Movement Magazine Issue 156


The Student Christian Movement's magazine.






On Harry Potter,

Campaigning and

Millennials PAGE 12



How can your church

tackle climate change?




Ross Jesmont on

the icon of Christian

resistance PAGE 31



Four students reflect on

their experiences





NEWS 6-8




KUILE 12-15

The co-presenter of the Harry Potter

and the Sacred Text podcast talks to





A look back at the challenges and

successes of the campaign.



UK 17-18

Ruth Wilde explains where we go

next in the campaign to End Hunger

in the UK.




An introduction to SCM’s latest

campaigns focus.




DESPAIR? 20-21

Stephen Edwards of Operation Noah








A Bible Study on the book of Genesis.







A reflection on the environmental

impact of the Eucharist.



SCM members share their uni suitcase





WALLS 31-32

Ross Jesmont shares his thoughts on

the icon painted on the separation

barrier in the Holy Land.




An introduction by Noel Moules.



KIND? 35-36

A new resource for individuals and





Four SCM members reflect on their


2 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156


Welcome to Issue 156 of

Movement magazine! In this

issue we are looking at the theme

of the environment. Inside

you’ll find an article from Dr

David Grumett reflecting on

the environmental impact of the

Eucharist, as well as a guest article from Operation

Noah, an ecumenical Christian charity responding to

the threat of climate change.

With 2017 marking the 20th anniversary of the publication of

JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, we’re

pleased to have an interview with Casper ter Kuile, co-presenter

of the award-winning Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast.

Alongside all of these exciting articles we have the usual updates

and news from the movement, and a special campaigns feature

celebrating all of the ways our members have put their faith into

action this year.

If you have any ideas for future content, or would like to

contribute an article, then we would love to hear from you!

Please email or get in touch with the

SCM office. We also have set up a Facebook group for anyone

interested in writing for the magazine or our website – just

search for ‘SCM Writers Group’.


Student Christian Movement

Grays Court, 3 Nursery Road, Edgbaston,

Birmingham, B15 3JX

t: 0121 426 4918





t: 0121 426 4918

Movement is published by the Student

Christian Movement (SCM) and is distributed

free to all members, supporters, groups, Link

Churches and affiliated chaplaincies.

SCM is a student-led movement inspired by

Jesus to act for justice and show God’s love in

the world. As a community we come together

to pray, worship and explore faith in an open

and non-judgemental environment.

SCM staff:

National Coordinator: Hilary Topp, National

Coordinator (maternity cover): Simon Densham,

Operations Manager: Lisa Murphy, Groups

Worker: Lizzie Gawen, Faith in Action Project

Worker: Ruth Wilde, Regional Development

Worker: Rach Collins, Administration Assistant:

Ruth Naylor

Editorial Team:

Gemma King, Ruth Naylor and Lisa Murphy.

The views expressed in Movement magazine

are those of the particular authors and

should not be taken to be the policy of the

Student Christian Movement. Acceptance

of advertisements does not constitute an

endorsement by the Student Christian





18 NOVEMBER 2017,


Our first gathering of the academic

year will be taking place at the

Chaplaincy in Lancaster this autumn!

We’ll be unpacking what the Bible

means in today’s world and hearing

from different experts and speakers

to help us make sense of what God

is saying to us today. More details to

follow, so put the date in your diary




10 FEBRUARY 2018,


Are you graduating in 2018? Don’t

know where God is calling you to

post-university? Join us for our

vocations retreat day in the beautiful

Selly Park Convent, where you’ll be

given space to pray, find inspiration

and listen to the still small voice of






9-11 MARCH 2018,


Join us in Glasgow for our national

gathering at Wellington Church!

The programme will be packed

with speakers and workshops to

challenge and inspire, as well as

space to be creative and time to




20-21 APRIL 2018,


In a world which is more polarised

than ever, what is the meaning and

place of democracy? Do we know

what we are aiming to become

politically and theologically as a

society and as individuals? And how

might we hope to journey towards


Join the conversation at Power,

Democracy and Engagement:

Organising, Decision-making,

Cooperation, an event organised

by the Open Theology Trust in

collaboration with SCM. Speakers

include Revd Heston Groenewald

and Dr Keith Hebden.

If you find it hard to read the printed version

of Movement, we can send it to you in digital

form. Contact

ISSN 0306-980X

Charity number 1125640

© 2017 Student Christian Movement

Design: &




4 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156







We were thrilled to hold our annual

SCM gathering at All Hallows Church

in Leeds this year, on the theme ‘All

Are Welcome’.

With fantastic catering provided by

the Real Junk Food Project at All

Hallows and a chance for students

to share an Iftar with the local Syrian

refugee community in Leeds, the

event was a welcome reminder of

the deep bonds of love created by

hospitality and generosity.

Our keynote speaker was Dr Rachel

Muers, who spoke passionately

about themes of hospitality and

welcome from a biblical perspective.

Rachel challenged us to think about

who has the power in a situation

of hospitality: is it the guest or the

host? She explained that in biblical

times, the guest was the one with

power, as all people had a duty to

accept someone into their home.

“The incarnation only matters if

it is a commitment to complete

vulnerability in which Jesus

cannot just ‘click his fingers’ and

ask for God to ‘end it’”, she said.

Following Rachel’s talk, Revd Heston

Groenewald, vicar of All Hallows

church, led the group in a Bible

Study on the theme of biblical

Jubilee or, as Heston put it, ‘jumbo’

justice and liberation. There were

some very good discussions, some

of which touched on the difficulty

of finding and nurturing common

ground with others we strongly

disagree with.

Students also took part in a Faith

Reflection, as well as campaigning,

craftivism, rosary making and even

learning circus skills! We rounded off

the weekend with a Taizé service led

by SCM Leeds – a wonderful note

of reflection and contemplation to

round off a brilliant weekend.





SCM members elected two new

people to General Council at the

AGM on 9 June 2017.

Robin Hanford, an SCM member at

the University of Leeds, joins GC

as a trustee with a ‘Link Church’

portfolio to help develop SCM’s

work in this area. Justin Lunniss, a

student at York St John, joins GC

with a portfolio of ‘Congregational

Denominational Rep’.

Robin is currently a member of SCM

Leeds and a Masters student at the

university. He said:

“As a worship leader, I know firsthand

how much churches wish

to engage with students. I believe

that my experience in politics and

campaigning, combined with my

deeply held conviction to stand on

the side of the poor and oppressed,

will help make SCM effective in a

world of increasing political tension

and economic uncertainty.”

Justin, currently a chaplain at the

University of Essex and a former

rock musician, says he will build links

between the movement and the

Congregational Church. He said:

“I would like to empower SCM with

the insight of Congregationalism and

with my experience as a chaplain.

I believe a stronger relationship

between the two would bring

fellowship to all those Christians

who embrace a living, worldchanging





SCM has launched the Christian

Student Guide, a new website

that will engage new and existing

students with a relevant and

inclusive Christian voice at


The website contains blogs,

articles and prayers that encourage

students to think through issues of

faith, applying them to a range of

situations at university. From dealing

with relationships and financial

pressures, to maintaining spiritual

and mental wellbeing, our team of

student writers will address some of

the biggest concerns facing young

people at university.

Simon Densham, SCM’s National

Coordinator, said:

“One of the most important

challenges for students today is

articulating their faith in an open,

honest and inclusive way.

Far too often, Christianity

on campus is associated

only with intolerance or

Bible-bashing. We want to

change this. The Christian Student

Guide will give students the space

to explore the issues that matter to

them, engage in dialogue with other

students, and find meaningful ways

to put their faith into action during

the formative years of university.”

Find out more by going to




Phase two of the SCM Connect

project is now underway, with a

new Project Worker appointed

in September 2017. The Project

Worker will build on the success

of the SCM Connect platform,

which currently has over 200 Link

Churches, student groups and

university chaplaincies listed.

The project aims to continue to

build connections with school

chaplains and youth workers, linking

people aged 16-18 with the the

churches and groups listed on the

SCM Connect platform. The Project

Worker will also run ‘Going to Uni’

workshops in schools, churches

and at youth events to help young

people explore the Christian faith

in relation to a number of issues,

including: mental health, faith in

action, finding a church, managing

finances, articulating Christianity

within secular and interfaith

contexts, and spirituality.

“We want university to be a fantastic

experience, where young people

can build authentic relationships

and learn what it means to

demonstrate God’s love in today’s

complex world,” said Lisa Murphy,

SCM’s Operations Manager who is

coordinating the project. “Phase

two of the SCM Connect project will

kickstart this vital work, and we look

forward to working with partners to

reach more young people as they

journey to university.”

Phase two of the SCM Connect

project has been made possible

by the generous support of the

Methodist Church’s Mission in

Britain Fund.


MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156





Students prioritise friendship

and community over theology

or denomination when finding a

church at university, according to

a new resource published by SCM.

Churches can provide a steadying

influence, which is often needed in

a time of great change.

The research is part of a new

resource booklet for churches,

called ‘Welcoming Students to Your

Church’. It is a 44-page booklet

packed with case studies from

students and church ministers,

top tips and advice on a range

of issues, and practical ideas for

building a vibrant student ministry

that’s welcoming and relevant.

