Movement Magazine: Issue 162

movementmagazine

Issue 162 is here, and for the first time ever we're going completely digital! In this issue we interview Andriaan Van Klinken on finding his identity as an academic and queer Christian, look at how urban gardening could start a revolution, and reflect on Blackness, queerness and the missio dei with Augustine Ihm, plus loads more!

movement

THE MAGAZINE FOR CHRISTIAN STUDENTS

ISSUE 162 AUTUMN 2020

Who am I?

INTERVIEW: ADRIAAN

VAN KLINKEN on

finding his identity as an

academic and a queer

Christian. PAGE 12

REVOLUTIONARY

GARDENING: Can urban

farming save the planet

and start a revolution?

PAGE 23

IDENTITY IN CHRIST?

Reflections from a

Hindu Christian on

spirituality and identity.

PAGE 34

BLACKNESS, QUEERNESS,

AND THE MISSIO DEI:

Augustine Ihm on

intersectionality and

liberation. PAGE 36


CONTENTS

EDITORIAL 4

NEWS 5-8

GROUP NEWS 9-11

REVIEWS 43-43

GROOVEMENT 44

INTERVIEW:

ADRIAAN VAN

12-16

KLINKEN

Leeds University professor talks

to SCM member Josh House

about discovering his professional,

Christian, and queer identities, and

how the three interact in his work.

WELL-BEING:

LOCKDOWN

PERSPECTIVES

Students share the highs and lows

of lockdown, how their faith has

kept them going, and what they’ve

learned about themselves.

HOME FROM

HOME

17-19

20-22

Reflection from SCM member

Debbie about attending our LGBTQ+

gathering, and an excerpt from

Lu Skerratt’s talk on queering the

eucharist.

REVOLUTIONARY

23-25

GARDENING

JOSH GREAR

How we have become disconnected

from our food systems, and how

taking matters into our own hands

can be a revolutionary act.

SHAPING

IDENTITY

SINCE 1889 26-28

SCM Friends share how SCM shaped

their faith and vocation, and why they

still support the movement today.

DENOMINATION

QUIZ 29

What Denomination do you really

belong to? To be taken with a pinch

of salt…

CAMPAIGN NEWS:

FAITH IN

ACTION

Find out what campaigns we’ve

been involved in, and discover our

new Daily Bread campaign focus!

CALLED

TO BE...

32-33

A sneak peak at the second edition

of our vocation resource with a

reflection from SCM trustee Feylyn

Lewis.

IDENTITY IN

CHRIST

30-31

34-35

Archuna Ananthamohan reflects on

his Hindu roots and Christian faith,

how others reacted to his pursuit of

Jesus, and what it really means to

find our identity in Christ.

THE LONG READ:

BLACKNESS,

QUEERNESS,

AND THE

MISSIO DEI

36-39

Theology slam winner and activist

Augustine Tanner-Ihm writes about

the intersection of his Black, Queer,

Christian identities, and God’s

mission to liberate the oppressed.

WHERE THE

FOUR RIVERS

MEET 40-42

SCM members’ contribution to the

Letters for Creation Project, a poem

about creation, evolution, and the

Imago Dei, with reflections from

organiser Soph and author Ellen.

2 MOVEMENT Issue 162 MOVEMENT Issue 162

3



Welcome to Issue 162

of Movement magazine!

First things first, I hope you’re well. It feels more important than

ever to check that everyone is okay. That’s why I’m so glad that

we’ve been able to fit some of your lockdown reflections into this

issue of Movement. SCM is all about its members, and we want

to hear how you’re doing!

The theme of this issue of Movement is identity. This is always a

relevant topic, but the events of this year – the resurgence of the

Black Lives Matter movement, the pandemic’s ability to separate

us from the things that make us who we are – have given identity

a greater importance. I am delighted to say that this year’s

Theology Slam winner, Augustine Tanner-Ihm, has written our

long read on identity and diversity within the Church. We also

have a fascinating interview with Professor Adriaan van Klinken,

author of Kenyan, Christian, Queer – a brilliant book about the

intersections of different identities.

We’ve also got an excerpt from our good friend Lu Skerratt’s talk

on “queering the eucharist” during lockdown, which was given at

SCM’s recent “Home” event. As well as hearing from unofficial

friends of the movement, we’re lucky enough to hear from some

of our SCM Friends. In this issue, we have a couple of reflections

from Friends talking about how SCM has shaped their identities.

