The Fat Calf Festival: Youth Assembly 2013

Deborah Froese
December 4, 2012
Mennonite Church Canada
cartoon cow, holding fork and knife, Fat Calf Festival
Winnipeg, Man.

The Fat Calf Festival?  Really?  What on earth does that have to do with Mennonite Church Canada’s Youth Assembly 2013?

The Fat Calf Festival is a celebration—and the chosen title for the gathering which takes place at Camp Assiniboia near Winnipeg, Man. from July 29-Aug. 2, 2013. Participants will explore the “lost and found” parables of Luke 15.

“Whenever something was found in these parables, there was a celebration,” says Dorothy Fontaine, Event Coordinator. “And in the case of the Prodigal Son story, the celebration included a feast with a fattened calf.”

Fontaine goes on to say that the word “prodigal” actually means excess.  While the story is generally referred to as “the prodigal son,” some people have called it “the prodigal father.”

“Together, youth, sponsors and speakers will explore the excesses that we – like the son in the story—sometimes turn to for fulfillment and we will look at how this impacts things like the environment and our relationships with others. We will also explore the excesses of God who—like the father in the story—demonstrated great love and grace toward his son.”

The Youth Assembly may take place at a camp, but Fontaine says it will be different from a typical camp week. She describes a vision for transforming the campground into a tent city. “It is going to be colourful and exciting. For the opening night, we are planning to have jugglers, fire-breathers, plate spinners, musicians, storytellers…”

The opening evening will be stylized after an ancient marketplace, an arena for people to gather for fellowship and entertainment.  Keynote speaker for the event is Iona Snair, Director of Lifeteams School of Urban Youth Outreach, a program of Greater Vancouver Youth for Christ.

The Youth Assembly Planning Team, comprised of Manitoba youth pastors and leaders, is excited about what is taking shape.  The planning team consists of Randy Hildebrand (Steinbach MC); Lois Friesen Wiebe (Fort Garry Mennonite Fellowship); Kathy Giesbrecht (Mennonite Church Manitoba); Richard Bage (Altona Bergthaler MC); Janna Wiebe (Springfield Heights MC); Kyle Penner (Grace MC Steinbach); Phil Campbell Enns (Bethel Mennonite); and Dave Bergen, Mennonite Church Canada, Executive Minister, Formation.

To learn more and keep up-to-date with developments, see

Photo Credits: 
Ryan Roth Bartel