News

In Solidarity with the Afflicted Rohingya People

An important message from SCM Bangladesh  & WSCF Asia Pacific:

[source = ABC News]
According to global mainstream media and the United Nations reports since the 25th August 2017 nearly 400,000 Rohingya Muslim including Hindus have fled Myanmar and have entered to Bangladesh while others have fled to different regions in Myanmar to escape violence and have become internally displaced in the country. The gory violence erupted in the western region of Rakhine state of Myanmar after suspected Rohingya insurgent attacked 30 police posts and an army base killing 12 security personnel. As a result, a military retaliation was launched against the Rohingya people.

The world is witnessing one of the largest mass exoduses of people in recent history in South Asia and probably Asia’s biggest refugee crisis! The arson, killings, and reported rapes have forced them to flee through whatever means is available either through seas or by road to save their lives. Streams of terrified people including pregnant women, children, new-borns, elderly are seen in various media walking through fields, jungles, crossing through submerged fields and rivers in horrible conditions.

The recent influx has added to the existing 400,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and the number has increased to nearly 800,000 – a worrisome number of refugees for an economically poor country like Bangladesh. The Bangladesh government was not prepared for the overwhelming number of refugees in just three weeks of time. Therefore, the situation of the new arrival refugees in Bangladesh is catastrophic. Not enough aid even to provide basic need of food, water, shelter for the overwhelming refugees.

The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) joins the Student Christian Movement of Bangladesh (SCMB) to condemn the on-going violence against the Rohingya people by the Myanmar Army in the strongest terms. While we are aware that a faction of Rohingya community took up arms and indulged in violence and do condemn their act. However, this is purely human rights violation as more than a million Rohingya people have been persecuted through decades. We show our support and solidarity to the civilians who are violated and killed by an unjust political system and military aggression victimising a particular religious community.

We as faith community seek your support and solidarity and call the SCMs, (Student Christian Movements), Churches and Ecumenical organizations to respond to this major humanitarian disaster unfolding. The new arrival refugees are in desperate need of food, drinking water, tents, clothes, and medicines. The SCM Bangladesh together with the faith communities in the country is initiating assistance to the desperate community together with other aid agencies.

We seek your support, solidarity, prayers and action to reJoint Appeal of WSCF AP and SCM Bangladeshspond to the humanitarian disaster. You can do the following to express your solidarity with the suffering and affected people by:

– Taking immediate measures beyond of the verbal condemnation
– Writing to the Myanmar Consulate/ Embassy in your countries urging them to immediately stop the ongoing violence in the Rakhine state
– By facilitating response by the humanitarian aid agencies to assist in food, drinking water, shelter and medical help to the affected community including the internally displaced people and to protect the vulnerable children, women, men from traffickers
– Writing to the Consulate/ Embassy of India in your countries not to deport the undocumented Rohingya refugees (Indian government is planning to deport all the undocumented Rohingya people) but allow them to live in the country on humanitarian ground and based on the principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protect the right to life
– Creating awareness of the Recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State 2017 and bring pressure to the government of Myanmar and Bangladesh to start implementing the Recommendations
– Increasing international pressure on UN and international communities to find a lasting solution to the conflict in the region.
– Providing financial support to meet the basic need of the refugees in Bangladesh

Send your financial support here. 

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” – Proverbs 31:8-9

In Solidarity,

Edward Tarun Roy
Chairperson
Student Christian Movement Bangladesh

Kingson Selvaraj
on behalf of the Human Rights Justice & Peace Committee of WSCF Asia Pacific

Sunita Suna
WSCF Regional Executive for WSCF Asia Pacific

View/Download the PDF here: Joint Appeal of WSCF AP and SCM Bangladesh

Celebration of WSCF Canada & Luciano Kovacs

You are Invited!

Come and hear about the work of the World Student Christian Federation in North America: an anti-oppressive ecumenical community of students and young adults from Canada and the USA, committed to the radical and prophetic words of Jesus Christ.

We will celebrate the work of Luciano Kovacs, North America staff, who is completing 10 years of work this year.

Join SCM Canada staff, ecumenical colleagues, friends and comrades for refreshments and conversation!

September 21, 2017, 7-9 p.m.
Christie Gardens
Recreation Room, Lower Level
600 Melita Crescent, Toronto

RSVP – andersonbetsy528@gmail.com or 416-656-6064

Your Faith on Feminism: October 20 – 22

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Your Faith on Feminism is an interfaith and ecumenical conference where feminist advocates of various ages and walks of life will come together to share ideas, build community and participate in worship. Friday evening to Sunday, the program will encompass discussion-based educational and creative breakout sessions, music and worship, and reflections on what it means to be a feminist in the present, global
atmosphere of fear, war and oppression.