Our identities are also intertwined with where and how we live.

Josh Grear has written a wonderful article for us about his

relationship with the planet, and how he expresses this through

urban gardening. We also have SCM’s contribution to Letters for

Creation, a poem written to discuss what creation means to us.

Finally, in addition to all of this wonderful content, we have our

usual news from across the movement, as well as some fun

activities for you to do in our revived Groovement section.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Movement! Feel free to get in

touch by emailing editor@movement.org.uk

NATHAN OLSEN

MOVEMENT EDITOR

Student Christian Movement

Grays Court, 3 Nursery Road, Edgbaston,

Birmingham, B15 3JX

t: 0121 426 4918

e: scm@movement.org.uk

w: www.movement.org.uk

Advertising

e: scm@movement.org.uk

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: CEO: Naomi Nixon, Operations

Manager: Lisa Murphy, Comms and Marketing

Officer: Ruth Harvey, Regional Development

Worker (North East) and Faith in Action

Project Worker: Emma Temple, Regional

Development Worker (Scotland) and LGBTQ+

Lead: Caitlin Wakefield, Regional Development

Worker (Midlands) and SCM Connect Project

Worker: Rob Chivers, Church and Community

Fundraiser: Simon Densham, Administration

and Finance Officer: Deanna Davis, Senior

Administrator: Callum Fisher.

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 Movement.

ISSN 0306-980X

SCM is a registered charity in England and

Wales, number 1125640, and in Scotland,

number SC048506.

© 2019 Student Christian Movement

Design:

morsebrowndesign.co.uk & penguinboy.net

NEWS

GIFT

MEMBERSHIP

SCM has launched a new Gift

Membership scheme, with the hope

that more and more students will

be invited into this inclusive and

welcoming community. We have

been working behind the scenes on

this new way for people to join the

movement, and it has officially been

launched in August 2020.

We know that this year more than

ever, starting university will be a

daunting experience, and we hope

that our gift membership scheme

will help new students find a likeminded

community at university.

We also know that many of our

SCM Friends know young people

who they’d love to introduce to

SCM’s ethos and community. SCM

Link Churches also look for ways

to send off their young people well

and support them in the transition

to university, and ensure they have

the chance to flourish in their faith

in this new chapter of their lives.

Gift membership will enable soonto-be

students to be introduced

to SCM, receive a membership

pack, and then be able to join the

movement with their membership

fees paid.

SCM CEO Naomi Nixon said, ‘We’re

so excited to be launching gift

membership. Many people say that

they wish they’d known about SCM

when they were a student, so our

hope is that this will be a new way

for young people to be introduced

to us and discover our student-led

community where faith is deepened

and put into action.’

You can purchase a gift

membership pack for a student

or young person you know at

movement.org.uk/giftmembership

SCM ONLINE

COMMUNITY

During the COVID-19 crisis, the

SCM community have come

together to start a new initiative

of online events. When lockdown

measures were first announced, a

group of SCM students and staff

agreed that now more than ever,

SCM’s community was needed, and

we must find new ways of creating

that community for our members.

Initially, members met four times

a week for a programme of

prayer, bible study, social time and

theology, learning from each other

and sharing ideas, struggles, and

friendship online. This community

has now grown into a fully studentled

programme, and after a reduced

timetable over the summer, will

relaunch in time for university

freshers’ weeks in September.

SCM members have commented

that they’ve loved being involved

with the online sessions, and that

SCM makes a huge difference

to people seeking an inclusive

and justice-seeking Christian

community. If you’d like to get

involved, members can find out

about the latest events via our

Student Christian Movement

Facebook group.

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NEWS

CON-GRAD-

ULATIONS!

This year, SCM celebrated

graduation week for our members

with a Grad Ball and a week of

graduation activities. Graduation is

a rite of passage for our students,

and as this cannot happen in the

normal sense this year we looked at

new ways to mark this milestone.

Back in June we hosted the

Graduation Ball on Facebook that

included many dressed up selfies, a

whole discussion about grad drinks

and an impressive Spotify playlist to

party the night away to. In July Rob

did his best Alex Horne impression

for our graduation week tasks that

saw staff and students fashioning

caps out of recycled things around

the house, creating new memes

and making a graduation crowd

image. As part of this SCM Friends

sent us videos to cheer on and

bless our graduates as they step

out to whatever is next.

