Movement Magazine: Issue 160


In this special edition to mark SCM’s 130th anniversary, we’ve invited members and SCM Friends to share their reflections on the four main aims of the movement – creating community, deepening faith, celebrating diversity and seeking justice. We also explore evangleism with Revd Dr Mirande Thelfall-Holmes and share our top tips for becoming an activist.


A NEw Story of Activism & campaigning



NEWS 6-8




Holy Activism, Batman!






The founder of The Companions of

Our Lady and St Mungo reflects on

her journey of faith and urges us to

persist in our fight for justice.



A preview of our newly launched

practical guide to good mental

health produced in partnership with

Space to Breathe.






Top tips from our Activism 101 blog






SCM member Patrick reflects on

Bonhoeffer’s writing and the need

for grace.







An exploration of a liberal approach

to the Missio Dei.






A reflection on the need for an


inclusive approach to our work for





SCM members and Friends reflect on


SCM’s aims of Creating Community,

FACETS 39-40

Seeking Justice, Celebrating


Diversity and Deepening Faith.

A member of Warwick Christian

Focus shares her experience

of being part of an ecumenical


2 MOVEMENT Issue 160 MOVEMENT Issue 160


Welcome to Issue 160 of Movement magazine!

In this special edition to mark SCM’s 130th anniversary, we’ve

invited members and SCM Friends to share their reflections on

the four main aims of the movement – creating community,

deepening faith, celebrating diversity and seeking justice. We

always love to hear stories from students and alumni, so please

do share them using #StoriesFromTheMovement on social

media, or by emailing

On page 12 you’ll find our interview with Revd Dr Ellen Marie

Barrett, the the first openly gay woman to be ordained a priest

in the Episcopal Church, and co-founder of the Companions of

Our Lady and St Mungo. She shares with us her journey of faith

and calling to the priesthood, and the highs and lows she has

experienced along the way.

Mental Wellbeing is our campaigns focus this year and we’ve

included a snippet of our new Well Beings resource produced

by SCM and our partners Space to Breathe on page 17. On the

following pages you’ll find a summary of the blogs posted as part

of our ‘Activism 101’ series in June, and on page 20 a reflection

from SCM member Patrick Ramsey on costly discipleship.

Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes explores what a liberal

approach to Evangelism can look like in our features section, and

Marianna Beltrami from Warwick Christian Focus shares how

her experience of being part of an ecumenical community has

shaped her faith on page 39. Richard Reddie, Director of Justice

and Inclusion at Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, reflects

on ‘glocal’ justice and the need for an inclusive approach to our

activism on page 36.

Inside you’ll also find the usual news and updates from the

movement, along with reviews of Nadia Bolz-Weber’s latest

book, Shameless, and the TV adaptation of the novel by Neil

Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett, Good Omens.

We hope that you enjoy this issue and would love to hear your

suggestions for future issues. You can get in touch by emailing


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-judgmental environment.

SCM staff:

Acting National Coordinator: Lisa Murphy,

Finance and Communications Officer: Ruth

Harvey, Regional Development Worker (North

West): Rach Collins, Regional Development

Worker (Midlands): Rob Chivers, Regional

Development Worker (North East): Emma

Temple, Administration Assistant: Callum Fisher,

Regional Development Worker (Scotland):

Caitlin Wakefield, Church and Community

Fundraiser: Simon Densham.

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


ISSN 0306-980X

SCM is a registered charity in England and

Wales, number 1125640, and in Scotland,

number SC048506.





25-26 OCTOBER 2019

Do you have faith in democracy

today? Along with our friends

at Project Bonhoeffer, we’ll be

thinking through the significance

of Christian faith and discipleship

in relation to today’s most urgent

issues, in dialogue with the life and

work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and

with the experience and wisdom

of contemporary Christians. With

guest speaker Professor Tom

Greggs, Professor of Historical and

Doctrinal Theology at the University

of Aberdeen.




17 NOVEMBER 2019

Escape to the Lakes with SCM as

we prepare for Advent together.

This is a great opportunity to spend

time away from the busyness

of the everyday in prayer and

contemplation in the beautiful

surroundings of Ambleside.






We know we need to take care of

the Earth, but what can we do to be

good stewards of God’s creation?

Join with students and recent

graduates for a day in Edinburgh

featuring prayer, workshops and

great food!



6-8 MARCH 2020

This year we will be gathering in the

Midlands to explore the theme of

identity. Who has God called us to

be? How can we live out our faith in

an authentic way?

We are thrilled to be joined by guest

speakers Revd Kate Harford and

John Bell. There will also be time

for prayer and worship, space for

discussion and delicious food!

SCM Friends are invited to join us for

the Friends’ programme on Saturday


16 FEBRUARY 2020

If you find it hard to read the printed version

of Movement, we can send it to you in digital

© 2019 Student Christian Movement

form. Contact



Issue 160 MOVEMENT Issue 160


7 March.


Link Church of the Year

Elvet Methodist Church, Durham




Students from around the country

met in Cardiff in March for SCM’s

annual gathering, Wondering and


Reflecting on the event, SCM

member Hannah said “In many

ways the weekend was a prayerful

start to a personal pilgrimage, as

since then I’ve been travelling

in Australia and New Zealand –

learning new things about myself

and the world around me. The ideas

explored and inspiration taken from

the conference started me on a

path of discovery with an open

heart; welcoming connections and

challenges with an awareness that

God was with me on the road.

“At the conference I was inspired

by the words of Amanda Mukwashi

from Christian Aid, whose powerful

lecture exhorted us as Christians

to ‘be the salt in the world’s stew’,

the ingredient that changes the

whole. She challenged us to do

the right thing: change the broken

systems, even if we ‘do it afraid’. A

profound learning point for me was

the concept of Prayer as Action,

which came up repeatedly during

the conference: prayers are much

more than merely wishes.

“While Amanda’s lecture was my

personal highlight of the weekend,

I was equally inspired by the

community that I found myself in.

I was moved by the gentleness,

love and care I experienced. I

was enthused by the passion for

social justice that was repeatedly

expressed. I was excited by the

radical inclusivity of the event.

Since then I’ve found myself telling

and re-telling stories, experiences

and conversations from the

weekend – exploring more deeply

the learning I experienced from my

peers over its course.

“At Wondering and Wandering I

was inspired and challenged – and

I embarked on my pilgrimage with

the flame of the Spirit lighting me



Each year students, chaplains

and churches work tirelessly

to welcome new members,

demonstrate God’s love to people

in powerful ways, and shine a light

in the darkest places. At our fifth

annual awards ceremony in March

we honoured those students,

groups, chaplains and churches

who have done some brilliant work

this year. The winners were:

Member of the Year

Patrick Ramsey

Group of the Year

Durham Joint Anglican and

Methodist Society

Blogger of the Year

Alex Clare-Young

Campaigner of the Year

James Carruthers

Chaplaincy of the Year

University of Warwick Anglican &

Free Church Chaplaincy

Best Social Media

Manchester Catholic Society

Best Interfaith or Ecumenical


Leeds SCM

Best Outreach Activity

SCM Southampton

Congratulations to all our winners

and nominees!




At our AGM in March, members

of General Council reported to

SCM members in a variety of ways

including using an acrostic poem, a

word search and handcrafted props

to illustrate areas of their work.

Not to be outdone, the staff team

presented their report in the form of

a song written to the tune of ‘Guide

Me, O, Thou Great Redeemer’, which

was well received!

As part of the AGM members also

had the opportunity to elect new

representatives to General Council.

Louise Dover and Tom Packer,

both students at the University

of Southampton, were elected as

trustees, and Louise took up the

Interfaith Portfolio. Both Tom and

Louise began their term of office in




In May SCM staff Rob and Emma,

along with trustees Robin and

Emilia, packed up their tents and

boxes of fresher’s packs, church

resources and many copies of

Movement and set off for Big

Church Day Out to spread the word

about SCM.

Over the weekend they had lots

of very encouraging conversations

with students, church leaders and

even a few anxious parents about

the work of SCM and the support

we offer to students at university.

This year the stall featured a

basket of pronoun badges for

people to take, which certainly

generated lots of conversations.

One of Rob’s highlights from the

weekend featured a particularly

special moment when a young

person came across the badges

and was overjoyed that a Christian

organisation was offering them. We

were pleased to be able to share

with them that SCM aims to give

young people the ability to explore

faith no matter how they identify,

and to be a welcoming inclusive

beacon of hope.




In August, SCM trustees Robin

Hanford and Tristan Marris came to

the end of their term of office on

General Council. We are grateful

to Robin and Tristan for all of their

work as trustees and wish them all

the best for the future!


MOVEMENT Issue 160 MOVEMENT Issue 160








In August SCM held it’s first

event exclusively for members

who identify as LGBTQ+. The day

involved a workshop led by Sam

Cresswell from the Proud Trust,

as well as space for members to

share their experiences and create

community together.

One of the attendees, Debbie

White, reported:

“In August I attended the first SCM

event for LGBTQ+ people. I’ve been

involved in SCM for over eight

years now, and it was as friendly

and welcoming as I’ve come to

expect, as well as being a great

chance to meet other LGBTQ+

members of SCM. I’m very grateful

to everyone for sharing often very

personal stories and reflections.

