News

  1. Read the Asia-Pacific regions newsletter to get a global perspective on WSCF!

     

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    Praxis, is  WSCF AP’s official publication and is a vital tool  for communicating the voices and concerns of young people. This issue is titled ” Young Women Seeking, Engaging Restoring Justice and Peace” it includes pieces on the following categories

    • Perspectives
    • Biblical reflections
    • Solidarity space
    • Regional & global news
    • Scmers’ diary
    • National movement news
    • Tribute
    • Appeal and pledge

    and a calendar of events

    here is excerpt from Writing Our Herstory by Jen-Wen Wang

    “With the identity of Christian feminists in Asia we are going to interpret the history of Christianity.We start to raise questions about the past of global Christianity with the acknowledgement of the effort of many women theologians who worked before us and are working among us. We read the historical documentation of Western Christianity but do a critical analysis, using the experience of being a woman and a Christian in certain contexts in Asian

    The center of our
    herstory is no
    more Rome, nor
    Constantinople, nor
    Wittenberg,
    nor Geneva.
    The center of
    our herstory is
    the life of women in
    Asia, in the multireligious
    society.

    The historyAsia Pacfic of Christianity. We will write a herstory, instead a history of Christianity. We hope, the stories might thus empower us and help us in the search of our religious identity.”

     

    Check out the full publication here or if you have a bit more time you can even visit the Asia-Pacific’s regions website to learn more about them or go to there old website to read archives of Praxis 

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  2. Read the WSCF global report on the 2015 General Assembly & thank you letter from Necta Montes

    WSCF GA report

     

    The 35th General Assembly of the World Student Christian Federation was held at the YMCA in Bogotá, Colombia, from the 27th February to the 5th March 2015. The Assembly gathered under the theme “We are Many, We are One-Sent to Build God’s Peace”. Read the official report and thank you letter here and here!

     

     

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  3. SCM Ireland is looking for a new national co-ordinator, could it be you?

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    Dear All,

    The Student Christian Movement–Ireland is hiring!
    The job is part-time, flexible, can be delivered from anywhere on the island of Ireland and pays a stipend of €5,000, plus expenses. For more information click here.
    If you have any questions please contact John Delap at .
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  4. Nepal Earthquake Relief: An Appeal from SCM Nepal & WSCF AP 

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    Nepal needs our help:

    The World Student Christian Federation(WSCF) joins the people of Nepal in grieving the death and destruction brought by the massive earthquake. At this time of national crisis the people of Nepal need our prayers, solidarity, support and comfort. We managed to established contacts with our members in SCM Nepal and happy to know that the members who live in Kathmandu are safe though their houses are destroyed in the killer quake. Rajesh Rai, SCM Nepal Coordinator informed us that the situation is getting worse, as the casualties increasing rapidly and there is not enough relief materials for people. They urgently need, food, water and temporary shelters. Rajesh has requested to pray for the people of Nepal and provide support including financial support to arrange basic commodities for people in the community. Therefore we seek your prayers, solidarity and support for the people of Nepal. Please send your financial support to SCM Nepal to arrange immediate relief materials for the earthquake victims.

    The AP region will arrange to send all the received donation for the earthquake relief to SCM Nepal. Therefore kindly transfer all your support to the given bank details below: Bank transfer:

    Bank Name: Hang Seng Bank Ltd.
    Bank Address: Mongkok Branch, 677 Nathan Road
    Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong
    Swift code: HASE HKHH
    Beneficiary Name: World Student Christian Federation Asia-Pacific Region
    Bank Account No: 283-7-716485
    By cheque:
    Make checks payable to:
    World Student Christian Federation — Asia Pacific Region. Unit 1-2, 18/F, Commercial Building, 280 Portland Street, Mongkok, Hong Kong
    By Credit Card (via PayPal): Please open the attached file to pay via PayPal

    It is our responsibility to pray, act with compassion for the people of Nepal at this difficult time the whole nation is going through.