We would also like to take this

opportunity to wish the Class of

2020 well in all that they go on to

do, and to remind them that they

can remain SCM members for 3

years – so don’t go too far!

PEACE WEEK

In May, SCM’s online programme

teamed up with the Fellowship of

Reconciliation to spend a week

looking at Christian peacemaking.

On Zoom we ran a bible study, a

prayer session, and two workshops

to deepen our understanding of our

call as Christians to oppose war and

violence, and work for peace.

The first workshop looked at

conscientious objection, with the

privilege of having conscientious

objector Donald Saunders join us

for an interview. During the session,

Donald said, ‘The whole principle

of Christianity is against war. When

you get to an age where you have

to decide what you want to do

with your life… I couldn’t support

being put in a position of having to

kill someone else.’ We learned so

much from Donald’s reflections,

and it was a brilliant workshop.

Later in the week we looked at the

church as a place for revolutionary

peacemaking. We looked at

examples of churches who are

actively working for peace and

justice, and thought about how we

ourselves can respond to injustice

in our own churches.

SCM member Jack said, ‘SCM

Peace Week was a brilliant

opportunity for learning about the

story of conscientious objectors.

We also learnt about the theology

behind non-violent direct action.

It was also great to hear about

the work of the Fellowship of

Reconciliation.’

Peace week was part of our

campaign focus on Peace, which

we’ll be looking at during the next

academic year, as well as launching

our campaign focus on food

poverty and sustainability – keep an

eye on our socials for how to get

involved.

SCM STAFF

ARRIVALS AND

DEPARTURES

We’re sorry to say that in August

2020 Rach moved on from the

staff team to train as a Methodist

minister. Rach has been with

us since 2016, and has grown

SCM’s presence in the North-West

enormously, seeing new groups

emerging, as well as building

connections with churches and

chaplaincies in the region. She

has also organised all our brilliant

events, inviting excellent speakers

and ensuring every detail is taken

care of.

Rach said, ‘There is no way really

to sum up my time at SCM other

than these four years have been

a pleasure and a privilege, and I

wouldn’t have missed them for the

world. If it wasn’t that God was

calling me onwards to ordained

ministry I would not be leaving

my fabulous colleagues, students,

Chaplains, Church Leaders and

everyone else, and a job I’ve loved

and that has been a really good fit

to go on to something else which

feels even more who I am meant

to be. Thank you to each of you

who have journeyed with me and

hopefully see you soon, as SCM is

not the sort of community you can

leave, and I will of course become

a Member.’ We hope you’ll join

us in wishing Rach the best in her

training and ministry.

In February 2020, Deanna joined

the SCM team as our new admin

assistant. Speaking of taking on the

new role, she said, ‘2020... What a

time to start a new job! However,

with all the challenges and changes

we’ve all faced this year, I can

joyfully say that joining SCM when

I did has been a definite highlight. I

was lucky enough to meet a lot of

our members at this year’s national

gathering, was introduced to the

joys of Desk Yoga, along with an

endless supply of office snacks

and have truly been blessed with

such a creative, fun and supportive

team. There’s always great ideas to

bounce off from.

This has meant that the move

to working remotely as we went

into the strange times of lock

down, was a much less daunting

experience: with our lovely team

catch ups each day, mastery of

Zoom calls and the occasional

games afternoon. There is always

a sense of appreciation and

togetherness, even if we are

currently scattered all over the

country.

In my short time with SCM I have

felt such a warm welcome in every

capacity, been a part of a variety

of exciting projects and been given

the grace to get to grips with my

new responsibilities.

I’m confident in what the Lord

has in store for the future of

SCM, which has only increased by

being witness to its resilience and

versatility in this time.’ Welcome to

the movement Deanna – we’re so

glad to have you with us!

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MOVEMENT Issue 162 MOVEMENT Issue 162

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NEWS

GENERAL

COUNCIL

UPDATES

We also have some changes to

our General Council. Elections

were held at our AGM in March

for new members of our student

trustee board, as well as for

portfolio holders who represent

aspects of SCM’s work. Together,

General Council members form the

decision-making body of SCM and

ensure that student leadership is at

the forefront of the movement.

New trustee appointments included

Russell Frost and Patrick Ramsey.

Emilia DeLuca was also re-elected

for a second term as trustee, and

Tom Packer and Louise Dover will

continue in their roles as trustees.