The theme of the event was

bodies – a topic I’m increasingly

interested in, particularly as a

disabled queer person. We kicked

off with a workshop looking at

ideas of healing and finished with a

short prayer service written and led

by one of the attendees. It was a

brilliant event and one which I hope

SCM is able to repeat!”

If you would like to be added to the

secret Facebook group for LGBTQ+

members, please send a message


All requests will be kept strictly






Staff and students joined 12,000

campaigners in June at the Climate

Coalition’s #TheTimeIsNow lobby. In

the same week that Teresa May set

the new deadline to reach net zero

carbon emissions by 2050, 343

members of Parliament met with

constituents to hear concerns that

this deadline is too late, and that

we need urgent and drastic cuts to

carbon emissions now to prevent

climate breakdown.

On the morning of the lobby, people

of faith gathered around St. Martin

in the Fields for workshops and

talks on climate justice from a faith

perspective. Emma, SCM’s Faith in

Action Project Worker, attended a

workshop by Hope for the Future

on lobbying, where she learned

about balancing the severity of

the issue with positive steps which

can be taken together, and how

to change an MPs opinion without

attacking their values.

Revd Dr Rowan Williams also

addressed the crowds, inviting

them to campaign from a place of

gratitude and love for the Earth,

while calling out the irrational

culture of growth and greed which

has led to this crisis.

If you missed out on the day,

see whether your MP was there


thetimeisnow - why not write to

them to share your views?



The past year has seen JAM grow, with new faces, ideas

and events to get involved with! We have continued to meet

weekly to eat together and discuss a wide range of topics

including Evangelism, Disability Theology, Centring Prayer

and the Church and the Environment. Our Link Churches,

Elvet Methodist and St Oswald’s have supported us

enormously, with space to meet, advice and guidance and

always lots of food! On Student Sunday we led worship at

Elvet and have also contributed to several services at both

churches, with prayers, homilies and readings.

For me, the most exciting initiative JAM has been involved

with this year is the founding of Durham Interfaith Student

Network, set up to help continue the dialogue after we

collaborated with the Jewish and Islamic Societies to host

events for National Interfaith Week. Since then, we have

held a very well attended faith café event and organised a

panel on Women’s roles in religion. For the coming year we

are already planning more interfaith events and preparing

for Freshers’ week. We were incredibly inspired by Amanda

Mukwashi who spoke at Wondering and Wandering and

would love to take part in more activism and campaigning.

During the last year we have experienced really exciting

growth and I can’t wait to see that continue!



At Christian Focus we work alongside our wonderful

Chaplaincy to provide a welcoming and loving community

amid an often overwhelming university life. We are a

community made up of Christians from all denominations

who come together to cherish the unity and love Jesus

gives. We have talks and events throughout the year,

and we take advantage of the fantastic diversity in

denominations within the society to openly and actively

talk about our Christian calling. We encourage our

members to develop their own opinions on moral and

theological issues and aim to create a space where

opinions can be expressed freely in a friendly and tolerant


What is fantastic about the society is the real sense of

community that develops as the weeks go by. Many of us

happen to work at the Chaplaincy (you could say some of

us live there… it’s probably because of the beanbags!) so

we help and motivate each other, organising Pomodorostyle

study sessions and taking breaks together. The close

links with the Chaplains gives us an opportunity to meet up

for Bible studies following themes like mental health and

Ignatian spirituality and going on the wonderful Chaplaincy

retreats. We definitely are a blessed bunch and are looking

forward to the exciting year ahead!



MOVEMENT Issue 160 MOVEMENT Issue 160




For me one of the defining features of chaplaincy is

hospitality, and this year has been no exception in the

opportunities we’ve had to share space, time and very

often food as part of our ministry. The year opened with

a welcome breakfast and buffet in the Chapel for several

hundred new students, and we hosted the university’s

annual carol service, complete with mulled wine and mince


We have had the privilege to lead memorial services for

the members of the university who died this year and held

space in the chapel for prayer and reflection at times of


Our kitchen has rarely been quiet from the clinking of

teaspoons and our social areas seldom free of students

occupying their favourite corners. We decked the building

out with fairy lights and bunting to celebrate the year with

a carnival themed ball and we’ve shared quiet cups of tea

and given a listening ear in the offices.

I write this as another busy year at Keele draws to a close,

the vacation is already upon us and graduations only a

matter of days away. Shortly we’ll be handing over the

Chapel for graduations, our final sharing of space and

celebration for the year, which we’ve been incredibly

blessed to be part of.




Our society was formed after the former Anglican and

Methodist societies merged. We are inclusive in that we

bring two different denominations and Christian traditions

together to share in our faith, while we also welcome

those from any denomination or no faith. We are also

united in bringing God’s love to all regardless of gender,

sexuality or ability. Building an inclusive community is at

the heart of everything we do, and every week we share

a meal together which provides a good way for people to

get to know each other or catch up.

After the weekly socials we meet and encourage

discussions about faith in imaginative and interesting ways.

We have had student led worship sessions on trusting in

God and Religion and the Arts, and we have had speakers

come in from local Churches including Birmingham’s New

Inclusive Church. Plus bowling and cinema trips!

After our first year of establishing ourselves on campus

we are looking forward to the year ahead. We will be

focusing on social action and the question of the church in

the world, looking at the intersection between the church

and social action. We have speakers lined up to talk to

us about Methodism and The Labour Church as well as

Theologising Brexit.




Last term was Edinburgh Anglican Society’s first as

an official society, so we were excited to continue our

activities under our Student Association. We also made the

exciting decision to affiliate with SCM! Our aim as a society

is to provide a community for Christian students to explore

aspects of their faith together.

Our regular meet up, Cake and Exploration, happens after

the weekly Holy Communion in the chaplaincy and is a

chance to discuss topics with our Anglican chaplain. This

is a great opportunity to ask any questions in a relaxed

setting, and there’s always cake!

We also take a trip to St Mary’s Cathedral once a month to

go to Evensong. We usually go to the pub afterwards so

if you can’t make the service there’s still a chance to see


This past semester we also held bake sales to raise money

for the Bishop’s Lent Appeal, we hope to continue our

fundraising next year with different events. We love sharing

meals together, and we held a St Patrick’s Day dinner in

honour of one of our Irish members. The meals are usually

a potluck so there’s always loads of great food!

We’ve got lots planned for next semester and the new

committee are excited for a new year!

10 MOVEMENT Issue 160 MOVEMENT Issue 160





The Revd Dr Ellen Marie Barrett (Sister Helena, OSB) is an Associate Priest at St Mary’s Scottish Episcopal

Cathedral in Glasgow and co-founder of the religious community The Companions of Our Lady and St

Mungo in the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway. She is a retired editor and professor of History, and former

lecturer in Episcopal Church (USA) history, liturgy, and canon law as well as a sometime actor, cleaner,

proof-reader, archivist, and the world’s worst stockbroker trainee.

Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself and your

journey of faith?

My own spiritual journey has often been like following a

mountain path in fog and I’ve been known to get pretty

stroppy with God, though I’ve never made the mistake

of equating God with the Church. The presence of Christ

in the Eucharist and the Gospel message of unbounded

love for all have been the keys to my vocation and my

commitment to struggle for justice.

I wanted to be a nun even before I knew there were Anglican

nuns, but that’s a different and much later story, fraught

with its own difficulties. In 1972, three people in just one

day asked me if I’d ever thought about being ordained. The

Trinity has a sense of humour - it took me three tries to be

accepted for ordination as a Deacon in 1975, and it was

still not easy after the rules changed to admit women to

the priesthood, but I was the 42nd woman ordained priest

in the Episcopal Church.

In 1977 you were the first out lesbian to be ordained

in the entire Anglican Communion. Can you describe

how your vocation to the priesthood was formed?

By a combination of devotion to Christ present in the

Eucharist, and a desire to see inclusion and justice prevail.

The justice and inclusion thought was first ignited by my

seeing a ragged little girl my own age (about 6) come

begging at our gate in Quito, Ecuador with an older, worn

down and desolate man. It was one of those ‘why is she

so hungry and hasn’t got good clothes and a house like

mine?’ moments.

The Eucharistic focus came a bit later, and I remember

asking my mother why there were no women at the altar

even before I knew what was happening up there. I never

fully accepted her answer when she said that we just don’t

have women ministers.

What have been the highs and lows of that priesthood

since you were ordained?

The joys are manifold and mostly everyday things like

baptisms, saying Mass, and sitting with people in their

joys and sorrows. There was the ordination of one of my

former students and the public recognition of her partner

as her family in the service. Two deathbeds stick in my

heart as being moments not only of sorrow but a deep

grace, and even a bit of accidental humour. Other highs

were my ordaining Bishop, Paul Moore Jr of New York, who

was then retired, taking the train to the parish where I was

serving to help celebrate my Silver Jubilee as a priest the

year before he died. Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham

and outspokenly in favour of equal marriage, came and

preached, albeit with delicate circumspection, at my 40th

anniversary celebration at our parish on his patch, and the

multitude of greetings on that occasion from all sorts of

12 MOVEMENT Issue 160 MOVEMENT Issue 160


folk including the American Presiding Bishop. The entirely

undeserved standing ovation at St Mary’s Cathedral after

the forum on 21 July this year was a highlight too.

