Young Adult Anabaptist Conference for an Active Future

Young Adult Anabaptist Conference for an Active Future

Young Adult Anabaptist Conference for an Active Future
by the MCA Creation Care Working Group  -- Liesel Retzlaff and Charlene Lauzier

The Young Adult Anabaptist Conference for an Active Future (YAC) was a weekend filled with conversation, growth and hope. We had the opportunity to connect with young adults (and some older adults) from across Canada and the United States. This allowed for open, honest, and diverse conversations that came off of the key topics we focused on. We had sessions on climate change, affordable housing, inclusivity, Indigenous relations, and peace and war. Our diverse group of people allowed us to learn and hear new ideas from voices we would not normally hear from.

This weekend took place at Camp Squeah in Hope, British Columbia. This made the weekend even more special. For those that have not been, Squeah is nestled in a large and beautiful forest. From the second we drove down their long driveway we could feel how special this place was. Hosting a conference about all these issues in a place where we could experience nature, see kids laughing, and feel the dirt on our feet made it all the more impactful. Throughout the sessions we got to spend time hiking and learning about Squeah’s land and summer camps. We also got to use their amazing facilities and build stronger relationships with the participants, staying together in cabins.

We started planning this conference alongside Zachary Shields back in February. He reached out to us after meeting last year at Living Hope, the climate conference we attended in Winnipeg. This weekend sparked hope in Zach to keep the young adult conversation going and we were eager to be the Alberta representatives for this conference. Like Zach, we had found the importance of in person sharing, learning, and worshipping. We learned how important it is to bring forward unheard voices and uphold the opinions and values of young people. This is what we hoped to foster at YAC, with a combination of sessions, discussions, worship, and prayer. We had time to meet in groups with different participants and hear what they were doing in their provinces and states. We had time to worship, sing, and even dance all together as a community. We were able to make space for difficult and uncomfortable conversations while still aiding one another with prayer and shared emotions.

The sessions that we took part in were all very relevant to people's lives and were presented by a handful of individuals with different sets of knowledge. It was fascinating to hear from people with diverse passions and learn about the interconnectedness between them all. Affordable housing is a huge issue but the ways to fix it directly impact climate change and vice versa. Learning and discussing all the topics together how we should be looking at them side by side and not as different topics.

We personally had some different opportunities because we are linked with the Creation Care working group within Alberta. The two of us were excited to dive into new topics and lean more into creation care because it is something we both have a passion for. During our time at Squeah, Langley Mennonite Fellowship (LMF) was sharing the space at camp with us. When we had some free time we were able to interact with them and took that as a learning opportunity. It was shared with us that LMF has a group that meets every Sunday morning before their service to talk about creation care. We were able to connect with some of the people from that congregation and hear what they had going on. It was inspiring to hear from mostly seniors about the impacts that climate change had on their individual lives. It was clear to us that this was not something that was only scary for younger generations but everyone. Creation Care is something that needs to be more widely discussed as we can learn from one another. We went into the conference expecting to hear from young adults. We also had the chance to hear from the older generation and that had a lasting impact on us and continued our determination to talk about this in the church.

As we go forward from the conference we hope to continue bringing hope, building community and holding open conversations for young adults and the wider population. We hope to share and continue learning of the ways we can work in peace and justice in the world.