    Comfort, comfort my people, says your God”.( Isaiah 40:1) Let’s join together to pray for Nepal…

    God of all comfort, We uphold the people of Nepal, Bangladesh and Northern India in our prayers who are the victims of the massive devastating earthquake. More than 5,000 people are dead in Nepal and the death toll keeps rising. Although no words can really help to ease the loss and pain, the people of Nepal bear, we pray to you God to comfort the bereaved families who lost their loved ones. We pray for the survivors especially children and elderly to recover from the injuries and trauma. We pray for the rescue workers, doctors, volunteers who have been serving relentlessly, strengthen and empower them so that they will continue their work saving many more lives. We seek your intervention to work in the hearts and minds of the leaders of the world to respond to the desperate situation in Nepal with their supports. May you give the much needed strength, hope and comfort to the people of Nepal to rebuild their houses and their lives Amen

    Rajesh Rai National Coordinator – SCM Nepal

    Immanuel Kitnan, Sunita Suna – Chairperson – WSCF- AP

    Sunita Suna Regional Secretary – WSCF-AP

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  5. One European SCM Member can go to the North American Regional Assembly could it be you?

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    The WSCF – North America Region is hosting a Regional Assembly (NARA) on Algonquin Territory / Ottawa, Canada, on May 29th-June 2nd, and is inviting one student from the Europe region to attend the event. Will you or someone you know be that person?

    The slogan of the event is “Reconciliation Yesterday! Racism, “Coloniality” and Right Relations”. WSCF-NA will cover the board and lodging, and will also offer a small travel scholarship. In general, it is probable that the travel costs will be to a large extend reimbursed due to currently ongoing continuous fundraising effort. See more information about this event on the webpage of the NARA and in the attached flyer . Please note that the deadline for applications has been extended; however, you will need to apply as soon as possible. If you decide to apply, please send an email to me and CC: to by May 20th.
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  6. WSCF Tribute & Message for Rev. Dr. Philip Alford Potter

     

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    The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) joins the global ecumenical movement in remembering and celebrating the life of Rev. Dr. Philip Alford Potter who joined our creator on March 31, 2015 in Lubeck Germany at age of 93. A great ecumenical leader of this century who dedicated his life in the service to the churches and the Ecumenical Movement, the WSCF family is immensely honored to have become part of the life of Rev. Dr. Philip Potter.

    Philip Potter, born in Roseou Dominican on August 19, 1921, began his ecumenical journey as a young 19-year old theological student at the Methodist Caenwood Theogical Seminary in Jamaica where he became the Study Secretary of the Jamaican Student Christian Movement from 1944 to 1947. It was his leadership skills and gift of eloquent speech that enabled him to represent Jamaica SCM to the World Conference on Christian Youth in Oslo Norway and subsequently as the youth spokeperson  at the first two assemblies of the World Council of Churches (WCC) at Amsterdam in 1948 and Evanston in 1954.

    While pursuing higher theological studies in London in 1948, Philip Potter was appointed as Overseas Secretary for the Student Christian Movement of Britain and Ireland.  Salters Sterling, senior friend of SCM Ireland from the 60’s and current members of the WSCF Transtional Team remembers his first encounter with Philip ” as a towering presence, strikingly handsome, wonderfully literate in speech and in writing, immensely hospitable, appealingly wise, extraordinarily understanding, deeply spiritual and a hugely important example of a person with great leadership ability clearly from a non-caucasian culture. He was a younger D.T.Niles figure,” he added.

    It was during his term as Chairperson of WSCF from 1960 to 1968 that Philip Potter displayed his exceptional leadership and intellectual ability in leading the Federation in a critical and risky transitional period where debates on a new and radical theological understanding of the church’s mission in the university world in a post-colonial context was introduced.  Described by some as the period of the political storm that swept WSCF in the 60’s until the early 70’s, Potter led the WSCF in the decision process of decentralization, a shift from a Euro-centric leadership structure to regionalization, “reflecting the new mood of self-determination in third-world countries and the search for contextualization in theology and politics.” This transition was pivotal in the formation and strenthening of new movements  with a very strong political and theological orientation that the current generations of SCMs inherited and continues to live out.

    As a biblical scholar and astute political thinker, he believed in the dictum that ecumenical leaders should have “the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” Recalling his time in WSCF during an interview in Bad Segeberg, Germany in 2002, he reinterated the close relationship between biblical interpretation and newspaper analysis: “Without the Bible the newspaper is not very meaningful. And without the newspaper the Bible is not relevant.” And from the beginning it was a movement of both men and women together. “I believe it left its mark on all of us.”