The lows include the hate mail, being endlessly misquoted,

the occasional death threat, dread of answering the phone,

being the subject of slanderous debate in the House of

Bishops, and being refused a licence to function as a priest

for the first six months by the same bishop in California who

had licenced me as a Deacon. The worst was being viewed

by both Bishop Moore’s successor and superiors in Religious

Life as being ‘a problem’, warranting amateur psychiatric

diagnosis (on one occasion in a manner that would have put

paid to anything but my trying for a job bagging groceries),

dismissal, or both. Oh, and not being paid for the first eleven


You’ve previously spoken to SCM Glasgow about what

being LGBTQ+ was like in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. What

are your recollections of that time, and in particular

what was the Christian and Church response to

LGBTQ+ people?

In the sixties, if we were spoken of at all, we were generally

seen as mentally ill at best, at worst degenerate perverts,

and/or damned to hell if we would not abide by heterosexual

norms. An Episcopal priest aided and abetted my parents in

sending me to a mental institution which I managed to be

released from after a few weeks by making use of borrowed

cosmetics and costume jewellery to look more ‘normal’. In

the mid-sixties I became a Roman Catholic and was once

reduced to tears and threatened with eternal damnation

when I confessed my grief over an ex-lover’s suicide

attempt. That priest later became a Bishop. I was also

expelled from university for being a lesbian, and that was

from a Drama degree program! I reverted to the Episcopal

Church - it wasn’t any more welcoming, but at least allowed

for rational dialectic while slapping one down.

The late sixties and the seventies were a time of great hope

for young people. We marched for peace and civil rights,

and after the Stonewall riots in 1969 we marched for our

own right to human dignity and equality. The rainbow banner

appeared in 1978. Things opened up little by little, but the

movement also splintered along predictable fault lines. With

America being a collection of 50 disparate states, laws

changed for the better in some but not others. My partner

AJ and I could not legally marry in Pennsylvania, so we got a

licence in New York City and were married in an old friend’s

church in the Bronx in 2013 using the Episcopal Church’s

authorised trial rite.

The eighties were dominated by the AIDS crisis when people

were dying quickly and horribly. It was like the time of the

Black Death, and undertakers often refused to prepare a

body and churches refused the Burial Office, never mind

a Requiem. Mourning coloured our marches and our

advocacy. I worked in two parishes where I lost track of the

funerals I conducted or assisted at. AIDS was called the ‘gay

plague’ and right-wing churches called it God’s wrath visited

on perverts. But folk kept on going, research helped, more

understanding of AIDS as an equal-opportunity destroyer

gradually came about, new drugs made it possible to live

longer and healthier, and gradually glitter resumed its place

alongside red ribbons and safety pins advocating safe sex.

You were an early member and co-president of

Integrity, a group that advocated for the inclusion of

LGB people in the Church. What were the successes

and failures of that group?

In terms of successes, the American Episcopal Church now

recognises in Canon Law the equality of LGBTQ people,

but acceptance varies. One Bishop refuses to obey even

with the Canons’ generous alternatives to his personal

compliance. There are Episcopal clergy now in all ranks who

are openly gay unlike those whose sexuality was a carefully

shrouded (if rather open!) secret in former years. Not every

person, parish, or diocese is fully on board with the idea of

equality, but they’ve come a long way.

On the negative side, it has seemed to me that there’s been

a tendency to rest on laurels and ignore the possibility that

gains could all go pear-shaped if this generation does not

remember how hard the road has been and how far it has

come. Bear in mind, in the midst of well-earned celebration,

that the promised land hasn’t been reached yet and there

are real dangers that gains could be lost.

Now after more than five years in the UK and being a citizen

here now, I confess my keeping up with Integrity has been

sporadic and mostly through Facebook. Once in a while

an old friend and fellow activist turns up in Glasgow, as

the really remarkable Revd Dr Elizabeth Kaeton did a few

months ago to my great delight.

What advice would you give to students today who are

working for change in their churches and communities?

There are too many issues that need addressing for one

person to tackle them all, though it is vital to remember

than none of us are free until all of us are free. Find the

struggle that calls to your energy and gifts and join with

others. Encourage links with other liberation groups. And

never let yourself lose the Centre from which your calling

comes. Without the help of the Holy Spirit (or whatever

name you call Her) none of this can prosper. Persist, persist,

persist. And I’d add the words of Teresa of Ávila: “Pray as

though everything depends on God; and work as if it all

depends on you.” That’s a delicate balance, kind of like a

children’s see-saw most times. But persist!

SCM’s Faith in Action project encourages students

to follow the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by

critically thinking through how they act out their faith.

Bonhoeffer wrote that the ‘cost of discipleship’ is a

huge one. What has the cost of discipleship been in

your own life?

Is ‘see my previous answer’ enough of an answer? I do

have PTSD and depression, but it would be fair to say the

depression is based on my brain chemistry and has been

lifelong. Occasionally I’m prideful enough to wish I hadn’t

been pretty thoroughly forgotten, but naïve as I was going

into all this, I realised there would be no campaign ribbons,


MOVEMENT Issue 160 MOVEMENT Issue 160


long service medals, or wound stripes for being a foot

soldier in this struggle, even though I sometimes wish there

were. Besides, could one wear such things on a nun’s


What words of encouragement would you give to

students who are exploring what a life of discipleship


It is so very much worth it, scary bits and all! And the scariest

things will rarely come from outside. It is the journey of the

soul to discover one is already found in God that can give

one the most grey hair. But even a tiny taste of that is light

for the dark places.

You are now a Sister in the Companions of Our Lady

and Saint Mungo, based in Glasgow. What is being a

nun like?

Sometimes I miss the structure of the convent day and the

temporal, if spartan, security in community. I especially miss

the Daily Offices and Eucharist in choir with twenty or thirty

others. I don’t miss the arbitrariness and unfairness that

can distort any group and especially religious ones where a

clique can poison the good things about the life for the rest.

The two of us say or sing the Office as best we can, though

doing so in the midst of everyday commitments is much

harder on our own. It is easier to get lazy when other things

are demanding and exhausting, and you don’t have the

structure of a larger community. On the other hand, there’s

more allowance for one’s human frailty, and also for more

generously spontaneous hospitality. Like everything else, it

is a balancing exercise, and an exercise in the awareness of

why you are trying to do this, even when that feels rather


If a film were to be made of your life, what would it be

called, and who would play you?

Oh, right! As if that would ever happen! Call it ‘Nothing

Special’, and I’m rather torn between being played by

Emma Thompson or Suranne Jones. They are both a bit

shorter and much slimmer than I but if you had Susan

Calman doing an English accent to play Sister AJ that’d be

about the right ratio.

Finally, do you have a favourite piece of scripture?

Lots of ‘em. Bits of the Song of Songs and of Wisdom, and

the Prologue to John.





Well-Beings is the result of a partnership between Space to Breathe and SCM, and

was created because we want students in our Universities to thrive – to become

themselves more and more each day. We want students to be empowered to grow in

themselves and to live life to the full.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

What is your favourite thing (so far) about living in


The sense of being home I have never felt anywhere else

in the world. The freedom to be oneself in the colourful

and creative mix that is Glasgow and St Mary’s Cathedral

in particular.

16 MOVEMENT Issue 160 MOVEMENT Issue 160


Space to Breathe define wellbeing as “living well, living fully and living deeply.”


Many of the ideas and resources

in the resource rely on what Space

to Breathe call the Wellbeing

Triangle. It is designed to provide a

framework for understanding how

we can live well, fully and deeply. It

is an approach based in simple nonreligious

spirituality and is aimed at

people of all beliefs and worldviews.

Triangles are geometrically balanced

shapes that stand securely whichever

way up they are. If one piece of the

triangle was to be removed, the

shape would become unbalanced

and fall. This is true of the Wellbeing

Triangle – it requires all three parts

to be present for the sake of balance

and stability. All parts of the triangle

are connected. There is a relationship

between them.

At the centre of our triangle is the

soul. The Oxford English Dictionary

defines the soul as ‘a person’s

moral or emotional nature or sense

of identity’. The soul is the nonmaterial

self, the bit that cannot be

seen or quantified. In many religious

traditions, it is thought to be the heart

of a person; the seat of emotions and

where personality originates from.

Just like the body needs proactive

care to thrive, the soul also needs

care and attention if we are to live

well, fully and deeply.

some people might call the Divine,

God, or may perceive as a sense of

wonder or awe.

In the resource, we will lean heavily

our learning from using the triangle.

We hope connect in one area will

help connection with the other two.

We hope this will give something of

a framework or understanding of

yourself and what living well might



This resource uses the Wellbeing

Triangle as a framework to explore

four areas of growing good mental

health. We’ll look at:

• Finding Help

• Facing Anxiety

• Building Resilience

• Finding Hope

The sections don’t necessarily need

to be followed one after the other.




