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  1. Getting back to our SCM Paris & the Europe regional committee internal meeting

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    In summer 2014 we chose Paris as the  place for our next operational meeting. We choose Paris because it was a very long time since we had been there for any event nor meeting. Last time WSCF Europe was in Paris was in 2007 when we organised a conference . It took us some time to reconnect in fact 8 years! We were contacting various people on Facebook along with our official contacts for some time and eventually we got to speak to SCM Paris. They very generously helped us with our stay in a wonderful student dormitory facility. Patrizia, the dormitory manager, was particularly helpful and responsive to our needs for which we are very grateful. So our stay was secured and we the ERC, went to Paris on 14 Jan 2015.

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    Between summer 2014 and winter 2015, a lot of things happened and changed in WSCF-E Life which we were brought  to the meeting  as well as planning the next 1,5 years.  One thing we were all looking forward to was meeting for the first time our new regional secretary, Natia Tsintsadze she started working for us  in October 2014. You can read more about Natia here

    ERC1What did we work on?
    At the meeting we discussed many important areas of our work one of these was – getting funds for our events, which is increasingly more and more difficult, a very relatable subject to all who read this I suspect.  But we are not down and actually this situation makes us all the more creative. Along with fundraising and events, we were preparing for General Assembly as well as with many areas of our work that we want to improve as there is a lot of ideas among us but at times urgent matters hold us from implementing them. One step toward our improvement needs is by working more with all WSCF friends who can help us with their time and talents. Hence in spring 2015 we will be releasing many calls for interns to join our team from whichever country you live. So look at our website! It is a great opportunity to gain skills and help WSCF-Europe to flourish. We have already two such interns.

    A lot of our time and energy was also taken by a rather dramatic situation at the global financial level of the Federation. As we are dependant on the IRO given the fact that our Regional salary is paid by them , we started to tackle this issue and think through how to stabilise our regional work and  as well as the Federation. This became a priority and this was also a reason why we cancelled our gender event for which not enough money was fundraised

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    SCM Paris

    SCM Paris hosted our meeting and it was truly wonderful. We were impressed by the activities they do and diversity which is present among there people that goes even beyond Christianity yet maintains its traditional protestant core present in its name” Association des Etudiants Protestants de Paris”. “Charlie Hebdo events” testify this initiative as we saw in SCM Paris in mid Jan 2015.

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    Fun and workin Paris

    On one evening, we met with many students from the movement and SCM manager, Patrizia. We re-introduced ourselves and invited SCM Paris to be again part of our events for students. We had a really good exchange on what has happened in both organizations since 2008. We all hope that we meet some students at our next event in October 2015. :) Hope to see you there SCM Paris! Thanks again to Patrizia Glaizal, Salma Charaf and Elena   Andreescu who helped us a lot and warmly welcomed us in Paris.


    Written by our  chair Zuzka Babicova

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on March 20th, 2015 3:50 pm / Continue Reading »

  2. WSCF Europe Staff & Officers’ Meeting 2015

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    Last month representatives from Student Christian Movements across Europe met together in Madrid for WSCF Europe’s annual Staff and Officers’ Meeting (S&O). The theme of the meeting was communication – looking at how we better communicate within our movements and with the students and young people we serve.

     

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    A personal highlight of the S&O was the intercultural evening on Thursday. Since WSCF Europe (and the global federation) is made up of so many distinctive cultures and communities, every meeting together is a chance to share different cultural experiences, from food and drink to music and sewing (thank you to Andrew from Belarus for a fascinating demonstration!). You can view photos from the evening, and the rest of the meeting, on SCM Britain’s Flickr page.

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    In the world of SCM, we talk a lot about diversity and how we learn from each other. In the British movement, we value the experiences of students from different Christian traditions. When it comes to faith, the old distinctions of class, race, denomination and gender are turning into the issues that unite us; the more we see people from different backgrounds coming together, the more powerful our sense of unity.

     

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    Talking to some of the other participants at the S&O, I realised that all of our movements are different. We have different traditions and ideas, and we live in societies that are changing in different ways. Living in Britain, I have no real concept of what life in Italy or Austria is like for a student. What are the issues that people care about? As a movement that spans the whole continent, how do we learn from what movements in Poland, Germany or Finland are doing?