    Among his many ecumenical involvements and accolades received, his time with SCM and WSCF remained close to his heart. Having described WSCF as his “first love” to Thomas Weiser, his ecumenical contemporary and co-author of the centennial book the First 100 Years of WSCF, he believed in empowering the youth and continued to support the ecumenical formation of youth and students, as an acknowledgement of his own ecumenical formation in the ecumenical youth movement. In honor of his contribution and commitment to WSCF, a Philip Potter Fund was launched by the Federation in November 2009.  The Fund was “meant to ensure that the generation of students today and those who come after share our experience of global ecumenical leadership formation.” Prior to this, Philip Potter became the first president of the WSCF Centennial Fund from 1993 to 2002.

    The legacy and ecumenical vision of Philip Potter has taken profound roots in the life and mission of the SCMs and WSCF today.  His belief and teaching of radical contextual theology highlighting his non-conformist position against racism and all forms of social injustice and human rights lives on and has inspired the work the SCMs in today’s era of neoliberal globalization, social injustice, increasing violence due to conflict and war. In his own words at the 1983 WCC Vancouver Assembly, he invited the ecumenical movement to be “truly a house of living stones, built on the rock of faith.”

    The World Student Christian Federation invites all its member movements, senior friends, networks and partners in offering prayers, remembering and celebrating the life of Rev. Dr. Philip Potter, a non-conformist and risk-taker, a beacon of the ecumenical movement, a leader with a prophetic vision and a world icon.

    WSCF Officers and Staff
    3 April 2015
    Geneva, Switzerland

    Sources:

    Ledger C.,WSCF History : http://wscfglobal.org/?page_id=10947
    Webb P.,Wieser T.,Sjollema B. , Tributes, At Home with God and in the World, A Philip Potter Reader, Philip A. Potter, Eds. by A. Fröchtling, M. Jagessar, B. Brown, R. Hinz, and D. Werner, WCC Publication 2013
    Sterling, S. email, 2 April 2015
    WSCF launches fund to honour Philip Potter, Federation News, April 2010
    Paul Löffler, “Sir, I Only Came with the Other Gentlemen!”Biography, At Home with God and in the World, A Philip Potter Reader, Philip A. Potter, Eds. by A. Fröchtling, M. Jagessar, B. Brown, R. Hinz, and D. Werner, WCC Publication 2013
    Hubert J. Charles, A Biographical Note on the Reverend Philip Alford Potter , April 17, 2010

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  7. Read the Official Report on the Staff & Officers Meeting 2015

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    This years staff and Officers meeting was a huge success! Read our official report on it. To find out what happened.

     

     

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  8. Read the Condensed minutes from the Winter ERC Meeting 2015


    The condensed  minutes from our winter ERC Minutes are out! Read them here!


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  9. History of the Interreligious Council of Bosnia & Herzegovina

    BOSNIA CASE STUDY

     The Process of Forming the Inter Religious Council

    of Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Background Information

    Bosnia-Herzegovina has had a rich multi-cultural, multi-religious history throughout many centuries. However, due to the terrible restructuring of the land and society in the last war, damage was done to the fine structure of the inter ethnic and inter religious relations. Many people took sides and considered the other as enemy.

    When the reconstruction of the country started, with the help of numerous international agencies and NGO’s, some of them realized that restoring buildings and infrastructure was important, but would not bring reconciliation among divided groups.

    The World Conference on Religions for Peace WCRP, from NYC, the Center for Strategic and International Studies CSIS, from Washington D.C. and Mercy Corps International decided to develop a strategy and initiate programs for peacemaking among the religions. The idea was to engage people in shared listening and in-depth conversations and reflection on the values of their own traditions and to help them find common understandings and shared values through the series of training seminars and workshops. People from all walks of life, from diverse religions had a chance to articulate a shared vision for peace and build relationships across ethno- religious lines, understanding the cycle of victimhood and aggression, while giving up revenge and changing biases.

