CCA-WSCF Joint Consultation
December 3 to 4, 2003
CCA Center, Hong Kong
Report of the Consultation
Day 1 – 3rd December 2003
The Joint Consultation started off with an opening worship facilitated by Cora Tabing, CCA’s Executive Secretary of Ecumenical Formation, Gender Justice and Youth Empowerment, that affirmed the participants’ commitment to ecumenism partnership and development amongst the students and youth. An opening address was given by Dr, Ahn Jae-woong, General Secretary of CCA. He emphasized the needs and importance of student ministry in order to enhance the vitality and richness of the ecumenical movement.
Following the opening worship and address, Ms. Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz Duremdez, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, gave the keynote presentation that follows:
- The educational system remains to be elitist, commercialised and colonial. Thus education has become a privilege and no longer a right
- Higher Education is simply producing individuals to become part of the globalised workforce and not students who are critical and analytical
- The academic community institutionalises rugged individualism at the expense of community and solidarity.
To this, the following challenges are posed:
- The need for a dismantling-supplanting ministry. A ministry that consistently poses a critique to the elitist, repressive, commercialised and colonial aspects of the educational system and at the same time, uplift the liberating and liberative dimension of the system
- A student ministry that is of and by the students and not a ministry for students. Hence, it is the task of both the church and the Student Christian Movement to provide students and youth with tools to organise the youth
- An ecumenical student ministry that is an integral part of the struggle for the liberation of the oppressed
- That the student ministry programmes of the churches and the Student Christian Movements should be clarified well on their particular roles and contributions towards organising the students, to avoid pitting up against fundamentalist Christian students
- The ecumenical student ministry should not concern itself with student affairs alone but should include faculty and non-teaching staff of the academic community.
The following are the main points of the three comments on the keynote presentation:
A) Importance of Student Ministry in the Local Church – by Rev. David Gill
- The church fails to recognise the importance of student ministry in the local church
- The church has lost its track of the distinctiveness of the academe
- When the church responds to the students, it must be accepting of those who are different (in terms of thinking, mindset, life styles etc.), provocative or unsettling. Is the church prepared to learn from “disturbance” among the students?
- The church has to do its best to its own integrity, teaching, preaching and worship because students are often alienated by any form of superficiality
- Is the church able to guard against the seductiveness of the number game?
- The church has to offer encouragement to the students to accept them even though they make mistakes or think beyond the frontiers
- Are the students prepared to love an unloveable church?
- Will the church and students help each other to face the challenges and questions?
B) SCM’s Role in the Society – by Mr. Wong Kaishing
- It is not necessary to separate students and social activism; the social or people’s movement is people’s transformation. Thus education is not separated from the social environment
- Education as of now is a form to control people, can we think beyond what the present education is offering?
- In a people’s movement, what is meant by ‘people’? The ‘people’ built a movement of an environment that each person can participate and build up their potential
- Students need to be more independent from the different interest groups that carry a hidden agenda, the students need to be a bridge for the people’s movement
- The people’s movement is not an external thing but is within us
C) SCM’s Relations with the Faculties and Chaplains in Higher Education –
by Dr. Betty C. Abregana
- Students are not always being controlled by the forces of the academe nor do they always have a sense of helplessness in the academia environment
- The academia has a structure but students can be empowered to do something within the structures
- The community need to have a focus on higher education on whether does it want its students to contribute to the community or to be competitive in the market because what we believe in could influence how we behave
- There is a need to establish human relations and interaction so that the students can engage in critical thinking
- There must be a sense of accountability and provision to monitor/evaluate outcomes of activities that students have with the academia so that improvements could be made
The following points are the main points from the discussion from the floor on the keynote presentation and the three comments:
It is believed that the universities have created a sense of competitiveness amongst the students, and that it is very much part of the real world. There is a fear that the competitiveness has replaced the vision to change the society, thus this is the challenge for the Church and the SCM to bring this vision back to the ministry.
It is important to bring back the vision to the students and youth, the support from the church is needed. This support could come from the encouragement and support of resources to the student ministry as it creates venues for critical thinking. There is a need to encourage continuous and constructive dialogues between the church and the SCM at different levels.