As well as their trustee

responsibilities, Russell will

take on the South Regional Rep

portfolio, with Patrick taking on the

International Rep role. Nathan Olsen

was appointed to GC as Movement

Editor, Jack Woodruff was elected

to the Campaigns portfolio, and

Emma Atkins has taken on the role

of Disabled Students’ Rep. Jack

commented, ‘I’m looking forward

to starting my role on general

council as the campaigns portfolio.

Putting my faith into action is very

important to me, which is why I’m

super excited to start this role, and

to enable SCM members to get

involved with campaigning and

exploring ways to put their own

faith into action.’

On taking on the Disabled Students’

Rep, Emma said, ‘I’m really excited

to be joining SCM’s GC because

SCM has been really welcoming to

me since I first joined, I really felt

at home and I want to be able to

help to offer that to other students,

but especially to disabled students,

which is why I decided to take

the disabled rep. Often disabled

students can easily feel more out

of place than others, with so many

more considerations that we need

to account for to be comfortable

at events and in our daily student

lives.’

We’d like to take this opportunity to

thank our outgoing trustees, Alex

Akhurst, Feylyn Lewis, and Helena

Ripley for all their hard work and

dedication to the movement over

the past two years. Each member

of GC brings unique gifts to SCM,

and we wouldn’t be where we are

today without you.

If you’re interested in standing for

GC at our next AGM, get in touch

with a trustee or regional worker, or

email scm@movement.org.uk

COMING UP

We have lots of exciting events

coming up in the Autumn term,

as well as campaign actions,

new resources, and more online

workshops and events… keep an

eye on our socials to find out more!

Facebook: Student Christian

Movement

Twitter: @SCM_Britain

Instagram: @

studentchristianmovement

GROUP

NEWS

BIRMINGHAM

INCLUSIVE SOCIETY

Hello from Birmingham! The situation with COVID-19 led to

a very strange end to the academic year this year but we

found ways to carry on with our weekly meetings online

with our lovely Anglican and Methodist Chaplains. Members

of our committee took it in turns to run a different session

on Zoom each week and we explored topics including

prayer, poetry and diversity in the church. It has been

interesting to see how online meetings differ to real life

meetings. Although on Zoom we can’t have our normal

delicious meal together, it makes things like sharing different

videos and music much easier, allowing us to find new ways

to explore our faith together in these difficult times. With

it also being a challenging time for those graduating this

year, we participated in our Chaplaincy’s interfaith leavers’

service where we contributed our own prayer in what was a

really moving and well attended event. Looking forward to

next year, we have plans to (hopefully!) change our name

to Student Christian Movement Birmingham to feel more

connected to the national movement and we are currently

working on our exciting new branding! With Freshers’ week

fast approaching we are also starting to think about how we

can run engaging events online and welcome new students

to our group. Running some of the social SCM SOC sessions

recently has helped me with this and has given me a good

idea of what works well on Zoom. Bible Pictionary was a

definitely a highlight…!

REBECCA MANN

DURHAM

JAM

Along with almost everyone and everything in the world,

for the past few months JAM has had to move online,

which has brought its own unique joys and challenges.

Throughout Summer Term, we continued to meet weekly

for prayer and discussion, shared resources and prayed

together around the Black Lives Matter Movement, and

created our own JAM exam timetable, to continue praying

for and supporting one another even at a distance! Our

weekly meetings have covered a variety of topics, from

‘Racism and Protesting’, to ‘The Psalms’ and ‘Perspectives

on Worship’, to the more personal topics of ‘Dealing with

Uncertainty’ and ‘Setting Goals’ informed by our faith,

led by various members of our JAM exec. We also invited

one of the university’s chaplains Gavin Wort to speak on

the topic of ‘Dual Belonging’, particularly his experience

of being an Anglican priest and coming to know and learn

more about the Hindu faith. Despite pressures of exams

and the times we are living through, we managed to have

meaningful discussions (albeit over Zoom) and continue to

grow together over the term. Despite not knowing quite

what next year will look like, our new exec is excited to

start planning our Fresher’s week events and our meetings

for Michaelmas Term, as well as contributing to plans

for National Interfaith Week in November as part of the

Durham Interfaith Student Network.

MAYA CONWAY

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MOVEMENT Issue 162 MOVEMENT Issue 162 9



GROUP

NEWS

INCLUSIVE CHRISTIAN

MOVEMENT LEEDS

We’ve been busy building our little community of

wonderful SCM Christians over the last semester and

we’ve managed to sustain it throughout the year – given

that the we started it with only two members in Leeds

(both on committee) that has been a huge improvement.

