The Student Christian Movement of Canada offers students community and a way to take action for change.
Post-secondary students are back in their classrooms, but the post-isolation student life looks different this year for many reasons. There are increased stories of houselessness and mental health challenges amongst post-secondary students. Personally, I’ve had to move four times during the pandemic. The suffering of students in Canada, and worldwide caused by greed is very real. In these troubled times I’m learning more and more how much God is my refuge in times of trouble.
I’ve had the privilege of being accepted into a loving community working for the Student Christian Movement of Canada (SCM) during the pandemic. Through SCM, I was able to contribute to this community during a period of loneliness, and lead action during a period of fear for the global community. SCM Canada has always engaged in global solidarity efforts, and this past year was no exception. We were able to raise funds for SCM Philippines in response to a larger number of typhoons due to the climate crisis; and offer supplies to SCM Cuba (pictured above), who have been short on personal protection equipment and medication.
In June 2022, I was able to travel to Berlin for the World Student Christian Federation General Assembly as the SCM North America Region representative, with the support of The United Church of Canada. The assembly’s theme, “Young People Journeying Together Towards Justice and Peace,” rang true for me. I was able to meet individuals from all over the world in person after years of online meetings. At this conference, I learned that when communities build trust with each other, and work together toward a common goal, it’s difficult to stop it from being achieved.
Being in Berlin offered me a reminder that good work can’t be done alone. As the global impact of the climate crisis is becoming increasingly obvious, this year's World Student Christian Federation General Assembly was of extreme significance. Community is necessary when individuals want to make large-scale change. The collaborations, and friendships, formed during this global gathering of SCMs are remarkable. The stories of those in attendance are proof that even in a world where heresy and violence caused the spread of a colonial Christianity, the truth of God is still present and people are still being called to do good work.
In the upcoming academic year, I would love to see more students engage in this call of doing good work, and being a prophetic voice for Jesus, while in community. The global network to do good work is present. The desire from students to do good work is present. The technology to do good work is present. And yet, the capacity of students is admittedly stretched thin.
There are so many students who are without housing security, and aren’t making a living wage:
- Queer students who, during pandemic isolation were unable to stay home any longer;
- Students who didn't grow up with generational wealth;
- Students who live in unaffordable cities;
- Students who were overworked and being paid unfair wages.
All while there is a fear of the climate crisis, war, and other global issues. It’s easy for me to feel helpless and alone. Working for the SCM community and being able to travel in order to meet SCMers from all over the world, has encouraged me to see the value in community for both personal and communal care.
I thank God for the privilege I have in serving students by working for the SCM. My prayer for both SCM and non-SCM students is to find strength and comfort in community, and that in these communities true change can take place, and God’s good work can be done.
— Divy Sallentes Uptegrove, National Coordinator of Student Christian Movement Canada, and colleague, Dunc Urquhart, participated in the World Student Christian Federation Assembly with the support of The United Church of Canada People in Partnership program. World Student Christian Federation is a Global Partner of The United Church of Canada and Student Christian Movement is a recent Vision Fund recipient.
To find out how you can help support incoming students becoming involved with the opportunities for SCM Canada students to do prophetic work and take action, see the SCM Canada website. Students can see what programming is available to them on campus through following along on our Instagram @scmcanada, or by emailing their interest to email@example.com.
The views contained within these blogs are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of The United Church of Canada.