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    As Christians, we are called to speak prophetically into the culture around us. We do this both with our words and by our actions. But culture is changing all the time. In Italy for example, a boom in immigration has led to an increasingly multicultural generation of Italians, bringing with them different spiritual experiences and Christian traditions. The Evangelical Youth Federation in Italy, which is a member of WSCF Europe, is responding by organising yearly events called ‘Youth Happenings’ – the first of which brought together over 300 people from different social and cultural backgrounds in 2014.

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    This is just one example of a student movement that is building community based on values that reflect a Christian faith I want to be part of. But there are certainly challenges ahead. At times we may feel disappointed at low turnout figures for events, or feel dissatisfied that membership is not growing fast enough. It’s important at meetings like the S&O not to hide away from our frustrations. But the experience of Christianity also teaches us that hope is not a timid response. Hope is strong and resilient. If we can make a difference in the lives of hundreds of students, we can see change occurring in the lives of thousands, if not millions.

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    I am so encouraged to be part of a movement that values hospitality and community; a movement that is listening to what people have to say and is responding positively to changes in our world. When I think of our movements in Europe, that is what I see.

    Written by Ellis Tsang of SCM Britain. 

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on March 13th, 2015 8:22 am / Continue Reading »

  3. My Word on WSCF Events

    It took quite a long while to put my thoughts onto paper and answer the question of why I continued to attend WSCF events over and over. This happened not because of lack of ideas I had in my mind but on the contrary, there were too many positive emotions, faces, thoughts and feelings whenever I thought about the federation.  My first experience with WSCF-E was in Berlin, 2010. That was the point when my journey with WSCF made a start. As I represented Young Christians for Peace and Democracy and as I served as an international contact person at the same organization, first of all I started to work hard on and ensure the idea of making our relations with WSCF-E more solid. After negotiations, many formal and informal talks, we finally organized with YCDP to become an associated member of WSCF-E, in 2011 at the European Regional Assembly in Logumkloster, Denmark.

    Since then, I have been lucky to attend a number of WSCF-E events and even serve as a member of the Preparatory Committee of a WSCF-E conference on the topic of Xenophobia and Migration in Europe held in Velletri, Italy in 2012. Here I could write more and more about my amazing personal experiences with the federation, including my engagement at WSCF global level and mystanding as a proxy for a member of the WSCF Global Advocacy and Solidarity Committee, but now I would like to focus on the aspect that makes me keep attending the events and becoming a WSCF-er as such. I am always inspired to be a part of such activities and use each opportunity, to spend timewith the WSCF community. Why?

    I will try to share the several reasons why WSCF is so precious for me. Firstly, it provides aunique chance to meet with young people from Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic backgrounds (and not only) and to share our faith and work towards social justice and peace in our communities. Throughout these years, I have met people from various cultural, national, religious, political and personal backgrounds and I really learned a lot from them. For me it is a great magic when people with all theirdifferencesmeet at WSCF events and in a second becomeso open to each other, even putting themselves at risk to be defenseless. This community always teaches how to trust one another;how to trust strangers and people regardless of our religious differences. During such meetings, we have to discuss sensitive and difficult topics, but we always find a way to be open-minded, tolerant and respectful to others. I always like to challenge my visions and in this way the WSCF gatherings have enriched my life so much.

    What I really admire about WSCF work is that it desires to empower and educate young progressive Christians with the skills to become ecumenical leaders of their communities and to fight for justice and peace. And, I find it very wise because young students who are engaged inthe WSCF activities are future politicians, religious leaders, public figures, diplomats, teachers, stakeholders of the world.

    Besides all mentioned above and besides travelling, exploring different cities, tasting and enjoying local cuisines, getting know a bit of history and culture and expendingones worldview, the best thing I love about WSCF, is the PEOPLE! Yes, the WSCF Community consists of some of the most amazing people I have met in my life. Even though, some people I have met just once we keep in touch and feel very close to each other.  I always wonder, feel excited and happy about how many young people the federation can gather that are so committed to the WSCF’s work. It’s a pure commitment to what you really believe in without expecting anything. When I am recalling now people I have met through the years, I remember many happy and sad, joyful and melancholic faces with their successful or heartbreaking stories, but behind all of them I see a great power and ability to bring a positive change in this world.  The faces of WSCF people are stucked in my mind and I am sure it will never disappear from there.