You can access the booklet as a

free PDF download by visiting

Print copies are also

available to order at a suggested

donation of £3 per booklet.







SCM is teaming up with the

Centre for Theology and Justice,

a new collaborative initiative that

will resource justice work and

theological connections between

organisations across Britain.

The project has four main partners

– Luther King House, Christian

Aid, Church Action on Poverty

and Churches Together in Britain

and Ireland. SCM will be the first

associate partner of the project,

which was launched on 10 May at

Luther King House in Manchester.

The project will enable theological

reflection and bring together

different people to share resources,

ideas and actions.

“As a student movement seeking

to put our faith into action, we look

forward to working more closely

with the Centre for Theology and

Justice,” said Rach Collins, SCM’s

North West Development Worker,

who attended the event. “The

Christian call to serve the poor and

end injustice is a challenge to the

whole church. We are excited to

work together with partners to find

more ways to inspire students in

this mission.”



2017 has been busy for Warwick Christian Focus!

The highlight of the Spring term was a weekend away

in Worcestershire. We spent a day in Malvern on the

Saturday, climbing the Worcestershire Beacon. In keeping

with Focus’ longstanding love of tea, we stopped at a

historic café on the way up, then, fuelled by cake, we

made our way to the summit. The view was fantastic,

even with the gloomy weather conditions. On the Sunday,

we spent some time in the pretty and historic St. Mary’s

Church in the village of Hanley Castle, where we also

stopped for a pint at the most quintessentially English

pub I have ever seen. We then headed homeward, for an

evening church service in Warwick’s Chaplaincy.

In the Summer term, we welcomed two visitors from the

Community of the Cross of Nails for a talk and discussion.

Their organisation was formed from the aftermath of the

bombing of Coventry Cathedral in the Second World War,

and they are a major voice for peace and reconciliation.

Warwick’s Chaplaincy is a member of the Community, so

we were keen to hear more about the story behind the

cross that sits in our chapel.


In February we celebrated LGBT History Month with a week

of events and workshops. In addition to learning more

about LGBTQIA+ history, we also took the opportunity to

reflect on where we are now and what might be next for

the church and LGBTQIA+ inclusion and liberation.

Dr Sarah Nicholson helped us kick off the week with

a queer Bible study. In addition to talking about the

power of reading queer identities and experiences into

Biblical characters like David and Jonathan, Sarah’s talk

also highlighted the difficulty of biblical translation and

reconstructing historical context.

During the week, Debbie White ran a workshop on the

importance of queer history and shared her own practices

as a queer medieval historian. Joanna Russell also led an

interactive workshop on asexuality, in which she dispelled

common misconceptions, shared her own experiences as

an asexual person, and challenged us to think carefully

about the ways our language reflects assumptions that

can often exclude people.

We concluded the week with a panel discussion with the

Very Revd Kelvin Holdsworth, Dr Vicky Gunn, and Iona

Kimmitt as they speculated on what the future might look

like for LGBTQIA+ Christians and talked about the work of

inclusion that still needs to be done.



MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156










Last term at St Oswald’s, despite deadlines and exams

coming thick and fast, was absolutely packed! On

Saturday 29th April we hosted the regional SCM gathering

‘Encounter’, where we explored the ways in which we

encounter God through worship. We were joined by Revd

Chris Howson who discussed with us the relationship

between liberation and liturgy, and we also heard from

Michelle, a member of Durham Quakers, about Meetings in

the Society of Friends. Ruth Wilde from the SCM staff team

also led a workshop on the link between mysticism and

activism, and throughout the day, worship was also led by

various people who attended.

Once exams were over we joined members of Durham’s

Catholic, Methodist and Orthodox Societies on a retreat

to Lindisfarne. The theme was ‘No Longer Strangers’

(Ephesians 2:19), and our activities included a ‘Walk to

Emmaus’ where we chatted to someone of a different

tradition whilst we walked around the island, and a craft

activity based upon Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17. It

was lovely to get away for a couple of days and spend time

in prayer with other Christians, and it gave us at St Oswald’s

a lot of food for thought.


A few months ago a group of us gathered with SCM to have

a ‘Big Conversation’ about the End Hunger UK Campaign.

Some Social Justice Interns from the Diocese of Liverpool

joined us, as did the Team Vicar. It was a great venue for

the conversation as the biggest foodbank in Liverpool,

HOPE+, meets at St Bride’s every Thursday and hands out

over 300 food parcels most weeks. We discussed what we

had seen and spoken about at HOPE+, and much of the

focus was on working poverty and the impact of Universal


A week or so later the University Chaplaincy hosted a

meal for students at St Brides. This was a great first step

in welcoming students long-term to the church. We had a

diverse group, from undergraduates to retired chaplains,

and had some great conversations. The highlight was a

group explaining, in detail, their Dungeons and Dragons

game across the table. It was a lovely to see people from

different backgrounds sharing a meal and breaking bread

together. I would love to see more of this at St Brides in the



New Inclusive Church Birmingham is at the very beginning

of meeting as a new faith community in Birmingham city


We’re in a season of building relationships, meeting new

people, growing a Launch Team, and listening to the needs

and hopes of diverse communities in the city. We’re still

praying and discerning what kind of church God is asking

us to be, but we hope to be a church that laughs and

laments, works for the common good of the whole city,

asks big questions, isn’t boring, messes up, loves the arts,

welcomes absolutely everybody right where they are,

understands that doubt is a crucial part of faith, and is

boldly rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which changes

all our perspectives about what life is for.

One of our first gatherings as an emerging congregation

was marching in the Birmingham LGBTQ+ Pride Parade,

talking with folks, and passing out 3000 leaflets inviting

people to help create a new, inclusive faith community.


Second Sunday is a group for students, young adults and

friends which is based in Oxford. We meet on the second

Sunday of the month for a bring-and-share supper and a

faith-centred activity.

In April, two members facilitated a workshop on climate

change and hunger. The workshop led to some of us taking

part in a protest outside Barclays bank to resist and raise

awareness about their investments in fracking. Our vicar,

Fr Phil, came along too!

In May, we had a music and meditation evening, with

praise songs, Taizé chants and Quaker-esque silent

worship. This was co-ordinated by Francesca, who

accompanied the singing with her ukulele.

June saw us gather for a meal of breads and wines from

around the world, shared with a broadly Eucharistic

intention. The breads included corn bread, American

biscuits and Turkish gözleme. Aside from wine we also had

grape juice, to add a Methodist twist.

Second Sunday has only been running for a short time,

but it has proven to be a space for discussion and sharing

in each other’s lives. We are grateful to be affiliated with

SCM, as it gives us a broader perspective and a supportive

network for what we do.


10 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156




Casper ter Kuile is a Ministry Innovation Fellow at Harvard Divinity

School, where he supports innovative community leaders across the

secular/sacred landscape. He also co-hosts the award-winning podcast,

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, and is the co-founder of the UK

Youth Climate Coalition. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with

his husband Sean.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? How would you describe your

faith journey?

I was raised in a secular household in England, but went to a Waldorf School - so

there was a lot of ritual and we followed the Christian calendar. My family was

very connected to our local community, and as my mum ran a B&B, I was used to

having people at our house all the time. Because of the strong liturgical calendar

and the strong social ties - I look back at it now and it does look a little religious,

even if there was never any god-talk or theological conversation!

What made you decide to train as a minister for non-religious people?

I worked for some time in the climate movement in the UK, and felt limited by

the idea of mobilising individuals through online petitions etcetera. Especially

as I noticed that the most dedicated volunteers I worked with often were

members of Quaker groups, or churches - and that the leaders I most respected

in history, who had led the abolition movement for example, had their own

spiritual or religious practices and communities. It suddenly struck me that real

transformation comes when we mobilise communities, not individuals - and that

most of my peers, who were non-religious, weren’t really part of communities

of deep connection and accountability. So, knowing that non-religious people

like myself needed the same pastoral leadership, I thought, why not train to be a

minister for non-religious people!?

Could you tell us a bit more about your research into how Millennials

gather outside of religious communities? What key message do you think

we could take away from your findings?

We’ve found that Millennials gather in all sorts of ways that look quite religious.

For example, in CrossFit gyms you see the kind of formational behaviour

12 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156


You can count some of our members as fans of your

podcast, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. The podcast

looks at how reflective reading practices can illuminate

popular fiction, but is there anything readers of sacred

texts can learn from how fandoms engage with texts?

Are there already similarities you’ve noticed?

We think about sacred reading quite differently from fan

reading, fan fiction and fan theories. Both are wonderful, but

they are different. Often fan reading focuses on interesting

new theories, or plot questions and difficulties (Hermione’s

time turner!) - while sacred reading is really about applying

the text as a mirror for our lives. Sacred reading asks what

can we learn about how to live from engaging with these

texts with rigor, and in community. We trust that the more

time we spend with the text, the more we will learn about

ourselves and the world around us. So, the practices like

Lectio Divina and Havruta, are really tools to help us navigate

our own experience and questions using the images, stories

and metaphors of the text.