While affirming the uniqueness of the SCM, the challenge is how do the SCMs articulate its analysis, create spaces for change and explore different approaches in working with the church and church youth.
Reflection on the partnership of the CCA and WSCF AP
Rev. Shin Seung Min, Regional Secretary of WSCF AP, gave a brief report on the previous consultations done together by CCA and WSCF AP. He also highlighted on the evaluations of these consultations made by the NCCs and SCMs.
Thereafter, the participants went into 3 group discussions to further discuss on the topics of:
- Evaluation on joint programs, particularly from 1997-2002
- Reflection on the partnership between CCA/WSCF AP in terms of structure, program and resource sharing
- Articulation on a vision of CCA/WSCF AP cooperation in the ecumenical student ministry.
- Group 1 – SCM relationship with faculty and chaplain
- Group 2 – SCM relationship with churches
- Group 3 – SCM’s role in the society
Day 2 – 4th December 2004
The second day of the joint consultation started with a morning devotion led by Mr. Samuel Jayakumar, General Secretary of SCM India. Samuel emphasized on the ecumenical student and youth ministry and requested the participants to re-affirm and re-commit themselves to develop and support the student and youth ministry.
The morning devotion was followed by the plenary of the group discussions held on the previous day.
Reports from 3 Groups
Group 1 – SCM relationship with faculty and chaplain
The group started with an evaluation on the joint programmes particularly from 1997-2002, and commented on the following:
The joint efforts of CCA and WSCF AP are good ones but it is noted that there is an importance for these programmes to have a continuity because in some countries such as Hong Kong, there was no follow up activity after the joint national consultation;
- There is a need to develop some monitoring mechanisms to follow up on the result of the consultations especially at the local level in order to know if there is some progress work that is being done;
- There should be more specific recommendations and goals in future national consultation so as there will be more “do-able” recommendations.
Reflection on the partnership:
- There is a need to look beyond our ideological differences and a need to bridge the ideological gap (different perspective and ways of looking at social justice and social concerns) between the church, the church youth and the SCM especially at the local and national levels. In the regional level i.e. CCA/WSCF AP there is an understanding between each other but at the local or national levels, the church and the SCM have different priorities, needs, and different understanding on issues especially on social justice and ecumenism. But despite the differences, there is no need to compromise each other’s stance and perspectives; instead we need to find ways to work together;
- We need to explore more creative approaches wherein we do not create tensions because of ideological differences, but finding out a common grounding to work together (church youth and SCM could develop programmes like choral festivals, relief missions and other common interests);
- When the NCCs conduct programmes, invitations could be extended to the SCMs to make a presentation of their work and ministry to encourage young people to join and form SCM and vice versa so that SCMs could have knowledge on the work being done by the NCCs.
On Specific Agenda – SCM Relationship with the Faculty and Chaplains
- Tripartite talks and discussions between Asian Christian Faculty Fellowship, SCM and the NCC
- Networking with the chaplains
- Networking with the faculty, introducing SCM to the faculty members. In Philippines there are some notable experience of faculty support to the SCM in terms of providing an amount of time by supportive professors in their classes for the SCM to present its orientation and issue focuses
Group 2 – SCM relationship with churches
The group members reflected on:
- To find possible ways and thoughts of implementing relationship building between SCMs, local churches and NCCs, and continuing the relationships that has already been established within CCA and WSCF AP. Therefore there is a need to reflect and look at the current models already implemented, with the understanding that different models are relevant to different countries;
- The current relationship that CCA has with WSCF AP has given the SCM the unique position of covering a meeting ground for SCMers on their national and regional levels. Whereas other WSCF Regions do not share this relationship with their respective Council of Churches, the close relationship CCA has with WSCF AP is unique and helpful. Therefore this gives the SCMs an advantage of resource sharing and generating an arena to come together to discuss issues. The regional support from CCA to WSCF AP will always be there in whatever capacity they could offer their support;
- Reflecting on the relationship of the Churches, the group members reflected on the kind of history that has already been established in this arena and within the ecumenical circles. Therefore we need to be reminded of the history of the relationship building that has already taken place.
