WINNIPEG, Man. — Mennonite Church Canada’s Youth Assembly has been canceled. The event was planned for 200 people, but only a handful could commit.
It’s a disappointment that Kirsten Hamm-Epp and her team of planners had to face. They conveyed the news to the 41 youth and sponsors who had registered for the assembly, as well as those who may have still have been planning to register.
Based on advance polls last fall, the team planned for 200 youth. But those numbers did not materialize before June 1, the date when commitments had to be signed for venue rentals, meals, lodging and certain programming plans.
The team reached out to churches with an urgent plea to state their attendance intentions. Many pastors and youth sponsors indicated they had strongly encouraged attendance.
In May, 50 churches responded citing that large numbers of youth had already fundraised intensively to attend last summer’s Mennonite World Conference assembly in Pennsylvania. Many youth are serving at area church camps this summer or are engaged in other activities.
“These are things we want to affirm,” Hamm-Epp said. “World Conference was a fantastic experience for youth last summer, and serving at camps is a huge part of the overall church experience for a lot of youth.”
Planners exhausted many possible alternatives to make the assembly work with small numbers in a more intimate setting. But even with dramatic changes to lodging and programming, the event still faced a projected financial loss of about $20,000.
As conversations about the cancellation took place, Hamm-Epp said that sadness, confusion and frustration were displaced with a new idea.
“While the big event has been canceled, the youth of Saskatchewan are still planning to make their voices heard and will be gathering together over the assembly dates for a canoe trip,” she said.
The two-day canoe trip will feature speaker Chris Lenshyn, associate pastor of Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, B.C., and will culminate with Saskatoon service opportunities.
“We will also be integrating with the MC Canada assembly and representing the countless youth across Canada for whom the church is important,” said planner Krista Loewen.