What chapter are you most looking forward to reading?

What chapter have you most enjoyed so far?

I can’t wait for the end of book four, when Voldemort

returns. I think the embodiment of evil is such a fascinating


As for the most enjoyable chapter so far, perhaps the

episode where Hermione encounters the troll in book one.

By engaging in the sacred reading practice that week, we

totally changed our perception of why Hermione chooses to

become friends with Harry and Ron. I love it when we get

a new insight!

We heard that Jeremy Corbyn sent you a message

after your wedding! How did you feel?

It was a lovely gesture. I especially appreciate his references

to the activist tradition of Massachusetts, where I live now!

Who else talks about social justice history in a sixty second

wedding video?!

that extends far beyond simply physical fitness - those

communities are just as interested in forming you ethically

also. ‘The way you show up in the gym is the way you show

up in life’, they often say. You see new mums’ groups,

funerals, improv comedy shows and baby showers all taking

place in these gyms. People meet their partners and bring

their kids to classes. They drive one another to the hospital

or raise money for cancer charities together. What looks

like a fitness group is actually a deeply engaged community

- some are now even getting involved with electoral politics


The big take away from communities like this and others -

maker-spaces, co-working spaces, social justice groups - is

that secular leaders are being asked to perform very pastoral

roles in the lives of their ‘congregants’. They’re asked to

officiate weddings, counsel people through bereavement,

give advice on ethical quandaries - in short, perform all

sorts of jobs they’ve not really had much training for! So, a

key part of my work is trying to build the infrastructure that

will support this new generation of spiritual leaders.

You’re the Co-Founder of two great social justice

organisations - UK Youth Climate Coalition and

Campaign Bootcamp. What has inspired you to start

these organisations and how do you hope they will

make an impact in the world?

I’ve worked especially with young people because we/

they (I’m 30 now, so not sure if that still counts as young!)

are perhaps the most untapped resource to push through

change. Young people are nearly always at the forefront of

social movements because they will often have the most

at stake, and the least to lose, by putting everything on the

line. Crucially, young people are able to hold the tension

between what is and what could be in a productive way, and

not get downtrodden by cynicism and bitterness. Reading

about previous movements for change - anti-colonial

movements, gay liberation movements, even movements

that we forget now like the temperance movement - I find

absolutely inspiring. We’ve changed things before, so we

can change them now.

What general guidelines would you give for people

wanting to use your approach with other texts?

Firstly, trust the text. We practice the belief that the text

is not just ‘entertainment’, but if taken seriously, can give

us generous rewards. Trusting the text doesn’t mean we

understand the text to be perfect - either in construction or

moral teaching - but that it is worthy of our attention and

contemplation. A guiding principle is that the more time we

give to the text the more blessings it has to give us.

Secondly, use rigour and ritual. By reading the text slowly,

repeatedly and with concentrated attention, our effort

becomes a key part of what makes the book sacred. The

text in and of itself is not sacred, but is made so through our

rigorous engagement. Particularly by rigorously engaging

in ritual reading, we believe we can glean wisdom from its


Thirdly, read it in community. Scholars of religion explain

that what makes a text sacred is not the text itself, but the

community of readers that proclaim it as such. The same

applies for us. We started reading Harry Potter in community

in Cambridge, Massachusetts in September 2015 and

are excited to be expanding that community through this


If you could give students one piece of advice, what

would it be?

Don’t wait for anyone to give you permission. If you’ve got

an idea and are passionate about changing something - just

go for it. The world doesn’t need you to hold back.

If you could live in any period of time, which would you


The Regency Period. Finally, an age where men’s clothes

were beautiful!

Casper blogs at, and you

can find out more about the Harry

Potter and the Sacred Text podcast at


MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156




The SCM Refugees campaign has been running for two years now, and as it comes to

an end, we look back on the successes and challenges of working for equal access to

higher education for refugees.

The SCM Refugee Campaign began with one specific

purpose: to join STAR (Student Action on Refugees) in

their ‘Equal Access’ campaign to get bursaries for asylum

seekers to go to university. They have had some success

with the campaign, with many universities adopting the

bursary scheme 1 .

In the end, SCM’s campaign became far broader. Faith in

Action Project Worker, Ruth Wilde, delivered workshops

on the issues faced by refugees to student groups around

the country, which led to students finding their own ways

of making a difference for refugees in their own area. In

Durham, students became involved with a student refugee

campaigning group which already existed on campus.

We also had a ‘Refugee Action Reflection Day’ in February

2016 in Birmingham, and invited refugees to speak to

students about their experiences. Two more similar

opportunities for students to meet and speak to refugees

followed- at the SCM gathering in Glasgow in October 2016

and at the SCM Summer Gathering in June 2017 in Leeds.

The ‘Equal Access’ campaign itself didn’t have as much

take-up or involvement from SCM students as we had

hoped, but it was very encouraging throughout the year to

see students being proactive in refugee campaigning and

volunteering. All in all, the campaign has been a brilliant

way to bring attention to the plight of refugees around the

world and particularly in the UK. If there’s one thing we’ve


all learnt in the last two years, it’s that the suffering and

struggle does not stop once asylum seekers reach our


What students say:

‘Over this academic year, Ruth came twice to lead workshops

about the SCM Refugees Campaign, and to do some faith

reflection with us. We found it really helpful to systematically

look at the power dynamics that are at play in the refugee

crisis, and some examples of where our faith and scriptures

talk about how refugees are treated. I found one exercise

particularly moving, where we took statistics and facts

about the refugee crisis and read them aloud prayerfully as

a group. It really made it hit home that there are real people

going through real suffering, and put into a bit of perspective

the extent and scale of the refugee crisis.

As a group we came up with some actions we could take,

including organising donations for refugee charities, and

building links with refugees locally. One of SCM’s Link

Churches works closely with the local Syrian community,

and at our national gathering in Leeds we spent an evening

sharing an Iftar meal with them and getting to know them a

little bit. We also learned to say hello in Arabic, so that when

we meet refugees if they speak very little English we can at

least greet them, and we put something on our society’s

Students’ Union page that says we welcome refugees.’

Emma Temple, SCM Leeds



SCM joined with other charities for the End Hunger UK

campaign at the start of the last academic year, and we will

continue to work on the campaign for the next 12 months.

We take a look at where the campaign is headed next.

In phase one of the End Hunger UK

Campaign, SCM students and supporters

got involved in the ‘plates’ action. The

idea was to write what you think the

government should do to end hunger and

food poverty in the UK on a paper plate,

and then tweet a picture of yourself

with the plate using the #EndHungerUK

hashtag. This was a simple and popular

action with students around the country

and lots of people took part.

As well as the simple plates action, there

was also the opportunity to join in with

a ‘Big Conversation’ about food poverty

and hunger in the UK. These took place

all over the country and involved people

from churches and student groups, as

well as volunteers from food banks and

the people who are forced to use the

food banks. SCM helped to organise ‘Big

Conversations’ at All Hallows Church in

Leeds and at St Bride’s, Liverpool.

16 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156 17

The second phase of the campaign will involve more direct

lobbying of MPs, beginning with a public witness gathering

and picnic in October outside the Houses of Parliament.

This summer, there was also a big campaign to end holiday

hunger for children.

The three areas which the campaign partners have decided

to focus their lobbying on this year are:

1. A commitment to measuring the scale of the

problem of hunger in the UK

2. A commitment to tackling child malnutrition via the

UK’s Healthy Start programme and food provision

for 365 days of the year

3. A commitment to reviewing the benefits system

to ensure that it does not cause undue harm or

destitution to those affected

Check out the campaign web page

/end-hunger-campaign and like the SCM Facebook page

for more updates.

What students say:

‘The Christian societies from the University of Birmingham

are attempting to reduce food waste on campus, and are

working towards becoming a zero-waste university. This

started when the Methodist Society started a project

collecting left over sandwiches from several food outlets

on campus and donating them to a homelessness project.

With active members of the project graduating this year,

it quickly became evident that the efforts of a small group

from MethSoc would not be enough to sustain or expand

the project. In order to make progress towards creating

an established food waste policy across campus, Ruth

from SCM aided us in gathering members from Catholic

Society and Anglican Society to help develop the project


The new group then met with Gisela Stuart, the MP for

our local constituency at the time, to ask about the

issue of food waste not only at the university, but in the

surrounding areas such as Selly Oak. Gisela advised the

group to look inwards at the university first, to establish

a system on campus before looking beyond it. Her advice

led the group to a meeting with Ben Bailey, Director of

Student Services, who gave extremely useful advice on the

process the group needed to follow in order to reach the

ultimate goal of a zero-waste university. He particularly

emphasised the need to have evidence of the food waste

problem on campus. In a follow up meeting, we discussed

creating a rota for collecting the sandwiches from the

two outlets that already participated in the scheme, and

expanding out to other cafes on campus. So far, collecting

detailed statistics is working well, and the group plans to

meet again in September to discuss ways to make the

project an official campaign.

