WSCF AP and SCM advances and promote common concerns for justice, peace and human rights. In our own humble way, we responded to the call for specific justice issues for Migrants and Trafficked people, for ecological justice, for Human Rights for all, and Gender Justice. These were the issues and themes of two HR Regional Workshops that we organized which aims to encourage the movements to critically look at these issues, and hopefully enable us to respond in our local situations. Around 20 SCMers have participated in the HRJP Workshop to learn about Civil and Political Rights, reflect from the Bible, listen and be in solidarity with people in the communities and plan our actions together. Over the years, I have seen many of the SCMs who participated in these Workshops pursued commitments to these issues and engage in the marginalized communities in a much deeper way. However, I feel that we can do more as a network, the challenge is how do we seriously consider the recommendations and plan of actions that have come-out from these programs?
At the regional and global levels, we sustained and made visible work on Human Rights and Justice and Peace advocacy by responding to call for actions and solidarity. These advocacies and campaigns have been guided by the resolutions passed by the last RCM on the following issues: Human and Extra- judicial Killings in the Philippine and Morong 43, Migration and Trafficking, Democracy and Human Rights in Myanmar, Peace-building in East Timor, Peace on Gaza. By raising our voices to these issues and campaigns, we respond and work in solidarity with the victims and the marginalized as a Christian community.
Leadership formation remains our core work in WSCF, this is our ‘expected output’ in the wider ecumenical movement. As a senior friend myself, I believe that ecumenical formation does not happen in a single program, it is a result cumulative experience and praxis at the national and international levels. Most of the experience of leadership are gained from active involvement in life local SCMs, one may therefore ask what is the added-value of WSCF Program like the SET in 2010 and SELF in 2009? And what will this mean to the 50 SCMers who have participated in both programs? First, it deepens our understanding of our Faith and broadens our perspective on the issues Climate Justice, of human rights, poverty, because the opportunities for learning are broader. We begin to appreciate the diverse situations and locate our context within this diversity. We learn to analyze the connections, the patterns, the root- causes, the differences and see the ‘bigger picture.’ Therefore our framework of understanding is enriched and deepens. Second, we also hope that our Leadership Formation promotes an alternative leadership model and culture, a model that challenges the traditional models and practice of hierarchy, patriarchy and personal patronage that are all operating in our different contexts. Third, we hope that the program contributes in developing critical-thinking and perspective, realizing that our traditional learning institutions have long turn their backs on this responsibility. Not just critical-thinking, but critical-thinking with understanding, analyzing and reflecting, with PRAXIS.
The Ecumenical Movement is seriously in crisis. This I’ve heard from the leaders of WCC, CCA, Roman Catholic Church and other ecumenical bodies. It is a crisis of the institution, the vehicle that will facilitate ecumenical cooperation and witness in order for the ecumenical vision to be realized. The need to work together with like-minded groups becomes more apparent in building grassroots ecumenism in this so-called ‘ecumenical winter.’ As the new churches in Asia becomes more and more sectarian and constricted, the need to promote ecumenism becomes even greater among the young people today. EASYNet therefore is an important platform to expand and enrich our ecumenical vision at the grassroots. In the last two-years, we continue to lead in strengthening the network by sharing our experience and bringing the necessary impetus even in seemingly hopeless situations. I believe that it is through actual engagement and action that we learn ecumenical cooperation. I would like to thank the SCMs, who continue to lead and support the National Ecumenical Teams (NETs) in their own country.
We continue to cooperate with the CCA in different levels, but the Youth Work itself in CCA is needing much revitalization and re-envisioning from within. This was one of the reason why we came full-force in the CCA Assembly in KL, to help advocate for the prioritization and attention to the youth work in the CCA. In my opinion, the youth has been the casualty of the institutional crisis that has engulfed the ecumenical movement.
In 2010, WSCF continued to equip our young women with tools to develop critical feminist thinking through Feminist Theology and raising awareness of the women’s issues at the national level. Three WSCF and SCM Joint Program were organized in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Japan with young women student members of SCM wrestling with the issues that women and their communities are facing. As we continue to raise consciousness among young women, the work of some movements with women and gender have noticeable declined.
RWP - SCM Myanmar JWP
This project of the Regional Women’s Programme has empowered not only women but also men from the local SCMs through the women and men in partnership programme. In the Myanmar context its not only women who are oppressed but at the same time men are also oppressed under the military junta. Therefore, this space was unique and significant in Myanmar’s context to bring both women and men for this programme. The people in Myanmar do not have freedom even to express their thoughts and mobilize people for a greater cause. This JWP was also a platform for the different ethnic communities to come together and learn to accept the differences and break the prejudices of the differences of the diverse ethnic group. Though the JWP was a small space to bring the young women and men together to talk and discuss about the problem they are struggling with, the program had a great impact in the lives of the participants.
Our publications have strengthened our ability to communicate our stories and the life of the SCMs and understand the themes and issues that we are responding to as a Federation. The last 7 seven issues of PRAXIS dealt on the themes and issues of women and economic globalization, on the culture of peace, human rights and democracy, on peace and reconciliation, on identity, diversity and dialogue, on climate justice, and on women and identity. We hope that through PRAXIS we were able to help develop perspectives and theological reflections on the themes of the Federation. Our Annual Reports have likewise gave detailed account of what we do in our effort to update, show transparency and share the our lessons from our experiences. This has been particularly helpful to our church partners, who needed to listen to our stories and share this to their members as well. We also re-designed and re-developed our website and brochure through the generous help of some senior friends. We hope that by doing so, we are able to reach to a broader number of young people who are looking for alternative space to communicate and express their faith through action.
As the regional office goes through a transition period and change of leadership in the next few months, there is indeed room for improvement.
We continue to face financial challenge as our partners churches goes through radical changes due to dwindling resources. The impact of the Global Financial Crisis came to our door-step, as churches suffer terrible losses and reduced funding to WSCF by 30% in 2010. The Global ExCo was not able to meet in the last two years due to lack of resources and our IRO needed to make radical changes in its capacity to function due to the same. We need to address this situation in the next two years and make some adjustment internally within the AP region as well.
We need to deepen our faith reflections and sharpen our social analytical tools continuously. Some people may call it old-fashioned, but I truly believe that the rigors of social analysis, faith reflections, prayer and bible studies are lacking in the life of the movements. Our view and analysis of the world around us will change, but the discipline that we are known for as ecumenical student movements needs to be affirmed.
WSCF, as a century-old organization needs to adapt to the current context. Our organizational structure, systems, definitions and notions needs to be re-assessed and reflected upon to mirror the vision and life of the Federation. For example, the reality of migration of people challenges us to examine the notion of ‘membership,’ the overly powerful regional structures has prevented us to truly appreciate the gift of global character of our ecumenical family. Another example is that WSCF work and responsibilities have largely been molded in a patriarchal working culture and structure. As we strive to build an inclusive community and strengthen women and men partnership, we should likewise strive to build and promote inclusive structures within WSCF.