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  • Join ASCM for our Senior Friends gathering this Sunday

    Friday, 16 October, 2020 - 14:55

    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 and you will get an email with details on how to join us via Zoom.


  • ASCM News – September 2020

    Friday, 25 September, 2020 - 10:42

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    ASCM News

    September 2020

    Upcoming ASCM and WSCF events

    Please see 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:

    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:

    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


  • ASCM News

    Wednesday, 1 July, 2020 - 13:26

    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 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

    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

    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


    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 if you'd like to join future meetings!

    Full reports on our recent discussions can be found on the ASCM website at

    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

  • Good Friday and Easter with the Australian Student Christian Movement

    Friday, 10 April, 2020 - 14:31

    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 and to find out more.

  • Welcome to 2020 with ASCM

    Friday, 13 March, 2020 - 17:40

    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

    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 (

    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

    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


  • Victorian SCM discussion on climate change - Monday 30 March

    Thursday, 27 February, 2020 - 12:47

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    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.

    For catering purposes, please RSVP online.

    Further details about entry will be available on registration.

    Please come!

  • ASCM News, November 2019

    Thursday, 21 November, 2019 - 18:35

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    ASCM News

    November 2019

    Upcoming ASCM and WSCF events

    Victorian fellowship dinner – Thursday 5 December

    Celebrate the end of 2019 with Victorian SCM. Potluck/bring a plate.

    RSVP here. This event is held in a private home. Please contact Claudine at or 0418 592 269 for the address and to let us know what you will bring to dinner.

    WSCF General Assembly

    The World Student Christian Federation’s 37th General Assembly, ‘Rejoice in Hope’, will take place in Berlin from 4 to 12 June, 2020. Information about the Assembly, Senior Friends’ Gathering, and public events can be found on the WSCF website.

    Barrie Baker, our National Pastoral Care Officer, has been recruited to help plan for the 37th WSCF General Assembly. He is specifically working with a committee planning the activities for the Senior Friends who will be attending.

    The coordinator for the group is Necta Montes, General Secretary based in Manila and the clerical assistant is Christine de la Cruz.

    Other members are Ms Silke Lechner from Germany, Mr Youhanna Kamal from Egypt, Mr Yannes Hutagalong from Indonesia, Mr Manuel Quintero Perez from Cuba.

    There have been two planning meetings altogether so far with another foreshadowed for 7 December 2019.

    The theme of the Assembly will be:

    Rejoice in Hope
    (Romans 12:12)
    Young People Journeying Together Towards Justice and Peace

    The Senior Friends will have a programme that mirrors that of the Assembly delegates, and the two groups will join together for three major sessions.

    News from WSCF

    Search for WSCF General Secretary and Officers

    WSCF is searching for its next General Secretary and Officers:

    • The General Secretary
    • The Officers: 1 Chairperson, 2 Vice Chairperson (one male and one female – and one must be a student)
    • The Honorary Treasurer

    WSCF Strategic Planning 2020-2024 Survey

    Dear SCMer, Senior Friend and Colleague,

    Welcome to the strategic planning 2020-2024 roadmap (SP2024)!

    We are starting on the second stage of the SP2024 roadmap and we want you to be part of an inclusive, multi-level and multi-actor process, which have been approved by the ExCo in April 2019. The roadmap implementations will aim to submit a proposal on the new Strategic Plan 2020-2024 at the General Assembly in 2020.

    This stage includes a survey for SCMers, Seniors Friends and Staff, and we want you all to complete it.

    The survey has been designed in a way that we can have different voices from the SCM life members and WSCF structure actors. After the research is concluded, the SP2024 Working Group will collect and analyze the responses and inputs in order to create a first report. The report will contain other stages and important elements of the Strategic Planning Roadmap, such as:

    • Ecumenical and interfaith mapping and context analyses;
    • the assessment of the current strategic plan, including internal context analyses;
    • a questionnaire prepared to be completed and submitted by Regional bodies and staff.

