Focus: Ottawa Mennonite Church, Ottawa ON
Ottawa Mennonite Church is an urban congregation that has deep roots in the city of Ottawa.
Carrie Lehn is Associate Pastor of Youth Ministry which is a full-time role that focuses on youth and young adults with some time given to grades 4-8, worship and preaching. With a youth ministry team Carrie leads and supports the youth group as well as designating time to meeting with youth and young adults on an individual basis.
- Youth and sponsors gather weekly.
- Within a month they have a variety of events such as “donuts and discussion,” a time of Bible study and reflection, tying quilts with women at the church, skating on the canal or egg decorating.
- Adults from the church enjoy connecting with the youth and take turns sharing their faith stories once a month.
- Youth also do random acts of baking where they make food and then drop it off to someone who is in need or facing challenges.
- The youth are very integrated in worship by participating in choir, leading children’s time, reading scripture, writing Christmas plays and sharing in worship about their learning and service trips.
- The youth at OMC foster relationships with youth from other churches by participating in worship geared to youth once every four months.
- The youth are looking forward to participating in MennoCon, the youth convention of Mennonite Church USA in Kansas this summer as well as 3 retreats a year, one at Fraser Lake Mennonite Camp, one an all church retreat at a camp and the other a rental house during March break. This is an intentional choice to harness some camp like energy and have youth spend larger amounts of quality time together and connect with nature.
- Annual events include a formal Christmas banquet.
- Older youth are involved in giving leadership to the younger youth.
- Junior youth connect with each other once a month with families volunteering to give leadership to the activities.
- Young adults are invited to participate in O’town Ark, an affordable housing initiative that consists of a 4 bedroom house, hosting and hospitality space. Carrie lives in and manages the house. They practice hospitality by hosting weekly potlucks on Sunday nights for not only the residents but community people and friends as well as people from diverse religions. The young adults also host youth events for Halloween and end of year celebrations. The residents of the house are a mix of students and young adults working in the Ottawa area. This is also where the Mennonite Central Committee Ottawa intern has often resided.
- Once a month people in the church host the potluck in their home to connect with the young adults.
Carrie invites prayer for young adults, both new ones that are looking for a church connection and those who have grown up at the church and find it challenging to stay connected. Growing Anabaptist and Biblical knowledge in youth is important since they feel isolated from the presence of other Mennonite faith communities. Prayer is invited for integrating youth with refugee status into the youth group and overcoming language and cultural barriers to be a community together.