Personally, the project means a great deal to me because,

as a Christian, caring for the environment is something

I believe God wants us to do our part in. It is exciting to

consider a future where the University of Birmingham

consciously considers the amount of waste it produces

and ensures that it is minimised as much as possible. A

waste-free university is however a long-term goal, with the

campaign, for now, striving to become more sustainable.

Demi Jones, Birmingham MethSoc




At our AGM in June 2017, SCM members voted to make climate change SCM’s

campaigns focus for the next two years. What will this new campaign look like?

The catastrophic effects of man-made climate change

on the earth in what is termed the ‘anthropocene age’ are

well-known and have been well-known for a while. Since

the 1970s and before, many groups and individuals have

been trying all sorts of different things to lessen the human

impact on the environment, including changes to diet, using

and encouraging the use of public transport, and supporting

Green Energy initiatives.

Our Christian calling

One of the most ecologically damaging ideas in history has

been the idea that the Bible tells us that we humans must

have ‘dominion over’ all other things on the planet. Tragically,

this passage (Genesis 1.26-28) has been badly mis-translated,

as Noel Moules’ excellent article for SCM on page 33 points

out: the original Hebrew can only mean ‘dominion with’ and

never ‘dominion over’, and the meaning of the phrase is much

closer to companionship and cooperation than to submission.

Jesus himself was fond of using nature imagery in his

teaching, and one particular passage is very beautiful, where

he commends the birds and the lilies for their faith in God’s

providence: ‘Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow

nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father

feeds them... Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;

they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his

glory was not clothed like one of these’ (Matt.6.26-29). The

artist Stanley Spencer painted a wonderful picture of Jesus

‘considering the lilies’- well worth a look!

The SCM campaign

SCM believes that this crucial issue deserves our attention

at this moment in time. We are also excited that there are

so many brilliant initiatives out there tackling climate change

that students can get involved in. We will be encouraging

students to take part in the Climate Coalition’s ‘Show the

Love’ campaign in February, and to join in with Christian Aid’s

‘Big Shift’ campaign to get the high street banks to divest

from fossil fuels.

As well as these campaigns, SCM will be running our own

‘SCM Green Challenges’ campaign from October to March,

with a different challenge each month. There will be a

leader board each month and awards at the end! Keep an

eye on the SCM Facebook page and website for more

information. If you want to join the SCM Green Challenge- for

one month or for all six months, send Ruth an email now:

Take a look at the campaign web page for more details of

how to get involved:

You can also book a workshop on Loving the Earth for

your group with Faith in Action Project Worker Ruth: www.

18 MOVEMENT Issue 156

MOVEMENT Issue 156




What comes to mind when you think of ‘climate change’? For many of us, the term conjures up pictures

of polar bears clinging to ice-sheets in an other-worldly landscape. Or factory chimneys spewing out

smoke in an industrial heartland. It might evoke images of placards, and protesters in tie-dyed tee

shirts, or impossibly boring slideshows full of graphs and acronyms (CO2, CFCs, COP…).

Whatever the imagery climate change brings to mind, it

bears, for many of us, little resemblance to our daily lives.

Rather than a clear and present danger, it appears bleak, vast,

confusing, and far away. In other words, climate change has

an image problem.

There’s a problem too in the language we use. In a recent

survey 1 among political conservatives in the US (specifically,

Republicans), a full 74% reported that they were believers

in climate change. Yet in the same study, only 66% believed

in ‘global warming’. Why the discrepancy? Clearly, such

terms are now freighted with all sorts of polarised political

associations, leading some to drop the ‘global warming’

terminology altogether in favour of resonant alternatives like

‘global weirding’.

See no evil?

In churches as elsewhere, our language can speak of being

pretty confused – or conflicted – when it comes to the threat of

climate change. Doesn’t ‘fixing our eyes upon Jesus’, as one

hymn suggests, cause the things of earth to seem ‘strangely

dim’? We might also ask whether the environmentalist

cause – with all its familiar ‘doom and gloom’ imagery – is

compatible with Christian hope of ‘future glory’. Are we to

‘fill the earth and subdue it’ (Genesis 1:28) or ‘tread lightly’?

These are valid questions but, if we’re honest, they are not

difficult ones. As John Stott points out, ‘It would be absurd to

imagine that he who created the earth then handed it over

to us to be destroyed.’ Asked whether we care for earth or

heaven, the Christian’s answer is simply, ‘yes’.

Whatever our perspective, it is increasingly difficult today to

ignore the accelerating consequences of climate change.

Mitch Hiscox of the Evangelical Environmental Network,

for example, notes that ‘We have not lived a month below

the twentieth-century average temperature since February

1985.’ Meanwhile, 2016, 2015 and 2014 represent the three

hottest years since records began.

These are not abstract problems. With each new ratcheting

of our planet’s thermometer, entire societies and populations

are affected, including our own. Hiscox estimates that ‘around

5.5 million people’ – roughly equivalent to the population of

Norway – ‘will die prematurely from breathing polluted air’

this year. Meanwhile the effects of erratic weather – drought 2 ,

flooding, migration and even conflict – often lay heaviest on

the backs of poor communities.

It all begs the question: How do we love our neighbour –

or indeed, our future children – in light of such far-reaching


Fear no evil

While many might look on with panic at the rising tides of

climate change, we do well to listen to the words of Isaiah: ‘Do

not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.’ Rather than being

‘tempted to despair’, our hope empowers us to act. ‘I can do

all things,’ said St Paul, ‘through him who strengthens me.’

Reflecting on her famous ministry among the terminally ill

in Calcutta, Mother Teresa stated that she often felt her

efforts to be ‘just a drop in the ocean’. Instinctively, many

of us might say the same thing about our efforts to be ‘ecofriendly’:

a reusable cup, a letter to our MP - what’s the

difference? Yet as Teresa continued, ‘the ocean would be

less because of that missing drop’. By the grace of God,

such daily droplets add up to touch the lives of millions.

Why should ours be any different?

‘God has chosen to build his church,’ writes Paul Tripp,

‘through the instrumentality of broken tools.’ For all our

feelings of insignificance in the face of climate change, we

have no cause to despair. As members of Christ’s body,

we’re always mightier than we think.

What next?



If you want to figure out the steps you and your church can

take in response to climate change, here are a few great

ideas to get you started:

• Pray. Individually and collectively, ask for wisdom and

guidance as you seek out new opportunities to respond.

Pray for those already hardest hit by climate change.

• Tread lightly. Reflect on how day-to-day practices by you

and your church affect God’s creation. Your diet, your

clothes, your travel – even energy bills and investments

are a great place to start.

• Speak up. Whether you’re well connected or not,

there are countless ways you can build awareness and

influence with others around you. Write to your MP, host

a film night or clothes swap, or hold a Creation Sunday

service in your church. You could even host a Bible study

in your home group, or write a blog as you begin your


• Join a campaign. If you’re internet-savvy, you’re only

ever a few clicks away from many influential national

or international campaigns confronting climate change.

Recent popular campaigns have scored some impressive

victories to protect those hardest hit by climate change;

everything from technological innovations to Church

disinvestment from fossil fuels, and even changes in

international law.

• Get in touch! Operation Noah is passionate about helping

churches and individual Christians respond to climate

change. Go to our website at

for new resources and training events in 2017.

Stephen Edwards is a Campaigner at Operation Noah

20 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156


This Bible study focusses on the creation story from Genesis, looking at each

stage of the story in turn. It doesn’t matter whether you believe creation occurred

exactly as its written here, or don’t believe any of it - the idea is to use the story

to think about how the world was in the beginning, and how it is now, and what

might happen next in the story. Is the picture of the earth given in this story a

model for how the world should be forever, or is it a starting point from which it

will change and grow into something new?






The study can be adapted to the needs of your particular

group. You might want to focus more on times of silence

between readings and questions, allowing time for

personal reflection, or to concentrate on the questions and

discussion, maybe with additional questions you think of as

you go along. It can be used by groups of any size, or even

by individuals, as a basis for reflection or prayer.

The creation story

Genesis 1:1- 2:3

Start off by reading the above passage all the way through,

taking time to think about the story as a continuous narrative

before you look at each section in detail. You might want to

read it more than once, to focus your thoughts. If you wish,

and it is appropriate to your group, leave some time for

silent reflection before looking at sections of the passage


As it was in the beginning:

the world comes into being.

Now take each passage below in turn, reading it aloud again

in the group. After you read each passage, leave some time

for thought and reflection, encouraging people to comment

on their reactions to the passage if they wish.

Then follow on with the questions. It’s up to you whether

you use all, some, or none of the questions for each

passage. If you’ve had a lengthy discussion based on initial

reactions, you might want to skip some or all. This decision

is entirely up to the leader, based on the dynamics of the

particular group.

Genesis 1:1-5

• What does the beginning of the creation story make

you think of?

• Think about the statement in verse 2: ‘the earth was

formless and empty’. How does this make you feel

about the world then, and now? Is it a positive or a

negative image?

Genesis 1: 6-8

• Reflect on this image of the sky which the story

presents. If you feel able to, share your thoughts with

the rest of the group.