    The issues of grief, basic needs, fear, apology, forgiveness and justice have been addressed too. Communication skills and problem solving were also a part of training, on a grass roots level.  These programs were helping in restoration of the traditional Bosnian neighborhood culture, where respect of the other had been one of the major values.

    Identifying the Problem

    It become obvious, however, that the spiritual leaders, the heads of the religious communities were not communicating enough, or at all, in order to contribute to the restoration process.  Some constructive facilitation of reconciliation process from outside was needed.

    The religious leaders were very much respected by their own communities and congregations and were a strong vehicle for changing attitudes for better or worse. At the same time they were not able to find the right way to communicate with leaders from the other groups.  To complicate matters at that time, just after the war, a Serb-Orthodox leader was living outside Sarajevo, in a small remote village of Sokolac.

    Mapping the Relationships

    The leaders of each of the four major religious communities were the primary actors needed in order to pursue reconciliation at an institutional level between the religious communities.  These actors included the head of Moslem Community, Raisu-l-Ulema, Dr. Mustafa Ef. Ceric, the leader of Serb Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Nicolay Mrdja, the leader of Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Cardinal Vinko Puljic, and a head of Jewish community Dr. Jakob Finci.  Secondary actors were the internationals and local intermediaries who had been developing the reconciliation efforts among religious people.  These included Dr. David Steele from Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Dr. Landrum Bolling from Mercy Corps International, William Vandley from the World Conference on Religion for Peace (WCRP), Dr. David Little from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), her Excellency, U.S. Ambassador to Austria Dr. Swanee Hunt, and Vjekoslav Saje, from Center for Religious Dialogue (CRD) in Sarajevo.  A third level of actors included those Bosnians with whom the intermediaries and the primary actors consulted during the process of developing the Inter Religious Council. These third-level actors included, among others: the president of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the vicar general of the Roman Catholic Church, Muslim and Franciscan professors, a Serbian Orthodox priest and Serbian Orthodox journalist who had remained in Sarajevo during the war, and a Jewish rabbi.

    Action Plan

    It was clear to these people that links needed to be established between the primary actors. But how?

    Identifying and Selecting Options

    The idea came through a brainstorming process on the part of several outside players who were involved on different levels in reconciliation processes in Bosnia. Based on their experience in working with local religious leaders, these secondary actors designed a plan of how to involve the leaders of four major religious communities in a facilitated dialogue which would produce a joint institution to help solve various issues among communities in Bosnia.

    Identifying a Coalition Partner among the Religious Leaders, with whom the secondary actors could work effectively

    First step in this process was to attract one of the leaders to make an initiative and try to invite other three leaders to meet in a safe environment. The head of the Muslim Community Raisu-l-Ulema, Dr. Mustafa Ef.Ceric was very pleased with this idea, and accepted to invite them for the first meeting in his office in Sarajevo in March 1997.

    Final Action Plan

    Next step was to contact other leaders and convey this invitation in such a manner that they would feel open for the first communication. A leader of Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Vinko Puljic, and a head of Jewish community Dr. Jakob Finci accepted the initiative and promised to participate.  The major issue was how to get a leader of Serb Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Nicolay Mrdja on Board, as he was still residing and serving, outside of Sarajevo in a remote village of Sokolac, known as one of the notorious strongholds of Bosnian Serb army.

    Step 1

    In order to enlist the participation of Metropolitan Nicolay, the team of secondary actors decided that, since Vjeko Saje was from Sarajevo and had enough experience of living and working with people of other traditions, that he should be the one who would directly go to Metropolitan Nicolay’s  office and residence, and explain the proposal  to form an inter-religious council.  It was very soon after the war, and for Vjeko to go to the territory of the former “enemy” was rather challenging. The trip turned out to be a time of attitude change for Vjeko himself. He started to humanize the other, a difficult process after several years of resentment, due to the experience of the siege of Sarajevo.  To his great satisfaction, Vjeko was received with respect and attention by Metropolitan Nicolay.