Feel free to be drawn to the one

that feels most relevant now. In each

section, we’ll

• explore the idea

• tell a story and then

• give you tasks, ideas and activities

which are simple, practical and


They’ll focus on the three elements

of the triangle – self, others and ‘the

other.’ We’ll then give you some

ideas to try out over time – something

which connects with the soul, some

simple wisdom, a minute mantra and

then some follow up. We hope you

find them helpful.

You can download the full resource at

Well Beings has been created jointly by Space

to Breathe CIC Ltd and the Student Christian

Movement, and was first published in 2019.


Classic author GK Chesterton wrote

a lot about fairy tales (Orthodoxy, GK

Chesterton). He believed they were

crucial in teaching children – not just to

imagine the impossible but that things

can be overcome.

Hope is a subject which can be found

in most walks of life. Religious and

spiritual stories are founded on it.

Politicians try to engender it. Sports

fans take it with them to every game.

Parents lean on it as they look for their

children to grow and succeed.

Hope can be incredibly beneficial when

it comes to our mental health.

Hope takes us outside ourselves into

what is possible. It is powerful.

The apostle Paul urged people in his

letters to “know hope” (Ephesians

1:17-19.) Hope was a presence and a

gift that wasn’t just to be dreamed of

but that was tangible and within sight.

Hope could be a mentality, a way of

being positive.


Use this simple poem, written by Andy

Freeman, to reflect on hope and the

releasing and reviving power that it has.

Hope grows,

Feeling shows,

Little steps,

Believing grows.

All the “no’s”

Hope knows

Fears froze,

Brighter clothes,

Future knows,

Hope I chose

When worries flow

This I know

Hope grows.




Spend some time reflecting on your

breathing. Get used to the rhythmical

nature of deep breaths, the in and out.

As you breathe in reflect on what it is

that you need today, what things will

grow your own hope and wellbeing. As

you breathe out reflect on how you can

bring hope and wellness to others. How

can you achieve this simple balance



Get hold of a packet of seeds and plant

them. As you plant the seeds think

about what things you’d like to grow in

your life.

The amazing thing about nature is

that it is outside of ourselves. We can

water seeds, plant them well in good

soil and tend them. We can even speak

to them. But they grow because of

systems and principles that exist within

the fabric of our world. It is a wonder.

As your seeds grow into plants

remember to reflect on a world which

is bigger than yourself.




Find a bush or tree and get a set of

luggage tags with strings. Write hopes

you have for the future on the tags and

then hang them on the branches of the

tree. When you’ve finished consider

what things will enable your hopes to

grow and develop.



Sometimes a positive attitude can

make all the difference. Hope for the

best in what you’re doing today.


Spend a week using the following

phrase three times a day, in the

morning, at midday and at night. Each

time say, “I am hopeful.” As you do so,

allow the phrase to grow hope in you.


Anne Frank wrote the following in Diary

of a Young Girl, the story of her time in

hiding from the Nazi regime.

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t

dropped all my ideals, because they

seem so absurd and impossible to

carry out. Yet I keep them, because

despite everything, I still believe that

people are really good at heart.”

(Anne Frank, ‘Diary of a Young Girl’)

It’s hard to grow hope alone but in the

lives and support of others we have the

chance to genuinely find friends who

We believe that the soul is nurtured

through connection; connection

with self, others and ‘Other’, which





Oh, God knows!

Smashed the light

That hope bestows.

bring us hope. Why not give a friend a

call today?

18 MOVEMENT Issue 160

MOVEMENT Issue 160


A NEw Story of Activism & campaigning



20 MOVEMENT Issue 160

You may have seen our recent blog

series on activism and campaigning,

with advice on topics from campaigning

on campus to inclusive activism and

theological reflection. We’ve gathered

the highlights from those blogs into

one place for you here!

Understand that

LGBTQ+ people, women,

BAME and disabled

people are often at the

frontlines of change,

grassroots movements,

and protests long

before those without

marginalised identities

show up.

Before championing someone’s

good work, take some time to

consider whether the issue has

been raised by marginalised

individuals before, but without

media attention, praise and

support from politicians, or even

protection from police surveillance

or hostility.

Never do something that you feel

very uncomfortable with.

Never get arrested by accident. A criminal

record, and even a caution, may have serious

employment repercussions later on in life.

Conversely, don’t be put off by a robust police

presence at events. 99% of direct actions do not

involve ‘arrestable’ situations. If you are new to

direct activism attend some Non-Violent Direct

Action training before getting stuck in. This will

let you know what you can and cannot do if you

want to feel safe in your action.

Christian Activists need

to pray and read the


Jesus gives lots of examples

of direct action, from obvious

ones such as upturning tables

in the temple against economic

injustice, to less obvious ones like

silently drawing on the ground

prior to preventing a woman from

being executed to de-escalate

the violence of the mob. Draw

inspiration from Jesus and the

early disciples.

Do something


or artistic

if you can.

The best campaign I’ve

seen in this sense was a

campaign to raise awareness

about conflict in Palestine.

Three people played dead

on the floor, while a fourth

read out a testimony from

someone who had witnessed

a shooting through a

megaphone. This can be

a really effective way of

educating people. Photos

and collages can also catch

people’s eyes if you are

campaigning from behind a


Holy Activism, Batman

Don’t forget

your goal.

Campaigning is

important, regardless

of what you do, but

one thing which

often seems to be

missing is a strategy

tying it together. An

isolated action is still

worth doing, but you

can achieve much

more carrying out a

campaign with a goal.

As such, that should

be a starting point:

what do you want to


Thanks to SCM

members Patrick

Ramsey and Dr. Feylyn

Lewis, and university

chaplain Revd Chris

Howson for this

advice. Find their full

articles and more at





SCM member Patrick Ramsey reflects on the writings of Dietrich

Bonhoeffer and what they say to us about being a disciple of Jesus.

“And I’ll never know how much it cost, to see

my sin upon that cross.” For a long time I’ve

struggled to connect with these lines, taken

from a Hillsong worship song. At first glance,

the meaning of these words is clear – we

are singing of Jesus’ willingness to sacrifice

Himself for us. Somehow though, this never

really served to deepen my faith. Perhaps

this is because it’s hard to really imagine or

understand what Jesus experienced. Even

if one could understand though, would it

matter for our faith precisely how much pain

was experienced?

Looking deeper though, another meaning

appears, one which is arguably more

important. What is the cost to us, now,

of Jesus’ death? What does it cost us to

accept God’s grace, given to us through

Jesus’ sacrifice? The theologian Bonhoeffer

discusses this in his book The Cost of

Discipleship, comparing Biblical “costly”

grace to the “cheap” grace he claims many

churches preach, which allows a Christian

to live a worldly life because their sins are

forgiven regardless. According to Bonhoeffer,

we cannot say that grace is unconditional,

and excuse worldly living through this.

Rather, obedience to God is a precondition

of accepting the grace God offers, because

we are not capable of accepting God’s grace

without moulding our spirit. Bonhoeffer

describes faith and obedience as interlinked,

in a chicken-and-egg style – you cannot have

one without the other.

So then, what does it mean to obey God? The

first thing Bonhoeffer stresses is that it’s hard;

it is, after all, “costly” grace. Discipleship to

Jesus is central and means surrendering our

own ideas about how our life should be and

following the call of God where it leads us. We

see in Luke 9:57-62 that we cannot expect

Jesus to wait for us or put conditions on how

we are willing to follow. We are even told in

Luke 14 that we cannot be a true disciple

without hating our family and ourselves;

where our connection to anything would

stand in the way of discipleship, it must be

cast aside without hesitation. Furthermore,

Bonhoeffer preaches that there is no room

for reflection or doubt when we hear God’s

call, regarding this delay as disobedience, in

that we are placing our own personal morality

above God’s command by questioning it.

In this book, Christ is identified with the

Church; the Church is Christ. Therefore, we

can do nothing other than be Christ with all

the strength given to us by God, accepting –

and perhaps even glorying in – our share of

the pain of the crucifixion, which we are told

we will face when doing God’s work. This is

the cost of our discipleship; yet much more

than being a cost, it is true grace, for we gain

direct access to God’s love through Christ

when we serve God, and through God serve




What springs to mind when you think of evangelism?

For some the topic is an uncomfortable one, filled with

images of soap-box preaching and judgement, while

for others sharing the love of God is a central part of

their identity as Christians. In this article, Revd Dr

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes makes the case for a new

approach to evangelism.


Image credit: Zvonimir Atletic /

MOVEMENT Issue 160

In our heads,

we hear ‘evangelism’

and see a parade of

negative stereotypes

of pushy, patronising

or even abusive


of the Gospel.

We don’t want to be

like that, and we

don’t want people to

think we’re like that.


I can still remember when I became a Christian at university. After all sorts of

conversations and reading, I’d had a quietly dramatic conversion experience

in the silence of my own room when it had seemed that God was there in the

room with me. But the overriding emotion that I can remember when I admitted

to myself that I had become a Christian, was embarrassment. “Oh no”, I can

remember thinking, “everyone’s going to think I’m one of them”.

They, in my imagination, were the caricature of a Christian - earnest types who

held Mission Weeks, and thought that you needed to believe certain things in

order to avoid going to hell. They probably weren’t really like that at all, but as a

keen young student I liked to think of myself as a ‘cultured despiser of religion’.