    Through WSCF I made friends not just in the European region, but now I have friends in Jordan, Mexico, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Philippines, Lebanon, Columbia, Syria, Uruguay, etc. in all continents. WSCF is a big family with members spread all over the world with such a strong connection. I always feel myself as a part of one great community.  I feel that “We are many; we are one”.

    As I said in the beginning, there are too many things in my head I would like to say about the World Student Christian Federation’s work and events.Even if I were asked to describe it in two sentences, I would never end my words without emphasizing one thing that is totally incredible that happens at WSCF meetings. Yes! Magic happens for me when we pray together. In Everyday life I do not regularlyattend church services as I wish, but ecumenical prayer is so much more powerful and magical for me. During such prayers and worship, I feel God with us and in us than never, when we sing Taize songs together we leave all our differences behind and unite in Christ. Very often in such moments tears come down from my eyes. And, these are the tears of happiness, happiness of unity!

    Yulia Bajelidze

    Coordinator of SCM Georgia

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on February 3rd, 2015 3:21 pm / Continue Reading »

  4. A letter from our new Regional Secretary Natia Tsintsadze

     

    Natia

     

    Dear friends,

    I am honoured and privileged to address you for the first time in my new role as Regional Secretary of WSCF Europe. It gives me great pleasure and enormous responsibility to be with you in the WSCF and work alongside you to achieve our common objectives during these challenging times. I believe that my extensive experience in management and development areas in executive positions over the last ten years will help me to successfully

    carry out my responsibilities as Regional Secretary. I strongly believe in living by and applying Christian values and principles to our daily lives. Through my human rights and interfaith work I have been able to combine my professional and personal interests. Working for and with the WSCF-E family will make these informal links even stronger and will allow me to work in the areas I feel so passionate about: building a just and peaceful world for all through our faith and passion During the next two years I will be committed to strengthening the WSCF presence at all levels, with a special focus on achieving more synergy between local movements and regional and global structures. This synergy is particularly important through the current turbulent period of crisis and social changes. We need to share, reconcile and unite to grow and succeed in our vision. I believe the WSCF-E events and initiatives will bring together more national and local movements and will become a platform to exchange and develop our common and individual strategies. These regular meetings and cooperation should be the guarantee and dynamo of moving forward nationally and locally. I am keen to learn lessons from our past and look forward to applying some new approaches and perspectives to future development. I count on the support and enthusiasm of our volunteers in the European Executive Committee and many others across the world and I hope our joint venture will get us closer to achieving our vision. I am excited for the forthcoming opportunities in 2015 to meet many of you personally at our Staff & Officers Meeting in Madrid and the General Assembly in Colombia. On my journey with the WSCF I am open for and welcome your ideas, suggestions and criticism:  “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”, as Helen Keller said. I am grateful to share the blessings of Christmas this year together and may I also take this opportunity and joy to wish you all the best in this celebration of faith and love.

    With love from,

    Natia Tsintzadze

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on January 9th, 2015 8:22 am / Continue Reading »

  5. What Is All The Buzz About General Assembly Of WSCF?

     

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    You all may have heard that WSCF is having its most important   statutory meeting this year in Colombia. Six years  ago I attended the same meeting in Montreal and I would like to tell you what it was like for me.

    At that time WSCF was not something I thought of as a global organization. Before the GA, WSCF was for me only about my national SCM with its activities we used to have with our neighboring countries and that was it.  I did not perceive my SCM as having a global dimension though we did belong to WSCF-E.  I believe that many of you would share this view now. Attending the GA really changed my perspective and I wish it change yours. I want you to see that WSCF is a global organization and the difference you can make in it.

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    Being at the GA in Montreal showed me how immensely diverse Christians can be, as until then I did not have this experience. It is easy to not realize WSCF global in your local SCMs but SCMs shape the Global WSCF and this is something you get to experience at the GA.

