August 1-9, 2008
The 34th General Assembly (GA) of the World Student Christian Federation was held from 1-9 August 2008 at the College Jean de Brebeuf in Montreal, Canada with the theme “Your Sons and Daughters Shall Prophesy “ (Joel 2:28). Attending the GA were (160) one hundred and sixty delegates coming from the 109 member movements of the Federation, senior friends, officers, staff, and guests.
Asia-Pacific Movements delegates in the GA, were Ms. Jasmine Dron from Australia, Mr. Alison Baroi from Bangladesh, Ms. Phanou Kiev from Cambodia, Ms. Wanyu Poon and Lau Kim Ling from Hongkong, Ms. Goklas Nababan from Indonesia, Ms. Azusa Nakamura from Japan, Ms. Su-hye Kang from South Korea, Mr.Sohail Akhtar from Pakistan, Ms. Leni Valeriano from Philippines, Mr. Lu Phok-Bun from Taiwan, Mr. Francisco Soares from Timor Leste, Mr. Anucharn Siroros from SCM Thailand, Ms. Nina Nayoan, outgoing Exco member from Indonesia SCM and Ms. Necta Montes Rocas, AP Regional Secretary from Philippines.
SCM Asia-Pacific senior friends attending the GA were; Wong Wai Ching, chairperson of the GA Search Committee from Hong Kong, Chris Ledger, Co-organizer of the Senior Friends Gathering from Australia, Dr. Soritua Nababan from Indonesia, Hellen Hill from Australia, Claudine Chionh from Australia, Toshikuni Takeda from Japan, and Janejinda Pawadee as vice chair candidate from Thailand.
On July 31st until August 1, GA participants joined the Men’s and Women’s Pre-Assemblies programs. The contents of the Men’s pre-assembly included bible study group focused on a text of the adulterous women, a workshop on understanding the role, impact of masculinity and gender issues within the society, a presentation of the white ribbon campaign about men’s violence against women. Participants to this event commented that the Men’s pre-assembly program was inspiring, motivating and challenging.
The Women’s pre assembly event consisted of bible study group, a women’s leadership empowerment session which included training of proactive participation in the decision making, envisioning sessions and a half-day exposure program on Canadian women’s leadership and political history. The delegates were hosted by Senator Nancy Ruth, senior friend of SCM Canada, at the Senate Chamber in Ottawa. At the Canadian Parliament grounds, the women delegates held a short liturgy to honor the five Canadian foremothers who fought for women’s rights to participate in the political exercise of the country, heralding the a new phase in the Canadian women’s struggle for equal participation and liberation.
The keynote speakers for the GA were Revd. Dr. James A. Forbes Jr., a renowned African American preacher & theologian and leader of the US “Let Justice Roll” living wage campaign; Dr. Reubem Alves, a renowned theologian, educator, psychoanalyst and author in theology and theopoetics from Brazil; Senator Nancy Ruth, feminist and advocate of women’s rights and social change in Canada; Rev’d. Dr. Patricia Kirkpatrick, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Hebrew Bible scholar from McGill University, Montreal, Canada and Dr. Gregory Baum, an influential Canadian Roman Catholic theologian and ecumenist, a Professor of theology and sociology at the University of Toronto and Professor of Theological Ethics at Montreal’s McGill University, Canada.
There were four GA Commissions designed as a space of envisioning and planning for the future of the Federation. These commissions were Raising prophets: Ecumencial leadership formation 1st commission, Prophecy in Action: Advocacy and Solidarity 2nd commission, Radical Renewal: Biblical and Theological 3rd commission, Making the Vision real: Capacity Building 4th commission. Every day the Assembly’s delegates would gather together with resource persons led by the two moderators to discuss concerns related to the focus of commission and then to make plan priorities which were presented to the assembly plenary on August 8th 2008 as guideline for the next quadrenium’s strategic directions.
The common themes that emerged from the work of the GA Commissions were Interfaith Engagement; Environment and Climate Change; Economic Justice (poverty, food crisis, fuel); Diversity and Discrimination (ethnic, indigenous, sexuality, religious).
Another important event that was simultaneously happening with the GA was the Senior Friends Gathering held from August 4 to 8 at the same venue of the GA. On August 7, the senior friends joined the GA participants for morning worship, bible study, planning and visioning in the GA Commissions, and dialogue with the students attending the GA. Senior friends were given space to share their challenges and stories to the younger generation of SCMs. Natalie Maxson, the Youth Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) commented that the joint session was a special moment to see the senior friends and students of WSCF share common visions and aspirations given the barrier of age, status, power positions. It was a first time for her to witness in a global gathering where the younger and older generation can discuss intensively and equally.
As the highest decision making body of the Federation, the GA has made several important decisions. These were the affiliation of four new national movements into the Federation, namely; The Iraq Christian Youth Council (SCM Iraq), MEC por la Equidad of Mexico (SCM Mexico), The Movimento Estudante Cristao Timor Leste (SCM Timor Leste), Movimento Ecumenico de Estudantes de Teologia /MEET Brasil (SCM Brasil).
Resolutions on contemporary issues addressing critical political, economic or social concerns that affect WSCF’s members in different parts of the world were made by the general assembly as well. They were resolutions on human right issue in the Philippines, resolution on the situation in Burma, resolution on self determination in Middle East, resolution on military conflict in Georgia, resolution on Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon.
(for the full text of these resolutions see the WSCF general assembly website, http://ga.wscfglobal.org).
Horacio Mesones (Uruguay), chairperson
Janejinda Pawadee (Thailand), vice chairperson
Michael Wallace (Aotearoa), general secretary
Youhanna Kammal (Egypt), treasurer
Bronwyn Crowe (Australia); Immanuel Gopala Kitnan (Sri Lanka)
Torbjorn Askevold (Norway); Hannah Satlow (Austria)
Latin America & Carribean:
Sarahi Garcia Gomes (Cuba); Marcelo Leites (Uruguay)
Sammeh Effat (Egypt); Carla Khijo (Lebanon)
Alice Glaze (Canada); Noah Gillespie (USA)