35th General Assembly - 2015, Bogotá
“We are Many, We are One - Sent Out to Build God’s Peace”
This was the theme of the 35th WSCF General Assembly gathering from February 27 to March 5, 2015 at the YMCA, Bogotá, Colombia. It was the most important event in the life of the Federation in the past seven years with 163 participants and 78 official delegates representing 64 member movements, partners, senior friends and churches. The GA was a turning point in the life of the Federation because its mandates were to:
- implement plans for strategic changes for the future of the Federation;
- engage in a continuing dialogue on issues of Identity, Diversity and Dialogue;
- work for Peace and Justice in Colombia, Palestine and the Middle East; and
- celebrate and share the life together in Christ and welcome the birth of new movements.
Strategic changes for the future of the Federation
As the highest governing body of the Federation, the GA elected the leaders and members of the Executive Committee (ExCo) to lead the strategic changes for the future of the Federation. Officers elected were Immanuel Kitnan from Sri Lanka as Vice-Chair, and Bronwyn Claire from Australia as Honorary Treasurer. Regional Representatives elected were: Marianne Azer from Egypt, Dany El-Obeid from Lebanon, Fanny Chung from Hong Kong, John Gravestone from New Zealand, Annika Foltin from Germany, Valentin Tranchand from Germany, Lydia Nabunya from Uganda, Paul Martin Nguimgo from Cameroon, Dianet Martínez Valdés from Cuba, Oscar Reicher Salazar from Chile, Brandi Friesen Thorpe from Canada and Louis Tillman from the US.
The GA worked significantly in shaping the future of the Federation and prepared for the immediate changes in the governance and operational structure of the institution. The GA approved the recommendations of the WSCF Future of the Federation Task Group, putting the organization in a six- to nine-month transition period, led by a Transition Team.
Continuing Dialogue on Identity and Diversity
For years, the Federation struggled internally to engage in a constructive dialogue on Sexuality. This GA took a major step by recognizing the need to create spaces for prayers and dialogue, and discern how the spirit of God is guiding the global fellowship to stand in solidarity with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. The GA approved the Identity, Diversity and Dialogue (IDD) Report and Recommendations, providing the framework for continuing dialogue and discernment on Sexuality for WSCF regions and member movements in the years to come.
Peace and Justice in Palestine and the Middle East
The GA approved the Policy Paper on Palestine, a framework document for engaging the Federation in working towards peace and dialogue between Israel and Palestine. The Policy Paper expressed WSCF’s position on the Israel-Palestine conflict, invoking international human rights laws and the Palestinian Kairos Document as the basis of its position. In its 10-point position, it called for an end to Israel’s Illegal occupation; dismantling of illegal settlements; declare Jerusalem as shared open city for both; dismantling of the Wall; Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions as non-violent forms of protest, and continuing advocacy for non-violent and just peace solution to the conflict.
Celebrating and sharing the life together in Christ and welcoming the birth of new movements
The GA signaled a beginning of a process for a change in organizational culture and greater solidarity within the Federation. Complementing the work of the Inter-regional office, the six regional offices have taken steps towards the preparations for the GA, including thematic discussions and fund-raising. Asia-Pacific held its Regional Committee meeting in Indonesia on the theme of the Assembly and launched special appeals from senior friends, churches and members to support GA delegates. Europe utilized social media to inform and create awareness on the importance of the Assembly and raise funds to support their delegates as well as students from the global South. Similarly, the Middle East region conducted intensive meetings to promote the Assembly and prioritized young women delegate’s participation. As the host region, the LAC worked and contributed immensely in the logistical and programmatic preparations of the GA, creating and expanding local networks in Colombia to support and prepare for the Assembly. The North America region played a key role in the over-all fund-raising work for the GA.
