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  • ASCM invites you to participate in a review of the movement

    Monday, 31 May, 2021 - 02:39

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    ASCM News

    31 May 2021

    Visit ASCM on the web

    ASCM Review – Invitation to participate

    Dear Friends,

    We are having a review of the ASCM and you are invited to participate

    The ASCM Review, which has been mandated by the National Executive Committee, seeks to identify what has gone well in the last few years, what the challenges are and what we should do in the future. You are warmly invited to send to the Review group any comments or reflections you have that can be considered as part of the Review. Please also remember the ASCM and the Review in your prayers at this time.

    The Review Group members are Sandy Yule (Vic), John Probhudan Biswas (National Co-ordinator), Ros Hewett (ACT), Barrie Baker (WA), David Hale and John Bretz (Qld), and Mandy Tibbey (NSW).

    The Review will:

    • consider your comments,

    • conduct and report on several interviews,

    • have on-line participation of the Review Group members considering the matters set out below,

    • come up with proposals and strategies to move forward and continue to strengthen and develop the ASCM in creative and sustainable ways. These will be presented to the National Executive Committee for consideration and possible adoption.

    Vision

    The ASCM’s vision is along the following lines:

    “To be an active, open, ecumenical, critical group of students and friends of ASCM who seek opportunities to grow and develop their Christian faith in friendship with other Christians and those seeking a spiritual path.”

    The Rules of the ASCM Association state that the ASCM exists:

    a) To worship and serve God in the world, especially among students

    b) To follow Jesus Christ and communicate the Gospel in word and act

    c) To encourage radical testing of Christian faith and life

    d) To strive for new truth and life within the academic community

    e) To work for peace, justice and mutual aid among the nations

    f) To share in the mission of the whole Church and to seek its unity and renewal.

    The basis of the movement: Faith in the living God - the Holy Trinity – who speaks to us through the Scriptures and in the life of the Church and the World".

    Most of those Members and Friends of the ASCM would be in broad agreement with those aims but the task of the moment is how to enflesh those aims.

    What do we need to work on?

    There are three topic areas on which the Review will focus and on which you may (or may not) want to focus in any contribution you make:

    • The ASCM now: “what is” – What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the ASCM?

    • The ASCM in the future: “what ought to be in the future?”  What do we hope for the ASCM – Vision and Mission, what would ASCM look like if all goes well?

    • “How do we get there?” What do we need to do to move forward and strengthen the ASCM in terms of: offering opportunities for students, strategies, governance, staffing, fund raising and support, building friendships and strengthening networks and links with others.

    You may have one idea or reflection that you would like to contribute or may wish to comment more broadly.

    Please send your reflections to Mandy Tibbey at review@ascm.org.au, if possible by 20 June 2021. These will be shared with the Review Committee.

    Thank you for your on-going support and commitment to all that ASCM is and for your prayerful reflection on all that is yet to be done through the ASCM!

    Yours faithfully

    Mandy Tibbey

    For the Review Committee.

    Upcoming ASCM and WSCF events

    Please see https://ascm.org.au/events for an up-to-date event calendar. All events take place via Zoom videoconferencing, which you can join from a computer, tablet, smartphone, or landline. Register for these events and we will send you the Zoom link.

    ASCM NSW Discussion Series

    ASCM’s online discussion series started last Sunday with a discussion led by Michael Mitchell on the important links ASCM has as part of an international student movement. Michael recounted some of his international experiences, where he has seen SCMers from across the Asia-Pacific region stand firm under oppressive regimes, and how ASCM has taken on responsibilities to provide friendship and solidarity. The group explored the theological underpinnings that drive an SCM commitment to social justice and international solidarity, and how their shared SCM experiences have fundamentally shaped the people they have become.

    A recording of this discussion is available at https://youtu.be/zK1ShLZNTOM

    The discussion series continues on Sunday 6 June, when Mandy Tibbey interviews friends from the current cohort of people involved in the World Student Christian Federation. Go to our website for more information and to register for this event.

    We plan to hold these discussions via Zoom every fortnight, starting off with the following. Follow each event’s link for more information and to register.

    1. Sun 6 June 5-6pm:
      Mandy Tibbey will interview friends from the World Student Christian Federation
    2. Sun 20 Jun 5-6pm:
      Karen Pack (PhD scholar): A crisis of faith: The unfinished business of Constance Duncan (1896-1970)
    3. Sun 4 July 5-6pm:
      Rev. David Gill: Students for the renewal of the church

    Support ASCM

    Donate to our annual appeal, general fund, or centenary trust fund, or find out how to make a bequest to ASCM.

    We want to hear from you

    ASCM News is published fortnightly. Share it widely! Go to our website for our newsletter archive and email subscription page. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more news.

    Do you have news about friends of ASCM and WSCF or other items of interest? Contact us at digital@ascm.org.au.

     

  • ASCM is seeking a new national coordinator! And other ASCM News

    Monday, 10 May, 2021 - 10:39

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    We are seeking a new National Coordinator!

    10 May 2021

    Visit ASCM on the web

    ASCM is seeking a new National Coordinator

    ASCM is seeking a new national coordinator! If you have a heart for working with students of all ages and the young-at-heart, enjoy working across different faith traditions, and are passionate about Christian activism, this is the role for you. A full position description and application information is on our website.

    Upcoming ASCM and WSCF events

    Please see https://ascm.org.au/events for an up-to-date event calendar. All events take place via Zoom videoconferencing, which you can join from a computer, tablet, smartphone, or landline. Register for these events and we will send you the Zoom link.

    ASCM Victorian Friends gathering

    All ASCM friends in Victoria are invited to meet via Zoom for an update on ASCM plans, particularly in the context of the search for a new National Coordinator.

    The ASCM continues to exist nationally and in Victoria, though not in the student-based form of yesteryear. There is need for ongoing international Christian connection through the WSCF, with ecumenical formation possibilities for young people as a focus.

    If you feel a desire to find out about present SCM possibilities and connections, keep Friday 21 May (6-7 p.m.) free and register to participate in the Zoom meeting via our website.

    If you don’t ‘do Zoom’ but want to be more involved, please let us know about your interest in the work of the ASCM so that we can keep in touch with you. Email the Victorian committee at vicscm@ascm.org.au or call Sandy Yule on 03 9600 4006.

    ASCM NSW Discussion Series

    The NSW Area Council of ASCM is proud to invite you to join us for a series of expert-led discussions. We have an incredible line of people involved in the Student Christian Movement now and/or in the past from Australia and internationally.

    We plan to hold these discussions via Zoom every fortnight, starting off with the following four. Follow each event's link for more information and to register.