All year we’ve run monthly themes to give us some

structure. We began this semester with the theme of

‘Living in Community’, holding an interfaith event with York

Christian Focus and a local vicar and local imam.

Until lockdown happened, we were concluding our month

on the theme of ‘The Church and Race’. In our last session

we held an audience with Augustine Ihm – who’s since

been on the SCM Podcast and whose article you can

read in this issue of Movement. He spoke to us about his

own experiences of Racism within the Church of England,

which we sadly realised was an appropriate theme to end

the year on. We also quickly recognised that we would

have to cancel our Easter retreat. But we continued to

meet online – for Taizé sessions and Bible Studies, and

even a couple of Zoom quiz nights.

At the end of the semester we were awarded Best Faith

Society at Leeds University Union, so we’re hoping that

we’ve left some good foundations for the incoming

committee. Since then they’ve already had a referendum

to change the name to ‘Leeds Inclusive Christians’. It looks

like they’re going to do great things, let’s hope like with all

SCM groups they can keep growing amongst the difficult

measures in place.

JOSH HOUSE

KEELE

CHAPLAINCY

As has been the case all over the country, we’ve had to

learn what it means to be a chaplaincy and a church during

lockdown. We fairly quickly adjusted to creating space for

worship online, with many members of our community

contributing to our ecumenical Sunday services on our

YouTube channel, including one who built the entire Chapel

in Minecraft in order to share that week’s reading.

Perhaps the hardest thing has been the feeling that the

milestones in our students’ lives have been taken away

from them, particularly for those who have finished their

time at Keele this summer. With a pleasing level of success

we moved two important events online; our chapel leavers’

group and the end of year Chapel Ball.

Through a video call we were able to bring together students

finishing their degrees to explore their time at uni, share

some of the advice they wished they’d known when they

started, and offer some practical advice about caring for

themselves and nurturing their faith in their lives after Keele.

The Chapel Ball, our usual end-of-year highlight, also

moved online. We stuck with our pre-lockdown theme and

celebrated ‘under the sea’ featuring a plethora of scuba

masks and mermaid tails, with one of our more eccentric

members joining the Zoom call from an inflated rubber

dinghy in his lounge! A virtual quiz, including identifying

the locked doors of Keele campus and a watery themed

music round helped round off a wonderful evening and an

unusual year.

NIALL HAMMOND

EXETER

SCM

Exeter SCM have met regularly on a Sunday evening on

Zoom since lockdown started. Last term, we met more

formally online for a bible study and discussion, led by

either the Anglican Chaplain or Baptist Chaplain. From

Easter Sunday to the end of term, we mostly followed the

Anglican lectionary reading for that Sunday. This began

with Matthew’s account of the Resurrection, the Emmaus

appearance in Luke 24 and the reinstating of Peter in

John 21, before passages from John 10 concerning the

Good Shepherd and John 14 concerning the Paraclete in

the lectionary, and one of our members led a study and

discussion on John 4 and the Samaritan woman, as well as

studies on Ascension, Pentecost and Trinity Sunday. On the

last Sunday of term, we played Pictionary and other games

online before continuing over the summer.

During the summer months, we are still meeting online, but

less formally as we play various word games or card games,

followed by a short devotional and discussion at the end,

led by one of the chaplains. This is based normally on the

lectionary reading for that Sunday, and these consist of

some of the important passages from Matthew 13 onwards.

One Sunday, however, one member of our group led a study

on the Apocryphal book of 1 Enoch, which was of particular

interest to her. It was interesting to study and discuss a

non-canonical book. Another week we attended an online

talk from Exeter Cathedral.

JAMES BELL

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INTERVIEW

ADRIAAN VAN

KLINKEN

Adriaan van Klinken, author of ‘Kenyan, Christian, Queer: Religion, LGBT Activism, and Arts of Resistance

in Africa’, is Professor of Religion and African Studies at the University of Leeds, and a gay Christian.

In this interview, Joshua House – a recent graduate from the University of Leeds and outgoing Secretary

for Inclusive Christian Movement Leeds – speaks to Adriaan about his identity; about his upbringing in

the conservative Dutch Reformed Church, coming to terms with his sexuality and navigating questions of

identity throughout his research and professional life.

