October 14 to 20, 2002
General Secretaries/National Coordinators from 12 National Movements affiliated to WSCF Asia-Pacific Aotearoa, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand; staff (regional Secretary and Women’s Coordinator) representative from Standing Committee (1 ExCo and regional Chairperson) met in Pattaya, Thailand from October 14-20, 2002.
The following were the objectives of the 2002 General Secretaries Meeting:
The meeting had two presentations on the Mission Vision of the WSCF. Rev. Kwang II Lee presented and led a discussion on Mission and Vision of SCM from a National/Local Perspective citing South Korean SCM as example. While Ms. Glenda Rocas, ExCo Member, presented and led a discussion on WSCF Mission Vision on Regional/Global Perspective.
The meeting formally began with an Opening Worship led by Mr. Shawn Whelan (Australian SCM), and Rev Stephen Hsu gave a message based from the scriptural reading.
A Community Building followed the Opening Worship. Mr. Charles from SCM India taught the Name Chain Game which the group willingly accepted and played to get familiarized with each other’s name.
The following is the summary on Rev Lee’s presentation on Mission/Vision.
He emphasized “going back to basics” in looking for a new vision, and also studying the successful programs and strategies from the past (taking account of the changing context). Before he started, he invited each participant to share the most important issues and problems for their SCMs. Responses included:
This is the context in which we must consider our vision and mission.
Rev. Lee added the following points:
Rev. Lee also explained his scheme for understanding movement building:
KSCF has now succeeded in encouraging students to take the lead and Senior Friends to keep “hands off”. Now they are developing education programs and action plans. Rev. Lee encouraged other movements to consider this scheme and its relevance to their movement.
The following is the summary of second presentation from Glenda Rocas on WSCF Mission and Vision.
‘Human Pyramid’ Exercise
First Glenda broke everyone up into three groups and asked us to form a ‘strong human pyramid’ with our bodies. This was an exercise to think about “how do we work for our mission?”
Then Glenda gave a paper and said that her presentation had two major points:
We then had a general discussion where the below views and questions were aired:
Nirmala, the current Treasurer of SCM-Sri Lanka presented the report. SCM is currently operating only in one university unit, with about 50 students involved. And in theological college, institutes with about 500 involved. Likewise they run programs for high school students but they are not involved in the same way. They hold separate programs for the high school students. They hold Annual General Meeting with one representative for every 10 students in the unit.
Prodip Sarker, the General Secretary of the Bangladesh SCM read through his written report. From 1996-1999 the Bangladesh movement was mainly inactive, but since 1999 there has been a large upsurge in growth (to 800 students now – 30% university, 70% Senior High School). In March 1999 Rev. Shin and Rev Stephen visited some units and Senior Friends and granted some funds to call a general assembly. Bangladesh SCM plans to start an SCM hostel soon, for students. They will start small, with renting two-three rooms for about six people or so, and then see if the concept can expand. This project is partly financially supported by SCM Australia.
Bangladesh is 90% Moslem. The Christian population is .04%, 400,000 in the country.
Yasala Hola, the General Secretary of the Taiwan SCM gave everyone copies of the movement brochure. The Taiwan SCM joined WSCF in 1991. It is very connected to the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan. Currently it has 88 units, with 2000 students as members. It will host a big Bible Study camp early next year with the theme “Exodus”. Likewise they will hold Aboriginal Literature and Life Experience Workshop.
Bayani Alonzo presented a written report of SCM in the Philippines. Membership growth has been 105% over the last two years-from 1,700 to 3,500 members. The increase was largely during the OUST ERAP campaign where the SCMP was actively involved (campaign to oust the Philippine President). Chapters meet at least once a week. Currently peace issues are a big focus. Most members are Catholic. Full time Staff are basically volunteer staffs.
Im Thano, the National Coordinator, presented a written report on activity in the Cambodia SCM, WSCF AP’s newest movement, which was formed in 1999. After some serious leadership and financial problems it remains very small. Rev Shin asked support from other movements for the growth and continuance of this movement. Suggestions from the floor included:
Lasma Tobing, one of the Indonesia ExCo members, presented the report. Indonesian SCM has a membership of 40,000 students and 700 senior friends and it mainly focus on three things namely Campus, Church and Society. The main reason for the recent decrease in the membership is attributed to the prevailing economic situation, which forces the students to only concentrate on studies. Indonesian SCM also faces the domination of men in the posts in SCM. The main sources of income come from senior friends and WSCF. Some of the programs organized are Leadership Training, Human Rights and National Assembly.