    1. Sun 23 May 5-6pm:
      Dr Michael Mitchell: ASCM’s international links of friendship and solidarity
    2. Sun 6 June 5-6pm:
      Mandy Tibbey will interview friends from the World Student Christian Federation
    3. Sun 20 Jun 5-6pm:
      Karen Pack (PhD scholar): A crisis of faith: The unfinished business of Constance Duncan (1896-1970)
    4. Sun 4 July 5-6pm:
      Rev Dr David Gill: Students for the renewal of the church

    Support ASCM

    Donate to our annual appeal, general fund, or centenary trust fund, or find out how to make a bequest to ASCM.

    We want to hear from you

    ASCM News is published fortnightly. Share it widely! Go to our website for our newsletter archive and email subscription page. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more news.

    Do you have news about friends of ASCM and WSCF or other items of interest? Contact us at digital@ascm.org.au.

     

  • ASCM News, March 2021

    Thursday, 25 March, 2021 - 00:54

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    ASCM News

    March 2021

    Visit ASCM on the web

    ASCM has been busy since our last newsletter. This issue includes news from across ASCM and WSCF, as well as exciting plans for renewed activity in NSW.

    Following this issue of ASCM News, we will be moving to shorter, fortnightly updates, and publishing news and opinion more frequently on our website.

    As always, we welcome contributions to the newsletter or website from friends of ASCM.

    Contents

    News from ASCM and WSCF

    On 5 March, ASCM joined with the SCMs of Indonesia (GMKI) and Myanmar to discuss the recent coup in Myanmar. The ASCM National Treasurer, Mr Andika Mongilala, organised this with GMKI and SCM students in Myanmar. It was moving to hear the views of the Myanmar students and to know more of their struggles for democracy in their country. Mr Rekson Silaban, a GMKI Senior Friend who has also been an ILO representative on Myanmar, contributed his knowledge of the situation of workers in Myanmar and pointed to the role of China in frustrating UN Security Council responses to the coup. Ms Fanny Chung, WSCF Asia-Pacific Interim Coordinator, linked the struggles of students and others in Myanmar with what is happening in Hong Kong and Thailand. It was a valuable opportunity for solidarity and friendship with Christians in these countries.

    ASCM statement on the coup in Myanmar

    11 March 2021

    The Australian Student Christian Movement (ASCM) condemns the actions of General Min Aung Hlaing in leading a coup against the elected government of Myanmar on 1 February and in using violent means against non-violent demonstrators. More than fifty demonstrators have been killed and many more wounded.

    The ASCM supports the action of the Australian government in withdrawing from co-operative programmes with the Myanmar military, which action conveys a full rejection of this coup.

    The ASCM calls on all Australians to stand in solidarity with the people of Myanmar as they seek to avoid a return to military dictatorship.

    We mourn the passing of those who have lost their lives and we pray for a return of the elected government.

    See also Sandy Yule's reflections on the Myanmar coup.

    ASCM is looking for a new International/WSCF Liaison Officer

    ASCM is looking for a new volunteer International Officer (WSCF Liaison Officer)! This exciting role may involve some international travel (borders permitting). It provides the opportunity to meet with Christian students from around the world, organise international programs and recommend the position the National Executive should take on key international events. If you're interested in foreign affairs, or just the world in general, this is the role for you!

    Please see the position description for a description of the role and how to apply.

    ASCM in NSW

    Something sprang out of the October 2020 Senior Friends gathering on zoom: some of us in NSW decided to meet together to consider whether we could make a constructive contribution to the life of the ASCM. We have met twice and determined that we would undertake the following activities:

    1. to offer zoom talks that others around the country could tune into, regarding the respective faith journeys of some of us, contemporary issues and theological topics;
    2. to explore whether it is possible to begin a branch on one or more campuses;
    3. to continue to meet to consider how we could assist the movement.

    We are keen to try to see how the rich experiences of ASCM that we each had can be offered to present-day students (of all ages) whether on campuses or gatherings of students off campus.

    To that end, we met with the Anglican and Uniting Church chaplains on Newcastle University campus and some other friends of the ASCM and ecumenical movement. We have explored possibilities. The present position is that each of the chaplains work well together and will continue their ministry. If they are in touch with students who are eager to have an ecumenical group, they will let us know. For ASCM to affiliate with the Newcastle University would require 10 interested students. In the meantime we have said that we would be pleased to encourage students to contact either or both of the chaplains, via the ASCM website and in other ways, and to support their campus-based ministry to students and staff.

    This highlights the need for ASCM to be in good contact with local churches and church organisations who may have members who are students, who would welcome such a group and wish to be part of it. We would be pleased to hear from others as to how you are faring around the country and how you are dealing with these issues.

    Restrictions on campus also highlight the importance of on-line and zoom contact around the country. We would like students to be able to have access to the on-line talks we will offer, so it is important to "get the words out there" via on-line advertising as much as possible.

    We will continue to hope and pray that there may be ways forward to offer to students the lovely opportunities for growth and friendships that being part of the ASCM has brought to so many of us. Please also pray for this work.

    -- Mandy Tibbey and Michael Mitchell for the ASCM NSW Area Council

    ASCM in ACT

    Canberra SCM has had three staff workers, two are undergraduate students and one is a masters’ student: Caity Cameron, Silves (Rado) Ximenes and Yixin Gong. In the last six months of year 2020 we had regular Zoom meetings to stay connected as well as discuss some interesting issues.

    1. In person meeting in September to discuss our plan for the next half of the year
    2. Timor Leste Online Discussion in September, moderated by Rado
    3. Astronomy in the Bible Zoom meeting in November, moderated by Yixin, with Robbie Tulip as the main speaker
    4. Meeting in February to have afternoon tea in Caity’s home and also to review our plan for year 2021.

    After reviewing the COVID situation in Canberra, we plan to resume face-to-face meetings again in March. We hope to support each other in a closer relationship and also believe resuming in-person activities could potentially attract new members into our community.

    On 1st November 2020, ASCM Canberra held a Public Online Seminar regarding the Astronomy in the Bible. We invited Robbie Tulip to be the speaker of the seminar and led the discussion of Biblical texts addressing astronomy, including insights and scientific hypothesis to help explain how ancient Christianity developed its belief that time is 7000 years long. The full version is now available on YouTube as well!

    We also farewell our staff worker Rado who will be returning to Timor Leste in the near future.

    ASCM in Queensland

    In Brisbane, we are focused on several things at the university level. One is multi-faith discussions.

    We are blessed {and whatever the equivalent word is for other religions and cultures to "blessed"} to have faith representatives from other faiths come together to discuss different themes. Some join us via the power of video chatting and in-person as well.

    We are also focused on social justice, not a loaded term for us. Simply drawing attention to things that matter, like peace and what we can do to help.

    On the matter of peace, we have been invited to make a submission to a peace inquiry. I invite all those interested to please make a submission to the Independent & Peaceful Australia – The Peoples' Inquiry.

    -- David Hale, Queensland staff worker

    ASCM in WA

    We had our first meeting, a shared meal at Clare and Tyson Schulz’s home – five attendees. We talked about where Christianity sits in Australian society and how religion fits in a person’s life.