- However, it was mentioned that each SCM does not fully understand the structural churches and their respective associated bodies. Therefore some of the SCMs and their students do not fully comprehend these structures enough to create some form of relationship building. With these lack of understanding, it is difficult to build a relationship with the Church. Particularly with the Church’s Youth Ministry, it is operating under the structures of the Church and has a different mission and direction of nurturing the spiritual direction of their members based on Christian Morals according to the doctrine of their respective churches. Whereas this is somewhat different to the central core and focus of SCM in that the SCM is more focal on issues of social justice, ecumenism, gender issues etc. The Church hence, needs to be educated and acknowledge that the work of SCM is very much part of a valid student ministry to ensure the true Gospel of Jesus is implemented around the world;
- The SCMs of India and the Philippines have been invited as associated members in their respective NCCs whereas this is not so in other Asia-Pacific countries. There is a proposal that in the coming NCC General Secretary Meeting, a recommendation could be made by the CCA to the NCCs to invite SCMs as associated members.
- The importance of Senior Friends is essential in this relationship building. Many Senior Friends are in influential positions on the local, national or international ecumenical level thus, they could act as resource persons in connecting SCMs to the NCCs. Senior Friends also play an important part in helping SCMs with resources and resource sharing.
Recommendations by CCA
- CCA could help set up a neutral ground for good communication for addressing the issues discussed above
- CCA could help promote SCM in a more positive aspect through various types of mediums and media, examples: Pamphlets, Newsletters etc.
- CCA could help with resource sharing especially in terms of open dialogues among Church members, WSCF AP and SCMs in their respective countries
- CCA could help in the efforts to help raise money to support the cost of accommodation of the WSCF General Assembly in 2004.
Group 3 – SCM relationship with the society
The group members came up with the following comments and observations:
1. Evaluation of joint programmes, particularly from 1997-2002
Members of the working group shared the following observations:
- That whilst overall, the focus on local programmes had been fruitful and productive, that there had been examples e.g. India, 2001 whose focus was felt to be nationally based i.e. communalism. It did not focus much on the guidelines given by CCA as other consultations had;
- The group affirmed that from time to time this may be necessary, given local prevailing conditions that the guidelines should generally be followed and should be enforced;
- Local programmes should also be combined with regional programmes: the last one having been in 1995 was considered to be a long gap. However financing is the critical issue here and increased funding lies with the CCA;
- The Joint Programmes reports were very impressive, however the question of follow up was also raised as there was a perception that many of the stated follow up actions had not occurred and there were no mechanisms to find out if this follow up had occurred and there is also no accountability to follow up;
- The group agreed that outcomes must be sustainable after the programme and that financial support was critical to this.
2. Reflection on the partnership:
- Indonesia was highlighted as an important venue for a future consultation. Sri Lanka, Australia, Thailand and Cambodia were also identified as important future venues as the relationship between the SCMs in those countries and their respective NCCs were not as strong as in other countries in the region;
- The Aotearoa/New Zealand model was shared with the group who agreed that it was a positive one for other SCMs (i.e. all women’s and youth work being delegated to SCM rather than having separate Youth and Women’s Desks in the NCC);
- The SCMers in the group affirmed the importance of NCCs being truly ecumenical in nature and not non-denominational;
- The SCMers in the group reiterated that it was important that the CCA and NCCs recognise the importance of the relationship with SCM as opposed to other student organisations due to the ecumenical nature of SCM rather than other student organisations;
- The WSCF AP staff member reiterated how important it was for responsibilities on the CCA-WSCF Joint Committee to be shared equally, and for it not to fall onto WSC-APF alone to have to organise many aspects of the programmes;
- One of the CCA members of the working group reiterated the importance of accurate orientation regarding the expectations of the committee members to allow smooth transition into the committee;
- Outcomes must be monitored, guidelines enforced and participation monitored to ensure a broad cross section of participants attend to the programmes rather than just high level church leaders;
- One of the CCA members shared that it may be possible and desirable for consultations to occur in conjunction with other CCA Programme such as CATS. Particularly, through these joint efforts the Joint Committee can suggest the “ecumenical student ministry” to be in seminaries’ curriculum. The WSCF AP Staff welcomed this idea;
- The group believed that the CCA-WSCF Joint Committee was not recognised adequately at the CCA level e.g. it could not be found in the CCA directory. Discussions were about how to better relate the committee into official CCA structures. Again funding was raised as being critical to raising the profile of the work of the Joint Committee;
- Issues were also raised about where funding should come from and the problem of whether it should come from a programme budget or not. Issues regarding ownership of the programmes was also raised;
- The importance of more regular meetings for the Joint Committee was raised and that it is important to make the structure stronger and having a balance of staff and committee members;
- On the question of programmes, national consultations were seen as being very cognitive and intellectually oriented rather than praxis or touching the heart. There must be a balance that could emphasize discussions focusing on more grass roots solutions, or SCM and local committee members could consider implementing the School for Ecumenical Leadership Formation (SELF) at the local movements.