• Would we usually think of the sky as the absence of

something? Is this different to the image we are given


Genesis 1: 9 and 10

• Think about the newly created land and sea in this

passage. What would they have been like without any

living things?

• The ‘dry ground’ that appears in this passage is created

by gathering the seas away from it. What changes has

it gone through since then that have shaped it into

what we see today?

Genesis 1: 11-13

• The plants are the first living things to occupy the earth.

What impression does this give you of their significance

to the planet?

• Even then, there was a great variety of vegetation

filling the land. This variety has been altered and reshaped

over the years by humans; breeding and

adapting species to meet our needs. Is this our part in

22 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156


the creation story, or a disruption of the balance of life

which God created?

Genesis 1: 14-19

• The sun and moon are probably the most constant part

of creation. How does this constancy fit in with the

ever-changing nature of our world?

• These ‘lights in the sky’ are to be signs, marking

‘seasons and days and years’. How important is this

when the seasons are constantly changing as they

seem to be?

Genesis 1: 20-25

• Reflect on the creation of the creatures of the world.

The variety of life, which multiplied and filled the earth.

How does this make you feel about the animals we

share our planet with today?

Genesis 1: 26 and 27

• If God created humans ‘in his own image’, and gave us

‘authority over all living things’, where then is our place

in the life cycle of the planet?

• In the creation story (and also according to evolutionary

theories) humans were created last. We appeared

long after the plants and animals had ‘multiplied and

populated the earth’. How, if at all, does this change

your thoughts about the previous question?

Genesis 1: 29 and 30

• The trees and seed bearing plants are given to humans

for food. Does this point to the fact that the rest of

creation is there to meet our needs, humans being the

pinnacle of creation and the ‘top of the food chain’?

• The plants are also food for ‘all the beasts of the earth’

as well as people. Does this change your response to

the previous question?

Genesis 1:31 -2:3

• At each stage God was pleased with his creation,

proclaimed that it was good, and blessed it. The world

we live in today is very different from that we are shown

in this story. Is our world today one with which God

would be pleased? Why?

Is now and ever shall be?

Continuing the creation story

The account of the creation stops at the end of this passage,

but what happens then? God the father, the creator, is

beginning and ending, he is ever present, so we are told.

Does he stop creating at the end of the second verse of

chapter 2?

Reading this passage it is easy to think so; the world came

into being, God was pleased, and stopped to rest and

admire his handiwork. But the world we live in is far from

constant. It has changed in many ways, some more rapid

and more noticeable than others, and is still changing now.

This is something we cannot dispute. Have a think about the

following questions:

• Our world is dynamic and constantly changing. Is this a

positive or a negative thing?

• To what extent can/should we try to prevent these

changes from taking place?

• Is the creation of the world still continuing today, and is

God involved? What is our part in it, if any?

World without end.

Closing the session.

Think about the stage the world is at in the present,

and where it will go in the future. God was there at the

beginning, and will be till the end of time. If it suits your

group, you might want to have a short prayer time, and/

or say the prayer below to remind you of this ever present

God, and to finish off the session.

Glory be to the Father

and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning,

is now, and ever shall be,

world without end,






24 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156


The bread and wine that we use to celebrate the Eucharist

is often taken for granted, with little thought given to how

it is made. Dr David Grumett explores the complex journey

from field and vineyard to the altar.

When we receive

communion, we

should give thanks for

the people who have

produced our bread

and its ingredients, as

well as our wine, and

pray for them. Many

have contributed to

making our worship


In the Eucharist, bread and wine

are offered up and received back as

spiritual food and drink. The material

elements, and we the recipients, are

both transformed. This worship, which

is central to our identity as Christians,

is also called Communion or the Lord’s

Supper. However, regardless of the name

used this worship reminds us that, in our

faith, our bodies are as important as our

minds. We’re people who eat and drink

as well as people who think and pray.

Without settled human communities

neither bread nor wine would exist,

but such communities are fragile and

threatened by war and greed. When

we receive communion, we should

give thanks for the people who have

produced our bread and its ingredients,

as well as our wine, and pray for them.

Many have contributed to making our

worship possible.

The most basic ingredient of bread is

grain, which is used to make flour. If crops

are to be planted, grown and harvested

on fertile land, a peaceful society is

necessary. Yet in countries as far apart

as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia,

Mozambique and Columbia, landmines

have made large tracts of arable land

highly dangerous to farm. Also, a mill

is needed to grind the grain into flour,

which is a long and laborious task if

done by hand. This is a big investment

and so requires community cooperation,

funding and stability. Moreover, when

farming crops we need to respect our

limited resources. Yet over the past four

decades, soil erosion caused by strong

fertilisers, intensive ploughing, genetic

crop modification and pollution has

destroyed a third of the world’s arable

land, with Brazil being especially hard hit.

And while about a tenth of the world’s

population goes hungry, a good third of

the global grain supply is fed to animals.

Adding salt to bread improves its flavour

and texture, and helps to preserve it.

But in countries like India and Uganda,

climate change is affecting the salt pans.

Water flows into them from the sea or

tidal salt lakes and evaporates in the hot

sun to leave salt, but increased rainfall

during formerly dry seasons disrupts

this natural cycle. In the Mediterranean,

the taste and structure of bread is also

enhanced by the addition of olive oil.

Olive groves are often many centuries

old, yet in Palestine a million trees have

been destroyed over five decades of

conflict. Recently in southern Italy, many

trees have been killed by the Xylella

bacterium, with a lot more felled in

attempts to prevent its further spread.

Alongside flour, water is essential in

bread, holding the other ingredients

together to make dough. However, armed

conflicts in the Ukraine, Syria, Yemen and

Iraq have undermined water filtration,

pipeline and distribution systems, as well

as the energy plants that power these,

limiting access to water that is safe to

drink and use for household tasks. In

Honduras, western Sudan and parts of

India, dozens of people have been killed

in clashes between opposing groups over

water access and disputes about dams.

After the grain, salt, oil and water have

been combined with leaven, kneaded

and left to rise, a bread oven is needed

for baking. Until recently, this would

have been shared between households,

requiring cooperation and so making

baking a community activity.

So much for the bread, but let’s not

forget the wine. Unlike olive trees,

grape vines are replanted every couple

of decades to maintain their vigour.

However, because they flourish in

particular soils, aspects and altitudes,

they have often been grown on the same

sites for centuries. So a good vineyard

depends on family continuity and political

stability. Moreover, the grape harvest is

a community effort, with much work to

be done within a short time. A winepress,

which may well be used by several

producers, is needed to extract the

juice from the fruit. The Saade brothers,

who are Christians, tend a vineyard in

war-torn Syria while a lot more wine is

produced in the famous Bekaa Valley in

neighbouring eastern Lebanon, which

Hosea praised for its vintage almost

three thousand years ago. However, the

peace of this fertile but violent region is

again threatened, this time by the Syrian

Civil War just across the border.

Today there are more individual acts of

communion by Christians worldwide

than ever before. Roman Catholics now

receive the bread, parish communion

has become the norm among Anglicans,

and Lutherans are increasingly likely to

celebrate the Lord’s Supper. However, in

most churches little thought is given to

where the bread and wine come from.

Most of the bread used in churches in

western Europe and the United States is

mass produced in factories. But things

are different in the Orthodox churches

In the


the taste and

structure of bread

is also enhanced by

the addition of olive

oil. Olive groves are

often many centuries

old, yet in Palestine a

million trees have been

destroyed over five

decades of conflict.

26 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156


If communion wafers

are the norm in your

church, could baking

fresh bread be tried

instead? Could your

church source its

communion wine from

a producer who really

needs support? After

the Eucharist, could

bread be blessed and

taken to people in the


in countries like Russia, Greece and

Egypt. There the communion bread is

baked on the morning of the worship,

sometimes from defrosted dough,

as I once saw when staying with a

Russian priest-monk on the Black

Sea. This bread is like a small bread

roll. Being risen and warm, it reminds

worshippers of Christ rising from the

tomb by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In my own church, bread is used from

a sliced loaf that is cut into small cubes

with a sharp knife. Although the bread

is made in a factory, this connects

the bread of the Eucharist with the

bread I eat day by day. It could be

described as ‘ordinary’ bread, but

once we realise that producing any

bread or wine requires natural fertility,

political stability, human cooperation

and the application of technology,

such a term seems inappropriate.

All bread is special as a result of the

natural transformations it undergoes

as it is made. Its further spiritual

transformation in worship continues


In many churches, the priest or minister

aims only to provide sufficient bread

for the number of people present.

This enables the worshippers to be

counted and the number recorded in

the service register. But this results in a

calculating and potentially ungenerous

approach. In Orthodox churches, just

like in medieval churches in Britain,

more bread is offered than was

needed for the formal worship. The

surplus receives a simple blessing and

is distributed at the end of the service

to anyone who wants it, whether for

themselves or to take to the homes

of people unable to be present. This

bread may also be received by people

who aren’t members of that church.

At an Orthodox liturgy in Moscow, I

remember being invited inside the

icon screen, where the clergy were

gathered, to receive this blessed

bread from the Bishop. That was a

great privilege.