    Step 2

    After having a lunch with him and his priests, and explaining the main points of the initiative, the metropolitan agreed to go with Vjeko back to Sarajevo. For him it was also journey to uncertainty, as he had been out of Sarajevo for more than five years, and out of his main church and office. Vjeko took him and one of his fellow priests directly to the office of Dr. Ceric, the Moslem Leader, where Cardinal Puljic, and Dr. Finci had already been waiting, together with a number of the team of facilitators, the secondary actors. So, it was a first occasion when four prominent leaders of the four main religions had a chance to see each other, and start dialogue after so many years of conflict and separation. The meeting was formal but open, with some reservations, and they agreed to continue seeing each other.

    Step 3

    Another step was to encourage them to start preparing some joint statements and documents, as a base for the future institution, which became known as the Inter-religious Council.  The political situation was still tense and the four religious leaders were not in the position to decide freely who would be a host and where the venue could be for the discussion on forming the joint body.  At that time, the US Ambassador to Austria, Dr. Swanee Hunt, was engaged in different projects on women’s issues and inter religious dialogue in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Being aware of the formal problem about the venue, she offered her residence in Vienna to be a neutral and safe environment for the dialogue.

    This was appreciated by all the parties involved.  In May 1997, after four days of intense facilitated discussion, including both separate and joint brainstorming sessions, the first draft of the Statement of Shared Moral Commitments was successfully prepared and accepted by all four religious leaders

    Step 4

    Then it took the four religious leaders just one month to revise the statement and prepare the final version of the document.  All four leaders, on behalf of their religious communities, accepted and signed the Statement of Shared Moral Commitments on June 6th 1997, in the presence of political figures and representatives of the international community. They committed themselves to work together on sensitive issues, and help in changing the attitudes of their people. It was also a moment when they formally announced establishing of the Inter Religious Council (IRC) with presidents to rotate every year.

    Step 5

    In order for the IRC to function effectively, it was necessary to select as the first president someone who could be trusted by all the other religious leaders.  It was decided to ask Mr. Finci from the Jewish Community to serve as the first president.  The Jewish Community of Sarajevo had gained a great reputation with all groups through the even-handed way in which they administered their humanitarian relief program.   As the head of this aid program, Mr. Finci gained enough credibility to receive the confidence of the other three religious leaders.

    Present Activities

    The IRC is still functioning today.   It assists in many troublesome situations and prevents potential conflicts.  They now deal with the return of refugees and displaced persons, religious freedoms, inter religious cooperation, general problems of reconstructing the country, restoration of religious buildings and sites that were destroyed in war, and the promotion of reconciliation on different levels. The IRC is currently developing a network of young adults who are actively participating in different training, and projects in bringing communities together.

    The IRC also participates in parliamentary discussions, and in various inter-faith events around the world. For them dialogue does not have an alternative, and the hatred must be discouraged in the media and in political life. In spite of crimes and atrocities done in recent past, their stand is that reconciliation is God’s commandment and must be cherished.  Justice must be accomplished through the legal system and courts must prosecute the war criminals.

    In the light of what is happening in the world today, having so many acts of terrorism done in the name of religion, they acted in preventing this by preaching of need to embrace, respect and know more about the other. That is the way to change attitudes and avoid so called “Clash of Civilizations”.

    In spite of many unresolved issues, the formation of the IRC illustrates that Bosnia can again be a place that exemplifies co-habitation, mutual respect, and understanding of different traditions, religions and ethnicities.

    Vjekoslav Saje

     

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  10. A Spirituality of Decolonisation

    For years, now, I have been having the same conversation, in church halls, on buses, at conferences and protests across the landmass that is called North America on maps but which I know as Turtle Island.

    Often it starts with a question about my accent, asking or implying ‘so why are you here?’ I tell them about coming from the UK to work with Christian Peacemaker Teams, and describe our model of operating international violence-reduction teams to support oppressed and threatened communities working nonviolently for peace. Then they ask if I have served overseas and I gently remind them that I am overseas. I list our project sites – Iraqi Kurdistan, Colombia, Palestine and Canada. Then comes the question; ‘So, where is there violence in Canada?’

    We start from the beginning.

    *****

    Canada was never conquered. Although the colonial powers fought various wars over the territory – Britain and France, and later Britain and the US – including indigenous allies; the settlement of Canada was largely based on international treaty between the colonists and indigenous nations.

