The Next Journey Of WSCF-E Through My Eyes.

May 6th, 2014 10:30 am

Zuzka Babicova

First, I would like to say a few words to you about my own personal journey with WSCF-E. It started around six years ago. It was first in Central European Subregion of WSCF-E and later in Europe region where my journey with WSCF-E began. All these years have been very edifying thanks to people I was meeting and experiences that were leaving marks. During past two years I was involved in WSCF- Europe as Theology and Higher Education and Culture Coordinator as well as Vice-Chair. With leaving of Sofie Bonde Eriksen, the former Chairperson who led WSCF-E very wisely over 2011-2013 and with whom I had a great pleasure to work with, I decided to apply for the position of Chairperson. In October 2013 I was elected thanks to ERA delegates who expressed their trust and hope for realization of ideas that I feel WSCF-E could go toward.

WSCF-E as an organisation working toward peace and justice in an international ecumenical environment can have a vast array of causes her leadership can speak for. We can choose different paths to materialize ideas we personally feel passionate about and which SCMs also care about in  their own times. That is a beauty of WSCF-E that people with their passions for diverse causes can bring in always a new refreshing breeze.

The vision I see for WSCF-E is tied to times of a Europe being in turmoil between peoples as well as in times when WSCF-E has to be more aware of her self-sustaining needs as an organisation serving SCMs with events. And this vision for both certain thematic direction and internal redevelopment is what I would like to focus on with the ERC, our staff and SCMs during the next years.

What I hope for WSCF-E is to be more engaged in inter-faith dialogue as well as in dialogue with people who are of no faith. We are living in times when walls between peoples are becoming higher with our diversity becoming greater. Connecting with other people of other faith traditions as well as with people of no faith is an endeavour that WSCF-E can ”take a risk” to undertake. WSCF-E has already started to be more engaged with other faith organisations through European Interfaith Youth Network (EIYN). In April 2014 it is going to be the second event organized together with other religious organisations which will have been already shall bring new experience for WSCF-E as well as our friends from other organisations. It is a really good opportunity for WSCF-E to be part of the EIYN as this network has gaining members from both religious as well as non-religious organisations who are willing to build bridges with one another. I hope that in the longer term, WSCF-E could develop also an initiative to reach out to non believers (agnostics, atheists and/or humanists) who would be interested in, to put it simply, building friendships. Our connections and friendships may go beyond Christian reference points, however, I believe, they can meet at common values and in our willingness and humility to search for them.

And this endeavour is in integrity with our values. WSCF has a dialogical character, which is such an integral and implicit way of going forward for us. If we truly hope for peace and justice, then WSCF-E shall widen her horizons to what may be radically different at the first glance. I think we can move beyond our Christian space whilst still respecting our values. It is rather our mission that may change with needs of our times whilst staying true to our values. As Szabi Nagypal, a former WSCF Executive Committee member put it once when talking about dialogue in WSCF: ”Dialogue takes place also with our fellow pilgrims of other faiths. And ultimately, dialogue is our attitude toward all people of goodwill and openness to the transcendent”[1]. I hope that our dialogue can be still so fruitful within and beyond our Christianity as well so that we can be that Christian community that attempts to be open to all people.

The second thing I would like to focus on is prayer as such in the life of WSCF-E. Praying is an important part of all our Christian traditions that we turn to as basis of our spiritualities. Though when WSCF-E meets our experience of prayer and turning to it can be very challenging. It is challenging because of the diversity of ways we have to communicate with God.  Our prayers can take myriad forms. When we share prayers with our fellows and include them, it can bring an experience, we may not understand as prayers at all. We may not experience prayer as our own when praying happens in certain settings which is different from what we are used to.  That is a difficult situation that a WSCF-E experience will keep putting us in. That is why praying is something which WSCF-E should be striving for to make it a truly welcoming experience for all Christians who gather to pray together. And to provide such a welcoming space we need to have a constant awareness of our internal prayer diversity. I wish we all can grow in ourselves an openness to see and hear prayers in forms we have not experienced.  God can make himself revealed to us also at times in the very strange and unfamiliar.  As our own prayers receive its important place in our spiritual lives, I hope we can approach prayers of our friends in the same way. I wish we can continue to be the community who is mindful of others with whom we pray, and at the same time to be a community of Christians which is open to see the known in an unknown.

The third thing I would like to dedicate more energy too is tied to a rather down to earth matter. WSCF-E is in times when we need to give time to a thoughtful reflection and analysis of WSCF-E finances. We need to do it if we wish that WSCF-E is still an organisation that enables young people from various countries in Europe to be an ecumenical international community that asks herself important questions of the times we live in. Organisational development in the area of raising financial resources should be our particular focus. Only recently WSCF-E has seen a continuous decrease in some regular secured funds. This means that WSCF-E will need to come up with a new way of how to compensate for some lost resources we used to have. Though this may appear as an area most organisations struggle with, for WSCF-E this will become a crucial thing if we are to continue to provide students enough support to be able to travel and gather together and have a chance to be that community many of us have already experienced. I think and believe that all ERC will need to be engaged in developing efforts to tackle our sustainability. It is my hope that we will be able to create a more consultative relation with our Senior Friends. Having such support and with more energy dedicated to fundraising I hope we can create more effective ways to realize what we can be for SCMs.

There are truly a lot of areas WSCF-E can engage in, ranging from thematic focus to our internal organisational development. Our next leadership may bring a new energy in other areas.  That is a change that our SCMs will choose and the next ERC will bring their own passion that shall sustain next journey of WSCF-E. For the years to come, I hope to do my best to give my passion and energy to areas of inter-faith dialogue, prayer and WSCF-E’s financial sustainability.

It has been a few months now working on these things together with really great ERC people. I also hope very much that I as part of the ERC and our staff will have a really very good time working together and supporting one another on this journey in WSCF-E in next years.

[1] Szabolcz, N. “Has the Student Christian Movement a Future?” in  Student World Issue 248, 2004.

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