I was guilty of holding a caricature of Christians as boring, earnest, basically

kind but generally to be avoided unless you were prepared to be lectured for

an hour. I didn’t want people to think I was like that, and it seems to me now,

after 16 years as a vicar, that this is still the basic problem we have when we

talk to most liberal, progressive congregations about evangelism. In our heads,

we hear ‘evangelism’ and see a parade of negative stereotypes of pushy,

patronising or even abusive presentations of the Gospel. We don’t want to be

like that, and we don’t want people to think we’re like that.


And yet avoiding this caricature by simply avoiding any suggestion of doing

evangelism simply isn’t an option. God is a god who sends and calls – that’s

the pattern that shines through the many and varied stories of the Bible. God

calls the world into being in creation, and sends God’s own self into it in various

ways through the whole of salvation history. In the incarnation of the Word of

God in the person of Jesus, this Missio Dei is given flesh in a very particular

way. God sends Godself into the world in Jesus, and Jesus very clearly sends

out his disciples to spread this good news. God is a god of mission – literally,

of sending. This means that mission isn’t just another task on a Christian to-do

list, it’s an essential ingredient of what it is to participate in the life and action

of God.

4. To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every

kind and pursue peace and reconciliation

5. To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the

life of the earth’


We can’t avoid the implication that part of what it is to be a disciple of Jesus

is to be both called and sent. Nor, I think, can we avoid the implication that

part of this mission that we are called to and sent out in involves explicitly

speaking about God. There’s a great temptation to think that simply living well

will be sufficient. But if you stop to analyse this notion, it becomes clear that

this is based on the frankly patronising assumption of Christendom, that it is

pre-eminently Christians who will lead attractive, peaceful and generous lives.

This is part of the paternalistic and imperial assumption that Christianity goes

alongside and promotes civilisation, social order and prosperity, which has been

deeply problematic and has rightly been the subject of serious self-criticism

among mission agencies in recent years.

St Francis of Assisi is very often misquoted in support of this idea as having

told his friars to ‘preach the gospel everywhere – use words where necessary’.

Sadly, not only is there no evidence that St Francis said this, it’s the opposite

of what he actually modelled in his missionary practice which was based on

communicating in simple words to all people the beautiful simplicity of the good

news that God loves us.

You see it seems to me that liberal, progressive Christianity really is good news.

I’ve seen lives and faith transformed by it. But it’s very different to the caricature

of Christianity in the popular imagination – the caricature that I began with in

my own imagination, which sees Christianity either as abusive and damaging

or simply as ridiculous. And so there is a serious task to be faced of countering

this message and presenting a positive alternative – and that takes more than

simply good wishes and good living, though it needs those too. The Five Marks

of Mission need to be held together, not just in the Church as a whole, but in

each of our lives and practice.

There’s a great

temptation to think

that simply living well

will be sufficient. But if

you stop to analyse this

notion, it becomes clear

that this is based on

the frankly patronising

assumption of

Christendom, that it

is pre-eminently

Christians who will lead

attractive, peaceful and

generous lives.


This is the basis of the Anglican statement of the Five Marks of Mission, which

were adopted at the Anglican Consultative Council in 1984 and remain perhaps

the only thing that the whole Anglican Communion actually agrees on. The

statement in full reads:

‘The mission of the Church is the mission of Christ

1. To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom

2. To teach, baptise and nurture new believers

3. To respond to human need by loving service


The heart of Christianity for me is fundamentally very orthodox – it’s the belief

that God’s love is unconditional, and is enough. This is news that people really

want and need to hear. The stand-out moment for liberal evangelism in 2018

was Bishop Michael Curry’s royal wedding sermon when he told people this,

clearly and passionately. I lost count of the number of times in the ensuing

weeks that I heard comments like ‘if that’s what the church preached….’. Given

that for many of us it is what we preach, this should give us heart – we have a

major piece of unplanned market research telling us that our message is likely

24 MOVEMENT Issue 160

MOVEMENT Issue 160


to be very well received. What’s different about saying this as liberal Christians,

is having the confidence not to demand a certain response. We know enough

from the insights of psychology to know that knowing yourself to be loved is

itself transformative.

A particular difficulty with

Christian evangelism is

often the lack of newness

– everyone thinks they

know the story and how

it ends. That, I think, is

why research shows that

churches that grow tend

to be the ones that try new

things – any new things.



There’s a natural grammar of evangelism. When I find a lovely new coffee

shop, swimming pool or tourist attraction I will tend to recommend it to friends.

Whatever the ‘thing’, the grammar of the conversation tends to be the same.

First, Discovery – I say, “I stumbled across this lovely little bookshop the other

day”. Then sharing the Experience – I say what it was I liked about it, and why

I thought they might like it, whether that’s because it had fantastic cakes, or

a really unusual collection of poetry, or that I heard their favourite soundtrack

playing and it made me think of them. And then comes Invitation – we generally

end this kind of ‘evangelistic’ conversation by asking our friend to come along

with us sometime, whether we’re inviting them to join us for coffee at a new

coffee shop or come clubbing with us next week at a great new nightspot

we’ve found.

This is the basic pattern that works just as well for telling someone about a

church or religious group. It’s so naturally engrained in our social fabric that

inviting someone to something without using this natural grammar sounds

weird. Yet we do this all the time in evangelism – tell someone to come to an

event but without saying why we thought they, specifically, would like it, or

without saying why, specifically, we like it and how we came to know about it.

A particular difficulty with Christian evangelism is often the lack of newness

– everyone thinks they know the story and how it ends. That, I think, is why

research shows that churches that grow tend to be the ones that try new

things – any new things. Not because we need to be endlessly re-inventing the

wheel, but simply because something being new makes it much easier to talk

about with our friends.

Revd Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes is an Anglican priest, historian and

author. She is currently Team Rector of St Luke in the City, Liverpool, and blogs


You can find more reflections and perspectives in our Evangelism blog series –


130 years of

SCM was founded in 1889 by a group of students

dedicated to sharing the love of God through

missionary work overseas. The movement quickly

grew and expanded it’s aims, becoming a place for

students to study the Bible together and pray for

one another, to deepen their faith and explore the

ways that they could live out their faith through

their study and work. Students would gather for

conferences to discuss the political and social

issues of the day, and to reflect on how their faith

informed their response.

The values and activities of the movement in the

early days are still hallmarks of SCM today. Student

groups still gather together to share fellowship and

study the bible, though this now includes online,

virtual communities as well as physical groups

on campuses and in churches. Through our Faith

in Action project students respond to issues of

social justice through taking part in activities

such as demonstrations, lobbying their MPs and

volunteering for local projects, whilst also engaging

in theological reflection.

Today we describe ourselves as ‘a movement of

students, past and present, responding to the call

of Jesus to follow him and show the love of God

on campus, in our communities and in the world.

We come together as an ecumenical and inclusive

community, fostering unity in diversity and

exploring faith through worship, discussion and


Our vision is that every student can find a vibrant,

open and inclusive Christian community, where

they can explore faith and be inspired to put faith

into action. To achieve this vision, SCM has four


• Creating Community,

• Seeking Justice,

• Celebrating Diversity and

• Deepening Faith.

In the following pages current SCM members and

alumni, known as SCM Friends, explore each of

the four aims that are at the heart of all that we do,

reflecting on what they mean to them and sharing

how SCM has impacted their lives and faith.

We love to hear your stories, so please do share

your reflections with us on social media using the

hashtag #MyMovementMag, or by emailing scm@

26 MOVEMENT Issue 160

MOVEMENT Issue 160




Have you ever been part of a group

where you get the feeling that you

don’t quite belong? Where you feel

like everyone else is much closer,

and you feel like you don’t fit in?

As a naturally shy kid growing

up, I struggled with this a lot. As

a shy extrovert, (meaning that

I love being around people, but

I can be pretty awkward in social situations), I’ve

been in groups where I have felt like a spare wheel

many times.

I went to an SCM national gathering, Wondering

and Wandering, for the first time last year. It was

a wonderful experience where I felt like I simply

belonged, and it wasn’t just because the dress

code seemed to be dungarees, my outfit of choice!

I remember that on the last day I came in to have

lunch and sat at a table with people I hadn’t

spoken to during the weekend. I automatically felt

like I knew them, like it was natural for me to be

there. I was welcome and I belonged.

One of SCM’s core aims is to create community.

Our group in Southampton has been going for two

years, and as we had new members joining us

the aim of creating community was all the more

important. Community is defined as ‘the condition

Have you ever been part of a

group where you get the feeling

that you don’t quite belong?

of sharing or having certain attitudes or

interests in common’. However, I think part

of being a Christian community is about

more than just having things in common.

It’s about becoming a group of people who

are invited to ‘Come as They Are’. I came

to SCM weighed down with a lot of things,

with no super high expectations, but what

I found was a community in which I, and

my faith, could thrive.

So, how does one ‘create community?’

Being intentionally inclusive is so

important, in a sense of seeking to make

people feel welcome and accepted for who

they are. Another thing that we have found

helpful is doing lots of varied activities

every week, from crafts to discussions,

and from Catholic Scripture meditation to

activism. Being open to trying new things

as an ecumenical group and talking about

all sorts of things has been a really good

way for us to grow.