Tess Windle, national coordinator presented the report. SCM Aotearoa remains a small movement with only 30-40 active members and it has a one part time worker, the national secretary, to look after the SCM activities in the country. Apart from the various activities at the local units they conduct a national conference in July every year and every second year it runs a week-long residential theological program. Occasionally it publishes Newsletters and has some on-line publications in the Internet, which is updated regularly. SCMA receives about one-third of its usual income from the SCMA trust and also receives grants from WSCF. SCMA is involved in working on a range of peace and justice issues and with other burning issues at local, national and international level.
Shawn Whelan presented the report. The Australian SCM is currently a very small and rather fragile movement. It has about 6 local groups of university students meeting regularly in 4 cities. Change in the nature of university life across Australia and the cultural shifts among the young people resulted in the decline in the membership. They have started experimenting new models of SCM community at the local branches in which young friends (recent graduates) and current students from different campuses holding evening meetings often at some one’s home or at a café in several cities to build community, encourage discussion and action that SCM promotes. A change in the National staffing to Volunteer Task Bearer has prepared the students and senior friends at the local level to organize national conference. Funding at the national level comes entirely form the donations from friends. They constantly are seeking and working on new ways to adapt to the changing circumstances to reach out to more students. A change in the national staffing to Volunteer Task Bearer has organized the students and senior friends at the local level to carry out essential national tasks and organise a national conference.
On behalf of the Singapore SCM, Yock Leng presented the report. SCM Singapore has been facing the problem of lack of youth participation for the past two decades and especially after the Singapore Government’s crackdown on NGOs in 1989, which doesn’t allow SCM activities inside the University campus. This has left the movement with the only choice to have association with the students through informal channels. Lack of suitable full time staff has made it difficult to conduct any meaningful activities. Moral support from the Churches is also lacking because they fear that doing that may displease the Government. The movement is also facing financial difficulties but despite the crucial situation in the movement they were able to organize programs and the notable one is the exposure trip to Philippines and Hong Kong.
Shwe Lin, General Secretary of the Myanmar SCM presented the report. Student Christian Movement of Myanmar has a membership of 10,000 and it has about 125 units even though the Governments policies are standing as barriers for the growth of the movement in the Country. The movement is still working as a Student Office Work in the Myanmar Council of Churches and organizes several programs with the objective to equip the second line leaders, create awareness and educate the members on social issues and to serve the needy through work camps. It has an annual budget of US$10,000 and senior friends and WSCP finance the programs.
Charles, the current study secretary of SCMI presented the report. He highlighted the major national and zonal level programmes, SCMI’s response to the communal violence in Gujarat and the recent achievements such as SCM’s new counselling centre for the community. Indian SCM has about 9000 university students and 600 senior friends and has a wide network all over the India in 13 regions covering 19 states with full time programme staff for each region. In every region they have a minimum of four programmes per year covering both current and recurrent social issues. Indian SCM is celebrating 90th year this year and as a mark of 90th year celebration and to respond to the current issues in the country the SCMI has come out with sticker, poster, songbooks and t-shirts. SCMI concentrates more on Dalit and Tribal issues. Since the nature of the Dalit issues are different from other issues SCMI responds to the Dalit issues through workshops and other programs to change the mindset of the people. They have around 100 to 150 units in 13 regions and have about 9,000 members with 2,000 to 3,000 of it coming from Dalit and Tribal background. Former General Secretary Mrs. Elizabeth Joy and the current study Secretary Charles are Dalits. Several programs start at the national level then move out to zones and regional levels. SCMI to respond to the Communal riots in Gujarat joined with other likeminded organizations formed Peoples Initiative for Peace and organized a weeklong dharna to protest against the growing violence in India but they have consciously concealed their participation in People’s Initiative to avoid reprisals from the Hindu fundamentalists.