In this GA, eight new movements were affiliated and welcomed in the fellowship. These were: Student Christian Movement of Ireland (ISCM), Youth Diocese Chruch from Lebanon, Palestine Youth Ecumenical Movement (PYEM), Fellowship of the Orthodox Youth in Poland, SCM United States of America, Christian Youth Association of Malawi (CYAMA), Centra Ecumenica from Belarus, Young Christians for Peace and Democracy from Georgia (YCPD).
|•||IDD Report and Recommendations||►||ENG||FRA||SPA|
|•||Policy Paper on Palestine||►||ENG||FRA||SPA|
|•||Solidarity Statement on the 43 Disappeared Students||►||ENG||FRA||SPA|
|•||General Assembly Resolution||►||ENG||FRA||SPA|
|•||General Assembly Minutes and Appendices||►||ENG|
|•||General Assembly Report||►||ENG|
|•||Future of the Federation Task Group Report and Recommendation
As approved by the 35th General Assembly
|•||Future of the Federation Recommendation - 2015 April 2||►||ENG|
|•||Strategic Plan 2016-2019||►||ENG|
WE ARE MANY, WE ARE ONE
SENT OUT TO BUILD GOD’S PEACE
The leading line “We are many, We are one” invites our members to consider anew this basic aspect of the Federation’s calling in today’s context.
The globalizing trend today reduces the space for true and nuanced dialogue, thus undermining and homogenizing people and cultures. Essential to WSCF’s unique calling is to work against the trends to homogenize and underplay diversity and to work for a vision of unity that includes and celebrates the many identities that we all bring.
Sent out to Build God’s Peace
The WSCF is called to witness to Christ in every generation. A part of that work is to work, struggle, and live for peace, and we know that there is no true peace unless there is justice.
In common among our students and youth around the world is the persistent mission to work for God’s peace in the world, at a time when there is overwhelming violence. Our understanding of God’s peace includes the understanding that justice must be identified and defended and at the same time that justice is not retributive in nature. There is also the understanding that to be a credible witness to God’s peace with justice, we must embody it in our own lives and community.
Our Assembly will delve into these themes and seek to discover how we may best make a contribution to peace-building in the world as a movement, and best inspire and equip students today to take up leadership roles in their SCMs, schools, churches, and communities.
The Assembly itself is a leadership formation experience.
- Increased solidarity with Colombia
- Agreement on foundational aspects of WSCF mission and vision
- Agreement on foundational aspects of WSCF identity
- Commitment to strengthening theological foundations of WSCF work and contribution
- Priority goal areas for 2015-2019
- Description and agreement on WSCF role in partnerships
- Senior Friends programme or strategy
- New officers elected, general secretary affirmed, and ExCo in place
- Decisions for necessary changes in Federation structure and processes and plan for thorough institutional change process following the General Assembly
- Reception of new movements
- Delegates and guests leave with new sense of purpose and potential, and hope for the future
There will be a total of 180 participants including delegates from the member movements, staff, Executive Committee members, and WSCF/SCM Senior Friends, representatives of partner organizations, and guests participating.
The Host Committee for the Assembly is led by the Presbyterian Church and includes participation by the Lutherans, Anglicans, Mennonites, YMCA, and ACT Forum, including the Lutheran World Federation.
The venue for the Assembly will be the YMCA Bogotá Auditorium.
Our sincere thanks go out to the support so far given and pledged for the GA 2015.
ORGANIZATIONS AND CHURCHES
- African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
- Arcus Foundation
- Christian Aid
- Church of Sweden
- Council for World Mission
- Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
- Episcopal Church
- First Presbyterian Church in Libertyville
- General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) of the Methodist Church
- Lutheran World Federation
- Methodist Church UK
- National Council of Churches
- Princeton University Chapel
- SCM Australia
- SCM Austria (Evangelische Hochschulgemeinde in Oesterreich)
- SCM Canada
- SCM Finland (Suomen Kristillinen Ylioppilaslitto)
- SCM Germany (Evangelische Studentinnengemeinde in Deutschland)
- SCM Korea (Korean Student Christian Federation)
- SCM Hong Kong
- SCM Ireland
- SCM Italy (Federazione Giovalile Evangelica Italiana)
- SCM Malaysia
- SCM Norway (Norges Kristelige Studentforbund)
- SCM Romania (Romanian Christian Orthodox Students Association)
- SCM UK
- SCM Taiwan
- United Church of Canada
- United Church of Christ
- United Methodist Women
- US Trustees of WSCF
- YMCA Bogota
- Waldensian Church
- WCC Commission on World Mission and Evangelism
- WSCF Canada
- WSCF Centennial Fund
- WSCF North America Region
Designated funding for the WSCF General Assembly 2015