We are not just a group of people who meet

every week to talk about our faith. We are

friends. We are a support network who

understand that we are not always going to

be OK. We are a community.

Gabby North is a member of SCM


Each Christmas I send my friends a letter telling them

about what I have been up to over the last year; it is a bit of

a tradition that I inherited from my parents. “Cute”, some of

you are thinking! “How ridiculous and antiquated” others of

you are thinking! Some of my very dearest friends mock me

greatly each time they receive my Christmas Catch-up, but to

me it is an important part of how I maintain my connection

to friends who are spread across the breadth of the mainland

and islands of Great Britain. Because connection and

community are important to me.

There are many ways we feel connected to those who are

important to us. SCM will always have a place in my heart;

it has been so involved in making me who I am today that

I struggle to imagine what my life would be like had I not

come across them, back when I was an undergraduate. When

I became one of those adult-types, with predictable, regular

income, I set up a Direct Debit to be an SCM Friend, because

I wanted to stay connected to the movement that I couldn’t

imagine my life without.

Being an SCM Friend means that I still get that sense

of belonging I had when I was a member and keeps me

connected to the wider SCM Community. I love getting

Movement magazine and regular newsletters from the

Regional Development Workers; they let me know what

is going on and I get to hear the voice and experiences of

today’s students. I continue to be inspired by how amazing

SCM-ers are; so thoughtful, so passionate, so ready to grapple

with their faith and the realities of the world we live in, and

as a Friend I am invited to come to some events; to relive

my student days, and to hear from members how SCM is

changing their lives like it changed mine.

If we were being cynical, we would say that I am an SCM

Friend because I don’t want to grow up and because I have a

big Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), but I do think it goes deeper

than that. At the heart of what SCM does is to form us into

community, and for me being an SCM Friend is part of my

commitment to the SCM Community and all that it hopes to


Paul Parker was a member of Bangor Methodist Society in

North Wales and is now a Methodist Minister in Cornwall.

He remembers when Movement had a cryptic crossword on

the back page.


MOVEMENT Issue 160



Seeking Justice is one of the main aims of SCM, so

it is all too convenient that Jesus was super into the

idea too. He spends a lot of time talking about the

Kingdom of God being established on Earth, asking

us to, “seek first the kingdom and its justice,” in

Matthew 6:33, and showing us what this kingdom

of justice looks like. He heals the sick, eats with the

marginalised and frees the oppressed. In the parable

of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46), Jesus

tells us that those who follow in his footsteps and

feed the hungry, welcome the stranger and care for

the sick will inherit the kingdom, because whatever

we do for the marginalised, we do for Jesus. We often

say in the Quaker tradition that there is something

of God in each of us – justice is important because

everyone has the right to be treated as the divine,

unique, special creations that they are. This means

that justice is our job; it is something we have to work

for, which is why it is such an important aim for SCM.

Seeking Justice also helps me when I doubt that

God is there. It is easy to feel that with all of the evil,

suffering and injustice in the world, that God is distant

or perhaps non-existent. But, in the end, God does

care; she has enlisted us to do her work on Earth and

sent Jesus to show us how. One of the most exciting

things about being a Christian is being a part of God’s

response to injustice in the world. We can, we have to

get our hands dirty.

While justice can seem like a daunting task, we

are not alone. God is behind us, and when we work

together our small efforts combine to make a big

impact. I also believe that God can give us each a

passion for justice in a particular area, our own corner

of the world to which we can bring light. You can

ask yourself, what injustice in the world makes me

the most angry? Which makes me want to throw and

overturn tables in rage like

Jesus at the temple (Luke

19:45-48)? Perhaps it is the

lack of rights for LGBT+

people, the plight of the

world’s many refugees,

or maybe it is the climate

crisis, which disproportionately affects the poor



When I was first elected to Parliament for

Leeds West in 1987, Margaret Thatcher was

returned to power, unemployment was high

and poverty rising, major manufacturing

industries in Leeds were going under and

the expected change of Government and

policies had failed to happen. There was

general despair that things could improve.

A few weeks later the film Cry Freedom

was released, about the struggle of the

young leader Steve Biko against the grip of

apartheid in South Africa. He was billed to

speak to the people in the Soweto football

stadium, but death threats made it too risky

for him to take the stage. He addressed

the crowd over a speaker system from the

back of a van outside. His message was

that “Even in these circumstances we must

develop hope.”

That’s our challenge now, to work on

strategies to develop hope and to share

“tangible seeds of hope stories” as Pope

Francis recently asked us to do. St Augustine

wrote that “Hope has two beautiful

daughters; they are called ‘Anger’ and

and could rob future generations of the resources

and the wonders of God’s creation. Once you know

where God is calling you, look for opportunity to

make change.

Tom Packer is a member of SCM Southampton

and a trustee of SCM.

‘Courage’.” Now is the time to hold them both

close, working for justice and peace with others

and naming and tackling unjust causes and

structures of injustice. Oscar Romero, champion

of the poor, murdered in El Salvador, stressed that

“When the Church hears the cry of the oppressed

it cannot but denounce the social structures that

give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which

the cry arises.”

Organisations in the Church such as Justice

and Peace Commissions and Church Action on

Poverty can help. But as Pope Benedict stressed

in our times, “The Church does not face a crisis

of faith but rather one of hope.” Our primary task

now is to ‘develop hope’.

John Battle is Chair of

Leeds Diocesan Justice

and Peace Commission,

and is a trustee of

Project Bonhoeffer,

SCM’s Faith in Action

Project partner.

MOVEMENT Issue 160

MOVEMENT Issue 160




As Access and Inclusion portfolio holder on

General Council, celebrating diversity is the

aspect of SCM’s vision that I spend most of

my time thinking about, figuring out how we

can make SCM as inclusive and diverse as we

can so that everyone that wishes to is able to

find their home in SCM like I have.

We never have members who join us to

improve quotas or to make us seem more

diverse, but we welcome all our members in

the same way, usually with open arms and

hugs! We appreciate their new perspectives,

range of skills and life experiences that

helps make the movement an even more

wonderful and supportive community to be

a part of.

Making SCM somewhere that is accessible

(in terms of events and resources etc) is

very important and needed, but at SCM

that isn’t enough to us. Every one of us is

unique and special to God in so many ways,

so it’s important to be able to celebrate

this, especially for those who may not feel

they fit into a church or faith community,

or may have something about them that

perhaps isn’t always accepted or included

in mainstream Christianity such as being

LGBT+, having a disability or chronic illness,

being neurodivergent or being from a BAME

background. Ecumenism is also at the heart

of the movement and is another way to

engage our diverse membership, through

inter-denominational dialogue. Through

having a community of people for whom

diversity and inclusion is important, not only

can we learn from the experiences of others,

but it can help us develop and reflect on our

own personal faith.

Through being on General Council I get to see

what means it to different members of the

movement, and how they choose to celebrate

diversity, which is wonderful. It means

something different to every member and

every SCM group, but at the heart of it always

is the firm belief that everyone is welcome and

our differences should be celebrated. Some

members attend pride parades as members

of the LGBT+ community or as allies, others

may run autism-friendly events or organise

ecumenical or interfaith events on campus.

To me, celebrating diversity really is at the

heart of SCM and what we do, and a very

important part of our history. SCM has been

championing diversity and supporting

marginalised communities since before it was

cool or popular to do so, and that is something

we need to continue. The focus on inclusion

and supporting all members is what drew me to

get more involved in SCM,

so it is a privilege to help

further that work for the

movement to ensure we

are as inclusive, diverse

and accessible as

we can be.

Emilia De Luca is an

SCM Trustee and a

student in Coventry.

In the 65 years (hardly believable!) in which

SCM has been part of my life, it has always

been in some way about inclusiveness. That

did not mean inclusion of sexual minorities

in those early days – homosexuality was a

subject hardly ever mentioned, and only ever

as a ‘problem’. But SCM gave me my first

experience of the ecumenical movement

and introduced this naive young Welsh Baptist to

the friendship of people who prayed in unfamiliar ways and were

equally committed to following Jesus. This was something new

to most of the churches at that time. By the time the churches

caught up with it SCM was becoming inclusive of people of other

faiths and of no faith.

SCM has always been one or two decades ahead of the churches,

sometimes in uncomfortable ways. In the late 1960s, when I was

a staff member, it was tearing itself apart with theological and

political controversy and rapidly decreasing in membership. The

churches were to go through something like this at a later stage,

and are now, I believe, just showing the first signs of a new life –

like SCM, scaled down but as creative and dynamic as ever.

It was in an issue of Movement in the early 60s that I first came

across a Christian article about homosexuality – still portraying

it as a ‘problem’, but tentatively reaching out towards a broader

understanding. I myself was very much in the closet at that

time, but it was comforting to know that there was at least one

Christian out there who understood.

While spending a year as a mature student at Glasgow University

in 1979-80, I joined the very small but enthusiastic and

welcoming SCM group. One of the issues it was keen to discuss

was the gay one. Again, this was way ahead of most churches at

that time: it was actually during that year that Scotland caught up

with England and Wales in de-criminalising sex between men.