Individuals and groups are invited to submit papers at any stage of the writing process to be workshopped in an informal, academic group environment, facilitated by experienced and knowledgeable feminist advocates but with the understanding that everyone has wisdom. Participants will eat, pray, study and share with one another throughout the weekend.

A set of conference papers will be published on the ideas presented and discussed by participating students and ministers, including the influence of workshops and the community.

Participants of all intersections, including age, race, culture, gender, size, ability, sexuality and faith, will contribute to their collective knowledge on diversity in feminism and enrich their activism with interfaith dialogue, friendships and intergenerational context. Relationships of mutual giving will develop across distance and divides both literal and figurative to help empower women and feminist advocates of various faiths to create meaningful change in their communities.

What?​ Your Faith on Feminism Conference
When?​ October 20 – 22, 2017
Where?​ St. Joseph’s College, University of Alberta, Edmonton
How?​ Please register by filling out the Registration Form​.
Fee?​ Registration costs vary based on if you require a billet and whether you are a student.

Full attendance with meals and lodging: $200 CAD/$160 USD for students and under 35; $275 CAD/$225 USD for clergy/faculty and over 35

Full attendance with meals, no billet needed: $175 CAD/$140 USD for students and under 35; $250 CAD/$200 USD for clergy/faculty and over 35

Saturday-only attendance with meals, no billet provided: $100 CAD/$80 USD for students and under 35; $125 CAD/$100 USD for clergy/faculty and over 35

Scholarships and bursaries are provided on an individual basis and are dependent on funding and demand. If you require financial assistance, please indicate so and we will contact you. Priority will be given to students and young adults.

WSCF encourages participants to seek funding with their schools, family, communities, family and houses of worship. Christian participants can also go to their home denomination for assistance.

NOTE: If you need extra time to prepare for travel, secure a visa, book flights or for any other reason— please let us know and we will do our best to fast-track your submission review and acceptance. 

Land acknowledgement: ​The WSCF-NA recognises that we are meeting on Treaty Six territory, a traditional gathering place for diverse Indigenous peoples including the Cree, Blackfoot, Metis, Papaschase, Nakota Sioux, Iroquois, Dene, Ojibway/ Saulteaux/Anishinaabe, Inuit, and many others whose histories, languages, and cultures continue to influence our vibrant community.

Payments can be made:
In Canada – through our donation page or by mailing a cheque to SCM Canada’s Office at 310 Dupont Street, Suite 200, Toronto ON M5R 1V9
In the U.S. – through our donation page or by mailing a cheque to WSCF-NA 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 700, New York, NY 10115

Call for Papers
Feminist advocacy is, as bell hooks has said, a movement to end sexist oppression. Sexist oppression enacted on different groups and identities confers varying degrees of power and privilege (or a lack thereof) to different aspects of our identities. Feminism must—or ought to, by the great diversity of its advocates—be an intersectional movement. As people of faith, in all our varying contexts, we are called to challenge injustices and empower each other to free ourselves from spiritual, emotional and physical bondage.

Feminisms must subvert misogyny and patriarchy wherever they are found, including in our holy texts. Feminist theology intersects with and incorporates rich and diverse ways of understanding and critiquing both feminism and faith, such as liberation theology or queer theology.

This conference focuses on how faith and feminisms come together, sometimes explosively, in our time of global political upheaval, war, oppression and increased fear of the other.

We are seeking papers at any stage of the writing process that are rooted in faith and use intersectional feminist theology to address at least one of the following themes:
● Terrorism and fear
● War
● Racism
● Xenophobia
● Islamophobia
● Antisemitism
● Colonialism and reconciliation
● Gender identity
● Sexual orientation

Abstracts (limit 300 words) can be sent to wscfna@gmail.com for review.
The deadline for submissions is September 7, 2017 and participants will be informed of acceptance by October 1, 2017. Participation from all walks of life is welcome and celebrated.

Post-conference, finished papers and reflections will be published, if consent is given, by World Student Christian Federation North America.

Call for Volunteers

Click here to sign up.

World Student Christian Federation North America, in collaboration with St Joseph’s College, is seeking volunteers to assist with hospitality at an interfaith feminist theology conference on October 20-22, Friday to Sunday. Volunteers may choose as many or as few shifts as they like, using the attached form. Each shift will be 1-3 hours in length and, if desired, should not impede volunteers’ participation in the conference.

