The year 2006 has been a year of “taking stock” of who we are as a federation of national movements. The WSCF Regional Committee Meeting in July was an occasion to keep our feet firmly grounded on the realities of our region and listen to the situations of the national movements and our intentional visits to the national movements in Pakistan, Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Timor Leste. Each visit has been an invigorating experience in understanding the state and health of the national movements and confronting various challenges. In one occasion, I encountered harsh criticisms from a student in Ambon Indonesia asking me “where was WSCF when the violent tension between Christians and Muslims happened in their town?” In another time, an SCM adviser in Foreman College in Lahore Pakistan pleaded for WSCF to invite students to participate in programmes that would broaden their views about ecumenism and challenge conservative ideas in the campus. These various encounters somehow informed the priorities of our regional programmes in 2006.
Perhaps one of the highlights of this year’s work has been our efforts to strengthen our Human Rights Solidarity Programme. The Human Rights Regional Workshop was an attempt to equip the students with skills and re-focus our human rights advocacy to actual campaign work of the national movements. We also tried to bring greater coordination and cooperation within the SCMs in the region on human rights issues with the formation of the Human Rights Committee. If we continue with this trend, we may be able to see human rights desks and human rights coordinators in the majority of the SCMs at the end of this current biennium (2007-2008).
Undoubtedly, what we are trying to aim for our Human Rights Programme has been the level of development that our Regional Women’s Programme has achieved over the years. This year, our Women’s Programme has worked closely with five national movements through the WSCF-SCM Joint Programme in Japan, Philippines, Korea, Hong Kong, and Australia. Each joint programme focused on the specific issues of their national movements, proving that gender consciousness has indeed been integrated in their perspective and work.
Our Leadership Programme, SET Programme continues to provide a unique experience to very young SCMers to learn about social issues and problems from a wide perspective and encourage them to deepen their commitment and engagement to our ecumenical vision. This year’s SET Programme, where a fresh batch of young SCMers in their late teens and early 20s participated, reminded us of the importance of continuously harnessing the potential of our young people to- wards God’s work.
While our ecumenical networking programmes such EASYNet and CWP activities seem to be the most challenging areas of work in 2006, we affirm its relevance as the only spaces available to creatively think collectively of our common ecumenical agenda, but we must continually invigorate these spaces with fresh and cutting-edge ideas. The need to work together on common areas of concern has never been greater in this time of fragmentation and polarization.
And yet new hope and exciting things are still to come. This year opened new arenas for ministry that have never been opened for us, among which is the possibility of engaging with students from mainland China and the Pacific and to work closely with the senior friends in some of our projects and programmes.
Finally, I would like to thank our friends and partners who have continuously guided and provided support and encouragement to us in 2006. We are grateful to UMC-GBGM, UMC UK, CSM, NCCA- CWS, ACC, UCC, FLC, PCT, PROK, NCCJ, CWS NZ who have provided financial support for our programmes and activities. To groups and organizations who have worked closely with us in 2006, to the Standing Committee members, past and present, SCMers who have tirelessly cooperated and helped us with the programmes. To Yock Leng, our outgoing Regional Women's Programme Coordinator for the last six years, who has steadfastly nurtured and accompanied many of our young women in the SCMs. May God continue to guide us in our journey!
Necta Montes Rocas
Yet another year has gone by in the life of the WSCF AP. In the presenting and reading of annual reports year after year, one may be inclined to echo the thoughts of the philosopher in the Book of Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun? ... What has been is what will be, and what has been done will be done” (cf. Eccl.1: 2-9). However, within the cyclical regularity with which the programmes of the WSCF AP have been carried out (with the usual emphasis on Leadership Formation, Human Rights, Women’s Empowerment and Action, Ecumenical Networking, and Movement Building), one can discern, with some sense of challenging fulfillment, the radiance of the movement enlightening individuals and groups as well as the zeal invigorating young lives to be committed to the cause of justice, peace, love and integrated growth in the steps of Jesus our Saviour, Liberator and Lord. New groups of young lives have been conscientized and challenged, weak movements have been encouraged and strengthened, struggles against expressions of the globalizing militarized empire have been nurtured and sustained, and fresh graduates have gone into the world taking with them something of the theology and ethos of the WSCF.
In the contemporary world a combination of various factors such as the pressures of success in education, the attractions of the consumeristic culture, the competition for obtaining lucrative employment, the escalation of “prosperity” religiosities, and the struggles for justice under oppressive regimes are threatening to weaken the resolve of SCMers and to reduce its membership. Jesus in his lifetime was not concerned with large membership but with qualitative discipleship; hence his use of images of salt (and not of a salt-mine) which gives taste to food, and of a gentle lamp (and not of blinding floodlights) which lights up the place. However, the salt and the lamp, though small in number and size, make a significant impact on their surroundings. Similarly the small member units of the WSCF AP are challenged to play a distinctive role in the transformation of society. And so our concern has been to strengthen existing national units, to revive dormant units and to start new ones. In this process we are also concerned about cultivating relevant theological gospel perspectives, nurturing closer relationships between the WSCF AP and Churches, and strengthening the ecumenical movement.
We are indeed grateful to all our funding partners, resource sharers and friends for the support you have facilitated during the past year. We in the WSCF AP have been able to accomplish the programmes that were planned for 2006 because of the encouragement you have given. Of late there has been a trend to grant support for socio-economic development projects, which yield tangible results and may even become self-sustaining. While such investments are important we need to also “invest” in students and youth leaders. Unless gospel values are sown, the socio-economic developmental projects are likely to be manipulated for selfish ends. Unless mature, socially-relevant spirituality is cultivated, the twenty-first century world will encounter devastating situations ahead. Hence, it is our hope and prayer that you would continue to be associated with us in our endeavour to inspire and equip students and youth leaders who would be committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the reign of God.