Today I rejoice to see how SCM has for some time been

embracing the whole LGBT spectrum and more, and it is

encouraging to see that churches are slowly catching up. I am

privileged to be involved as an LGBT+ champion in the University

Chaplaincy where I work, and – more surprisingly – to belong to

a local church in the South Wales valleys where I feel completely

free to be openly myself.

Ray Vincent is a Baptist minister and a Chaplain in the University

of South Wales. He is Stonewall’s 2019 Gay Role Model of the Year.


MOVEMENT Issue 160



church life and just… life! In those moments,

it’s hard to remember God and why our

faith calls us to do more. But there is a light

which appears, where no darkness can

overcome. It fills us with faith, hope and

peace, giving us courage to face our battles

and make a change in the world, now. So,

my fellow SCM-er, whatever battle you may

be facing, remember that God is on your side

and that He will bless you with faith, skills,

wisdom and people to journey with you

until the race is finished.

“Here is the world.

Beautiful and terrible

things will happen. Don’t

be afraid.” Frederick


Miriam Samuel is an International Student

from Malaysia, and a member of SCM


“Break my heart for what breaks Yours.” This line has

always stuck out for me as a prayer of asking God to open

our minds, eyes, ears and hearts to all the things in this

world which break His heart.

Despite praying this for years, if you asked me a year ago

how I felt about the world, I would have shrugged my

shoulders. Maybe because I thought I couldn’t do anything

about it; maybe because I just couldn’t be bothered. My

faith led me to be completely focused on serving in

church and forgetting about mission outside of church; I

chose to be ignorant about how my actions and lifestyle

impacted the environment. I chose to turn a blind eye

towards the injustices that were happening within my

community and the wider world.

That all changed through my year in SCM Lancaster,

which put things into perspective and enabled me to

put my faith into action in ways I had never before

thought about. I found myself being challenged, inspired,

encouraged and supported to make changes in life to a

point that I cannot see myself turning back to the life

I used to lead. My faith is deeper now. I think the most

beautiful part of this transformation was realising that

the changes we make come from embracing the gift of

God’s creation and His heart for it, whether it’s advocating

for a plastic-free lifestyle, dedicating life towards social

justice or any other equally important form of serving. Our

passion for serving and championing for change comes

from seeing God’s love for the world.

Sometimes though, I feel like I’m in the battle alone,

fighting for justice in a country which has thrived in

corruption and inequality. That and juggling student life,

I did not come from a religious

family, and my Christianity,

before I came to Newcastle

University in the late 1980s,

was a mixture of ideas and

experiences that were

mostly quite new but

had begun to mean a lot.

However, like me, it was very much a work

in progress. In SCM, I found a community

that allowed me to continue to explore

and live my faith, in an open and critical

way, without the pressure to sign up to a

predetermined notion of what it should be.

In many ways, religiously speaking, it set me

up for life.

As a group we were pretty eclectic in

what we did, from actively supporting gay

rights to exploring environmentalism and

Christian anarchism. In a way, we thought

of ourselves as rivals to the Social Workers

Party and the numerous political groups

in the university that were very active

in Newcastle at the time, arguing that

Christianity had something vital to offer to

all aspects of the world in which we lived.

We did not think of SCM as a Christian

student society, in a narrow sense, as

though it were some kind of liberal rival

to the Christian Union. Instead we tried

to get people in to our meetings who were

hostile to Christianity and to break down

assumptions about what Christianity ought

to be. The SCM logo at the time helped - a

clenched fist holding a crown of thorns; we

had a big banner with that on it which we

carried on anti-racism marches and the like.

This makes us all sound a bit worthy. SCM

also taught me the value of humour, and how

effective it can be for making us think again

about what we assume. I remember, for

example, our Turn the World Upside Down:

First Will Be Last Raffle - if you had the

winning ticket, you had to give £5 to charity,

if you had the last ticket drawn out, you got

£5. Lots of great conversations followed with

other students, who could not believe the

rules, about justice and the Kingdom of God.

Christianity for me has never been about

trying to determine and then defend some

pristine version of the faith once delivered,

nor just dressing up the latest progressive

ideas in Christian clothes. It is a life lived

in trust, love and hope, and has something

vital and revolutionary to offer the world. I

learned that in Newcastle SCM, and although

many things have changed since then, both

for me and also the context within which we

live as Christians, it continues to shape my

understanding of Christianity today.

Justin Meggitt, Newcastle SCM 1987-90

MOVEMENT Issue 160

MOVEMENT Issue 160





In an increasingly globalised society we can

still be ignorant about the impact our actions

have on those in our wider community.

Richard Reddie encourages us to consider

the wider implications of our activism and

the importance of making links between

situations of injustice around the world.

Next year marks the 25th anniversary of Racial Justice

Sunday (RJS) in Britain, an opportunity for Christians to

collectively remember the importance of racial justice,

reflect on human diversity and thank God for it, and respond

by working to end injustice, racism and ignorance through

prayer and action. This anniversary is vitally important

because it comes at a time when we, as a society, are

badly in need of justice, and desperate for the hope, peace

and mercy for which Christ died. For instance, one of the

inadvertent consequences of the Brexit referendum has

been the rise in race and religious hate crime , and a general

decline in civility and compassion in our discourse on ‘race’,

immigration, asylum and refugee matters.

What I find particularly disturbing is that the attitudes,

behaviours and language that characterised my childhood

(but had thankfully dissipated by the time I became an

adult), has come back with a vengeance. For instance,

when I was growing up in Bradford, it was common to see

graffiti, speeches and commentary telling Black and Minority

Ethnic (BAME) communities to ‘go home!’ By the 1990s

and into the noughties, we witnessed greater confidence

and assertiveness among these communities with many

willing to call themselves British and affirm the Union flag.

However, in the days after the Brexit vote, I lost count of the

numbers of British BAME friends who told me that they had

been asked when they were leaving the country. That lowlevel

ignorance has a rather more sinister and dangerous

counterpart in the mindless violence that has been meted

out to British people who are not white, and to those who

are not Christians.

However, over the last year the populace and media’s

attention has been drawn away from this issue as if it has

been resolved, and on to climate change, a phenomenon

which jeopardises the future of our planet. I happened to

be in Oxford Street, central London on the first day of the

Extinction Rebellion climate change demonstration in April

of this year, and could not fail to notice the youthful look of

those protesting; many of whom were no doubt students.

Moreover, it can be argued that the face of the modernday

climate change movement is 16-year-old Swedish

student, Greta Thunberg, but there are myriads of other

young people who are passionate about getting the world’s

leaders to wake up to the dangers of global warming.

One of the major consequences of climate change is

the displacement of people due to flooding, drought and

famine. Indeed, the scarcities caused by climate change

often lead to conflict and persecution. We also need to be

aware that even the move to carbon free energy can lead

to the unintended consequences of displacement. Last

year I had the opportunity to meet with indigenous Brazilian

communities in the Amazon region who had been displaced

from their riverside homes by the construction of hydroelectric

dams along the Madeira River. These dams, which

were meant to provide clean, cheap energy and create jobs

for local people, caused flooding, water-borne diseases

and loss of income from farming and fishing. This scenario

is often mirrored elsewhere in the world where entire

communities are forced to leave their villages or countries

due to developments that were meant to curtail climate


Idomeni, Greece - May 26, 2016. A Syrian man carries his daughter,

as refugees abandon the makeshift camp of Idomeni in northern

Greece, following the evacuation operation by the Greek police.

Image credit: Giannis Papanikos /

The other area of interest and concern involves refugees

and asylum seekers. One of my responsibilities as Director

of Justice and Inclusion is to coordinate the work of

the Churches Refugee Network (CRN), which works to

encourage churches in Britain and Ireland to engage

positively in asylum, refugee and immigration issues. The

CRN’s work became prescient during the so-called ‘Migrant

Crisis’ several years ago, which witnessed those from the

Middle East, Asia and Africa making perilous sea crossings

to reach Europe. For several years, it was virtually impossible

to watch or hear the news on television or radio without

there being some reportage on this crisis.

Interestingly, during my work-related travels, I have met

Christians who recognise the reality of climate change and

the need to reduce carbon emissions but have bought into

the current ‘hostile environment’ linked to immigration.

As a result, they are reluctant to support any activities

associated with helping asylum seekers and refugees.

What is fascinating is the way these folks fail to make

the connection between the increases in the world’s

temperature and the upsurge in refugees. I am passionate

about ‘glocal’ justice, which squares the circle on sociopolitical,

environmental and economic issues. It recognises

the fact that global factors have a ‘push’ dimension which

witnesses people being forced to leave their countries,

36 MOVEMENT Issue 160 MOVEMENT Issue 160


20,000 Australian students

gather in climate change

protest rally, March 2019

Photo credit:

Holli /

A ‘glocal’

approach makes


between efforts

to persuade our

Government to

reduce carbon

emissions and

the need for it

to accept more


refugee children,

not just from Syria

but from Asia and

Africa too.

sometimes merely to survive. A ‘glocal’

approach makes associations between

efforts to persuade our Government to

reduce carbon emissions and the need

for it to accept more unaccompanied

refugee children, not just from Syria but

from Asia and Africa too. It also means

cajoling financial institutions to not invest

in fossil fuels but in green energy, as well

as encouraging congregations to either

become Churches of Sanctuary that provide

hospitality to asylum seekers and refugees,

or to join a community sponsorship scheme.