We require assistance with the following:
● Setup and takedown in the College’s Newman Centre
● Preparing and serving snacks, coffee and tea
● Sound operation
● Workshop hosting
● Registration and accessibility

For more information, please contact wscfna@gmail.com.

Download Your Faith on Feminism here.

WSCF highlighted by UN in Faith-based Organization Spotlight

The United Nations Inter-agency Task Force on Religion and Development is providing a new series of ‘FBO Spotlights’ on faith-based organizations who have UN NGO accreditation; have worked with UN entities; have active programmes promoting and supporting human rights in countries; and are working on Sustainable Development Goals-related efforts.

This month, they are shedding light on the World Student Christian Federation.

Here is the write up:

The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) is a global community of Christian students and young adults as well as other members of the academic community dating back to 1895. WSCF is  the oldest and one of the first and foremost International Ecumenical Student organizations of the world. WSCF has more than 100 national members known as SCMs (Student Christian Movements) across the globe in six regions. The WSCF Inter-regional Offices are based in Geneva and Manila, Philippines and the six regional offices are based in Asia (Hong Kong), Africa (Nairobi), Europe (Trento, Italy), Latin America and Caribbean (Buenos Aires), Middle East (Beirut) and North America (New York). WSCF has  consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC), the Department of Public Information (DPI), the Human Rights Council and UNESCO.

The WSCF is a global community of Student Christian Movements committed to dialogue, ecumenism, social justice and peace. Our mission is to empower students in critical thinking and constructive transformation of our world being a space for prayer and celebration, theological reflection, study, and analysis of the social and cultural process, solidarity and action across boundaries of culture, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity.  The WSCF is called to be a prophetic witness in Church and society. The vision is nurtured by a radical hope for God’s reign in history.

The WSCF focuses its work through programs and cross-cutting strategies as identified at its General Assembly held in Bogota, Colombia in February/March 2015 on the theme “We are Many We Are One, Sent Out to Build God’s Peace”. The five programs are Eco-Justice (economic, ecological, climate justice for the whole inhabited world), Higher Education, Identity Diversity and Dialogue with a focus on Human Sexuality, Gender and LGBTQ Rights, Overcoming Violence and Peacemaking with a focus on the Middle East and Interfaith Dialogue and Solidarity. WSCF’s Strategic Areas include Biblical and Theological Analysis, Advocacy and Solidarity, Ecumenical Transformative Diakonia with a focus on Migrant Justice, Capacity Development and Movement Building.

Upcoming WSCF projects include:

  • A WSCF-North America Indigenous Solidarity Program to be held in Winnipeg, Canada on June 15-19
  • An Interfaith Youth Conference on Peacemaking and Overcoming Violence in the Middle East to be held in Cairo, Egypt on August 1-5, 2017
  • An interfaith, intergenerational and intersectional feminist theology conference to be held in Edmonton, Canada on October 20-22, 2017
  • An Inter-regional Leadership Training Program on Identity Diversity and Dialogue with a focus on theology and LGBTQ rights to be held at venue to be determined in Asia in the November/December 2017

 

Indigenous Solidary Conversation Cafe featuring Theodore Fontaine

 

Theodore (Ted) Fontaine is a member and former chief of the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. He graduated in civil engineering from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1973 and went on to work in the corporate, government, and First Nations sectors, including eleven years with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs as an advisor and executive director.

This powerful memoir documents the physical, psycho-logical, and sexual abuse he experienced at the Fort Alexander and Assiniboia Indian Residential Schools in Manitoba during the 1940s and ’50s. The story’s hopeful ending sets an inspirational example for generations of First Nations following a similar path.

Theodore is a regular speaker and media commentator on Indian residential schools and has presented his best-selling memoir, Broken Circle, to more than 350 audiences in Canada and the United States. He continues to break new ground by supporting survivors and by seeking reconciliation directly with those who were perpetrators of his abuse. Theodore lives with his wife, Morgan, in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Support Indigenous Solidarity

The World Student Christian Federation-North America is planning an Indigenous Solidarity Program to be held in Winnipeg, Treaty Territory 1, Manitoba, Canada from June 15 to 19, 2017. A group of 15 students and young adults from across the United States and Canada will be immersed in issues of racial justice and right relations, indigenous solidarity, indigenous theology and theologies of settlers’ solidarity, economic and eco-justice for indigenous people, mass incarceration of indigenous people in Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools in Canada and other relevant topics. This program will take place at the Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg.

In order to implement this program and provide scholarships to students, we are in need of funding. We are coming to you asking that you contribute financially to this event by sending a generous donation.

Read the Indigenous Solidarity Appeal here and Donate Online today.

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Indigenous Solidarity Trip: June 15-19

Indigenous-Solidarity-Trip-Small

Organized by WSCF-NA in partnership with SCM Canada, the Indigenous Solidarity Trip will take place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, from June 15 – 19. Around 15-20 students and young adults from across Canada and the United States will be immersed in issues of racial justice and right relations, Indigenous solidarity, Indigenous theology and theologies of settlers’ solidarity, economic and eco-justice for indigenous people, mass incarceration of Indigenous people in Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools in Canada and other relevant topics.

Canada’s recent conclusion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission came with 97 recommendations for reconciliation for the Canadian public to pursue. Three in particular pertained to the church. In response to this reality, and in alignment with the WSCF NA’s thematic pursuit of racial justice and Indigenous solidarity, we have proposed to have an allies learning trip in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As this area hosts a high population of Indigenous peoples, as well as considerable allies and reconciliation efforts, it is a ripe space for learning.

The program will include a mix of educational activities (conference-style keynotes, workshops and working groups), exposure outings, biblical and theological reflections on the theme, and recommendations for advocacy work on Indigenous solidarity. The program will involve students active in local universities and seminaries as well as young adults from congregations located in the area. Partnership with activist organizations such as the Mennonite Church Canada, Christian Peacemaker Teams and the Indigenous Family Centre will be integral to the program. Participants will also engage in Indigenous solidarity activities and in turn, once back home, will educate others regarding Indigenous issues, promoting activism and advocacy locally and nationally.

What? Indigenous Solidarity Trip
When? June 15 – 19
Where? Canadian Mennonite University, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Treaty 1 Territory, home of the Ojibwe, Cree and Metis Nations
What? Workshops will include: Colonization in Canada, Addressing Privilege, Playback Theatre,  UNDRIP’s work with Bill C262, Visits to Indigenous Family Centre & Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Ceremony at the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre (UCC)
How? Please apply by filling out the Registration Form. Applications should be in by May 25.

Senior Friends’ Gathering Reflection

Alice Hoaglund attended the Senior Friends’ Gathering in Berkeley, CA on March 24. Here is her reflection from that experience. 

From the time Peter Haresnape, SCM Canada General Secretary welcomed me, throughout the 8 hours when Luciano Kovacs bade me goodbye, I had the warm  feeling of being among Federation friends Friday, March 24, at the Senior Friends gathering in Berkeley.  This is a short time to compare one day with 60 years ago when I had the privilege of serving two years as European Secretary, WSCF, living in and traveling from Geneva, Switzerland, following several years in the student Christian movement in the U.S.  The current theme of the LTP conference, “Resisting Empire,” sounded like the intensity and commitment which characterized the Federation long ago.

Timeliness was another commonality which I felt as we gathered then and now for regional and international conferences.  The global outlook was broadening for us as we spoke of conflicts we faced between different parts of the world.  The 50’s weren’t that far from World War II so we could still experience the attitudes that existed among nations. This made the Federation such an important movement for bringing reconciliation as a key concept in our discussions.  The subject of sexuality was definitely a different,  though not unfamiliar, conversation. The theme of a 1952 Student World quarterly was “Man and Woman.”

Ecumenical  was a current subject then on local and national levels.  Related to this was the founding of the World Council of Churches in 1948.  Not forgotten was the amazing history preceding it, the birth of the WSCF in l895. This did not seem important to students, maybe not then nor now.  For us old-timers, it is something we don’t want the Movement to forget.  In the changing world of our day the need of interfaith understanding and common goals is part of our vocabulary.  This term during one of the workshops  added to the timeliness of the discussion.  At the same time, the grounding of local SCM’s in Bible study and worship remains basic.  I am sorry I missed the study of Exodus 32 at the beginning of the LTP conference.  Our international office in Geneva brought us in close cooperation with a Roman Catholic World Service organization.  Our staff bookkeeper Yusef was a devout Russian Orthodox.

The words on Peter’s T-shirt struck me as a banner theme for the life of the Federation.  Now if I could only recall exactly what they were?  Easier to remember are the lines at the close of Luciano‘s correspondence, “In Christ, In Solidarity,”

Alice Hoaglund