Arriving at a semi-detached house in a Leeds’ suburb on

an overcast Wednesday afternoon, I realise that my mental

image of Adriaan van Klinken does not match this – of him

living in a quiet corner of this busy city. You see, Adriaan

pushes against conventions, he doesn’t suit them; whether

that be his upbringing in the conservative Dutch Reformed

Church, his academic status as not-quite-a-theologianbut-not-quite-a-social-scientist-either,

or his suspicion of

labels, be that for God, sexualities or anything else.

But upon the emergence of a tall figure in one of his

characteristically bright shirts, I begin to see how this

works. His back garden is immaculate – ‘It’s kept me sane

throughout lockdown!’ he tells me, and it shows. Returning

with tea, he’s brought me some tasty Dutch biscuits sitting

on a decorative plate, likely a souvenir from one of his

many research trips to Zambia, South Africa or Kenya.

Even though we’re in suburban Leeds, Adriaan’s extensive

experience of travelling is clear. Meeting him, you begin to

realise that there is so much more than meets the eye and

so many facets to his identity. Boxes simply don’t work for

him – although that he knows – and this understanding of

Adriaan only becomes clearer as our conversation unfolds.

Adriaan was raised in the South West of the Netherlands,

or as Adriaan puts it, ‘On a literal island,’ he continues,

‘it’s now connected to the mainland via bridges, but it still

has an island mentality. Saying that, Rotterdam is only 30

miles away, which is not a huge distance but you still need

to go off the island to get there’. The picture he paints is

one of seclusion from mainland culture, ‘When I go back

now, I think it’s kind of a nice place, it’s quite pretty’, but

it’s also dominated by a ‘Dutch Bible belt culture’. He says,

‘People always have this idea of the Netherlands as this

liberal progressive country. But they don’t know that the

Netherlands has its own Bible Belt. It’s dominated by a

conservative form of Dutch Protestantism’. That was the

world of Adriaan’s upbringing, ‘It meant, very practically,

going to Church twice on a Sunday and the sermon would

typically be 45 minutes, and then in between that we were

supposed to go to Sunday school for another hour. In that

sense Church was very important, and the whole Sunday

was Church.’ He makes a point of how ‘slow and dramatic’

the Hymns are, simply Psalms put to music – for a moment

he looks like he’s about to break out into song. He doesn’t.

Reflecting on this culture Adriaan describes it as

conservative, ‘Ultimately Dutch Reformed culture comes

in ‘fifty shades of grey’. The one I grew up in was not the

most conservative, but still very grey’. Clearly not a fan

of this grey worship, Adriaan says, ‘In my teenage years,

I discovered Evangelical Christianity. It seemed to be a

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13



lot happier and more exciting, so I grew into that.’ In fact,

this change became influential on his career path, ‘I never

became a radical fundamentalist Evangelical, but I went to

all kinds of Evangelical Christian stuff. I think that kind of

inspired my initial decision to do a degree in Religion and

Social Work’. He admits that the ‘social work’ component

is better translated to ‘pastoral work’, and explains, ‘My

undergraduate degree was actually at a Christian University,

an evangelical institution, and the degree was basically

preparation for jobs in Christian Ministry and education.’

Adriaan never got ordained and found himself pursuing

academia instead. That’s not to say he lost his interest in

Christianity, especially Evangelical or charismatic forms of

worship. Rather, that continues today and is reflected in his

burgeoning Academic career.

that was the beginning of an intellectual journey in which

I started to negotiate and reconcile my sexuality and my

faith.’

Deciding to pursue an MA in Theology at the secular

Utrecht University, Adriaan described some of those lurking

frustrations. ‘I think I wanted to study Theology in an

environment that didn’t take everything for granted – the

stuff that I had started to question’, he puts it frankly, ‘I

wanted to study in an environment that was more critical and

more rigorous’. Here he began doing a significant amount

of theological legwork; his first published journal article was

based on an essay written at Utrecht. ‘Something queer,’ he

describes it, ‘about the maleness of God and homoeroticism

in the relationship between God and man’.

Raised in a such a conservative culture, I ask how he came

to realise his sexuality. Adriaan begins by setting the scene,

‘I was surprised that I always had a lot of female friends but

that I was never attracted to them, or fell in love with them,

or whatever. But I don’t think at that stage I ever explicitly

wondered whether I was gay – just because being gay was

not in the dictionary or part of the culture’. I’m struck by the

ease with which Adriaan talks about this, although I might

be projecting some of my own experiences with Evangelical

Christianity. ‘It was only when I went to University to study

in another city, leaving my parents’ house, the town and

the island, that I was exposed to it’, says Adriaan, ‘it wasn’t

even a very cosmopolitan city, especially at a Christian

University. It was just a different environment.’