The Bible has much to say about justice,

equity and dignity, and it is clear that racist

attitudes and behaviours are both sinful and

incompatible with being a Christian. Christian

organisations like Churches Together in

Britain and Ireland have produced a wealth

of material for Racial Justice Sunday which

explore how best to engage with those who

see things differently. Likewise, we need to

stand alongside those Christian and secular

groups who lobby the authorities to make

our communities and wider society safer,

inclusive and more cohesive.

It goes without saying that students have

long-played a key role in challenging injustice

and inequality, both at home and abroad.

Back in my student days, I spent many an

hour on anti-apartheid demonstrations

outside the South African Embassy/

High Commission or protesting against

any business with financial dealings with

that racist country. Moreover, while I was

Project Director of the Churches Together in

England initiative Set All Free, which focused

on slavery, I liaised with student groups who

were keen to engage in the efforts to raise

awareness and tackle trafficking. It is often

said that the hardest choice or decision is

often the right one, and we need to do the

right thing on racism, bigotry, asylum and

refugees. It is my hope and confidence that

students will continue to be at the heart of

all efforts to do the right thing!

Richard Reddie is a writer and commentator,

and the Director of Justice and Inclusion for

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

Follow him on Twitter @RichRed123




Being part of an ecumenical community is an invitation from God to

see our differences as enriching, rather than as an obstacle. A journey to

global love and peace-making, which is what we are called to do in our

Christian life, starts with valuing the differences of those next to us.

Father Tonino Bello highlighted this when he

said, “Peace is conviviality. It is eating bread

with others, without separating. And the other

is a face to discover, contemplate (…). What is

peace? It is the conviviality of differences. It is

sitting together at the same table, within different

people that we are called to serve.”

It is wonderful for me to take part in Mass and

share the wonder of the Eucharist with my

Catholic friends. But it is equally wonderful to take

the experiences of love, awe and amazement for

God that I experience in a Catholic context and

bring them to the ecumenical table. Here, people

bring their own backgrounds and experiences,

creating a jigsaw of love for God that is diverse,

colourful, chaotic, yet harmonious. In our

Chaplaincy community, I am blessed with people

who will listen when I talk about Mary as a

revolutionary and pivotal figure in the Christian


MOVEMENT Issue 160

MOVEMENT Issue 160


It is wonderful for me

to take part in Mass

and share the wonder

of the Eucharist with

my Catholic friends.

But it is equally

wonderful to take the

experiences of love, awe

and amazement for

God that I experience

in a Catholic context

and bring them to the

ecumenical table.

God speaks to us in

different ways. And

because he speaks in

different ways, our

beings and expression

of faith will be diverse

– but always reflecting

a little side of God’s

voice and self. And

isn’t the idea of putting

different sides of God

together wonderful?

experience. At the same time, I listen to

them when they encourage me to find

God even when I do not find any direct

images or paintings, perhaps relying more

on the scriptures instead.

But what do we do when things are not as

harmonious? I am lucky to be surrounded

by people who find differences in

traditions enriching at our Free Church

services, but I have certainly had tense

moments at university. For instance, I

have never felt comfortable with trying

to make my spiritual experience into

a rational, philosophical argument for

the existence of God, and that created

misunderstandings with people who live

their faith by doing precisely that. When

these clashes happen, we must take them

as an opportunity to acknowledge our

differences. God speaks to us in different

ways. And because he speaks in different

ways, our beings and expression of faith

will be diverse – but always reflecting

a little side of God’s voice and self. And

isn’t the idea of putting different sides of

God together wonderful? What a diverse,

multidimensional and fuller picture we

would get!

Of course, there will always be people

who think a certain point of view is the

only right way, and nothing else can

valuably contribute. But my advice to this

kind of opposition is to continue living

as a testimony of God’s love residing in

our differences, with those differences

coexisting around the dinner table. When

tense moments arise due to differences

of opinion, do not fall into the temptation

of nurturing that tension. Division cannot

be any good – to counter the tendency

towards it, the only thing is to enter the

conviviality of differences Father Tonino

called for.

Be patient. It can be frustrating when

people don’t understand the beauty of

ecumenism because they are so deeply

rooted in a certain tradition. But I believe

we exist to support and love each other

in communion. I trust that God speaks

through us, and through our being in

communion with Christ and with others,

we can be a medium for God to make a

difference in someone’s life. When we

feel like diversity is leading to tension and

conflict, let us remember that diversity

is richness. A Christian community is the

equivalent to a bring and share meal; I bring

bread, you bring cider, someone brings

carrots, someone else bring hummus,

others bring a cottage pie, and so on

until we have a very full table! Isn’t this

a much nicer idea than a table just made

of carrots?! Perhaps right now I feel more

comfortable with the idea of just eating

carrots, and I don’t want to risk mixing

them with hummus. But if I just give it a

try I see the richness of flavour that comes

from it. I might not enjoy cider that much,

but I’m happy for other people to enjoy it

and I recognise the importance of a good

drink. God delights in our differences: let

us fight the temptation of making them a

matter of conflict because of pride, or fear,

and let us create a colourful, delicious and

joyful table. Bon appetit!

Written by Marianna Baltrami,

a member of Warwick Christian Focus.




This excellent, concise book narrates

the extraordinary journey of the late

Rachel Held Evans from being a

stereotypical conservative evangelical

fundamentalist to a modern, sceptical,

doubting Christian believer. She has a

wonderful way with words which gives

incredible and poignant insights into

the exclusive subculture of American

fundamentalism, evangelicalism and

conservative apologetics, and into her

own personal journey.

Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew all

the Answers Learned to Ask Questions

Rachel Held Evans


ISBN: 0310339162

The attention to detail is brilliant yet

it is also very accessible. It is serious,

genuine and authentic but also

contains a healthy dose of humour. I

would warmly recommend this book

to anyone who has or is making the

difficult transition from conservative

evangelical Christian to “postevangelical”

(Dave Tomlinson). I would

also recommend it for those struggling

to integrate their personal faith and

religious upbringing with their current

modern, academic, scholarly and

critical study of theology, especially

Biblical Studies. For both groups of

people, reading this helpful book is like

having a companion walking alongside

you as you gradually, individually and

carefully discuss all of those complex

questions which just will not go away

as your faith evolves, develops, matures

and grows. I have made that journey

and wish I had known of this book then!


Good Omens

Directed by Douglas Mackinnon

Produced by Neil Gaiman, Rob Wilkins,

Chris Sussman

Amazon Studios


Good Omens is a TV show based on

the book by Neil Gaiman and Terry

Pratchett, starring David Tennant

as Crowley and Michael Sheen as

Aziraphale. Both are sent to earth and

the basic premise is that the Apocalypse is

coming - Heaven and Hell want it, and

want to win! Crowley and Aziraphale,

however, are unconvinced.

I really enjoyed watching this - it

made me laugh and cry, sometimes

simultaneously. It was brilliantly cast - I

particularly enjoyed Sheen as Aziraphale,

and his dynamic with Tennant was

adorable. Watching the TV adaptation

was very similar to reading the book,

right down to some of the dialogue being

identical. I didn’t read the book until

after I finished watching the series (by a

miracle worthy of God herself, the book

arrived on my doorstep within minutes of

me finishing the series!) and while I would

also recommend reading it, I don’t think

you need to approach it in any particular

order. The wit and imagination shines

through in both, and the change in one of

the Four ‘Bikers’ of the Apocalypse from

Pestilence to Pollution felt thoughtful.

Also, God is Frances McDormand, if you

aren’t sold already!


40 MOVEMENT Issue 160

MOVEMENT Issue 160




This book certainly needs trigger

warnings, but is a great uncensored read

covering the topics of sex, relationships

and gender, and the church’s power over

these aspects of people’s lives. It isn’t a

light read but a challenging one that is

necessary and dotted with humour.

The book contains sections describing

important parts of the Bible, telling

the stories with modern honesty, ease

of understanding and humour. I think

Bolz-Weber has given me my favourite

description of the resurrection of Christ

in one of these sections: “… and on the

third day Christ defeated death and rose

from the grave and then spent a little

time really freaking out his friends and

devouring a lot of snacks before ascending

back to the Father.”

Everything from gender roles, Sex

Education and relationships to

pregnancy, abortion and abuse in the

church is touched upon, featuring

personal examples from the author

and others. It is personal and real and

highlights just how much damage the

church has caused to people’s lives in

regards to sex and relationships, and

still continues to. It would be easy to get

disheartened with the church by reading

this book, but it also gives some hope for a

changing church.

As a non-theology student, the book

explains things in a way that are

understandable but still intelligent, and

I appreciated that the book was well

researched. I welcomed the definitions of

certain words and the well-detailed and

explained references in the footnotes, and

Bolz-Weber’s use of metaphors to better

explain some topics, all of which made

me able to read the book with ease and

without further research.


Shameless: A Sexual


Nadia Bolz-Weber


ISBN 1786221357














See you there!

42 MOVEMENT Issue 160

MOVEMENT Issue 160



student christian movement

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