetter)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jul 22, 2015

When children arrive at Mennonite Church Manitoba’s (MCM) three camps this summer, they will have a new tune to learn. “This Ground” is a simple, catchy, four-chord song—and it was written by current and former staff of MCM’s camping ministry, Camps with Meaning (CWM).

Darryl Neustaedter Barg, associate director of communications at MCM, led a handful of musicians in creating the song during two writing sessions at Camp Assiniboia this past May. The song was inspired by CWM’s 2015 theme and curriculum, “Knowing God,” which is based on the Lord’s Prayer.

A ray of sunshine in the classroom

Will Friesen (centre), a Grade 5/6 student with severe cognitive and physical disabilities, poses with some of his classmates at Rosenfeld Elementary School. (Photo by Jackie Nickel)

Young Voices | By Mattea Nickel | Jul 22, 2015

Wilhelm (Will) Friesen, a Grade 5/6 student, does not have a voice. Will was born with severe cognitive and physical disabilities which prevent him from performing basic tasks, including speaking. Born in a Mennonite colony in Bolivia in 2004, he moved with his parents and two sisters to Manitoba in 2007. The Old Order Mennonite family came to Rosenfeld, a small farming community 100 kilometres south of Winnipeg, in 2014.

Saskatchewan Mennonites pedal for peace

Organizer Rachel Regier explains the goals of Pedal for Peace to about 40 participants. (Photo courtesy of MCC Saskatchewan)

Young Voices | Jul 22, 2015

Before they ate their fill of rollkuchen, watermelon, farmer’s sausage and other traditional Mennonite food, a group of Saskatchewan Mennonites cycled 43 kilometres in solidarity with those who have to leave their homeland in search of peace.

A different way of thinking

Mattea Nickel

Young Voices | By Jonas Cornelsen | Jun 30, 2015 | 1 comment

Imagine these words as pictures with no direct meaning. That’s part of what it’s like to have dyslexia.

“Dyslexia is a different way of thinking,” says Mattea Nickel, 19. She was diagnosed 11 years ago, after struggling to understand written words and numbers in elementary school. Now a first-year student at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), she’s caught between her intellectual passion and limited accommodation for her learning style.

Baking cookies for clean water

Tyreese Hildebrandt demonstrates a model of the type of hand pump used to draw water from the sand near a sand dam. Hildebrandt raised money to buy similar pumps by putting on a bake sale at Mount Royal Mennonite Church, where he and his family attend. (Photo by Len Andres)

Young Voices | By Donna Schulz | Jun 30, 2015

Tyreese Hildebrandt is a 10-year-old who dreams of helping people to have clean drinking water. A while back, Hildebrandt read a book that touched him deeply. Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa that Brought them Together by Herb Shoveller is about a Canadian boy who raised money to dig a well in Uganda and a Ugandan boy who became his friend. After reading the book, Hildebrandt says he felt “sad, because people could get really sick from drinking dirty water.” But he also felt inspired and wanted to raise money, too.

Staying close to God

Afonso Arrais left his home in Portugal to find better career opportunities abroad. (Photo by Michael Veith)

Young Voices | By Michael Veith | Jun 17, 2015

When people complete high school, they are often overwhelmed and stressed because there are so many career options. When Afonso Arrais graduated, his stress came from a lack of options.

 Arrais, now a student at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg, was born in Portugal and attended high school in the capital city, Lisbon. He was constantly concerned about his future.

Where are the young board members?

Victoria Pelletier serves on the board of Pinegrove Place, a Mennonite care facility in Richmond, B.C., as well as two of its affiliated homes for seniors.

Young Voices | By Rachel Bergen | Jun 17, 2015

Look at a board of any institution, Mennonite or otherwise. They’re mainly made up of middle-aged or retired professionals. With that said, many boards are looking to expand their horizons by diversifying. They want more women, people from different ethnic and professional backgrounds, and younger people.

Boards are seeking out people like Victoria Pelletier and Chris Steingart. Steingart, 35, serves on the board of MennoMedia and Silver Lake Mennonite Camp. He attends Breslau Mennonite Church in Ontario and owns a web and graphic design company in Kitchener.

Lessons learned at L’Abri

The view at the L’Abri branch in Huémoz, a small village surrounded by the Swiss Alps. Janzen spent two weeks there last year. (Photo by Tasha Janzen)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Jun 03, 2015

When Tasha Janzen thinks back to her time in Switzerland last year, learning the importance of life balance is one of the biggest things that sticks out for her.

The Abbotsford, B.C., resident travelled to Huémoz, a small village surrounded by the Swiss Alps, in May 2014. She spent two weeks living at the Swiss branch of L’Abri, a Christian ministry with locations around the world, where people come to work and grow in their faith through independent study.

Home Depot and a dog named Flash

Megen Olfert at work at Home Depot with her dog Flash. (Photo courtesy of Emily Hamm)

Young Voices | By Emily Hamm | Jun 03, 2015 | 1 comment

Home Depot and a golden lab: these two things are important parts of Megen Olfert’s life.

Olfert, 31, of Saskatoon, has paraplegic high spastic cerebral palsy. The condition keeps her brain from telling her muscles what to do, and all her limbs are affected. According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, spasticity affects how people move their limbs and how muscles turn off or on. High spasticity means that all of Olfert’s muscles are trying to stay on all of the time.

Spreading the word about GROW

Sarah French and Mary Fehr start their trip on May 18 at Mile 0 in Victoria, B.C. (Photo courtesy of Sarah French and Mary Fehr)

Young Voices | Jun 03, 2015

Mary Fehr just learned to ride a bike a few years ago, when she was 17. Now she and Sarah French are cycling thousands of kilometres across Canada—from Victoria, B.C., to St. John’s, Nfld.—to raise money for Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) through its Bike To Grow campaign.

CMU graduate from Kenya wants to make a difference at home

Joseph Kiranto (red t-shirt) stands with his family (from left: Elizabeth, Joy, Joel and Kaleb) at a CMU event in September 2014. The Kirantos moved from Kenya so that Joseph could study at CMU. (Photo courtesy of CMU)

Young Voices | By Daniel Friesen | May 20, 2015

This article is the first in a series called Voice of the Marginalized. These articles were written by students in Canadian Mennonite University’s Journalism: Principles and Practice course. Voice of the Marginalized connected writers with people on the margins of the community. Teacher Carl DeGurse is vice-chair of Canadian Mennonite’s board of directors and an assignment editor at the Winnipeg Free Press.

‘This will lead to dancing’

Jen Pogue (left), Benjamin Wert, Kimberlee Walker, Sukhpreet Sangha, Meagan Tuck and Adam Proulx read through the first draft of This Will Lead to Dancing for a small audience to gain feedback. (Photo courtesy of Johnny Wideman)

Young Voices | By Rachel Bergen | May 20, 2015 | 4 comments

There’s a running joke in the church that Mennonites don’t dance because it could lead to sex. After many requests, Ontario’s Theatre of the Beat is tackling one of the most debated aspects of the topic in an upcoming play.

The company says it’s one of the most radical plays it’s ever undertaken. This Will Lead to Dancing is an original play about LGBT inclusion in the church.

Youths change lives on MDS trip . . . including their own

The crew from the Bunker are pictured right to left, front row: Manda Enns, Logan Klassen, Latisha Temmerman and Emily Fehr; and back row: Jon Harms, Jayden Rempel, Chris Heinrichs, Doug Janzen and Martin Lay (long-term MDS service workers), Jon Fehr, Michael Buhler, Em Heinrichs and Curt Reimer. (Photo courtesy of the Bunker)

Young Voices | By Rachel Bergen | May 06, 2015

A group of Manitoba youths and young adults from the Bunker, a ministry of Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church, recently went to High River, Alta., to work with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS). They thought they would leave tired and covered in drywall dust, but had no idea they that they would actually help heal a man’s broken spirit.

The Mennonite and the Lurmen

Kyle Rudge is the founder of Geekdom House, a ministry devoted to loving and serving the nerd and geek community. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Rudge)

Young Voices | By Kyle Rudge | May 06, 2015

Are there parallels between the Star Wars universe and Anabaptism?

I asked myself that recently after watching an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an animated TV series.

The episode, entitled “Defenders of the Peace,” begins like any other episode in the series: Separatist forces are winning and the Jedi arrive to help turn the tide. This time, however, reactions are different. The Jedi run into the Lurmen and a key character named Asoka is baffled by their beliefs.


The WhizBang Shufflers returned to Mennofolk after first performing at the event in 2005. From left: Donald Willms, Luke Enns, Curtis Wiebe and Rick Unger. (Photo by Aaron Epp)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Apr 22, 2015 | 1 comment

When Jordan Weber began making visual art four years ago, he wanted a new way to express himself.

“I never expected my art to be on display for anybody to see,” the 24-year-old said. “It’s super exciting that people have been coming up to me and saying they like my work.”

Weber was one of 20 artists who displayed their work at Exchange Community Church in downtown Winnipeg as part of Mennofolk, an annual display of art and music stemming from the Mennonite community in southern Manitoba.

Living in limbo

Diana, Luis, and Jacobo Mata. (Photo courtesy of Luis Mata)

Young Voices | Apr 22, 2015

Hundreds of families in Canada live in limbo, not sure if they’ll ever be granted permanent resident status.

That’s the story for the Mata family. Jacobo Mata, who is now 17, moved from Colombia to Toronto with his mother and father when he was 4. Luis, his father, was an author and a human rights activist in Colombia. After years of working for peace and justice in their home country, the family felt their lives were in danger and sought refugee status in Canada, where the family now attends Toronto United Mennonite Church.

Countercultural mountain music

For Quiet in the Land, music is meant to be participatory and community-building, an approach that was shaped by the duo’s Mennonite upbringing. (Photo by Meg Harder)

Young Voices | By Aaron Epp | Apr 22, 2015

Dan Root and Laura Dyck quickly became friends after they met in the fall of 2009 and realized how much they had in common. Both were living in the Conrad Grebel University College residence in Waterloo, Ont.; both were studying international development at the University of Waterloo; and both had a deep love of folk music.

SOS for Syria

Jeremy Enns is asking more than 50 of his friends, relatives, colleagues and acquaintances to participate in his SOS for Syria campaign.

Young Voices | Apr 08, 2015 | 1 comment

In the early 1900s, SOS became the worldwide distress signal, but typically in maritime situations. These days it’s used as a sense of urgent message or appeal for help from anybody in any situation.

That’s what Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Ontario is doing. It’s sending out an urgent appeal for help on behalf of the estimated 12.2 million Syrians in need of humanitarian assistance, the
1 million injured in the fighting, and the 7.6 million internally displaced people.

‘The best possible reward’

Iranian graduate students meet with Charlie Nelson, an indigenous elder from Roseau, Man., third from left. (Photo by Harry Huebner)

Young Voices | By Lisa Obirek | Apr 08, 2015

“I’ll intentionally call you my sister, for I have two and I love them so much. Now I have three and I love them all to the degree that I’m ready to die for them. So you are really beyond a friend for me.”

That is part of an e-mail that a man I will call M wrote to me the day before he left Winnipeg. He was part of a group of Shia Muslim graduate students who travelled from Qom, Iran, to study an intensive course on systematic theology at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) in Winnipeg.

Growing Mennonite

There is a terrifying amount of paper documenting Mennonite history, and more than a few gems hidden in the vault.

Young Voices | By Olivia Klippenstein | Apr 08, 2015

It wasn’t until Grade 6 that I realized it was possible to be more than just a Mennonite. Our teacher asked us to come up with one word to described ourselves. One of my classmates chose the phrase, “Russian Mennonite.”

Nerdy fun

Community Mennonite Church face off against East Zorra Mennonite Church at the 2014 Bible quizzing event. (Photo courtesy of Jeramie Raimbault)

Young Voices | Mar 25, 2015

For about 30 years, youth from several Mennonite Church Eastern Canada congregations in Ontario have looked forward to their annual Bible quizzing event. It’s centred around friendly competition, memorization of minute biblical details and application of biblical principles to everyday life.