    Clare is going to explore links with an SCM-like group in the Uniting Church here in Perth.

    -- Barrie Baker

    News from WSCF Asia-Pacific

    The WSCF Asia Pacific Regional Committee Meeting (RCM), which was postponed from early 2020, was held online on Saturday 13 March 2021. John Probhudan Biswas, ASCM's national coordinator, represented ASCM at this event.

    Ms Fanny Chung replaced Sunita Suna from December 2020 as the Interim Regional Coordinator for WSCF Asia Pacific. Fanny is an SCMer originally from Hong Kong who now lives in Korea and worked for the Korean Student Christian Federation (KSCF) for a number of years. She has also been a member of the Asia Pacific Standing Committee, including most recently as the female Executive Committee (ExCo) representative to WSCF Global.

    Opinion and reflection

    Please visit our website for the following reflections from our friends:

    Support ASCM

    Donate to our annual appeal, general fund, or centenary trust fund, or find out how to make a bequest to ASCM.

    We want to hear from you

    ASCM News is published fortnightly. Share it widely! Go to our website for our newsletter archive and email subscription page. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more news.

    Do you have news about friends of ASCM and WSCF or other items of interest? Contact us at digital@ascm.org.au.

     

  • Invitation to an online gathering for NSW SCM Friends

    Tuesday, 1 December, 2020 - 02:12

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    Invitation to an online gathering for NSW SCM Friends

    Dear friend 

    I hope this email catches you well. 

    I’m writing to invite you to NSW SCM friends gathering at 7.30pm on Wednesday, 9 December 2020.  We would love to have you join us. 

    Please let us know if you can attend by registering on our website at https://ascm.org.au/civicrm/event/info?id=53&reset=1

    Look forward to hearing from you. 

    Shalom
    John

    John Probhudan Biswas
    National Coordinator, ASCM

  • Support ASCM – National Appeal 2020

    Monday, 2 November, 2020 - 07:14

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    Support ASCM in our National Appeal

    19 September 2020

    To:
    Members/Senior friends
    Australian Student Christian Movement

    Dear senior friends,

    We hope you are well during COVID 19. We extend our sincere thanks to members/senior friends in the last year for their support in helping us run programs around Australia, in East Timor and to send representatives from ASCM to ecumenical events. 

    Thanks to your support we were able to carry out the following activities:

    1. Canberra SCM: in 2019/2020 we took part in Bible studies with senior friend Robbie Tulip on the Uluru Statement from the Heart and connected with activities on campus via the ANU chaplaincy, to which Robbie has been appointed. In the first six months of this year we have had less activity than usual because of COVID but shifted to Zoom meetings. We held a Christmas meeting, a picnic in February and Zoom catch-up in March, an international Zoom meeting in May on reducing our environmental impact led by Dr Ros Hewett and an international Zoom meeting in June on gender equality, led by two of our Canberra staff workers, Yixin and Rado. These meetings had participants from the US, Africa, Indonesia, Timor Leste and Australia.  Our current staff workers are Caity Cameron (undergraduate student, ANU), Silves (Rado) Ximenes (student at Canberra Institute of Technology) and Yixin Gong (undergraduate student at ANU), with thanks to previous staff worker Kate King (undergraduate student at Australian Catholic University).

    2. Victorian SCM is in COVID19 hibernation. We shelved plans for a conference associated with the AGM focused on climate change, but pursued this topic through a monthly Bible study on the flood. We also shelved plans for an interfaith event in conjunction with the Swinburne chaplaincy on the topic, ‘Why stand up for Social Justice?’ We again sponsored the Palm Sunday Rally for refugees, which this year was held via Zoom. Our main event during COVID19 restrictions was the Bible study series of four sessions led by the Rev. Dr. Morag Logan and Professor Peter Rayner on Genesis 6-9 (the story of the flood) and climate catastrophe. A full report of these conversations is available from the ASCM website, https://ascm.org.au/. Detailed notes of each session are also available on request. We appreciated the involvement of Canberra friends in these discussions.

    3. The SCM Queensland Area continues to meet on a regular basis, as it has for many years. University of Queensland – David Hale, a volunteer ecumenical Chaplain, has come on board as our Field Worker. This has strengthened links to and within the life of this key campus, frankly taking our level of engagement to the next level of maturity and deeper connection. Ray is also putting out there the idea of a wider representation for area council. 

    4. WA SCM: 5 Senior Friends in WA and three current students continue to meet at the home of Clare and Tyson Menck on the third Tuesday of each month. We have a shared meal (Tyson doing the cooking) and then follow with discussion on topics concerning our faith and practice but stopped during the COVID 19. 

    5. We set up an ASCM PayPal account for online donations. You can donate at https://ascm.org.au/donate-appeal

    6. We send out a quarterly e-newsletter with 376 people subscribed. You can subscribe at https://ascm.org.au/newsletter and view past issues at https://ascm.org.au/newsletter-archive.

    7. ASCM has supported East Timor SCM for the last two and a half years. They are active again, with the assistance of Senior Friend Helen Hill. Please follow this link to see their activities https://bit.ly/3438X1J 

    8. We held our National Executive Meeting via Skype in February 2020 and Online Annual General Meeting via Zoom in July 2020, however our national conference, originally to be held in Melbourne in July, was postponed.

    9. ASCM wants to hear from YOU! At our AGM Zoom meeting in February, we decided to develop an environmental policy. This policy may include our position on global warming and concrete steps we can take as an organisation to reduce our environmental impact. We want to hear from our students and senior friends about what you think the policy should include. Here are some of the questions we're considering: What should our theological position be on the environment? What should our theological position be on global warming and climate change? What should our position in general be on the environment, global warming and climate change? What practical steps can we take to reduce our environmental impact in areas like travel, food, technology, lobbying and information sharing? If we offset, what principles should guide our decisions about offsetting? Send your ideas to environment@ascm.org.au.

    10. We will hold an online senior friends’ reunion on 18 October 2020 via Zoom. Further information is available on our website at https://ascm.org.au/civicrm/event/info?id=50&reset=1. If you don’t have access to a computer or smartphone, you can still join our Zoom meetings from a landline phone – call our Technology Coordinator, Claudine Chionh, if you need any assistance joining a Zoom meeting.

    11. The ASCM PO Box has moved to Canberra from Melbourne. Our postal address is now GPO Box 1195, Canberra City, ACT2601.

    12. In July 2019 we sent Caity Cameron (ACT staff worker) to attend the World Student Christian Federation's second Inter-regional program on Identity, Diversity, and Dialogue in Nairobi, Africa.

    13. The World Student Christian Federation Asia Pacific Regional Committee Meeting, to be held in March in Indonesia, was postponed, as was the General Assembly, to be held in Berlin in June 2020. 

    14. Following up on one of the decisions from our annual conference last year, our national coordinator John Probudhan Biswas wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office expressing our concern about government policy in a number of different areas. We received a reply in October 2019.

     

    This financial year we will continue to run the same activities, with the following initiatives: 

    1. Help to pay staff honorarium in Timor Leste SCM, but we will reduce support from $2,500 per year to $2,000.

    2. To pay honorarium of our staff in Australia

    3. Most of our meetings will go online, with regular meetings and face-to-face meetings if possible.    

    4. We will encourage staff to get new students to join us.

     

    We rely on the support of our senior friends like you and thank you sincerely for your donations and support in other ways. 

     

    To make a donation:

    1. Credit card: donate directly through the following link (https://ascm.org.au/donate-appeal)

    2. Bank transfer: BSB 06 2000 Account Number 0092 2944

    3. Cheque: send to GPO BOX 1195 Canberra ACT 2610 ACT-Australia.  Payable: Australian Student Christian Movement. 

     

    If you wish to make ongoing contributions, we suggest you choose recurring (monthly, quarterly, or yearly) donations online so that the donation will be automatically debited from your account. 

     

    Donations to the ASCM or the Trust cannot be used as a tax-deduction.

     

     

    To go paperless

    To see our activities, please follow our Facebook page
    https://fb.me/AustralianSCM
    and YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UComAdAiyJxC3PN1A0gUcWXQ

    Please subscribe to our email newsletter at  https://ascm.org.au/newsletter

     

    To make a bequest for the general purposes of ASCM:

    “I bequeath (insert specific amount; percentage of estate; residue of estate; etc) to the Australian Student Christian Movement, to be applied for general purposes of the said organisation.”

    To make a bequest to the ASCM Centenary Trust Fund:

    “I bequeath (insert specific amount; percentage of estate; residue of estate; etc) to the Australian Student Christian Movement Centenary Trust Fund, to be applied for general purposes of the said Trust.”

    If neither of these suits your wishes, your solicitor or professional adviser will be able to construct the right wording for you. For further information from ASCM, please email treasurer@ascm.org.au

     

            Kind Regards

            Andika Mongilala

                National Treasurer

     

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    Profit and Loss

     
     

     

    2019/2020

    Budget 2020/2021

    Revenue

     
     

    General Income

    39.85 

    National Appeal Letter

    7,200.23 

    6,000.00 

    Trust Fund

    32,000.00 

    32,000.00 

    Total Revenue

    39,240.08 

    38,000.00 

     
     
     

    Other Income (Loss)

     
     

    Interest CBA

    2.83 

    3.00 

    Interest UCA

    448.60 

    450.00 

    Total Other Income (Loss)

    451.43 

    453.00 

     
     
     

    Expenses

     
     

    Accounting Software

    215.00 

    250.00 

    Annual General Meeting/National Conference

    2,125.92 

    Appeal Cost (Print and stamp 500 recipients)

    615.65 

    700.00 

    East Timor Mission

    2,500.00 

    2,000.00 

    Honorarium

    25,500.00 

    29,000.00 

    Natsiec Mission

    300.00 

    300.00 

    Office Bearer

    307.45 

    500.00 

    Other Expense (Victoria SCM Unclaimed money)

    3,060.77 

    PO BOX 

    139.00 

    450.00 

    Webhosting

    209.95 

    210.00 

    WSCF Program/ Yearly Membership

    2,329.85 

    500.00 

    Incentive Program

    -

    3,000.00 

    Advertising events

     

    1,500.00 

    Total Expenses

    37,303.59 

    38,410.00 

    Net Earnings

    2,387.92 

    43.00 

     

    Victorian SCM End of year Dinner

    Victorian SCM End of year Dinner

     

     Met to eat (of course) and continue our bi-monthly Bible study on the Uluru Statement from the Heart        Met to eat (of course) and continue our bi-monthly Bible study on the Uluru Statement from the Heart

    Canberra SCM: Met to eat (of course) and continue our bi-monthly Bible study on the Uluru Statement from the Heart

     

     Some of our Canberra SCMers took advantage of the perfect spring weather to have a picnic in October 2019

    Canberra SCM: Some of our Canberra SCMers took advantage of the perfect spring weather to have a picnic in October 2019

     

     Christmas lunch, There was a koto, sushi, East Timorese beef curry, fruit salad, brownies and shortbread at SCM Canberra's Christmas break-up today. And Christmas hats.      Christmas lunch, There was a koto, sushi, East Timorese beef curry, fruit salad, brownies and shortbread at SCM Canberra's Christmas break-up today. And Christmas hats.  

    Canberra SCM : Christmas lunch, There was a koto, sushi, East Timorese beef curry, fruit salad, brownies and shortbread at SCM Canberra's Christmas break-up today. And Christmas hats.

     

    Canberra staff meeting with senior friend and ANU chaplaincy coordinator Robbie Tulip

    Canberra staff meeting with senior friend and ANU chaplaincy coordinator Robbie Tulip

     

    Several members of the ASCM national executive attended an Indonesia SCM Online Discussion

    Several members of the ASCM national executive attended an Indonesia SCM Online Discussion

     international Zoom meeting on gender equality lead by Yixin and Rado 

     

     international Zoom meeting on gender equality lead by Yixin and Rado

     

    June 2020: international Zoom meeting on gender equality lead by Yixin and Rado

     

    August 2020 Online meeting with Chairperson and Regional Secretary of WSCF AP regarding their loan to ASCM

     

    August 2020 Online meeting with Chairperson and Regional Secretary of WSCF AP regarding their loan to ASCM

     

    May 2020 online discussion of how we can reduce our environmental impact led by Dr Ros Hewett

     

    May 2020 online discussion of how we can reduce our environmental impact led by Dr Ros Hewett

     

    Victorian SCM discussion on The Flood

     

    Victorian SCM discussion on The Flood

     

      July 2019, Caity Cameron our delegate for WSCF IDD program in Kenya, Africa.  First time for her to go to Africa and also the first time WSCF held a program on identity, diversity and dialogue in Africa.

     

    July 2019, Caity Cameron our delegate for WSCF IDD program in Kenya, Africa.  First time for her to go to Africa and also the first time WSCF held a program on identity, diversity and dialogue in Africa.

    July 2019, Caity Cameron our delegate for WSCF IDD program in Kenya, Africa.  First time for her to go to Africa and also the first time WSCF held a program on identity, diversity and dialogue in Africa.

     

     September 2020 meeting and discussion about annual program

     September 2020 meeting and discussion about annual program

    Canberra SCM : September 2020 meeting and discussion about annual program

     

    We want to hear from you

    ASCM News is published quarterly. Share it widely! Go to our website for our newsletter archive and email subscription page. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more news.

    Do you have news about friends of ASCM and WSCF or other items of interest? Contact us at digital@ascm.org.au.

     

  • Join ASCM for our Senior Friends gathering this Sunday

    Friday, 16 October, 2020 - 03:55

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    Join ASCM for our Senior Friends gathering this Sunday

    Sunday, 18 October

    We are looking forward to our Senior Friends worship and gathering this Sunday afternoon (3pm AEDT). We will gather for worship, then hear from current students and staff workers about what ASCM and WSCF have been doing recently. There will also be opportunity for informal catchup with old and new friends.

    All friends of the ASCM are welcome to join this event. It’s not too late to register! Register at https://ascm.org.au/civicrm/event/info?id=50&reset=1 and you will get an email with details on how to join us via Zoom.

     

  • ASCM News – September 2020

    Friday, 25 September, 2020 - 00:42

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    ASCM News

    September 2020

    Upcoming ASCM and WSCF events

    Please see https://ascm.org.au/events for an up-to-date event calendar. All events take place via Zoom videoconferencing, which you can join from a computer, tablet, smartphone, or landline. Register for these events and we will send you the Zoom link.

    Online discussion on Timor-Leste – Sunday 27 September 4pm AEST

    Join Canberra SCM and Timor Leste SCM for a discussion on Timor Leste with Dr Helen Hill and Levi Vancoselos Pinto.

    Info and registration: https://ascm.org.au/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=51

    Senior Friends worship and gathering – Sunday 18 October 3pm AEST

    Join ASCM for worship, updates on what ASCM and WSCF have been doing, and an informal catchup with old and new friends.

    Info and registration: https://ascm.org.au/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=50

    Opinion and reflection

    Human Rights in the Philippines

    By Sandy Yule

    I first learned of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines in 1973, during the Marcos era. I was working for the ASCM at the time and had occasion to visit the Philippines SCM. The pattern has become drearily familiar since then, with the New People’s Army (NPA), reportedly a Communist insurgency, used to encourage all right-thinking people into acceptance of counter-terrorist violence by the established forces, including extra-judicial killings of civil society critics.

    In 2009, I was privileged to join a World Council of Churches delegation to the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. Once again, we met with those affected by extrajudicial killings of civil society activists, frequently tagged without real warrant as NPA members and/or supporters. We heard from family members who gave testimony to the killings.

    Since the election of President Duterte in 2016, a so-called ‘war on drugs’ has been launched, which has legitimised the targeted killing of many thousands of people in any way associated with drugs. More recently, there has been a fresh spate of deaths (around 300) of civil society activists, including lawyers, union leaders, farmers, workers, human rights activists and church leaders. The President’s rhetoric has made extra-judicial killing an acknowledged government policy, unlike in earlier times. A general picture is provided in the Ecumenical ‘Unity Statement for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in the Philippines’. This statement has been endorsed by eighteen national and international church bodies, including the National Council of Churches in Australia, the Christian Conference of Asia, the Uniting Church in Australia and the WSCF. 

    The passing of the new Anti-Terrorism law just recently has further escalated the attack on civil society critics of the Duterte government and its murderous policies. This law echoes the new law in China that targets protesters in Hong Kong by defining terrorism so vaguely that anyone who can be pictured as a critic of the state can be tagged a terrorist. Critics are finding that their photographs are appearing on broadsheets which identify them as communists associated with the NPA. They rightly feel anxious for their lives, as vigilante groups are emboldened to target them, quite apart from the para-military assassins who do seem to have close links with the Philippine military. It is ominous to hear that former army generals are being appointed to administrative positions with responsibility for enforcing the new law. 

    I do not know what to make of the NPA. It has had a remarkably long existence in the Philippines, at least if you listen to government announcements. There are claims of the occasional actions against the Philippine military, which may have happened. Still, if the NPA did not exist, it would clearly be very tempting for the Philippine government to invent it. The fact that it was there in 1973, with much the same profile as now, suggests a few things. One is that the Philippine military has had no success in eradicating it. Another is that the social forces leading to its creation would seem to be still in place, so that recruiting is happening. It is all too tempting to conclude that the NPA is kept in life by the need of the Philippine military for a justification for its ongoing targeted killings of those who stand up for the poorer section Philippine society. 

    I have recently been involved in three Zoom meetings which have focused on this situation. One was a briefing by those lobbying governments with a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, including Australia, to accept the findings of the report from Michelle Bachelet of Chile, which details recent abuses in the Philippines and to bring international condemnation of these abuses to bear. We heard from a representative of the World Council of Churches in a later session that the present draft response to be brought before the UN Human Rights Council is ‘unfortunately weak’. The second was a meeting of those concerned in Australia, which presented the current situation and continued a conversation about our responses. The third was the fully international and ecumenical meeting which launched the Unity Statement previously mentioned. There were an impressive array of speakers, many from the Philippines and many from the world church, with a general sense that this was the world church seeking a common and powerful voice against atrocities.

    We are faced here with what must count as politically motivated murder with impunity. I cannot remember any serious effort to bring to justice those responsible for the hundreds of killings of civil society leaders over the years. State sponsored violence typically operates with this impunity, as we see in countries such as Russia. There is a whiff of this same corruption of justice in the USA, coming to light through the Black Lives Matter movement. Then again, we are by no means free of this in our own country. Has the occasional investigation of black deaths in custody produced recognisable justice for the victims? Still, a leading edge of this culture of impunity is to be found in the state-sanctioned killings on particularly flagrant display in the Philippines, where it is manifest and unarguable. I believe that the ASCM needs to stand with those who declare the wrongness of extra-judicial killing, especially when it is sanctioned, however surreptitiously, by the state.

    Four Theological Students talk about God and Plagues

    A Dialogue by Sandy Yule

    Lauren: My friend Betty thinks that this coronavirus is a punishment sent by God because of our wrongdoing. She shifts about as to what exactly we have done wrong, but for her, plagues are always from God and they always punish evildoing. What do you all think of this view?

    Mary: I think there are two main questions to explore here. Firstly, sin is not the same as crime, or wrongdoing. I think God is more interested in sin than in crime. How does God deal with sin? And secondly, what role can we see for plagues in God’s good creation?

    Lauren: Yes, crime is socially defined by us humans and punishment looks like the best we can do for justice. Sin is separation from God, which is only overcome by God graciously forgiving us and re-establishing an active and loving relationship.

    Stephen: Crime is defined by society, so that only some people are criminals. Sin affects us all, including the institutions of society. It is rather undefined. Those most down on criminals like to think themselves sin-free, which is hardly likely.

    Robin: We do link crime and punishment quite closely, but I prefer rehabilitation to punishment as our first response to crime. Of course, you can’t hope to rehabilitate hardened criminals without serious interventions. 

    Lauren: Well, I think Betty wants to have God enforcing the rules against our permissive and careless society. I don’t disagree with her about social carelessness and abusive behaviour, but we should look at our selves first when it comes to judgements about sin.

    Stephen: It is claiming God in support of our moral principles that worries me here. Even our best principles can get distorted by self-interest when we apply them. 

    Robin:  I am very doubtful that plagues are primarily directed as punishment for sins that we can identify. This strikes me as a typical human blame game.

    Lauren: Yes. I think we are all agreeing here. Let’s talk about the second question that you mentioned, Mary. Why did God create a world with plagues and other natural catastrophes? Does God send the plagues, or is it more a matter of allowing them to happen? 

    Mary: If you look at the story of Israel’s delivery from bondage in Egypt by the actions of God (Exodus 3-15), it is hard to refute the idea that God did send the plagues.

    Stephen: I don’t hold with the idea that God micro-manages everything and that we can call on God for immediate assistance as needed. We can paint whatever we like on the blank canvas of our idea of God, but when we get to praying for a parking space or for an accident to happen to an enemy, count me out.

    Mary: So how do you read the story of God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, as we have it in the early chapters of Exodus? 

    Stephen: Well, God is a character in this story, indeed, the main character. God calls Moses at a low point in his life to become God’s agent in negotiating with Pharaoh for the release of the people. It does tell how God (through the catalytic agency of Moses) sent the plagues to pressure Pharaoh into acquiescence, but it also says that God ‘hardened Pharaoh’s heart’, so that he (mostly) refused. I find it very hard to square this story with what we know about plagues, let alone what we think we know about God.

    Robin: What seems difficult here, Stephen?

    Stephen: Plagues attack weaknesses, physically considered, whereas the plagues of Egypt are an escalating series of quite unrelated disasters, culminating in the death of the firstborn of every household across the land in a single night. This is a battle between divinities, not a natural pandemic. Because of the overlay of Jewish monotheism, the Egyptian gods do not appear, except perhaps in the feeble and failing efforts of the Egyptian magicians. God comes across as a cosmic bully!

    Robin: ‘Bullying’ is a bit harsh. Everyone at that time knew that if you went up against a divine being, you would come off very poorly, unless you happened to be a hero with connections to other divine beings.

    Lauren: So why didn’t Pharaoh back off?

    Stephen: As I said, God hardened his heart.

    Robin: The Exodus account does read like a classic myth in telling of a struggle between divine powers, but transposed into a human and historical setting.

    Stephen: The Egyptian and Greek gods were tyrannical, responding with a vengeful cruelty to what we see as minor infractions. I am simply noting that Yahweh is not free from these power games in this story.

    Mary: Well, Yahweh does take a long time to get to the murderous end of exercises of power, though you have a point about Yahweh also stopping Pharaoh from taking the easy way out.

    Lauren: I am happy to accept the scientific stories about illnesses in terms of bacteria and viruses, but I don’t see how that excludes God from, as you so delicately put it, Stephen, micromanaging our fate.

    Robin: I agree. You won’t resolve a theological argument through quoting scientific and historical facts. These can discredit overly precise theological claims, but they cannot get behind the limitations of our experience and knowledge to determine how we might picture God.

    Mary: I think we can all agree that God created the world and that this includes microbes, death and accidents. I like the idea that God created the world in the fashion of a seed. The world was created good, with room to grow and develop. The world was not created perfect, as if there were no room for improvement, indeed, no room for human history. [I owe this phrase and the wider idea to Terence Fretheim. See T. Fretheim. Creation Untamed: The Bible, God and Natural Disasters. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Publishing Group, 2019.]

    Lauren: Are you denying that God is in charge of everything?

    Mary: Not exactly, but I do think we have mostly got it wrong about how God chooses to be ‘in charge’. We don’t take nearly seriously enough the reality of human freedom, which is a God-given gift. I think God is willing to let a lot of suffering and struggle happen before co-working with human agents to bring good out of evil. This maximises our growth and also our ownership of the resulting achievement.

    Stephen: I like the fact that you give such a high role to our human efforts, and also that you accept in full what we know from scientific inquiry. I can’t help feeling, however, that you leave us with a fatalistic bondage to whatever happens as somehow ordained by God.  

    Mary: You aren’t listening to me, Stephen. I am not supporting a fatalistic submission to the will of God without questioning what that will might be. Some believers talk as if our given situation is fully blessed by God, which I don’t believe for a moment.This is why I really like this Exodus story despite its problematic features. It talks of a God who hears the cry of the oppressed people and who does something definitive for their liberation. 

    Robin: Yes, that is important to me. Divinities in the ancient world mostly blessed rulers of cities and states, in return for their homage. Israel’s God chooses to side with a group of slaves who were no people and who took action to make them a people. It is ironic that in the later period, the prophets show God complaining at the lack of faithful homage from this ‘No-people’ who have forgotten their origins.

    Stephen: Well, I am glad to see that you are not trying to make God into that strange, Calvinistic being who has written the whole of human history, indeed, the history of the universe, before all worlds, with some lucky goodies and many baddies heading for destruction.

    Lauren: I do see God as intentionally exercising a providential oversight of our world and our human history, though I am not ready to speculate about how God holds our reality in being while also entering into relationship with us. So in my view, God permits the suffering caused by plagues and other catastrophes. I recognize that I don’t have a clue as to the ultimate motivation of God, apart from faith that it is for a loving purpose into which we are invited.

    Robin: Yes, I prefer to think that the most that can be said about God’s involvement in our suffering is that we are left to experience the consequences of our sin and folly, our poor choices, for a time. God does not send the plagues against Egypt to punish them for sins committed. The plagues are acts of power in a divine power struggle.

    Mary: I agree. Yahweh is raiding the human ‘possessions’ of Egypt in order to create for himself a new people. 

    Lauren: I think that’s right. It does turn the argument towards a quest for God’s intentions in doing this. There is a clear picture in Exodus of the wrongdoing of Egypt in the harsh conditions for the Hebrew slaves, so that there might  be an element of punishing Pharaoh for this, but it reads much more like a quasi-sociological recognition of the availability of this oppressed people for a new and independent future in a promised land. 

    Stephen: I am having trouble getting my head around this interventionist God who may not be micro-managing everything, but who swoops in for occasional liberation as long as there are people willing to act as this God’s agents. Don’t you find it highly arbitrary, as a reading of human history?

    Robin: Yes and no. Yes, there is an arbitrary element here. ‘How odd of God to choose the Jews.’ [To which the response might be, ‘But not so odd as those who choose a Jewish God, despising Jews’.] It is not so arbitrary if we read it as a revelation of how God regularly acts in our history. Oppression creates its own opposition, so that there is regularly pressure for the overcoming of injustice and oppression. I think we should be seeing the universal activity of the Holy Spirit of God in opposing injustice here.

    Lauren: I am still uncertain about plagues. Why did God create them?

    Stephen: Why did God create death? These things are just given realities, as it seems to me.

    Robin: We have become very human-centred in our understanding of reality. Some Christians seem not to think about much beyond ‘God and me’. One of the things I like about the Greek gods is that they give a much more diverse picture of realms of reality. While Athena inhabits and rules the city of Athens, Artemis does the same for wild nature and Hades for the realm of the dead. Our Christian understanding needs to grow more capacious. Plagues are at least a reminder that we are not eternal beings and that our vaunted civilisation is vulnerable to their unchecked presence.

    Mary: Well said. Our society is determinedly one-sided in our quest for human control of our environment, with negative effects that are becoming catastrophic. Plagues show the inadequacy of this.

    Lauren: I see that. So you think that plagues are one way in which God pulls us up short and gives us a time for remembering that we are creatures?

    Stephen: Yes, that does seem right enough.

    Mary: For me, the general point is that God seems to wait upon our turning away from our own self-chosen (or merely drifting) pathway through life and turning towards a renewed reliance on, and connection with, God. Once this relationship is there, salvation (earthly as well as eternal) follows. This is beautifully expressed by the Psalmist: 
    ‘Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town: hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he led them by a straight way until they reached an inhabited town.’ (Psalm 107:4-7).

    Lauren: Well, thanks! Maybe you have answered my questions.

    Support ASCM

    Donate to our annual appeal, general fund, or centenary trust fund, or find out how to make a bequest to ASCM.

    We want to hear from you

    ASCM News is published quarterly. Share it widely! Go to our website for our newsletter archive and email subscription page. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more news.

    Do you have news about friends of ASCM and WSCF or other items of interest? Contact us at digital@ascm.org.au.

     

  • ASCM News

    Wednesday, 1 July, 2020 - 03:26

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    ASCM News

    June 2020

    Greetings to all friends of the Australian Student Christian Movement. In these anxious and uncertain times, ASCM, like faith communities around the world, have moved our activities online. This has been a time of reflection and reconnection as our branches around Australia have created opportunities to meet together as well as connect with our friends in Indonesia and Timor Leste. In this newsletter we offer reflections on discussion series led by SCMers from ACT and Victoria as well as Barrie Baker’s thoughts on church in a time of lockdown.

    Upcoming ASCM events

    Please see https://ascm.org.au/events for updates on our events.

    Annual General Meeting 2020 – 19 and 26 July

    This year our AGM will be held online over two consecutive Sunday afternoons. The first session covering our core AGM agenda (reports and finances) will take place from 3-5pm AEST on Sunday 19 July and the second session for other business will take place from 3-5pm AEST on Sunday 26 July.

    Please register online for the first session and the second session to receive updates and papers for the AGM.

    Other events of interest

    Online Rally for Freedom from Detention – Thursday 2 July, 6pm AEST

    Hosted by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and RightTrack. Endorsed by ASCM (Victoria).

    More information and registration at https://www.righttrack.org.au/online_rally

    Invitation to participate in study

    Progressive Christianity, Belonging and Social Work Knowledge

    Samantha Lynch, Deakin University

    As part of my honours thesis, I am seeking volunteers for a study into progressive Christianity, belonging and knowledge within social work. If you are between the ages of 18 to 30 and identify as a progressive Christian, I would love to hear from you using the email below. 

    For this research, progressive Christianity means:-

    • An openness to critical thought and discussion on Christian traditions and assumptions
    • a commitment to inclusion
    • a commitment to social and ecological justice

    What is involved:
    An approximately 1 hour interview via Zoom

    For more information, please email Samantha (student researcher) at sjlynch@deakin.edu.au

    ASCM event reports

    Climate Change and Noah’s Flood: A Discussion

    An ASCM group led by Morag Logan and Peter Rayner, and variously including Ann Ng, Ros Hewett, Andika Mongilala, Robbie Tulip, Zak Hanyn and Sandy Yule, has been meeting on zoom to discuss the story of Noah and the great flood, with theological questions about climate change in mind. We have had three sessions and will conclude with a fourth on Thursday 25 June. The following is an account of our discussions thus far.

    Sandy Yule has provided comprehensive notes of these discussions on the ASCM website at https://ascm.org.au/article/report-victorian-scm-discussions-climate-change-and-noah-s-flood

    ACT SCM

    SCM Canberra continues to meet monthly via Zoom, with a focus on social justice and activism. Our recent discussion topics have included Reducing Our Personal Environmental Impact, and Gender Inequality - summarised below. Our Zoom meetings are open to all and feature lively discussion with SCMers from around the world. Please get in touch via act@ascm.org.au if you'd like to join future meetings!

    Full reports on our recent discussions can be found on the ASCM website at https://ascm.org.au/article/report-canberra-scm-discussions-reducing-our-environmental-impact-and-gender-inequality

    Opinion and reflection

    Worship In Lockdown Under COVID 19

    Barrie Baker, WA ASCM

    With no public services possible at our church in Dianella, Perth, our congregation have been actually praying and worshipping  more intensively than usual over the last 10 weeks.

    We are grateful that our priest, Archdeacon David Ingleson, has been emailing us every day with worship material, appropriate to the day and season.

    He has sent an abbreviated service of Eucharist for each Sunday, and in between he has sent a homily, collects and other prayers and special intentions.

    During Holy Week my wife, Zoe, and I sat up in bed prior to going to sleep using the appropriate material sent to us, and each Sunday we sit side by side on the sofa and read and pray together.

    It is the viral emergency that has led us to do what we have never done before, and enriched our faith and Christian practice.

    I wonder if any other ASCMers have a positive report of religious enrichment under our common constraints.

    Support ASCM

    Donate to our annual appeal, general fund, or centenary trust fund, or find out how to make a bequest to ASCM.

    We want to hear from you

    ASCM News is published quarterly. Share it widely! Go to our website for our newsletter archive and email subscription page. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more news.

    Do you have news about friends of ASCM and WSCF or other items of interest? Contact us at digital@ascm.org.au.

  • Good Friday and Easter with the Australian Student Christian Movement

    Friday, 10 April, 2020 - 04:31

    Easter blessings from the Australian Student Christian Movement.

    In these challenging and uncertain times, you are invited to join us for Good Friday and Easter.

    Melbourne SCMer Zak Hanyn has worked with Melbourne City Churches in Action to create a Virtual Way of the Cross, which you can view on YouTube.

    Zak will also be interviewed about this service on Channel Nine News at 6pm tonight (Good Friday).

    ASCM will hold an online prayer gathering at 3pm on Easter Day. This will take place via Zoom videoconferencing, which you can access via a web browser, smartphone, or regular phone. Register on our website and you will receive instructions for joining the Zoom event.

    Our local groups in Canberra and Melbourne continue to meet online – contact us at act@ascm.org.au and vicscm@ascm.org.au to find out more.

  • Welcome to 2020 with ASCM

    Friday, 13 March, 2020 - 06:40

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    Welcome to 2020

    March 2020

    Upcoming ASCM and WSCF events

    30 March: Victorian SCM discussion on climate change

    The first SCM discussion meeting/bible study for 2020 will be held at Zak Hanyn’s apartment on Monday, 30 March from 6:30 p.m.