    We kindly request you to complete the survey by December 20th. It will take only a few minutes!

    Complete the survey.

    ASCM and WSCF event reports

    Canberra picnic

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

    Opinion and reflection

    Review of Alan Demack, Pulpit, Pew and Public Life

    Alan Demack AO, Pulpit, Pew and Public Life: The Christian and the Secular Nation, MediaCom Education Inc, Unley, S.A., 2019

    Alan Demack's memoir entitled Pulpit, Pew and Public Life takes the reader, firstly, on a journey through the author's formative years which were deeply influenced by the Australian Student Christian Movement. He expresses a deep appreciation for the inspiration of his Christian discipleship provided by such fine theologians as J. H. Oldham, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Emil Brunner. (On pages 181-184 he provides an extensive list of a wider range of Christian contributors.)

    Alan studied law at the University of Queensland (1953-57) and in time he became a barrister and then a judge.

    In 1976 Alan was appointed a Senior Judge of the Family Court of Australia. In 1978 he was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland and Central Judge.

    He served as a judge in Queensland for some 28 years, and even in retirement has been active in being a valued consultant in regard to important legal issues.

    Nurtured in the Methodist Church, Alan and his wife Dorothy (whom he met at a National ASCM Conference in Armidale) have been very active members of the Uniting Church of Australia. Alan also contributes as a lay preacher in the Uniting Church. As well, both Alan and Dorothy have maintained a lifetime of support for ASCM.

    This book explores the interplay of law, theology, ethics and public life in the context of living in a 'secular nation'. It contains many insights and thoughtful reflections on the inter-relation of those important dimensions of Australian experience. The book repays thoughtful reading.

    Available for $22.95 from MediaCom.

    Ray Barraclough

    Meet an SCMer

    Silves ‘Rado’ Ximenes – ACT staff worker

    I’m Silves, I am finishing my Diploma for COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT at CIT (Canberra Institute of Technology). Before I came to Australia, I was working for The Organisation of Action Study Inter Society (OASIS), a youth volunteer service in East-Timor, for four years. In my position, I did Administration and Training for youth and children such as, Computer training, English basic training, culture dancing training, sport training and Japanese Language. After that, I moved to another organisation, Rae’s Hadomi Timor Oan/Disabled’s People Organisation (RHTO/DPO) in East-Timor, to improve my knowledge and skill for that organisation. I was working with this organisation for six and a half years. My position was Field Officer, and my placement was working in Baucau Municipality. In my Municipality I did Leadership Training for teachers, students, general public, counselling for families of people with disabilities and gave training to other organisations. After that, I organised some groups especially for people with disabilities and their families, to make their own business and horticulture. Another of my roles in the organisation was to help make ramps to make Accessible toilet for people with disabilities and also accessible toilets and ramps in schools, especially in my Baucau Municipality.

    My motto is helping people with disabilities and without disabilities. I am hard working honest, enthusiastic, responsible, quick to learn, able to make relationships with other people, able to work under pressure, and able to work in teams. I never give up in my life when I am learning new things. Also, you don’t see my disabilities but see my abilities. Every human has weaknesses and strengths, so you can’t see only their weakness you must see their strengths also.


    Sylvia Cleland

    Canberra SCM Friend Sylvia Cleland died in October. Her obituary is in the Canberra Times.

    Canberra SCMer Robert Tulip adds:

    I got to know Sylvia about twenty years ago when she and her husband Lindsay helped to run the Canberra Area Council of the Australian Student Christian Movement, an organisation which in their student days had helped form their shared identity through its values of faith, justice and peace. Sylvia had a profound Christian faith, informed by intelligent interest and compassion for the events of the world. She and Lindsay had a deep love for each other, one of the most beautiful married couples you could hope to see.