When it comes to worship, churches

can very easily get set in a particular

way of doing things. Tradition is no bad

thing because it connects us with the

history of our faith and its accumulated

wisdom. But it can be good to try

something new. If communion

wafers are the norm in your church,

could baking fresh bread be tried

instead? Could your church source

its communion wine from a producer

who really needs support? After the

Eucharist, could bread be blessed and

taken to people in the community?

We have the potential to act as leaven

in our churches, prompting them to

make new connections with society,

politics and nature.

Dr David Grumett is the author of

Material Eucharist, published in

2016 by Oxford University Press, and

is a Fellow in Christian Ethics and

Practical Theology in the University

of Edinburgh.



My Uni


‘Stuff to make your room

homely. For me that’s

my figurines, comic books

and star trek duvet

and pillow set.’


‘Blankets! I get cold easily,

and any time I’m working

in my room, I’ll always be

snuggled under a blanket!

Oooh, and a kettle; inviting

people over for tea is a really

good way to make friends!’

‘A doorstop. It’s nice,

especially in the first week,

to have your door open to

chat to your new flatmates

and it’s also useful

when moving in!’



28 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156


‘Don’t bother with a

complete cutlery or crockery

set, just get a mix from

a charity shop - it’s way

cheaper and won’t match

everyone else’s.’


‘Pack clothes for one season

at a time to save space -

don’t take summer dresses

with you in first term!’


‘Don’t take any more than

two plates and two mugs

- it will mean you actually

have to do the washing up

more often!’


‘Tea!! And a favourite mug

from home. Also, fairy lights

and a bottle opener.’


‘It’s really boring,

but an extension cable

can be useful.’


‘It’s not a small thing, but

if you have a printer you’ll

make friends quickly!’


‘Your favourite bedding.

It will help you feel

at home more quickly.’



Good headphones,

a sharpie and a

label-maker to

avoid ‘borrowers’’.


‘A door wedge so that I could

prop my door open. That

way people knew I was in

and could pop in to say hi.’


‘A couple of shopping bags.

I still haven’t needed to

buy a single bag since

going to uni.’




30 MOVEMENT Issue 156

Our Lady Who Brings Down Walls is an icon of Christian

resistance written on the Separation Barrier between

Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Made at the request of local

Christians, the icon depicts Mary weeping over the separation

that exists between communities in the Holy Land. With one

hand she touches her forehead, a sign of the pain that she

feels, while her other arm remains open as a place of refuge

and safety. The beauty of the icon is a stark contrast to the

concrete wall on which the icon is painted. The icon of Mary

reflects the prayers of many that one day the wall will come


Construction of the Separation Barrier between Israel and

MOVEMENT Issue 156

the West Bank began in 2005 after the increase in violence

between Israelis and Palestinians during the Second

Intifada. For Israel, the ‘Separation Wall’ provides security

by regulating the entry of Palestinians from the West

Bank into Israel. In most areas, the Separation Barrier is

comprised of an electronic fence flanked by barbed-wire and

trenches. Where the barrier passes through urban areas, like

Bethlehem, the fencing is replaced with a concrete wall six

to eight metres high. The proposed route of the Separation

Barrier is 709-kilometers long, with 85% of the barrier

running through the West Bank and not the Green Line

between Israel and Palestine. By taking Palestinian land and

restricting access to relatives and services on the other side,


the barrier prevents the economic development of the West

Bank. For this reason, many Palestinians refer to the Barrier

as the ‘Apartheid Wall’: a term originally used in South Africa

to denote the segregation of people on the basis of race and


In Bethlehem, the Separation Barrier has significantly

reduced the number of tourists, the town’s largest industry.

The wall, military checkpoint and signs warning of ‘risk to

life’ have led many to avoid visiting the place of Jesus’ birth.

This is despite the fact that Bethlehem is only six miles

from Jerusalem. The concrete wall that isolates the town is

covered in graffiti, most of which is painted by international

visitors. Within the context of the ongoing religious-political

conflict and on a wall that physically separates communities,

the icon of Our Lady Who Brings Down Walls is a poignant

image for reflection.

Within Eastern Orthodox churches, icons are understood

as ‘windows to heaven’ because they offer a glimpse of

eternal realities. The word icon comes from eikon, the Greek

word for ‘image.’ An icon is an image created for religious

veneration that creates a space for an encounter between a

person and God by showing something more than what we

see in our daily lives. Icons usually depict Christ, the Virgin

Mary, the saints and angels, and are used for reflection

during prayer. Although traditionally more common in

Eastern churches, icons are also used in Catholic and some

Protestant churches.

Our Lady Who Brings Down Walls is an icon of hope written

on the concrete reality of present divisions. By reflecting on

the icon of Mary we are invited to acknowledge the reality

of suffering and separation but also to pray for a reconciled

future without conflict. In our encounters with others it is

easier to notice what divides us than what unites us. This

emphasis on difference is sadly all too often increased when

religion is involved. However, the fact that Our Lady Who

Brings Down Walls depicts Mary provides an image that has

the power to unite.

As a Jewish woman, Mary is venerated by both Christians

and Muslims. In her historical identity as a Palestinian

Jewish woman she is a place where three religious

traditions converge. As a Jew, Mary kept the Law and

lived in expectation of the coming Messiah. As a mother,

she raised her children in the Jewish faith and because

of her motherhood is revered by Christians and Muslims.

Surprisingly there is more mention of Mary in the Quran than

in the New Testament. In her historical particularity, Mary

is a universal figure. Through her identity, Mary invites us

to recognise that we share something with other traditions.

While theologians have debated the person of Mary

throughout history, at the core of her identity Mary is a

person who said ‘yes’ to God. She heard the call of God

in her life and responded. In her response, Mary partnered

with God in the work of salvation by becoming the mother

of Jesus the Christ. Although Mary holds a unique place in

salvation history for both Christians and Muslims, her choice

to partner with God in the world is one which we all are

invited to make. In the Luke 1:46-55, a text known liturgically

as the Magnificat, Mary speaks of her place in the work of

God: ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices

in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the

lowliness of his servant.’ Mary speaks of God, referencing

the prophetic motifs of the Hebrew bible, as the one who

takes the powerful from their thrones and raises the lowly;

God who fills the hungry and sends the rich away empty;

God who is a promise keeper. God is a God of justice, who

invites us to join in the work of liberating and redeeming

creation from injustice. The Magnificat, like Jesus’ reading

from the Isaiah scroll in Luke 4:17-21, gives us an image, an

icon of the coming Kingdom of God. The question which God

asks of us is whether we will choose to live and work for this

vision of the future?

The icon of Our Lady Who Brings Down Walls grieves for the

separation of the children of God. Yet by reflecting on the

person of Mary we encounter an identity and a vision that

transcends these divisions. Mary, a first century Palestinian

Jew revered by Christians and Muslims, presents us with an

image of someone who says ‘yes’ to the work of God in the

world. A work that recognises the physical barriers and pains

in the world but seeks a future of reconciliation and justice.

Ross Jesmont is the current Convenor of SCM’s General

Council, and is a PhD student researching the Pneumatology

of Edward Schillebeeckx at Durham University.




How is ecology central to our Christian discipleship? Noel

Moules outlines the foundations for an eco-theology to underpin

environmental activism.

The global ecological crisis is first and

foremost a spiritual crisis. We will not see

the deep long-term transformations which

are necessary unless we see spirituality

as foundational. Spirituality is the essence

of every expression of life-giving shape

and significance to each relationship. It is

expressed in love, justice, beauty, and all

other life-giving values. For many (not all) it

is sourced in the divine 1 . This is certainly true

for Christians, who see it uniquely incarnated

in the person of Jesus.

Ecology is central to our mission and our

Christian discipleship. Jesus instructed us

to ‘Proclaim the good news to the whole of

creation’ (Mark 16:15). Ours should be a

distinctive voice at the centre of the global

conversation on eco-spirituality. Eco-Theology

puts forward a biblical understanding of what a

Jesus-centered response to the environment

ought to be. Ecological issues are of course

numerous, but an initial Christian theological

response can focus on just two.

32 MOVEMENT Issue 156

MOVEMENT Issue 156


Challenging dualism,

living by shalom.

Dualism is the concept of dividing an understanding of the

world into two opposed or contrasting aspects, e.g. spirit

and matter; humans and nature; body and soul; heaven and

earth. It has no real biblical basis, yet has influenced Christian

thinking, especially eco-thinking, for more than 1500 years 2 .

Christian dualism argues that: heaven is the sole dwelling place

of God; our ultimate destiny is heaven; this earth and cosmos

will be destroyed by fire; and there will be a new heaven and

earth. Interest in this environment is therefore meaningless:

the earth is to be exploited.

Challenging this, the central biblical concept of reality is

summed up in a single word: shalom. Usually translated

as ‘peace’, but more accurately, ‘wholeness, integration,

completeness, everything moving together in dynamic

harmony’, shalom is the message of Jesus (identical to the

‘kingdom of God’); and it should be our message too 3 . Shalom

is about all relationships, and proclaims creation’s destiny. We

will all be part of a renewed creation, not somewhere else but

here 4 . Shalom works for the physical wellbeing of all things

without exception, challenging injustice in all its forms. Shalom

is the Christian’s ecological mandate.