- The need for external animators was critical in the success of such local SELFs in order to break down barriers that often can be found between CCA/NCC youth and SCMers.
The group members came up with the vision of:
3 areas were seen as the most important for future vision and action between CCA and WSCF/SCMs in:
- Higher Education
- The importance of SCM maintaining itself as a faith based movement was critical. Methodology was also seen as critical: being clear about integrating social aspects and having a holistic approach;
- It is important to stay within the church and maintain that relationship: to learn from the mistakes of the 1960s but to also maintain the importance of social action in conjunction with being a faith based movement;
- The importance of the student’s role in promoting dialogue and social discourse is critical. Unlike in previous eras though, SCMs are no longer the only groups voicing these things. We are now one of many, both within the church and in the NGO community. We cannot claim to have a prophetic voice in this day and age. This fosters a sense of elitism which we must avoid;
- The group also promoted the importance of interfaith dialogue.
Following the plenary on the group discussions, the actions plans that were recommended are:
A. Short Term
- Monitoring of programmes and partnership through strengthening the Joint Committee. The Joint Committee will be composed of one committee member and one staff from both the CCA and WSCF AP
- A regular page in the CCA Newsletter for WSCF as part of promoting SCMs in the churches
- CCA commits $20,000 for WSCF General Assembly for accommodation costs. CCA will contact some NCCs to make appeals to churches to contribute some funds to the General Assembly
- Promotion of Common Programmes that will bring together church youth and SCM e.g. Youth Week
- Asia Student and Youth Gathering (ASYG) and Ecumenical Asia-Pacific Student and Youth Network (EASYNet) National Coordinators’ Training in 2004, are venues for the young people to get together and to develop young leaders on joint efforts
- Resource sharing not only in terms of finances but on other resources of the church, e.g. church venues where SCM could use at a discounted basis or for free
- CCA Assembly to invite SCMs to attend and vice versa for WSCF Assembly
- Ecumenical women’s meetings and programmes where WSCF can be invited
- Asian Conference of Theology Students (ACTS) to address the ecumenical student ministry, and the possibility of including the student ministry in the theological curriculum
B. Medium Term
- Joint Meetings of CCA-member NCC Youth Secretaries and General Secretaries/National Coordinators of the WSCF AP region at least once in five years
- SCM to initiate dialogue with the church. (For Hong Kong, Rev. Gill will broker the dialogue for SCM and HKCC, in order to pave the way for a start of dialogue)
- Future National Consultations in Indonesia, Australia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Thailand, and another regional consultation for evaluation
- Joint SELF Programme
C. Long Term
- Tripartite Meeting between Asian Christian Faculty Fellowship, Student Christian Movement and the National Council of Churches
- Mobilising the Senior Friends for finance and other resources
- Defining the relationship and partnership of SCM and NCC. Study what structure will be appropriate for each country (Some countries have SCM as NCC’s associated member or SCM’s as the main arm of NCC’s in its student ministry)
- Accompaniment/Internship programmes for students and youth
A Consultation Statement
The consultation participants adopted a statement and asked CCA and WSCF AP to send it together with a consultation report to their constituencies.
The closing worship was facilitated by Rev. Stephen Hsu, Chairperson of WSCF AP. Rev. Hsu stressed on the importance of the ecumenical partnership that CCA and WSCF AP has and the need to help and support each other in the overall people’s ministry because all of us are doing God’s work. Thus, it is important to lift each other up in times of difficulty and to journey together in mutual respect and understanding so as to stimulate learning process and growth.
With these closing words, the CCA-WSCF Joint Consultation of 2003 came to an end.