    Support ASCM

    Donate to our annual
    , general
    , 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

  • ASCM National Appeal

    Tuesday, 8 October, 2019 - 16:36

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    ASCM National Appeal

    October 2019

    Apologies if you have received multiple copies of this email.

    National Appeal


    Members/Senior friends
    Australian Student Christian Movement

    Dear senior friends,

    Our sincere thanks to members/senior friends 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. Paid honoraria of part-time ASCM staff workers at national and state levels.

    2. 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.

    3. Held monthly Bible studies in Melbourne and Perth and regular meetings at QLD University.

    4. In Canberra, held monthly discussions on social justice.

    5. SCM Qld sponsored Bart to attend the Global Chaplaincy Conference at Latrobe University, Bendigo. Russell also attended.

    6. After supporting East Timor SCM for the last year and a half, previously non-active, they are now back to being active. Please follow this link to see their activities:

    7. Sent John Biswas (NSW), James Maley (WA), Kingston Selveraj (SA) and Caity Cameron and Kate King (ACT) to attend the Voices of Justice Conference in Canberra.

    8. Held our National Executive Meeting via Skype in February 2019 and Annual General Meeting in Canberra in July 2019.

    9. Held our National Conference and National Senior Friends' Reunion in St Margaret's Uniting Church and Holy Cross Anglican Church, Hackett, ACT (Canberra) in July 2019, with the following speakers:

      • Barrie Baker – ASCM across the generations
      • Helen Rainger – Palestine and Israel: What's at stake?
      • Robert Tulip – Climate change, global warming, and the Christian response
      • Tim Ngui - Human Rights and the law
      • Sandy Yule and John Probhudan – Who or what is God?
      • Ivo Goncalves – a history of activism in East Timor
    10. After a year processing unclaimed money, we have received from NAB and CBA a total of $13,414.24. Thank you to senior friends who helped us with advice and providing information.

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

    1. Help to pay staff in Timor Leste SCM, but we will reduce support from $3,000 per year to $2,500.

    2. Send delegates to international programs and the WSCF 2020 General Assembly in Berlin, Germany.

    ASCM will have a projected deficit of $5,800 (if we only receive $5,000 from our appeal letter) in this year's budget. This means ASCM needs donations totalling $10,800 to support our programs and honorarium.

    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. Via Credit card or PayPal: donate directly through this link.
    2. Via Bank transfer: BSB 06 2000 Account Number 0092 2944.

    3. Via Cheque: send to PO Box 4386, Melbourne University, VIC 3052. Payable to Australian Student Christian Movement.

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

    To go paperless

    To see our activities, please follow our Facebook page and Youtube channel.

    Please subscribe to our email newsletter to see what we have done and what we plan to do.

    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 suit your wishes, your solicitor or professional adviser will be able to construct the right wording for you. For further information from ASCM, please email

    Kind Regards
    Andika Mongilala

    National Treasurer

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    Cash Basis



    Actual 2018/2019
    Budget 2019/2020


    Trust fund

    Appeal letter (for National)

    General Donations

    Montly Pledges

    Unclaimed money

    Total Revenue


    Interest CBA

    Interest UCA

    Other Income

    Total Revenue & other Income


    AGM Last year

    AGM This year

    Voices for Justice Canberra

    Justice Conference Melbourne


    WSCF Membership

    WSCF AP/Global Program

    Visit to Indonesia SCM & East Timor

    National appeal cost

    NATSIEC Donations


    PO Box Renewal

    Office Bearer

    East Timor mission

    MICAH Membership

    State Expense non honorarium

    Solomon Islands Mission



    Total Expenditure


    Total Expenditure & Others


    Surplus and Deficit

    Upcoming ASCM and WSCF events

    Melbourne Bible study – Monday 21 October

    We conclude our series on the Letter to the Ephesians.

    Dinner from 6:30pm, Bible study discussion from 7:30pm.