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    WSCF is a really interesting gathering of young Christians from all over the world. It was me and others like me from all over the world who were important at that meeting to shape the way WSCF would develop during next the 6 years. There were many different experiences some good and some difficult but all important. I remember difficult experiences of heated discussions on giving space for gender equality in WSCF, talking about financial situations of SCMs at fund-raising workshop where the facilitator had hard time to reconcile our geographical and contextual differences. I attended Coptic Christian Sunday service for the first time and received communion from a different denomination which was not mine at an unfamiliar service. What an experience it was to be at the GA of WSCF! Having been exposed to all this diversity, I have started to realize what my SCM is part of and how difficult yet precious being a member of such a global community can be.

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    The General Assembly of WSCF is really what holds WSCF together as withoese meetings we would probably be just an online community or network of like minded people. However, we want to strive for more and for that we need to meet each other in person. The GA gives us a chance to recognize our similarities and to celebrate our differences and to deliver changes. It is not always easy but it is definitely worth it. Come to the GA and be part of the Global WSCF and make change in your organization.

    (Slovakia) is the Chairperson for WSCF Europe. 

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on March 19th, 2014 3:28 pm / Continue Reading »

  6. NBCC Meeting In Aarhus Opened Doors To Compassionate Prayer

    On the first weekend of March  (Feb 28- Mar 2) I have participated in Nordic-Baltic Cooperation Council’s (NBCC) meeting in Aarhus, Denmark. The NBCC meets twice a year, and hosting of the meeting is rotated between the NBCC members. At last weekend’s meeting in Aarhus, representatives form Swedish KRISS, Danish Okumenisk Ungdom, Finnish OOL and Lithuanian Lutheran Youth were present. The theme of the event was ‘Peaceful religious coexistence in Middle East and Africa: Freedom of religion or persecutions?

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                         The crew. Photo by Evaldas Tytmonas

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    Spending good time together. Photo by Evaldas Svageris

     

    Unfortunately I arrived to Aarhus late, so I couldn’t take part in the first session by Clement Dachet on being a pastor in the conflict zone. When I arrived to the venue – a huge and modern Diakonhøjskolen, I was shown to a cool renovated room in the dormitory, and then take to the common area where the other participants were spending time together with cake and evening tea. The evening passed in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and made me really feel at home.

    On Saturday there were three main sessions. One of the sessions was held by Maria S. Hanses from Open Doors Youth, which is an international NGO. Open Doors works with Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith. Maria has been working with the Danish branch of the organization for the last 4,5 years, and hears dreadful stories of persecution of Christians every day. Maria said that she thought she would become in some way immune to these testimonials, but this never happened, and she still perceives them in a very emotional way. To her, these stories are at the same time gruesome and encouraging, and had a great impact on strengthening faith.

    Maria shares some facts with the group: Christians are the largest persecuted group of people. Every day more than 100 mln Christians face persecution. However, many of the persecuted Christians do not cease to pray to God, and also pray for their persecutors. Maria shares two quotes from the Scriptures:

    2. Tim 3:12 – In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted

    Matt. 5:44:  – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

    Maria also says that in the West where we live, it’s not persecution but persuasion that we’re facing: persuasion to go away from the Church and the faith, and enjoy life without constant prayer.

    Everybody is invited to write a postcard to one of the persecuted women in Nigeria, Deborah, whose testimonials were shared with us by Maria earlier. Every Open Doors movement in different countries has a few letter respondents (Danish list: http://ow.ly/u88Dk). This postcard-writing workshop was a very emotional experience for me, as I was thinking how can I address and encourage a women, whose husband and all children were either killed or taken away by armed men, as a cause of the family being Christians.

    Lithuanian delegates shared about an initiative in Lithuanian Lutheran Church by a bishop, which was executed in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The actives from the Church took in forty refugees from Syria, and operationality of the project is insured by Lithuanian volunteers.

