North America Region

This page introduces the members, activities and leaders of the North America Region


WSCF North America Region
The WSCF North America Region currently has three Student Christian Movements in the United States of America and two in Canada.

Countries with North America Region member and contact movements include:

Canada United States of America


North America Region Activities
Some of the main areas of WSCF work in North America
are listed below.

WSCF North America Activities:
Annual School of the Americas Pilgrimage
Led by SCM Canada, the North America Region organises an annual student pilgrimage to Fort Benning, Georgia in the USA. The pilgrimage forms part of the larger peaceful protest movement to close the School of the Americas (SOA). The SOA is reported to be training foreign military personnel responsible for human rights violations and other atrocities against civilian populations.




WSCF North America Activities:
The Need
Christian students are increasingly seeking new ways of expressing their faith, connecting with the global community and combining their Christian witness to concrete acts of solidarity and promotion of positive social change. Campuses, cities, countries and the global context thirst for constructive relationships, the building of peace among nations and economic opportunities for everybody.

Our ailing environment cries out for restorative actions to preserve our planet and to revert the catastrophic trends that have caused global warming and the climate change. North American students need to be offered leadership-training opportunities to emerge as social justice activists, promote social change at home and reconnect with the global community.

Reclaiming a Christian theology based on the mission of Jesus of Nazareth who challenged the Roman Empire, brought good news to the poor and the marginalized and became the Christ of liberation is a driving force for young people who believe in connecting faith and social justice.

In an ever-changing reality where some of the positive aspects of secularization are often accompanied by the idolatry of the market and a lack of spiritual connections, new generations of students are hungry for participating in God’s creation and to develop alternative ways of partnership, communities and services.


WSCF North America Activities:
Senior Friends' events
Senior friends and members of the WSCF North America Region join together to keep in touch and share the current life of the movement, as well as creating inter-generational support and inspiration for SCM and the WSCF. Pictured here, senior friends and students gather in Toronto on the last day of the SCM Canada general council and conference in 2009. During the dinner, SCM Canada and the WSCF NA Regional Secretary gave presentations on the current work of the national movement, the region and global Federation. After this picture was taken participants joined in a dance - WSCF style.



WSCF North America Activities:
Ongoing programmes
The WSCF-NA provides the coordination of ecumenical student activities in the US and Canada and subsequently connects North American students to the rest of the global Federation.

Such activities include thematic conferences, regional assemblies, local chapters’ activities and concrete campaign actions. The coordination of these activities entails the following:

- Participation of students in WSCF events and programs regionally and globally and participation in local SCM units (including the newly formed SCM in New York City, currently based at Union Theological Seminary);

- Engagement of local campus ministries, chaplaincy and congregations to involve their students in WSCF activities;

- Outreach to pastors, campus ministers, chaplains and other faith leaders to spread the word about the reemergence of the WSCF in North America;

- Facilitation of student leadership on the WSCF North American Regional; Committee and its subcommittees to coordinate the WSCF-NA regional work;

- Students’ engagement in the work of the United Nations of which the WSCF is an accredited NGO;

- Active participation in the New Fire Movement, the coordinating ecumenical network of young adult ecumenical initiatives in the US.



North America Region Structure
The North America Region's is overseen by the North American Regional Committee and supported by the work of the North America Regional Secretary.

The current affiliated and associated movements in North America are the Student Christian Movement of Canada (SCMC) and Jeunesse Etudiante Chrétienne (JEC) in Canada and the Council for Ecumenical Student Christian Ministry (CESCM), the Lutheran Student Movement USA (LSMUSA) and United Methodist Student Movement (UMSM) in the United States.

A growing number of students not belonging to any of these groups have become invested in the resurgence of the WSCF in North America. Members of the WSCF in North America (WSCF-NA) are called together in a common cause of ending injustice and oppression through grassroots and student-led activism.

We seek to live out the vision of our Christian faith while supporting ecumenism and diversity in spiritual practices. The North American Region is set to re-emerge as a vibrant, functioning entity of the WSCF and to take its place in the continuing struggle for liberation and justice for all peoples. We are non-dogmatic and are accepting of diverse spiritual backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual and gender identities and economic situations.


Student Christian Movement USA (SCM USA)


The new SCM USA is at the initial phase of its rebirthing process. An active steering committee made out of five students, one senior friend and a campus minister, is coordinating, together with the WSCF’s North American Regional Secretary and the North American Regional Committee, the process by which the movement is resurfacing. Following the San Francisco conference, approximately six local units have been formed and others are in the process of being formed. A national conference to launch formally the SCM USA is being planned for October 2010. An in-person steering committee meeting is planned to be held in New York City on September 23-27, 2010


The Student Christian Movement of Canada (SCMC)


The Student Christian Movement of Canada, the Canadian member affiliated movement to the WSCF and part of the WSCF North American Region, is expanding its work on campus and has recently focused its attention on various advocacy issues, including indigenous rights and the rights of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & Queer people. The WSCF-NA intends to help the SCMC grow. The Student Christian Movement of Canada has sponsored a four years campaign called “Queer and Christian Without Contradictions Campaign (Q&CWC), which is intended to promote understanding of issues related to LGBTQ students and advocate the end of homophobia in church and society.