    RSVP here. This event is held in a private home. Please contact Claudine at or 0418 592 269 for the address or if you have any dietary requirements.

    ASCM and WSCF event reports

    ACT Bible study – Uluru statement

    Senior friend Robert Tulip led a Bible study on the Uluru Statement with seven in attendance on Sunday 18 August.

    Melbourne – Universal Day of Prayer for Students

    Sandy Yule

    On Sunday afternoon, 25 August, the Victorian SCM held a Universal Day of Prayer Service at the Church of All Nations, Carlton. The service was led by Claudine Chionh, Zak Hanyn, Matthew Julius, Ann Ng and Sandy Yule, with 26 people participating. The service was based on the liturgy prepared by the WSCF, the theme of which was peace. Matthew preached on 2 Corinthians 5: 11-21, with its emphasis on our calling as ambassadors for reconciliation. Songs and hymns were sung representing different eras of ASCM.

    Following the service, there was opportunity for meeting and sharing over afternoon tea, which was much appreciated. Nine people stayed on for a discussion of the future of SCM in Victoria. There was good support for hosting the next ASCM conference and AGM in Melbourne at this meeting.

     Matthew Julius



    Opinion and reflection

    Sermon preached at Melbourne’s Universal Day of Prayer for Students

    Matthew Julius

    God, may my words be loving and true; and may those who listen discern what is not. Amen.

    “... thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession ...” (2 Cor 2.14a)

    These words sit a few chapters before our reading from 2 Corinthians chapter 5 - one of Paul’s letters to the Christian community in the city of Corinth. With these words, Paul encourages his readers to attend to the ironic, parodic, even sarcastic bent in Christian proclamation.

    This parody at the heart of the Gospel provides important background for our reading today.

    The language of ‘Gospel’ or ‘Good News’ draws on traditions that proclaim victory in battle and conquest. ‘Good News’ was news from the front, from the victory of the King or Emperor over vanquished foes. Returning home in triumph, marching forward through the throng of adoring crowds: this is Gospel, Good News. Proclaimed as rulers parade in splendorous victory through the streets, carrying the spoils of their defeated foes. Leading the returning army in a procession of glory.

    And this term 'Gospel' becomes the name for the core of Christian proclamation. Hear the Good News! The promised Messiah, the Christ, has come into the world!

    The one in whom God will reveal the vindication of God’s people; the one in whom God will release God’s people from occupation; the one in whom God will restore the reign of God’s peace.

    Hear the Gospel! This promised Messiah has come into the world! The Christ is here! Hallelujah!

    And this Messiah has been put to death. By the very ones who hold God’s people in darkness, in bondage, and in violence.

    The Messiah and saviour of the world has come and been put to death on a Roman cross. Hallelujah ~

    “... thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession ...” (2 Cor 2.14a)

    Paul offers thanksgiving for being led in triumphal procession, not by a King victorious in battle. But by a King enthroned on a wooden cross with a thorned crown. Defeated by military might, opposed by religious leaders. Put to death. And as this dying King was led away his followers scattered and his movement seemed to end.

    While the glory of resurrection should not be forgotten here, a fixed view of the ironic glory of the cross mustn't either.

    As Paul continues to develop the parodic image of being led by a Christ crucified by the military might of Roman occupation, Paul draws on other images of frailty, failure, suffering, and service. Recounting his own experiences of these trials as a sharing in the suffering of Christ.

    Elsewhere Paul even talks about himself as a "slave." A slave led in triumphal procession.

    A slave led in triumphal procession does not share in the glorious spoils of the King at the head of the procession. The slave ​is​ the spoils of victory. Led along in chains. Imprisoned for the service of the victorious King.

    And so even as Paul anticipates the resurrected glory of Christ he acknowledges that such hope is held within his frailty and weakness, expressed in service to others.

    Resurrection hope is found in the low ebb of despair, the moments of failure. There the secret of the Jesus who we call the Christ is found. In the very midst of suffering, and struggle: when the community seems to be lacking in numbers; when Paul has felt the need to write a letter to get his own community back on side; when the vision seems to be fading, and the energy of the community with it ... There the treasure of the crucified Christ is found, in jar of clays: fragile and cracked.

    All of this sets the background to our reading for today. God in Christ meets us in the midst of difficulty. Revealing a world turned upside down. Offering a parody of power: proclaiming defeat as triumph, death as victory, and new life emerging from a rock hewn tomb - the place where corpses lay. And we carry this new life, not that we would continue the cycles of violence that crucified Christ, but that we would be called into something different ... something, in a parody of our assumptions of greatness: something ​truly​ great.

    “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God ...” (2 Cor 5.11)

    As Paul gathers up his account of the ways we are caught up in the saving work of God in Christ, he turns in this part of chapter 5 to how we move from ourselves to others. How we move from our own participation in the death and fragile glory of a crucified and risen Christ, and move to proclaiming this message to others. Move to inviting others to participate in the ever expanding revelation of God's reign of love, and service to the world. The reign of love in which Christ is King.

    It is this relentless movement of God’s love towards the world, like the irresistible current of a raging river, that catches us up and pushes us ever outward to embrace the world in love.

    “For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.” (2 Cor 5.14-15)

    These verses serve as the foundation for any attempt to move beyond ourselves and beckon those in the world back to God. With Paul we proclaim with a distinct boldness. We do not lose our nerve. Or reduce our proclamation to any narrow social or political project.

    The Christian proclamation is that Christ has died for all, therefore all have died. And so we are called to live a new life. Not called to the timid proclamation that God may embrace you, may give you a share of the saving work of Christ -- if only you would say some magic words, partake in some arcane ritual, or live a certain form of life. No.

    The foundation of our Christian proclamation cannot be rooted or anchored in anything at all that we can do. The foundation of Christian hope is nothing less than the reality of God breaking in and breaking open the world, establishing the reign of a crucified Lord who is raised. Establishing a new life of glory that parodies all attempts to wield power unjustly, that establishes a community formed with bonds of love stronger than the bondage of oppression and marginalisation.

    The German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer captured the radical core of what Paul is saying here in 2 Corinthians 5, that Christ has in fact claimed the world for God’s love and calls us to proclaim and enact this in word and deed. Bonhoeffer says:

    “The world is not divided between Christ and the devil; it is completely the world of Christ, whether it recognizes this or not. As this reality in Christ it is to be addressed, and thus the false reality that it imagines itself to have, in itself or in the devil, is to be destroyed. The dark, evil world may not be surrendered to the devil, but must be claimed for the one who won it by coming in the flesh, by the death and resurrection of Christ.” (‘Christ, Reality, and Good: Christ, Church, and World’, in ​Ethics​.)

    We must attend to the two aspects of what Bonhoeffer is saying, and which captures what Paul himself said before him.

    First, rooted in the reality of the saving love of Christ the world is the dwelling place of God. There is no doubt, no confusion, no qualification. This is the free gift of grace.

    Second, perhaps more importantly: this does not mean that those who profess Christ as Lord stand in judgement over and against the world. As if we are addressing a world that has not already been set free by the all-embracing love of God.

    “From now on,” says the Apostle Paul, “we regard no one from a human point of view ... there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Cor 5.16a, 17.)

    Our posture towards the world cannot begin with the assumption that anyone beyond our narrow community is currently beyond the reach of God’s love. To suggest that this is the case is to surrender the world back to the darkness and evil overcome by the cross of Jesus the Christ. Who took on that darkness and overcame it.

    To share, then, in the ministry of reconciliation is not first and foremost to give the world back to the devil so that it can be saved again. Rather, to share in the ministry of reconciliation to which we are called means proclaiming that the reign of God is here.

    To those who are captive to hate, we must proclaim that love reigns supreme. Rejecting all forms of bigotry, racism, sexism, and forms of discrimination.