Hoi Wing, national coordinator presented the report. They have about 20-30 members with 15-20 active members. They focus on 3 areas: a campus group, co-operation with Christian NGOs to respond to social issues, meditation and dialogue with other religions. Their plans for the next 2 years include a historical review on Christian social movement in 60s and 70s, student internship for 1 year (6 months in HK, 6 months in another SCM.
Hoi Wing also presented that the short (3 year) university system have made SCM organizing more difficult because students become involved in 2nd and 3rd year, then graduate straight away. They also fear that they may experience increasing repression from Chinese government, especially because of their connection with Taiwan SCM. They plan to have a lobbying work to put pressure on Chinese government not to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law. But they will not use SCM or WSCF’s name to avoid attack from the government.
The major issue that arise in the national movement reports were taken and was further discussed in the small groups. The following are the summary of small group discussions:
Delegates from Taiwan, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Bangladesh who are working under different kinds of oppression, both currently and historically, agreed that
SCM should maintain its strong prophetic voice, and should not separate its religious life from political, social and economic issues. Educate students to understand the situation through small study groups. There is a need to do systematic analysis of what is the problem, why are we having this problem, what can we do about it (and action planning to implement the ideas). Work underground if repression is severe (e.g. In Philippines under martial law 1970s). Use codes and secret signs to let people know about study groups, meetings etc. Don’t register with the government if reporting requirements are too strict. SCM can work under the umbrella of the churches though there is a risk of losing SCM identity and spirit.
Delegates agree that fundamentalist groups are more attractive than SCM because they offer an easy answer to the problem of the suffering (heaven/eternal life after you die). They have more money, which they use for making “attractions”—colorful brochures, posters, multimedia presentations, popular (rock) music, well set-up offices and paid staff, scholarships and stipends for students. They have aggressive recruitment and well-planned strategies that start from childhood. It was noted that their money comes from businesses and wealthy who want to separate religion and politics.
With all this barriers, SCMs should be more creative and careful not to become like them in spirit if we “adopt” some of their style. We need to train our leaders in SCM-style evangelism and outreach (ecumenical and political) and expose the negative aspects of the evangelical groups’ approach.
How can we serve the people effectively. If we are not sure about how we can survive (financially)?
Every national movements need funds to run programs and most of the national movements depend on the IRO and AP region’s funding for national programs which in the recent years have financial difficulties. In this kind of situation SCM should accept the reality that we are poor and should therefore use available funds for programs and minimize administration costs and move towards volunteer staff, encouraging Senior Friends to contribute regularly. SCM could also start up small, ethical businesses e.g. Café/coffee shop, hostel, educational courses but should be careful not to let this drain energy from the movements.
Every SCM should have a concrete and more defined mission statement and should always bear the “Subversive spirit” aware of throwing old practices. Likewise it needs to nurture among its membership friendship, concern about people, social justice, spiritual development, international solidarity, interest in peoples’ issues and justice.
It should be a 2-way relationship with mutual need and benefit, fulfilling each other’s needs. AP region should consider having more programs in the Pacific movements to create understanding about their culture and context and thereby reducing its isolation.
Movement-to-movement exchange should be encouraged further and sharing of support should be it in moral or material resources. National coordinators should be encouraged to share their needs with other national coordinators so that other movements know what they can offer.
Students are getting more apathetic, individualistic, and selfish. They are busier with study and paid work. University is becoming a commodity-students “buy” courses, “consume” their classes and go home again (or to work). Generally there is a Loss of “student life”.
These are basically effects of globalization: students are becoming more competitive. There is economic pressure to study harder, compete for jobs, work longer hours in part time jobs while studying.
Despite this reality, students have lots of potential and they want to find meaning in their lives, and make a difference. This aspect of the students needs to be nurtured by SCM. We should remember that students are not fundamentally selfish therefore we should encourage their compassion and we can do this by raising their awareness of the suffering of others.
In organizing, there should be a balance in nurturing the personal needs while gradually guiding them to be more socially oriented, as sometimes, students fear violence and reprisals if they become politically active. Therefore in making programs, we should be able to utilize and develop student’s talents while making them understood the issues. It is also important that we always include Prayer in our work, develop person-to-person relationship.