    US history was different largely because they had the military might to ignore the various treaties signed before or after independence. Lacking this power, and depending on allies against the US (notably the Six Nations Confederacy during the War of 1812), generations of Canadian officials have used tricker methods to steal land. These indirect assaults are cloaked in paternalistic and Christian language, claiming an intention to civilise and save. The reality suggests otherwise.

    In former generations, the government of Canada used germ warfare, police/military action, starvation, outlawing culture and spirituality and the theft of children to destroy indigenous nations, lands and languages. More recently we see treaty misinterpretation, undermining traditional governments, asserting the prerogative to grant or deny ‘Indian Status’, relocating populations and now trying to reclassify reserve land as ‘fee simple’ – making it a commodity to be traded on the open market instead of the inalienable possession of indigenous collectives.

    Unable to disregard treaties and steal land directly, officials of the colonial state did it piecemeal, attempting to assimilate or eradicate the indigenous population, with the ultimate goal of eradicating the treaties by removing the indigenous nation signatories and leaving the settler nation as the sole possessor of the land.

    Many Canadians do not know this history. They may know some of the critical events involving indigenous and settler peoples. There is a good chance that they will know something about the Indian Residential School system; church-run and government-funded prisons for children taken from indigenous nations in an attempt to destroy native languages and customs. Canadians might know about the widespread physical and sexual abuse in these ‘schools’, but are unlikely to name them as part of the colonial assimilation system nor their purpose of assimilating land by removing its original occupants. As with any country with a genocidal history, the sheer horror of the truth sends people scrambling for scapegoats; individuals who can take the blame for a crime committed by an entire nation – pedophile ministers, brutal police, and racist administrators.

    A spirituality of decolonisation insists we look much deeper.

    *****

    What is a spirituality of decolonisation? It is a way of seeing and being that disentangles creation from the poisonous mess we call colonialism – the culture of domination that subjects indigenous communities, lands, cultures and bodies to the control of settler institutions. An example of practical decolonisation would be indigenous communities having their title to their land recognised and respected by settler states. This has proved very difficult. A spiritual analysis helps us to understand what is at work. Recognising the pernicious spirit of colonialism, empire, and domination, we pray to be inspired with ways to exorcise it from our lives, institutions and relations, and to engage with the spirit of decolonisation.

    Christian Peacemaker Teams started out with a clear mandate against warfare, violence and militarism. From the first days we engaged in this as a spiritual struggle as well as a desperately practical, material, physical reality. The victims of militarism demand no less a total commitment to transforming our world, and we CPTers, often from North America or Europe, were often the beneficiaries of this militarism. Coming to terms with our complicity in colonialism within North America itself took longer; and really started to come into form when CPT began to be invited as nonviolent accompaniment to indigenous direct action against destructive resource extraction projects.

    During the long days and cold nights blocking logging trucks or mining operations, CPTers learned something of their colonial history from the perspective of their indigenous hosts. We began to see how our own scriptures, culture, and religious practice were complicit. Not just in the simple way in which ‘go to all nations and make disciples’ supported and protected empire-building, but in defining the God’s created world as property; resources to be plundered to fuel economies of growth and myths of progress.

    Discovering the counter-imperial narratives of Christianity is the beginning of creating a spirituality of decolonisation, but it is essential to grapple with the Biblical passages and religious traditions that defend empire. Can we embrace the liberation story of Exodus without grappling with the blood-soaked story of the Canaanite genocide?

    *****

    I lied when I said ‘we start from the beginning’. This story didn’t start with European settlement, but with thousands of years of the histories of the nations of Turtle Island, and with the philosophical conceit that the world could be conquered and that Christians had the right and duty to unite all peoples by force, if necessary.

    My response to that, as a member of CPT, is to support indigenous justice and peacemaking initiatives, whether in direct action on the land against destructive resource extraction like logging or fracking without community consent, or in community forums for truth and reconciliation. In our activity we try to subvert colonial relationships. We bring settler folk to learn, to serve, but only at the invitation of indigenous partners. We host these partners when they come to the city to remind politicians (and all those on the land) of their treaty obligations. We question doctrine that supports domination and empire, and celebrate liberation and resurrection where it occurs.

    I pray that we are animated by a spirit of decolonisation

    Peter Haresnape

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