Canadian Mennonite asked eight young adults from across Mennonite Church Canada to look back on the year that was and to look ahead to the year that will be. These are their reflections, which have been edited for length and clarity.
What did you learn in 2018?
“In 2018, I learned the importance of accepting support from those closest to me. Not only did it help me in times that I was stressed or down, but it also helped build relationship with those people. I also continued to learn the importance of appreciating where you are now rather than wishing away time looking forward to something in the future. I found this makes life a lot more enjoyable.”
Michael Taves, 23, lives in Edmonton, where he is a member of First Mennonite Church. He recently finished a bachelor of science degree at the University of Alberta.
“This year I have been invited to trust God to a new depth. I wouldn’t have been able to learn this to such an extent had I not been companioned by a deeply grounding sense of peace, a peace which has gifted me with the willingness to consent [surrender] to the longings that Christ has for me. It might be messy, it might be hard and it will be good.”
Thomas Friesen, 28, is a spiritual director in Saskatoon. He and his wife are the house coordinators at Vine & Table, an intentional community for Christian young adults. He worships at Osler (Sask.) Mennonite Church.
“I have learned about the pervasiveness of trauma as well as incredible resilience. Since trauma is held in the body, healing can be found in movement and breathing together, which can intentionally be brought into church through embodied worship. I have found play to be a central, life-giving spiritual practice in which we can release control, deepen relationships and broaden creativity. As we face the multiple crises of climate change, oppression and war, a perspective of playfulness increases personal and community resilience and deepens relationships.”
Rianna Isaak-Krauss, 27, grew up in Winnipeg. She currently lives in Elkhart, Ind., where she studies Christian formation at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and worships at Fellowship of Hope.
“This year has been an incredible adventure of growth for me, but I can boil the lessons I’ve received down to this: I learned to love myself this year. On my travels to Taizé, therapy, nature, church and yoga classes, I have been shown that God embraces me from my core. God is not far away and cold, God is in everything and everyone—including me.”
Anna Bigland-Pritchard, 25, lives in Winnipeg, where she is the current artist-in-residence at Bethel Mennonite Church. She is also a voice student, voice teacher, college music chaplain and a member of the children’s band Seanster and the Monsters.
What is your hope for 2019?
“One of the expectations that I feel from the church, my family, friends and myself is to learn about the Vietnamese culture because I am immersed in it. However, in Winnipeg where I have been immersed in Indigenous culture for 20 years [Winnipeg, Manitoba and Canada are all words that have Indigenous roots], there hasn’t been the same pressure or expectation to learn about the culture. My hope for 2019 is that more pressure will be put on people to learn about the cultures that are surrounding them every day.”
Natasha Neustaedter Barg, 20, is from Winnipeg, where she attends Douglas Mennonite Church. She is currently serving in Vietnam with Mennonite Central Committee’s Serving and Learning Together program.
“I hope for deeper knowledge, wisdom and experience for myself. I hope for the congregations of the Meeting House to live in closer and intentional community with each other. I hope that the Mennonite church finds peace in difficult conversation and becomes more and more like the eternal loving Christ. I hope that Canada learns to take climate change seriously. I hope the people of the world dedicate themselves to stewarding this Earth. I hope that 2019 sees an increase in peace and civil society, in food security and diplomacy.”
Madeleine Neufeld, 20, lives in Waterloo, Ont., where she is studying peace and conflict, and political science, at the University of Waterloo. She is president of the Conrad Grebel University College Student Council and attends church at the Meeting House.
“2018 often left me with moments of lament and doubt. As a young-ish person in the age of anxiety, I experienced many feelings of stress surrounding the future of the church, church organizations, climate change and job security. 2018 was also a year I lost two dearly-loved peers, friends who passed well before their time. In 2019, my hope for work, life and my community is to find signs of hope and be a beacon of hope to those around me. As Desmond Tutu said, ‘Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.’ ”
Heather Driedger, 32, is the director of Parkland Restorative Justice, a Mennonite Church Saskatchewan-sponsored prison visitation and offender support organization based in Prince Albert, where she is a member of Grace Mennonite Church.
“Peace and understanding. Love instead of divisiveness. Less walls and more bridges. Mostly, I hope for the courage and strength of character to live out these ideals in my own practice—not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard, too.”
Martin Bauman, 26, lives in Victoria, B.C., where he is pursuing a master’s degree in creative nonfiction at the University of Victoria. He is originally from Waterloo, Ont., and his home congregation is Hawkesville Mennonite Church.
After seven-and-a-half years—and 445 articles—Young Voices comes to an end with this issue. Thanks to all of our contributors and YV editors since 2011.