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Cross-border youth ministry council meets

From left to right: Jodi & Jim Ostland from South Central-Western District Conference (MC USA), Anne Campion director of youth ministries (MC Canada), Matt Love Mennonite Church Alberta Youth Ministries Co-ordinator. Matt recalls his "Worst Scar" story during a Celebrate Everything activity at the Youth Ministry Council.

May 21, 2002
Winnipeg, Man.-
The importance of congregations and parents in encouraging youth to consider ministry and service opportunities cannot be under estimated. That's just one of several issues youth leaders addressed at a Youth Ministry Council gathering.

Thirty-three area conference youth ministers and networking staff from across Canada and the U.S. gathered on May 1-4 at Canadian Mennonite University to look at the future of youth leadership and nurture, post secondary education, and calls to service in the Mennonite Church. The event was led by Anne Campion (Director of Youth Ministries, MC Canada) and Steve Ropp (Denominational Minister of Youth (MC USA). Schools, service ministries, and the youth publishing arm of Mennonite Publishing House were represented.

"We heard stories of parents really getting on the case of youth ministers or voluntary service staff for encouraging their son or daughter to do a year of service before going on to college," Steve Ropp reported. "We're also aware that youth aren't being encouraged to get into the ministry for a variety of reasons, and our lack of numbers in both of these programs are reflecting that."

The importance of youth resource offerings by Mennonite Publishing House also surfaced. Discussions included the fact that Fast Lane and Generation Why will not be creating any more new materials, and that it is time to start brainstorming about what comes next in youth curriculum. A new baptism resource by Michelle Hershberger and April Yamasaki is in process. YouthGuide, a youth leader's resource, has been discontinued; while WITH Magazine will be expanded to include an on-line curriculum resource called With the Lesson and retreats called "With Weekends."

Dan Nighswander (General Secretary for MC Canada) and Justina Heese, (Executive Secretary, Christian Formation, MC Canada) used hula hoops to illustrate some of the structural elements of the new Mennonite Church Canada. Anna Rehan (Saskatchewan Youth Minister) reported on youth participation at Canadian assembly in Saskatoon this summer. Beginning in 2003, Canadian youth assemblies will become bi-annual gatherings, and every fourth year, youth in the U.S. and Canada will meet in a joint convention, along with the adults.

While participants clearly wanted to address the issues, they also spent time in holding each other up and providing the support that they have come to count on from each other.

"(The)Youth Ministry Council broadens our perspectives and enables us to look at our own settings with new eyes," Anne Campion said. "It also challenges us all in the church to listen for God's dream for us and to be willing to answer the call wherever it might be-ministry, service, seeking God in all vocations!"