    The topic will be ‘Climate Change’. We will be assisted in this discussion by Professor Peter Rayner (University of Melbourne) and the Rev. Dr. Morag Logan (Interim Chaplain at the University of Melbourne).

    This will be our usual informal discussion following a shared meal.

    All bookings via the ASCM website.

    18 June: Why Stand Up for Social Justice? An Interfaith Conversation (Swinburne University, Melbourne)

    An Interfaith Gathering about Social Justice

    • To connect and converse

    • Talking and walking together

    • Searching for Truth and Justice

    All bookings via https://trybooking.com/BHRWA

    11 July: National Conference – Climate Change: Could it be too late? (Melbourne)

    There will be a national day conference in Melbourne on this Saturday, 11 July (to be followed on Sunday, 12 July, with the Annual General Meeting of ASCM).

    The focus will be on our responses to Climate Change, under the working title, ‘Climate Change: Could it be too late?’

    Please reserve the time and plan to come.

    Two speakers have already accepted our invitation speak.

    They are Professor Peter Rayner, a climate scientist at the University of Melbourne and the Rev. Glenn Loughrey, a Wiradjuri man and priest at St Oswald’s Anglican Church, Glen Iris.

    We will probably be needing offered of accommodation for interstate participants. If you have this need, or can offer hospitality, please contact Sandy Yule (yules@optusnet.com.au).

    Watch this space for further details.

    Regional Committee Meeting postponed

    The 23rd Regional Committee Meeting (RCM) of the World Student Christian Federation Asia Pacific was due to be held in Lake Toba, Indonesia, on 13-18 March 2020. Because of concerns about coronavirus, the RCM has been postponed, with a new date yet to be set - although the RCM needs to meet before the WSCF General Assembly.

    Although the forthcoming General Assembly and senior friends' gathering in June in Berlin, Germany, has not yet been postponed, WSCF Officers recently sent a communication to SCMs asking for prayer that the coronavirus situation will be contained by June to avoid travel restrictions and potential complications.

    ASCM environmental policy

    ASCM wants to hear from YOU!

    At our recent national executive Skype meeting in February, we decided to develop an environmental policy. This policy may include our position on global warming and concrete steps we can take as an organisation to reduce our environmental impact.

    We want to hear from our students and senior friends about what you think the policy should include. Here are some of the questions we'll be considering:

    What should our theological position be on the environment?

    What should our theological position be on global warming and climate change?

    What should our position in general be on the environment, global warming and climate change?

    What practical steps can we take to reduce our environmental impact in areas like travel, food, technology, lobbying and information sharing? If we offset, what principles should guide our decisions about offsetting?

    Send your ideas to environment@ascm.org.au.

    Opinion and reflection

    Cosmic Transfiguration

    From a sermon preached by Queensland SCM Friend Ray Barraclough.

    While we Western Christians seem to be preoccupied with our individualistic faith, Orthodox Christians – Greek, Russian, Serbian – as well as those drawn to Celtic and Franciscan Christianity, have a much wider vision of God’s transfiguring presence and activity. They celebrate God’s promise of transfiguration of the universe…And that is a process continuous with now.

    An inspiring source for that theology can be found in the Christian scriptures, especially in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Let me quote the pertinent – one could even say the ‘purple’ – passage found in Romans 8:19ff.

    For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God…in hope that the creation will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

    Here Paul daringly speaks about Nature using anthropomorphic language. That is, he refers to the earth as having consciousness. He declares that the earth ‘waits with eager longing’. He speaks of it having a will and experiencing freedom.

    What Paul dares to say is that the destiny of the natural world is inextricably bound up with the existence of humanity. Or to say that again and backwards: the destiny of humanity is inextricably bound with the existence of the wider natural world. In our present era, it has been the initiative of the international Green Movement that has caused this biblical passage, and this theology, to be welcomed into the Western Church.

    Have you noticed how the services in Anglican Prayer Books over the last 45 years have changed to include more and more ‘ecological theology’. The old Book of Common Prayer scarcely said a word about it. But now, even in the Great Thanksgiving in the eucharist, at last and at least, it has been given a voice.

    But there is a much stronger recognition of St Paul’s ‘purple passage’ in Thanksgiving 5:

    We thank you for this world of wonder and delight,
    You have given it to us to care for,
    so that all your creatures may enjoy its bounty. - Thanksgiving 5, p. 139.

    Our liturgies are not neutral as regards our obligation to our environment. In the Fourth Great Thanksgiving these words are said in addressing God: You have given us this earth to care for… (p.136) So we are called as Christians to share in the transfiguration of the earth, not its disfigurement. The debate about climate change, which sadly divides both our nation and the USA (but not, let it be noted, the UK or Europe) is also a theological issue.

    And we as carers of the earth are implicated in responding to changing climate, whether we like it or not. Whether we wish to do something about it or do nothing about it. Either way – what does our theology say about how we are to care for this gift, for the earth is that - a gift. We don’t own it, or possess it. As carers of the earth surely we are also to be custodians!

    Transfiguration is tied in with the destiny of the Amazon Rainforest, with land-clearing in Queensland (Clearing the land for how long?), with the tensions between ongoing urban expansion in Australian cities (and the Gold and Sunshine Coast) and living habitats for flora and fauna.

    He whose Transfiguration we celebrate was certainly one who catalysed transfiguration in human experience. And his words from the gospels about the birds of the air and the flowers of the field being clothed and fed in God’s care for the creatures of the earth – they are from the same environmental song sheet that Paul sings.

    Meet an SCMer

    Yixin Gong

    My name is Yixin, I am a third-year psychology student in ANU. I am from Taiyuan, China and have studied in China, Singapore and Australia.

    I grew up with a non-religious background where there were no Christians in my neighbourhood. My journey with Christ started from secondary school, when my best friend in Singapore was a Christian. I slowly transformed from going to church with my friend for free food to going to church because I wanted to learn more about Christianity. My own personal self-actualisation has guided me to help more people who come from non-religious backgrounds to get to know Christ. I also work as a student leader in ANU as the president of Christian Students Uniting Club, as well as helping as a volunteer in Young Life Australia. I have also been nominated as a church councillor at Canberra City Uniting Church. All the volunteering roles I am doing currently are because I want those kids or students to find Jesus' love in me. I see myself as an ambassador of Christ and I hope what I do could tell the students/teenagers from a nonreligious background that there is someone there who is willing to help them with no cost but just because of the love of Christ.

    My mission is to find more potential members of ASCM but I would like to have a special focus on tertiary and high school students. It is my pleasure to meet you all here!

    Support ASCM

    Donate to our annual appeal, general fund, or centenary trust fund, or find out how to make a bequest to ASCM.

    We want to hear from you

    ASCM News is published monthly. Share it widely! Go to our website for our newsletter archive and email subscription page. You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more news.

    Do you have news about friends of ASCM and WSCF or other items of interest? Contact us at digital@ascm.org.au.