    To those who wield power to injure and oppress, we must proclaim that solidarity with the vulnerable is the way our Messiah died.

    Rejecting the use of unjust imprisonment to deter those with legitimate claims to asylum.

    We must discern and participate in the places where reconciliation is like a stream rising from the ground to nourish the earth.

    Attending to the ​Statement from the Heart​ Indigenous leaders made at Uluru. Calling for: Voice. Treat. Truth.

    We must do the work of caring for those that need it.

    Continuing to support the work of welfare organisations and advocating for a society of true justice and true mercy.

    We must claim this world as the world in which God’s reign of love has come, the new life of God is sprouting all around us.

    And we cannot let this world be overcome by environmental degradation, for it belongs to the living God who says that it is good.

    As ambassadors of Christ, each of us, we are called to carry the message of God’s hope even as those who are fragile. Even as the message seems to parody all accounts of power and success.

    Bonhoeffer again:

    “No abyss of evil can remain hidden from [Christ] through whom the world is reconciled to God. But the abyss of the love of God embraces even the most abysmal godlessness of the world. In an incomprehensible reversal of all righteous and pious thought, God declares himself as guilty toward the world and thereby extinguishes the guilt of the world.” (‘Christ, Reality, and Good: Christ, Church, and World’, in ​Ethics​.)

    Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Because the deep well of God’s love, mercy and justice has already overflown in the life, and in the death, and in the resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

    This we proclaim.

    Hear, then, these words of scripture:

    “For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5.21)

    Our sins are forgiven
    Our hopes are restored
    Our lives have been caught up and called on
    to proclaim and to enact the reign of God’s love in word and deed
    and in the world that is God’s.


    Justice and salvation

    Ray Barraclough

    Internationally renowned Christian theologian Matthew Fox has written a commentary on texts from the great medieval Christian, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179).

    In his commentary, Fox writes that "Salvation means justice for Hildegard". He then quotes her words:

    When the salvation of good and just people is progressing favourably, justice is active through the Holy Spirit so that such people…accomplish good deeds.1

    The passage is admittedly succinct, and does not explore the societal and community-focussed vision that the word ‘justice’ has now for us.

    But that wider vision is present a number of times in the gospel pages. Economic distribution, and redistribution, is a key element in any practice of social justice.

    Those who encountered God in Jesus, in several incidents mentioned in the gospels, were challenged to share their economic power and possession with others.

    Did you know that the only time the noun salvation (Greek – σωτηρια)2 occurs in any of the gospels in regard to Jesus using it of a person's response to him, occurs in the story narrated in Luke 19:1-10? This passage contains the famous account of Jesus' encounter with Zaccaheus, a chief tax-collector.

    Zacchaeus is described in economic terms. He was "very rich" (19:2). He was also "trying to see Jesus". However, he was a short bloke, so he had to climb a tree to catch sight of Jesus.

    But Jesus caught sight of him and invited himself to Zacchaeus' house! And Zacchaeus hurried home and welcomed Jesus (19:5).

    After the welcome, what Zacchaeus said to Jesus is recorded in this gospel account. It was not an utterance about religion. Or an intention to become a pious believer. None of these things! Instead, Zacchaeus talked about economic re-distribution.

    "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay four times as much."

    And what does Jesus say to this declaration that Zacchaeus will distribute his wealth, so that half of it will go to the poor, and that, if he has been unscrupulous in collecting his riches, he 'will make restitution fourfold'?

    According to the gospel account, Jesus sees this intended action as a clear indication of salvation. He declares:

    "Today salvation has come to this house".

    If Christians are keen on experiencing salvation, then this passage clearly indicates that, as far as Jesus is concerned, their experience of salvation encompasses economic sharing and redistribution to the poor. And thus salvation means the pursuit, and practice, of economic justice for Jesus’ disciples.

    Meet an SCMer

    David Hale – Queensland staff worker

    The important people in my life both of faith and no faith helped my faith journey greatly. I had Catholic, Church and Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the family, no faith friends, Muslim neighbours and friends, and loving local Catholic and Anglican churches that all helped me have a faith that encouraged loving and accepting people. My work with SCM on campus has brought me to ideas and people that I may never have encountered. There is constant motivation to do the work because the theology behind the SCM things like caring about the environment, equality and fresher looks at the Bible are very meaningful to me and to others.

    SCMers in the media

    'Can't we just get along?' – David Hale's commentary on religious tolerance for On Line Opinion.

    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

    1. Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen, Text by Hildegard of Bingen with commentary by Matthew Fox, Bear & Company, Santa Fe, 1985, p. 64.↩︎

    2. The verb ‘to save’ occurs a good number of times in the gospels in regard to Jesus’ response to those who encountered him. Here I am simply noting the use of the noun ‘salvation’.↩︎

  • Welcome to ASCM News

    Monday, 12 August, 2019 - 18:13

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    Welcome to ASCM News

    August 2019

    Welcome to the newly relaunched newsletter of the Australian Student Christian Movement. You have received this because you have subscribed to our newsletter in the past, you were subscribed to the Queensland SCM newsletter, or you attended our recent national conference in Canberra. We will be publishing news about ASCM and our members once a month. If you no longer want to hear from us, go to this link to unsubscribe.

    Upcoming ASCM and WSCF events

    Melbourne – Universal Day of Prayer for Students, Sunday 25 August

    For more than a century students and friends of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) have observed the Universal Day of Prayer for Students as a way to express their common commitment as witnesses of our faith in God and in each other, to the world both inside and outside our academic communities.

    Victorian SCM’s service provides an opportunity for current and former members and friends of SCM to meet and pray together and learn about SCM’s current work and future plans.

    We will also be responding with prayer to the WSCF theme for 2019 of Young people building peace and overcoming violence.

    A collection will be taken up to support WSCF.

    Venue: Church of All Nations, 180 Palmerston St, Carlton
    Date and time: 3-6pm, Sunday 25 August

    RSVP here.

    Other events of interest

    Global climate strikes – 20-27 September

    In the week of 20-27 September, millions of people around the world will join in a global climate strike. This week also falls in the Season of Creation, and Catholics and other Christians are encouraged to organise or participate in climate strikes. Learn more at and

    ASCM and WSCF event reports

    National conference and AGM

    In July, current members and senior friends of ASCM met in Canberra for our annual national conference and AGM. We heard talks on a range of topics including Christian responses to climate change, human rights, and Palestine.

    National conference and AGM attendees

    The following papers from the conference are available on our website:

    • Barrie Baker – ASCM across the generations
    • Helen Rainger – Palestine and Israel: What's at stake?
    • Robert Tulip – Climate change, global warming, and the Christian response
    • Sandy Yule – Who or what is God?

    Videos of selected talks are also available on ASCM's new YouTube channel.

    WSCF Identity, Diversity, and Dialogue (IDD) on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Nairobi, Kenya

    The WSCF IDD working group met with international delegates from Africa and all over the world in July 2019 to continue the conversation about inclusive Christianity and the issues facing the LGBTIQA+ community.

    On day one of the conference we had welcomes and introductions to WSCF and IDD in particular. We also had a bible study led by Dr. Yong Ting Jin. We participated in a workshop of Social Theories on Gender and Sexuality led by gay South African Reverend Hanzline Davids. In the afternoon we listened to the keynote speeches given by Dr Dorcas Chebet on the Dignity of Human Sexuality, and by Reverend Wayne Hawkins on the History and Power of Queer Theology.

    Day two involved morning worship led by participants including myself, and another presentation by Dr Dorcas on Human Sexuality and Spirituality, focusing on the Song of Songs. Then we moved on to our second theme: the Christian Faith Imperative and Theological Perspectives on SOGIE, led by Rev. Kangwa Mabuluki. After movement sharing, we engaged in another lecture, given by Mr Solomon Gichira on Understanding Human Sexuality in the Context of Africa: Intersectionality of Gender and Sexuality.

    On the third day we went on our exposure day to different communities in Nairobi. One group went to an LGBTIQA+ community house for Ugandan LGBTIQA+ refugees. Another group visited a children’s school. My group visited an initiative which supported people affected by being HIV positive. The exposure day was enriching and fulfilling. Afterwards, we went to Masai Markets where our Kenyan hosts helped us bargain for souvenirs.

    On day four we had bible study led by Dr Yong Ting Jin again, focusing on Genesis 19, which elicited fruitful and passionate discussion. Then, Mr Solomon Gichira presented again, this time on the Church and the Ecumenical Movement’s historical journey with LGBTIQA+ people. After lunch, Rev Hanzline led another workshop, this one on SOGIE and International Human Rights.

    The final day we had bible study on Judges 19, which again elicited debate and discussion. Aside from this and preparations for IDD to meet at General Assembly next year, the final day was full of concluding meetings and discussions.

    Overall, the experience was enriching and eye opening. I am so blessed to be a part of ASCM and to have had the amazing opportunity to attend such a wonderful conference.

    Caity Cameron
    Canberra SCM Staff Worker

    Opinion and reflection

    Green Ecology and Theology

    Current debate on Climate Change has focussed our minds on an important question: What is the future of planet earth?

    It is intriguing that many astronauts who have viewed earth from space, on their return develop a greater interest in earth's environment.

    Certainly the last few decades have seen appreciation for a deeper ecological theology grow amongst progressive Christians.

    If the creation is God's work, then God must have been a ‘Greenie' at some stage. Ecological theologians believe that God still has that inclination.

    Ray Barraclough

    Meet an SCMer – Kate King

    Kate King, Christmas 2018 in Oslo

    Kate King, Christmas 2018 in Oslo

    My name is Kate, I am an ACT staff worker for the ASCM.

    I got involved with the SCM in 2017 when I attended a meeting on the apartheid of Palestine hosted by a fellow ACT staff worker.

    Since that time I have been involved in meetings & conferences with ACT members and senior friends in which we discuss socio-economic issues around the world and how this intertwines with our faith.

    Most recently in June I had the privilege of helping organise the 2019 AGM & national conference.

    At the end of this year I intend to graduate from ACU with a Bachelor of Nursing. I plan to further my education with an honours program in Nursing while also taking part in a new graduate nursing program here in the ACT.

    I aspire to work in healthcare promotion ideally with vulnerable and younger people.

    Additionally to university I work as a medical administrator for a general practice. As a passion project I also work as an educator on puberty for primary students, sexual and social health for college students, and promote safe schools for diverse students within their peers and educators.

    I am passionate about the education of people on their own bodies and health, I wish to encourage all people take initiative to look after their own health and fight for medical attention.

    My journey with religion is quite recent, it wasn't until 2017 when I started to attend services and study religion further. However, my faith has always existed and guided me through life. Filling me with hope and faith that there is more. I find the intertwining of the Abrahamic religions fascinating and the common bond between people of all faiths that is to share love and respect.

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  • Melbourne SCM Bible Study Series - Ephesians, Friday 2 August [rescheduled]

    Monday, 29 July, 2019 - 17:19

    Australian Student Christian Movement

    active – open – critical – ecumenical

    Melbourne SCM Bible study

    Join Melbourne SCM for Bible study on Friday, 2 August as we conclude our series on the Letter to the Ephesians.

    Dinner from 6:30pm, Bible study discussion from 7:30pm.

    This event is held in a private home. Please RSVP here, or contact Claudine at or 0418 592 269 for the address or if you have any dietary requirements.