How do we address the differences between university and high school students among SCMers? How do we work with their differences?
High school students have different needs. However HS students are a possible area of activity for SCM movements and it could be a good recruitment ground for SCM. But if our staff is small, we should be aware of further splitting our energy into different types of organizing. But if we are seriously considering this, SCM can learn from other movements who have experience with HS student organizing (Catholic group).
SCM Aotearoa plans to publicize SCM with HS students just before they come to university.
Generally, the Church still remains conservative, but this should not deter SCM from working with the church. But because SCM and Church have same spiritual dimension, perhaps we could work together on the spiritual aspects. Senior Friends and current SCM should continue engaging in church activities so that they could start changing the people’s mindset within the church.
There is no need to counter the church always because Christ has 3 important roles: as a prophet, king and priest. We can always use and combine the 3 roles together.
Agenda: Election and programs
Regarding Election, Rev. Shin reminded the participants that in the next RCM, the delegates will be electing at least 4 new officers namely, 2 new ExCo members, 1 regional Chairperson and 1 Regional Vice Chairperson. It was noted that if it is possible, those person who will be nominated by their national movements for the position should participate in the Regional Committee Meeting.
Date: 22 July - 23 July (pre-women’s meeting?), 24-27 July (RCM?)
Delegates of RCM will also be the delegates in the General Assembly
With the Asia-Pacific Region hosting the coming General Assembly, the Regional Office could only sponsor two programs next year. One is the SELF. Participants suggested that it should be held prior the General Assembly so as not to drain much energy from the regional office, the month of March was suggested as a good time to hold SELF and the venue could be in India, Hong Kong or in South Korea. It was not decided whether it would be a joint program with CCA. Some participants see the need to have it as a joint program with CCA as this is one major means to be closer with church youth, while other see due to big difference between the level of development in terms of involvement and commitment with social issues between CCA Youth and SCMers is quite apart, it’s quite difficult to hold joint programs.
It was suggested that movements can make use of AP’s existing resources on training programs. If movement needs resource persons, AP region could help in finding resource person and if financially possible, AP would likewise support. Movements are also encouraged to send their training modules to regional office so the AP could make copies of them to share with other movements.
The Regional Office is setting up an Exchange Fund to support exchange program between movements. Likewise when movements want to invite another movement to their own program, it is encouraged that movement should at least inform the AP so the regional office can help disseminate the information.
The Regional Office is seriously encouraging movements with English ability to go to Cambodia to start a short English course with the Cambodian students which can also help in building a small group of SCM.
Nirmala suggested a fund-raising workshop but this idea wasn’t met with enthusiastic response.
SCM Philippines suggested to have a “mercy mission” to areas affected by militarization. This would include fact-finding mission, medical aid, and service for the people. This project could mobilize the Senior Friends and students. The outcome is to enable more people to be aware of the real situation instead of just receiving information from government sources or newspapers. But for the meantime AP will lead a signature campaign and encourage movements to send solidarity messages to the people in Philippines specifically on the murder of Senior Friend Choy.
Bayani asked the participants support in their signature campaign “pilgrims for Peace” which is calling for the resumption of peace talks between the Philippine Government, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and the National Democratic Front.
Nana and Beate IRO Co-Secretaries had a luncheon meeting with the AP National Coordinator’s. Nana and Beate discussed the current state for the 2003 WSCF General Assembly Preparation which will be hosted by the Asia-Pacific Region. Likewise they also clarified on the delay of EAP funding and this was due to change of cycle from the church donor from Germany.
They were also asked to comment on the Co-Secretary Model. Both agreed that for their experience, it is a working relationship which needs trust, respect and in some degree work chemistry, for them the model of co-secretary is working out well. Likewise, Beate pointed out the issue of diminishing resources that also puts into question the practicality of having Co-Secretaries.
Beate also discussed the “Deborah Project” which is basically an internship program meant for young women leaders and that the IRO have successfully clinched a funding for this program and one African SCMer will soon be starting her internship.
Beate also emphasized that the local movement is the heart and soul of the Federation, without the local units, there is no need for the Federation.
In the morning of 19th, the meeting is ended with the closing worship prepared by Tess.