WSCF North America Leadership
The following profiles introduce some of the leaders of the
WSCF North America Region.


WSCF North America Regional Secretary
Mr Luciano Kovacs
WSCF North America Regional Office
475 Riverside Drive Suite 810
New York, NY 10115
phone + 1 212 870 2470
fax + 1 212 870 2528
Email:

Luciano comes to WSCF from Jan Hus Presbyterian Church in New York where he served as Social Justice Director. Previously he worked as Director of Homeless Outreach and Advocacy, also at Jan Hus Church. Originally from Italy, Luciano has a long association with WSCF. As a student he was active in the Italian movement, Federazione Giovanile Evangelica Italiana (FGEI) and was a member of the WSCF European Regional Committee from 1995 to 1997. In 1999 he worked for WSCF in the Federation's Europe office. Mr Kovacs participated in WSCF's global leadership training programme in India in 1994 and in the 31st General Assembly in Côte d'Ivoire in 1995. Luciano took up the role of North America Regional Secretary in January 2008.



WSCF North America Region Co-Chairperson
Ms Miriam Spies (Canada)

Miriam Spies (b. 1988) is a university student working on her journalism degree. She has only recently become involved with SCM Canada, but is passionate about social justice issues, having participated in SCM activities such as the Pilgrimage to the School of the Americas and taking part in conversations around human rights and power dynamics. She is an active member of the United Church of Canada, currently serving on the Middle East Working Group at Trinity St. Paul’s and the Child and Youth Network of Hamilton Conference. In 2009, she went to Palestine/Israel with a group of young adults and has spent time raising awareness about the occupation. She believes education and awareness is key to impact change.



WSCF North America Region Co-Chairperson
Ms Rachel Medema (USA)


Rachel Medema is a graduate student at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Graduate Theological Union and she has been involved in several ecumenical efforts in the last few years. Following college she had the opportunity to serve as an intern at Sojourners in Washington D.C. and at the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland. These experiences inspired a great passion for ecumenical life and fellowship. Rachel has served as a coordinator for young adults at Christian Churches Together in the U.S. and has participated in New Fire and other U.S. ecumenical efforts. She is currently finishing her M.Div. and M.A. and will be consumed with a thesis on immigration issues during the 2009-2010 school year and hopes to work in social justice education with college students when she graduates.



WSCF North America Region Treasurer
Ms Catharine Johannson (Canada)
Winnipeg
Canada
Email:

A member of the Anglican Church of Canada, Catharine has been active in the Federation for over a decade; first as a student now as a senior friend. Currently Catharine works in publishing in Winnipeg. She was a North America Region representative on WSCF's global Executive Committee 1995-1999. Catharine participated in WSCF General Assemblies in Yamousoukro, Cote D'Ivoire in 1995 and in Beirut, Lebanon in 1999. She has been treasurer of the North America Region since 2006.


WSCF North America Programme : 2009

North America August 2009 - 2010 Regional Programme
Agape International Camp, Italy August 11-17

The WSCF has a historical relationship with the Agape Ecumenical Center in Italy, which every summer plans and hosts two international conferences on theological and political themes. Students from SCMs around the world have attended these conferences for many years and last year, students engaged with the WSCF North America began to attend these camps. Three North American students will represent the WSCF-NA at this year’s theological and political camps (respectively on the theme of Revelation and Migration).


Truth Commission on Conscience in War, New York. November 15-16, 2009

The WSCF-NA will co-sponsor the Truth Commission on Conscience in War to be held at Riverside Church in New York City on Nov. 15-16, 2009. The goal is to expand current conscientious objection regulations to include Selective Conscientious Objection that would honor active duty military to exercise moral conscience. Two WSCF students together with the North American Regional Secretary will serve as commissione

United Nations Advocacy Week (UNAW) New York November 15-20.

The Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches (WCC) sponsors the fifth United Nations Advocacy Week to be held in New York on November 15-20. United Nations Advocacy Week (UNAW) is an evolving model of ecumenical collaboration; it is a particularly significant moment to express concerns and address questions of power and structural injustice through a concerted and coordinated ecumenical approach to international advocacy. The week includes capacity building and formation on advocacy within the UN system, theological reflection and analysis, panels and discussions on advocacy focus areas. This year’s themes will be indigenous people, climate displaced people and Colombia. The WSCF, a historical partner of the WCC, will bring an international delegation and thus the grassroots voices of youth and students from across the globe. The WSCF’s Advocacy and Solidarity Committee will meet two days prior to UNAW and then participate in the event together with two students from the New York area. The students attending the gathering will also participate in a Global Theological Forum, immediately following the UNAW.