Challenging dominion,

living by ‘meekness’.

The single most eco-destructive biblical idea has been the

belief that God gave humans ‘dominion over the earth’ (Gen

1:26,28 ). The traditional interpretation is wrong. The Hebrew


Humanists, though atheists, frequently speak of ‘spirituality’ as ‘that which lifts the spirit, touches the higher elements of the mind,

connects with the need to be part of something much larger than ourselves’


For example the phrase ‘heaven and earth’ is a merism, a biblical way of speaking about their totality and completeness, the complete

opposite of setting them against each other or even contrasting them.


See Isa 9:7; Lk 10:5, 11; Acts 10:36; Eph 2:17 et al


Peace / shalom on earth (Isa 11:6-9; Lk 2:14), New Jerusalem comes down to earth (Rev 21:2)


See Douglas-Klotz N. 2003, The Genesis Meditations: a shared practice of peace for Christians, Jews and Muslims, Quest Books; 266


See the significance of the word ‘with’ (implying close relationship) in Mk 1:13; Job 5:23; Hos 1:18 et al


Mat 5:5 quoting Ps 37:11; see also Zec 9:9-10 where the words ‘dominion’. ‘meekness’ and ‘shalom’ are all used together.


See F Hauck and S Schulz article ‘Praus’ in Kittel G and Friedrich G (eds). 1968, ‘Theological Dictionary of the New Testament’,

Eerdmans; 645-651 and Barclay W. 1956, ‘Gospel of Matthew (Vol 1) The Daily Study Bible, St Andrew Press, Edinburgh; 91-93


See Mk 4:35-41; 11:1-11; Lk 12:24,27 et al

phrase v’yirdu can mean ‘dominion with’, but never ‘over’ 5 . We

are meant to ‘image God’ (Gen 1:26) by ‘living with creation in

shalom’. We are called to companionship with creation (Gen

2:18-19). Here the word ‘with’ is one of the most significant

words, from an ecological viewpoint, in the whole of scripture 6 .

Jesus interprets dominion using the concept of meekness;

‘strength under perfect control’. He says, ‘The meek shall

inherit the earth’ 7 . A biblical understanding of meekness holds

together in a single concept, three seemingly incompatible

ideas 8 :

1. Selfless anger and rage against injustice

2. Serene poise of deep and strong self-control

3. Simple gentleness energised by love and compassion

Jesus continually demonstrates these: by stilling the storm;

riding a wild donkey-foal into Jerusalem; and using flowers and

birds as examples of God’s character and love 9 .

So, beginning with two foundational ideas, Christian ecotheology

enables us to focus our thinking and understanding,

setting the faith in action agenda regarding ecology and the


Noel Moules is a teacher, author and activist for peace and deep

ecology. He is the author of ‘Fingerprints of Fire, Footprints of

Peace: a spiritual manifesto from a Jesus perspective’ and his

new project is



Christianity has a bad name among those

campaigning for animal rights. In Peter

Singer’s 1975 landmark book Animal

Liberation, he complained that Christianity

problematically united Greek and Jewish

ideas about animals and spread the idea that

only human life mattered. Many Christians

seem happy to take Singer’s word for this,

believing that their faith gives them no

reason to be concerned for animals.

That wasn’t the view of the 180 people

who gathered in London this past March

In the nineteenth

century British

Christians, together

with a prominent Jew,

lobbied successfully

for the first legislation

against cruelty

towards animals, set

up the organisation

that became the


for a conference entitled ‘Is Christianity

Good News for Animals?’, in what may

well be the biggest gathering on this topic

since the late nineteenth century. At the

conference I argued that many Christians

are concerned about animals, but their

concern is disenfranchised: their churches

don’t help them understand why they

should be concerned about animals, leaving

a gap between their faith and their love of


It’s odd that people don’t naturally think

about the connection between Christianity

and animals, because in the nineteenth

century British Christians, together with

a prominent Jew, lobbied successfully for

the first legislation against cruelty towards

animals, set up the organisation that

34 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156


The lack of

Christian concern

for animals is

disastrous at

a time when

the industrial

intensive farming

practices condemn

billions of animals

to unnecessary


became the RSPCA, and at the end

of the century were at the forefront

of campaigns against the horrific

cruelties of vivisection. They drew on

long traditions in Christian thinking

that humans were entitled to use

animals where necessary, but should

regard them as God’s creatures and

not subject them to any unnecessary

cruelty. Many stories of Christian saints

make clear that compassion to animals

is a sign of Christian holiness.

The lack of Christian concern for

animals is disastrous at a time when

the industrial intensive farming

practices condemn billions of animals

to unnecessary suffering. Broiler hens

probably have it worst: bred to reach

slaughter weight in only 30 days,

they are raised like crops in windowless

sheds with human care reduced to daily

patrols to remove the dead. Their legs

are too weak to support their unwieldy

bodies, which causes them great pain

as they grow. Pigs, intelligent animals

with complex social lives in the wild, are

similarly condemned to short lives in

monotonous sheds, where their tails need

to be cut off to avoid them attacking each

other out of boredom.

My CreatureKind project challenges

Christians to reconnect their faith with a

concern for their fellow creatures of God,

and think about what that means for the

animals we consume. We’ve just released

a free six-week course with video

presentations, Bible studies, and

discussions. Each week starts with

a simple meal and we’ve had great

feedback from pilot groups, with

participants reporting that they both

enjoyed the course and came out

thinking differently about their faith

and practice. If your church or SCM

group might be interested in running

the course, you can access the materials

via the website below. If you have other

queries, or would be interested in inviting

a CreatureKind speaker to a meeting, do

be in touch with us.





David Clough is Professor of Theological

Ethics at the University of Chester,

author of On Animals Volume I:

Systematic Theology (T&T Clark,

2012), and founder of CreatureKind


We asked four SCM members to reflect on how their faith

has led them to work for social justice. Here are their stories.

36 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156



Kenneth Lo is a student in Hong Kong. His involvement

with the SCM there has led him to work for social justice.


Chloe Scaling is a student in Durham, and is a Quaker.

She explains why her faith prompts her to take action.

As a student, it can be difficult to get

involved in action for social justice,

no matter how much our faith may

inspire us to. It’s easy to feel inspired,

but more difficult to make ourselves

act. We make excuses, saying we

don’t have the money to donate or

the time to commit to volunteering.

I’m definitely guilty of this, so I’d like

to challenge myself and anyone who

reads this to at least buy an extra tin

of beans or packet of pasta to donate

to a local foodbank next time they go


Quakers have a testimony to equality

in all its forms, but often I feel like

we’re not very vocal about this.

Though Durham’s 2017 Pride event

was surrounded by controversy, we

wanted to march to show solidarity

with the LGBT+ community. I hope

that next year’s Pride will be more

inclusive and accessible so that

Friends feel less conflicted about being

a presence at the event. Attending the

Pride march with a Pride flag reading

‘Quakers for equality’ is faith in action

for me because the Bible and Quaker

tradition emphasise the equality of all


Another action I was involved in

recently was a Quaker witness

against fracking which took place on

top of Pendle Hill, Lancashire. The

environment is a key issue for me, but

apparently not the government. It’s

important to make our voices heard.

Quakers recognise that the earth is not

ours and aim to live more sustainable

lives. This testimony to sustainability

inspires us to act.

A final way my faith inspires me to

action is the idea of speaking truth to

power. As citizens, we have to hold our

MPs accountable and tell them about

issues we care about. In a way, the

transient nature of student life means

that it’s a perfect time to write to your

MPs, as you may have more than one

representative in parliament. Write to

both and make your voice heard.

I’d like to

challenge myself

and anyone who

reads this to at

least buy an extra

tin of beans or

packet of pasta

to donate to a

local foodbank

next time they go


In Hong Kong, SCM members are usually

marginalised by mainstream churches

in due to their active involvement

in a social justice movement. As a

member of an evangelical church since

childhood, I could never have imagined

how SCM has transformed me in less

than two years.

SCM has provided me with exposure

to various marginalised groups in

the society, including homosexual

Christians, sex workers and homeless

people. These experiences have

inspired me that God’s love is not

limited to Christians who care only

about the issues within their own

churches; His love is for all people,

particularly those who are oppressed

due to the unjust social system. Many

SCM members have solid theological

background, helping me a lot in refining

my religious value. Therefore, I believe

that churches should have active roles

in social issues, and never conspire

with the political power in maintaining

the social structure that has no respect

on human dignity.

After being nurtured by SCM for a

while, I started to put some of my

theological reflections into practice.

Last Easter, I coordinated a workshop

on the biblical view on suicide. Given

the increasing suicide rates among

Hong Kong youngsters recently, it

became a burning question for me to

reflect on this social problem. Instead of

making judgments by citing ‘thou shalt

not kill’ from the Ten Commandments

and thinking that everything is solved,

we need to bear the complexity

of the scriptural interpretation in

mind. Christian churches as caring

communities should embrace the

despair of those who suffer, instead of

blaming them.