    The second session on Saturday was by Rebecca Hojmark from International Council of Relations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark, on freedom of religion in Middle East and Norther Africa. In her session, Rebecca has referred to an interesting document, the ‘European churches engaging in human rights: Present challenges and training material’ by Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC). This material, in my opinion, may be used in WSCF-Europe’s campaign on xenophobia and social exclusion that has kicked off last weekend on Staff and Officers’ Meeting in Skopje, Macedonia.

    Rebecca told us what are the three main things that persecuted Christians and Churches ask Western Christians to do. These things are:

    1. share their story

    2. pray for them and let them know that we pray for them (This http://ow.ly/u8927 and this http://ow.ly/u89b6 resource, created by Open Doors, are a very good way to make praying for persecuted Christians around the world a regular habit)

    3. tell the politicians about what happens to those people and communities, because this is the best working way to change the situation.

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    Preparing for praying together. Photo by Evaldas Tytmonas

    I hope that WSCF-Europe will make good use of these wonderful ideas and resources in its current campaign on xenophobia.

    Maria Kozhinova () is WSCF-Europe Links Coordinator.

     

     

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on March 12th, 2014 1:50 pm / Continue Reading »

  7. A Quick Re-cap On The Staff And Officers Meeting In Skopje, Macedonia 2014.

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    Last week the 2014 WSCF-E staff and officers meeting was held in Skojope, Macedonia. This a meeting held once a year to allow dialogue between the WSCFE-E regional offices and National SCMs.  This year there was participants from 10 different countries. Further to the campaign to keep you more informed about WSCF-E Regional Office here a is a quick re-cap of what happened whilst we were there.

    WSCF-E events are all about meeting people from different countries joining together in Christ .  So each day started and ended  with Worship provided by one of the Participants,  through this we were allowed to enjoy speaking the lords prayer in many different languages, to sing Taize chants and to use lithologies from many different denominations.

    Each day was filled with Workshops around topics important to WSCF-E, workshops included: An Introduction To WSCF-E 2014 campaign Against Xenophobia (reaching out to Asylum seekers)  Discussion around how to improve WSCF-E online presences (You want us to talk more)  A talk about the General Assembly of WSCF-E  (This is where all of WSCF Regions meet to make huge decisions about the future of WSCF ) and a Full day of workshops around fundraising. We had a Workshop from SCM Britain about their fundraising techniques ( Diversification is key). A workshop from a fundraising ( fundraising is all about imagination and creating trust relationships) and we were also luck enough to have our friend “Salters”come to talk about fundraising from our senior friends  ( Past members of SCMs and WSCF-E) and how best to do it.

    Woven our time at the meeting we also got to experience Macedonia through our guide Pavlina Manavska who is a member of the local Youth group at her Methodist church. She Showed us the Many sites Skjope and she Pointed out the Best Bars and Cafes.

    The event left all our staff officers feeling informed and motivated  about the current status of WSCF-E and how to improve it.

    I hope you enjoyed this Re-cap , God bless

    Kathryn

     

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on March 3rd, 2014 2:12 pm / Continue Reading »

  8. We made it to Skopje!

    Playing cards at Zurich Airport

    Playing cards at Zurich Airport

    Travelling early has different meanings, but waking up at 2:50 AM definitely gives it a special flavour… As Lizzie (SCM Britian Staff Member) would put it: we did not feel quite humane. After all, we made it to Skopje. Sun and +18 degrees! We instantly forgot about all the tiredness.

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on February 21st, 2014 3:19 pm / Continue Reading »

  9. What do we have on our plates?

    Hello dear WSCF-E friends,

    How are you? As ERC – the current leadership at WSCF-E are starting to get in touch more with you all to tell you what we as ERC have been up to recently – what we have on our plates –what we are enjoying but also what pose challenges for us. The first message comes from me, the chair, and you may hear also from others in the upcoming months.

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on February 19th, 2014 2:06 pm / Continue Reading »

  10. Skopje, here we come!

    Checked – in and ready to go! In less than 24 hours together with Lizzie Gawen and Clare Wilkins I am departing to Skopje, FYROM, to take part in the WSCF Staff and Officers Meeting!

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    Posted by: wscfe-editor on February 19th, 2014 12:04 pm / Continue Reading »

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The work of WSCF-Europe is financially supported by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe.

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