WSCF global program on Identity, Diversity and Dialogue. Thailand, December 1-12, 2009.

WSCF has chosen themes for the years 2009-2012 for consideration within the Federation. The themes are 2009 Identity, Diversity and Dialogue, 2010 Climate Justice, 2011 Overcoming Violence and 2012 Economic Justice. Each year the Federation brings together students from around the globe in a programme to work on the theme. Resources are prepared from each programme in order that all member movements benefit from the work of each programme.

WSCF's theme for 2009 is Identity, Diversity, and Dialogue. This theme acknowledges the need for engagement with the diverse world in which we live. Each person and society is a complex combination of identities. Migration, economic changes and in some societies growing flexibility around gender and sexual identities means that students today are living in an increasingly diverse and complex world. Increased migration has resulted in many more opportunities for Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue. Additionally, following difficulties around the topic of sexual orientation at General Assembly, it is evident that the Federation is in need of an honest dialogue on the issue.

Students from all the six WSCF regions will attend a global program on this theme in Thailand on December 1-12, 2009. During the conference students will look at issues of national, ethnic, religious and sexual diversity and be exposed to the Thai context and to how social justice groups there work on such themes. Eight North American students will participate in the conference.

Ongoing Advocacy Work

The 34th General Assembly (GA), which met in August 2008, has reaffirmed the vocation of WSCF to stand firmly in solidarity with the oppressed around the world and to advocate for systemic change. The GA also recognized a new energy around advocacy work at every level of the Federation and a need to focus and coordinate our efforts to best embody our prophetic voice. The result was the creation of the Advocacy and Solidarity Committee (ASC). The Committee’s purpose is to facilitate and streamline the advocacy and solidarity of the work of the WSCF by:
- Assisting the Federation in discerning advocacy and solidarity priorities
- Having a role in emphasizing the advocacy dimension of annual themes set by the Federation
- Connecting the different levels of the Federation: local, national, regional, and global in advocacy and solidarity work
- Implementing strategies related to advocacy and solidarity
- Mobilizing the whole Federation in advocacy, which is one of the main elements of the grassroots identity of the Student Christian Movements
WSCF is not new to working on advocacy and solidarity. However, in the last few years, the global Federation has taken on advocacy and solidarity practices on new and increased levels. Recent activism and solidarity has included local and international campaigns related to the situation in Zimbabwe, the Philippines, and Myanmar to name a few. WSCF has also had a presence at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the World Council of Churches-sponsored UN Advocacy Week, the World Social Forum, and the Human Rights Council in Geneva among others. WSCF, which has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations, partners with many non-governmental organizations, especially ecumenical and youth organizations, to strengthen the voice of young people in church, governmental, and social processes, both regionally and globally. WSCF has been offering resources and opportunities for grassroots activists to advocate most effectively in their regions and has been sending young activists to advocate on international platforms.

The WSCF-NA will play an integral part in the advocacy work of the WSCF by actively engaging in advocacy issues on the continent, by bringing awareness among North American students on issues that other regions struggle with and by promoting change in the US and Canada on foreign policies affecting other countries. A WSCF-NA Advocacy and Solidarity Committee will coordinate this process.

A World Without Empire. A congress of people and social movements. NYC April 22-25, 2010

The WSCF-NA will co-sponsor World Without Empire, a gathering of inter-religious and social movements from the world community, focusing on global empire. This People’s Congress is being called by Peace for Life (PfL), an international movement committed to inter-religious, South-South and North-South solidarity in response to the imperatives of justice and peace. To be held in the United States in April 2010, this event is another step in PfL’s deepening and expanding of movement responses to the current geopolitical reality, with its unilateral militarized policies, neoliberal globalization, its hegemonic control of the world’s resources, and unleashing of ecological destruction. Other than attending the event, WSCF students will be planning, together with students at Union Theological Seminary, a youth and peace festival to be held simultaneously with the congress.

Eco-justice Conference, Winnipeg, Canada June 2010

The second WSCF North American Regional event following the San Francisco conference will take place in Winnipeg, Canada in June 2010. The theme of the conference will be eco-justice, in accordance with the global theme of the Federation for the year 2010 and following the UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen in December 2009. A preparatory committee is being formed and will coordinate the planning of the event

Exchange with SCM Cuba, December 2010

The North American Region and the Latin American and Caribbean region of the WSCF will plan a joined event to be held in Cuba in December 2010 as an exchange program between SCM students in North America and in Latin America & Caribbean and a visit to students in Cuba. A preparatory committee is being form to coordinate the planning of this event.



To contact the WSCF North America region directly or view
their website, please follow the details below

WSCF North America Regional Office
475 Riverside Drive Suite 1370
New York, NY 10115
phone + 1 212 870 2470
fax + 1 212 870 2528
Email: wscfna@gmail.com