What’s more, the socially active SCM

in Hong Kong has inspired me to take

care of the deprived people, bringing

me to a current project working

with homeless people. Here, some

organisations aim to provide cheap

hostels to street sleepers, but the

service fails to scale-up due to the lack

of financial support and management

personnel. Many Hong Kong churches

have plenty of financial support and

a comprehensive social network that

could be utilised to manage a hostel.

At the moment, I am working with an

organisation to promote a collaborative

model of churches and others working

together to support and run hostels.

Thank you SCM Hong Kong for all the

valuable memories. I look forward to

fighting for social changes with all my

dearest friends.

These experiences

have inspired me

that God’s love is not

limited to Christians

who care only about

the issues within their

own churches; His

love is for all people,

particularly those

who are oppressed due

to the unjust social


38 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156




Julia Chabasiwicz is a student in Leeds. For her, taking

action has strengthened her faith.

Nick is a student in Sheffield, and was co-chair of the

SCM group there.

I would be lying

if I said that

faith inspired

my action. It

is seeing the

impact that

my action has

on myself and

others that

strengthens my


I came to the UK to study two years

ago. It was a time of thrill, adventure

and challenges. Due to me being

raised in a very Catholic country, my

spiritual life had been largely driven by

guilt and ritual, and I was exhausted

with the constant feeling of shame. I

felt that my faith could not progress

if I did not abandon it for a while,

distance myself from it and then make

conscious choices about my religion.

I immersed in the new, exciting

environment and tried to meet as

many people with different opinions

and values as I could.

At that time, one of the very few stable

points in my life was volunteering for

Student Action for Refugees. Every

Saturday, I would take part in threehour

long English language classes for

refugees and asylum seekers. Getting

to know these people and their

stories, and trying to help them in the

best way I could, was a challenging

and humbling experience, yet it

gave me a sense of satisfaction and

inner peace. At the time I wasn’t

attending church regularly, but I’d

always show up to STAR with a

church-like discipline, regardless

of my mood, university deadlines

or hangover. It became my

bottom-line moral standard, almost

like saying to myself ‘you can do

anything, UNLESS it makes you skip


At some point of the second term, I

started feeling ready for accepting

faith again and coming back to the

Church. It so happened that my local

church, All Hallows’, was a very open

place, strongly oriented towards social

justice and action. The services were

paired with leading a community payas-you-feel

café and various events

and campaigns. I came to one service

out of curiosity, and stayed.

Jesus’s words ‘whatever you did for

one of the least of these brothers

and sisters of mine, you did for me’

are usually presented as an argument

for helping other people. However,

I would lie if I said that faith inspired

my action. I was volunteering simply

because I felt that was right. Only the

light I saw in the people I was working

with reminded me of Jesus and the

inner peace and joy that faith may

bring to a person. It was seeing the

impact the action had on myself and

on others that inspired me to believe

and continues to strengthen my faith.

‘Faith by itself, if it does not have

works, is dead.’ James 2:17

I found this verse when I was a young

Christian, and nothing in the bible has

influenced me more. I had felt that for

all our talk of Christian love, the brutal

reality is that loving someone and

doing nothing isn’t useful to the person

in need. Our love for others needs to

be active, it needs to be practical, it

needs to meet people where they are

at to be a useful sort of love. Often it

needs to challenge injustice to make

sure that the person in need doesn’t

have to be in need again. The verse

confirmed everything I had begun to

believe – that our faith requires works,

and this is love in action.

I started to practice this when I was

at University. I became co-chair of

the campus Amnesty International

society, helping to raise awareness

on a variety of issues, from the death

penalty to LGBT+ rights in Russia.

It was when I started to learn more

about the issues that asylum seekers

face that I really felt I was putting my

faith in action. Those who are refused

asylum can be left in limbo for years,

not granted permission to remain in

the UK but often not deported because

their home country is too unsafe.

They are not offered any money or

housing and are not allowed to work,

instead having to rely on charities and

community groups for housing and

support. This policy purposely denies

people the opportunity to contribute

and make their life better, punishing

people that have tried to escape one

hardship by forcing another upon

them. The current system is, in no

uncertain terms, evil. I have never

been so angry at anything else in my


Challenging this system is a way of

speaking out against injustice, and

helping refused asylum seekers I

think is love in action. I volunteered

for a charity that supports asylum

seekers monetarily, and I tried to

point them towards local services

where they could find more fulfilment.

I volunteered for a group of

lawyers who helped make

appeals. Eventually I set up a

group that helps to campaign for

scholarships for asylum seekers

at the University of Sheffield,

which was a policy the University

eventually adopted. Love is active,

it’s often hard, but as Christians, it

is our duty to try and have love in


Our love for others

needs to be active, it

needs to be practical,

it needs to meet

people where they

are at to be a useful

sort of love.

Often it needs to

challenge injustice

to make sure that

the person in need

doesn’t have to be in

need again.

40 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156








More often than not, books which

promise to provide a Christian

response to suffering are theodiciesphilosophical

attempts to justify the

existence of suffering with a benevolent

God. But Harris’ book is not; it is an

exercise in pastoral theology, informed

by his own research on Biblical Studies

at the Lincoln School of Theology and

his experiences as a Methodist minister.

Harris structures his thesis on the

ambivalence inherent in the Christian

doctrines of the world: on the one

hand the world is an ‘ocean of love’; on

the other hand, it is a ‘sea of troubles’

(Harris, 2017, p.5). This paradox in

the world (kosmos), Harris tells us, is

at the heart of St. John’s Gospel (John


In the first section of his book, Harris

sets about the task of challenging

a flat and lacklustre ‘materialistic

understanding of reality’ (Harris,

2017, p.14) by demonstrating the

abiding signs of God’s love for creation.

As the book is derived from a series

of lectures that Harris delivered for

the Lincoln Cathedral Lent Talks, it

can, at times, feel disjointed. However,

the strength of this book lies with the

developed reflection on the Biblical

and the Christian tradition’s responses

to suffering in sections two and three.

This is where Harris begins to blossom,

as he draws on his considerable depth

of learning on the Old and New


In the final chapter of his work, Harris

draws from his interviews conducted

in a hospice with Christians who, ‘have

known acute pain and suffering in their

lives’ (Harris, 2017, p.145). The book

is worth reading for this integrative

pastoral theology, but more abiding is

that it conveys the Incarnational reality

of the One who became incarnate as

a child, and, as a man, suffered and

died upon the cross in an act of infinite

kenotic love. In giving the final word to

the cross, Harris’ book is worth reading

because it challenges the purposes of

theodicy and claims that, in the light

of the cross, suffering does not prompt

the espousal of easy answers, but poses

a prayerful exploration of the paradox

of a fallen world which is the subject of

infinite divine love.


Ocean of Love or Sea of

Troubles? Can We Find

God in a Suffering World?

Geoffrey Harris


ISBN: 978-1498238045





With the ascendancy of the far-right

and the response in the growth of

radical left-wing movements in recent

years, Christians need to think hard

about our response to the signs of the

times. One excellent resource for this

is Michael Löwy’s The War of Gods, a

sociological study of Latin American

liberation theology - or as he prefers to

call it, ‘liberationist Christianity’ – by

a non-believing specialist. In Latin

America, Christians responded to the

Octavia’s Brood: Science

Fiction Stories from Social

Justice Movements

Edited by Adrienne Maree

Brown and Walidah Imarisha


ISBN: 978-1849352093

injustice created by the combination of

capitalism, colonialism, and military

dictatorship by actively participating

in work for revolutionary change.

A short if not always easy read, The

War of Gods eloquently describes the

unique interrelation of political and

theological conditions from which

liberationist Christianity emerged,

and its continuity and discontinuity

with previous Christian and left-wing

movements. This is worth the time of

any Christian committed to justice

and looking to understand our role in

secular politics.






“Whenever we try to envision a world

without war, without violence, without

prisons, without capitalism, we are

engaging in speculative fiction.”

Walidah Imarisha

Octavia’s Brood is a collection of

short stories that explore what a more

just world could look and feel like.

Experienced science fiction writers and

activists wrote short stories for this book,

and some had never written fiction before.

Each author brings a unique perspective

and the stories they created explore

and re-imagine reality. In each story, a

complex world unfolds, sometimes very

The War of Gods: Religion and

Politics in Latin America

Michael Löwy


ISBN: 9781859840023

close to the world we live in, sometimes

far removed. But one can always learn

something about how people live together,

treat each other and how things could be

and should be different.

Together the stories form a rich collection

of alternatives and have a huge potential

for change. I am sure that anyone could

find a story in this book which captivates

so much that one is sad when it ends. So I

encourage you to read it. It will challenge

you to imagine and dream of a different

world. And when you find the short story

that makes you sad, because it has ended

too soon, make sure to look up the author

and read one of their full books.


42 MOVEMENT Issue 156 MOVEMENT Issue 156



student christian movement

Grays Court, 3 Nursery Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3JX

t: 0121 426 4918 e: w:

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines