News

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

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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

Transforming young adults into Christian leaders

By Linda Bloom
Originally published at umc.org

This week, Jacey Johnson, a United Methodist working on a Master of Divinity degree, will get a taste of what community organizing is all about — from both a theological and practical perspective.

The 24-year-old student at United Methodist Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington is among the participants attending a leadership-training program organized by the Student Christian Movement-USA and its parent body, the World Student Christian Federation-North America. The participants come from the United States, Canada and a few other countries.

While the focus is on promoting social justice in today’s world, Johnson is part of a strong United Methodist connection that dates all the way back to the federation’s founding in 1895. John R. Mott, a U.S. Methodist layman who later won the Nobel Peace Prize, was one of six founders and also served as the federation’s chief executive.

The March 23-26 gathering at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, is the fifth annual such event, said Luciano Kovacs, the North American branch’s regional secretary.

Through this ongoing program, young adults “reflect theologically and biblically as well as social-politically” on the different themes explored by the federation, he explained, and learn how to foster ecumenical dialogue in their own regions.

The various trainings offered through the World Student Christian Federation-North America also are a project of The Advance, the voluntary giving program of The United Methodist Church.

Annie Solis, who lives in the Peruvian Andes, first became involved with the federation and the Student Christian Movement in 2014. A member of the Methodist Church of Peru and its Working Group on Climate Justice, the 33-year-old attended a preparatory meeting in Lima, Peru, for the U.N. climate summit in Paris and later spoke at a training on ecojustice organized by the World Student Christian Federation Latin America and Caribbean region.

In March, Solis was part of a 12-member delegation from all regions of the federation to the 61st U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. The federation holds accreditation at the United Nations.

“Being part of a global delegation allowed me to know more about what the Christian students are doing and facing in their own contexts, either at school, work and faith communities, and their particular challenges regarding gender equality,” she told United Methodist News Service.

Solis finds gender injustice to be a “global burden” even in faith communities. However, she said, “we can take the first step discussing this issue in our communities and inviting our young friends to this conversation promoting a call to action toward healthier relationships and equal participation of men and women of all ages.”

READ FULL ARTICLE AT UMC.ORG

Ecumenical Tranformative Diakonia: Border Solidarity Trip

BorderFrom October 1st to October 11th, 2016, World Student Christian Federation (WSCF)-North America held a solidarity trip to the Arizona border between the US and Mexico as a regional follow-up project on the Inter-Regional Leadership Training Program on Migrants, Refugees and Asylum seekers. The solidarity trip was organized in the framework of WSCF’s strategy of Transformative Ecumenical Diakonia and Overcoming Violence Program.

During the program, a delegation of ten young adults and students from across the United States were able to roam in the border and witness the cruelty of human-made efforts to keep off migrants coming from the Southern part of the Americas on the basis of “illegally” crossing the border.

The participants visited the site where a border patrol officer killed Jose’ Antonio Elena Rodriguez, a harmless 16-year-old Mexican boy. The agent has always claimed to have acted to defend himself from rocks being hurled at him, a very warped hypothesis given the 12-15 meters wall sitting on an already tall stone embankment rising off the street where Jose’ Antonio was standing. Likewise they joined a vigil and interfaith servicein front of the Eloy Detention center on the eve of the School of the Americas Convergence in Nogales.

The group was also able to witness the cruelty of a border enforcement program called Operation Streamline, a strategy set up in 2005 to fast track deportation practice consisting in a pre-agreed plea where migrants who are caught crossing the desert are arraigned and sentenced to “illegal entry into the United States”. In the Federal Court of Tucson 60-70 migrants appear in front of a judge in shackles and chains on any given day in a show reminiscent of slaves just off the boat where they plead guilty to entering the US. Many of these people are imprisoned in so-called detention centers where inmates are subjected to all kind of abuse, which often ends up in unexplained deaths or suicides.

At the end of the program, participants recommended that the Solidarity Border trip should become a WSCF signature program, as it challenge participants and changes young people’s lives. In the words of a participant: “Thank you for disturbing me”. “We all need to be disturbed to fully understand what is ethical in doing solidarity in deep and meaningful ways”. This program enabled participants to see that “thereis hope amidst suffering and that marginalized people continue to take charge of their narratives”. The program was in partnership with the American Waldensian Society and Borderlinks, a Tucson-based non-profit organization that receives delegations throughout the year for a full-immersion visits in the borderlands.

Originally published in the WSCF Federation News.

International Women’s Day Liturgy

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International Women’s Day 2017’s Liturgy theme is Hospitality for the Stranger: Remembering and Standing in Solidarity with the Refugees. Prepared by the Regional Women’s Committee of WSCF Asia Pacific, it highlights the call to stand in solidarity with the refugees particularly the most vulnerable ones – women and children refugees. We as a Christian faith community believe and uphold that Hospitality is the core value of Christianity. May this liturgy inspire and empower all to be a hospitable community to our neighbors. Download the WSCF International Women’s Day Liturgy.

Reflection: Romans & Resistance

By Brandon Cook

As I write this I recognize that it is not enough. There is too much to protest. Too much to call out against. Our clothes are already in tatters and the ash is running into our eyes, and yet there are more miles to march. I wish to examine a simple thing in many ways because it feels small and unimportant, but it is the small beliefs that we build on. They become actions. It is easy to let the small things pass us by before it is too late.

After President Trump signed his executive order halting our refugee program and banning travelers from seven countries, I witnessed many people highlight the injustice using scripture. Supporters of the President threw scriptures back, including Romans 13:1: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God (NRSV).”

They accused Christian protestors of abandoning God’s chosen president. To say that this verse is taken out of context is a gross understatement. To claim that it means that all Christians should be absolutely obedient to whatever authority is placed over them, not only ignores the context of this verse in Romans, but also the core messages of the Gospel.

History repeatedly has shown up that those with evil actions and intents often rise to positions of power in our society. One cannot look at Andrew Jackson and the Trail of Tears and claim that it was right not to oppose the suffering created. America, along with other nations, has allowed evil to be perpetrated in the name of security, economic growth, Manifest Destiny, and greed. The Christian relationship to government and authority should not minimized to “Obedience is God’s command”.

Romans 13 continues by explaining that the role of the authority is to be “God’s servant of good (V. 4).” This is where our obedience as Christians lies. Authority, when it furthers the Kindom of God, whether intentionally or accidently, demands obedience. Those who name themselves as authorities and demand that Christians abandon what is good, never bear divine authority. Paul Achtemeier puts it this way, “If then a government claims for itself the kind of devotion proper only to God and demands that its subjects that they preform evil rather then good, and if it punishes those who disobey such demands to do evil, that government no longer functions as a servant of God and therefore is no longer to be obeyed as such (205).” To acquiesce to others because they claim authority is to abandon the authority that God placed on us.

So, where do our guides to what is good come from? This is one of the true beauties of this passage: It is surrounded by love. Literally. Chapter 12 is a litany of the virtues of a Christian, which famously begins, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” It instructs each person to “Let love be genuine (v 10)” and to “Extend hospitality to strangers (v. 13)” It concludes by condemning vengeful acts and anger, saying “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads (v 20)”. Chapter 13 boldly claims, “The commandments … are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law (v 9-10).” Romans 13:1 is not isolated from these verses, but is dependent on them. When Christians approach the world through love, we can discern when God is calling us to follow.

Those who resist in this time do not do so out of jealousy or bitterness. We stand boldly and proclaim that just as we have been transformed by God’s love, we are transforming through love. I long for a day when obedience is warranted, in this administration or any other. But so long as evil is done is my name, I will resist. So long as refugees are denied shelter, clean water is threatened, and patients are denied healthcare, I will resist. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “It may be that the day of judgement will dawn tomorrow; in that case, we will gladly stop working for a better future. But not before (16-17).”

Achtemeier, P.(1985). Romans: Interpretation, A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. John Knox Press (Louisville, KY)
Bonhoeffer, D. (1997). Letters & Papers from Prison: The Enlarged Edition. Touchstone (New York, NY)

United Nations Delegation- Commission on the Status of Women

The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) is hosting the Advocacy and Solidarity delegation to the 61st United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. It will be a global delegation made up of young women representing all the six regions of the WSCF. All the funds raised will assist the North America Region in providing accommodation of the 11 delegates who will spend two weeks in New York City attending the Commission.

The WSCF has invited 11 young women to participate in the 61st CSW which will take place in New York on March 13rd to the 24th. In addition to these 11 young women, they will be joined by the Executive for North America and Program Director for Advocacy and Solidarity. Together they will be representing all the six regions of the WSCF (Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East, and North America). The participants are all young adults or enrolled students. The money raised will provide funds for room and board of participants while in New York City for the two weeks duration of the CSW.

For more information visit our Go Fund Me campaign here: Young Women to United Nations CSW61

Universal Day of Prayer Liturgy

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The Universal Day of Prayer for Students will be observed on February 28st in 2017. It was first celebrated in 1898 and is one of the oldest ecumenical days of prayer. This year’s theme is ‘Identity, Diversity & Dialogue: Affirming the Image of God and Reclaiming the Wholeness of Life for All.’ Read the UCPS Liturgy 2017 prepared by WSCF Asia Pacific Region together with WSCF Inter-Regional Office.

Appeal: Leadership Training Program 2017

SCM-USA is planning its 5th annual national Leadership Training Program (LTP) for this March. The theme of this year’s gathering is Resisting Empire, based on Exodus 32. In order to ensure a wider participation of students, we are in need of funding. Will you give a generous donation so we can provide a larger number of scholarships? Please read our Appeal Letter from Luciano Kovacs, WSCF-NA.