Central & Eastern European SCM Training
On 14th of September around 15 young people gathered in Białystok, Poland, for the annual Central European Subregion (CESR) of World Student Christian Federation Europe (WSCF – E) capacity building training.
Białystok is a town near to the Belorussian border. It is also the centre of the Polish Orthodox Christians and their youth movement, which is spread over the whole country. A group of young people from Polish Orthodox Student Christian Movement (SCM), headed by Marta Całpińska, hosted a very colorful spectrum of nationalities: from Macedonian and Hungarian through Slovak, Czech and Polish to German, Belarusian and Finnish. The whole event was only a weekend event, but the contacts from there are to be maintained for many more weeks, or maybe years.
The main goal of the workshop was to strengthen the national SCMs through improving capacities of their members. Discussions on various topics and exchange of experiences were integral parts of the program, as well as ecumenical prayers and common meals. We have discussed the topics of fundraising, new ways of communication, vision and mission of our SCMs, local, national and European level of cooperation and many others, not always stated in the official program.
On the arrival day we gathered around Hans Hommens, the WSCF-E regional secretary, for a round of small self-presentations and getting to know each other. A range of churches representatives took part in the meeting: Orthodox from the east, Catholic from the central Europe, Evangelic from the west and other Protestant from the south of Europe. But still, as a Catholic, I’ve been really pleased to see other denominations gathering together for the same prayer, the same faith, the same God.
On Saturday we presented our local SCMs and their relationship with WSCF-E. Many of the participants have already participated in previous events held by WSCF and their movements are already known in the Federation, but not all of them. To a detriment of the Catholic Church in Slovakia, the Student Chaplaincies, core organization structures of the Church in the country for students, are not interconnected or connected to other churches. It means all the good things happening are limited to the Catholic students are not offered common ecumenical growth. I consider these limitations as an issue of isolation and this should – as time moves on – be reduced. Honestly, I have realized how important it is to be open and willing to build cooperation among people. People are usually the source of ideas, which can evolve into much bigger projects helping not only their members, but also people around them.
On the last day we participated in an Orthodox service held in a nearby church. The songs, prayers and readings were putting us in a meditative mood full of mystery and presence of the Almighty. I have really enjoyed to be drawn into the prayer and the praise of the Creator in a very new and special way. Eventually, in the evening it was rather difficult to say goodbye to each other; the time we spent together has been enriching and intense.
I will say one of the major contributions of the event was getting to know each other. In the SCM where I come from, the activities are usually oriented towards students who come to the city for their studies. But to be open involves not only to exchange views on different topics, but also to offer the spiritual support, new ideas and friendships. Personally I consider this weekend event as a gift of broadening ecumenism and would recommend it to any other who is genuinely devoted to Christ’s Church.
The whole event was organized by WSCF Europe together with the Polish Orthodox SCM, Bractwo Młodzieży Prawosławnej.