Although not a simple journey, Adriaan seems very at peace

with it; we have a picture of a young man who is considering

a ministerial career but is realising his own sexuality. For

Adriaan it seems to stir a kind of self-assuredness – but not

the arrogant kind, something that was already there. ‘While

I was studying at this evangelical institution I still remember

that I wrote an essay about homosexuality in the Bible in

a very careful way – and if I were to read it today I would

think: ‘Oh come on! Why so careful?’ But in my context and

background it was kind of groundbreaking’. He seems to

identify the turning point to around that stage, ‘I gave a

presentation about the essay in class and half of them were

upset… annoyed… frustrated… or whatever. So, for me,

Throughout that process he became particularly influenced

by Utrecht’s Centre for Contextual Theology. ‘Contextual

theology is a way of theologising which explicitly takes into

account the social, political, cultural context out of which

it emerges’, he describes it, and it seems as though it was

therapeutic for Adriaan, ‘It put into context or perspective

the very normative Christianity in which I was raised,

the kind which claimed to be true and which had truth.

Acknowledging contextuality helped me to put that into

perspective, and I realised that there are multiple ways of

being Christian, reflecting diverse historical, cultural, social

and political contexts. I’m not in the business of judging

whether they are legitimate – I’m interested in understanding

them’. It’s a very open view of Christianity and a stretch

from his upbringing. But he goes further, ‘All theology is

contextual!’ and this is crucial to his personal faith. As a

Christian he’s suspicious of the Church’s historical power

in deciding what we believe, taking for example the Creeds.

‘My basic premise for thinking about God is that God is a

mystery, and in that sense, all of our truths about God are

attempts to make sense of the divine, based on our limited

experience and understanding. But we can never claim that

they are the whole truth.’

Adriaan’s interest carried him through his Masters and

even provided the opportunity for him to spend a semester

in South Africa where he wrote his Master’s dissertation.

Adriaan on his book launch tour

Combined with his interest in Contextual Theology and now

experience of life in South Africa he says of that time, ‘I

realised that the real vibrancy of Christianity worldwide

was not in Western Europe, but in other parts of the world,

including of course, but not only, Africa’.

Since that point Adriaan’s work has focussed mainly on

African Christianity, Pentecostalism in particular, and

sexuality. Eventually he found himself dipping his toes

into anthropology for field work in his PhD, quite the

methodological move away from Theology. ‘My PhD was

an ethnographic study of a Catholic and Pentecostal

Church in Zambia, and in my dissertation I set up a

conversation between both case studies, regarding the

debate within African theology and theologians on issues

of Gender, Sexuality, Religion and explicitly HIV. I read up on

anthropology and had an empirical component, but it had a

conversation with African theology as well.’ Adriaan found

himself in a situation where he was trained in Theology but

had to deeply engage with Anthropology, in the end finding

himself an uneven fit for both boxes. ‘It’s funny. For quite

a number of years, I’ve thought that as an academic I had

to be a social scientist or anthropologist, even though all of

my degrees are in Religious Studies and Theology. So I’ve

been trying to write and do research as an anthropologist

and I’m not sure whether it was ever really that successful’.

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He understands his position today as somewhat of a hybrid

profile, comfortably working across and through these

various academic disciplines and fields, but it was not an

easy journey to arrive at that point.

Throughout this whole process of growing into an academic,

Adriaan has been finding his feet. One point that we discuss

is how he’s experienced being a gay man and researcher

‘in the field’ – and he has his reservations about this term

– mainly about how he can be honest to the people he

works with. In initial research trips for his Ph.D. Adriaan

had discomfort about how he was conducting himself,

‘In these Pentecostal churches where I did my previous

research I’ve always had to subscribe to an implicit norm of

heterosexuality and I could never be open about myself’, or,

‘In Zambia there was a very explicit homophobic discourse

in the country and in these churches, so I had to deal with

those questions and I could never be honest about myself’.

Putting it plainly, Adriaan said, ‘I felt disingenuous because

I was asking people about their lives but I couldn’t be open

about my own’.

in question ends with an intimate meditation on the body

of Christ, in which all members share in each other’s

suffering and joy – a theology of embodied vulnerability and

solidarity’.

STUDENT

LOCKDOWN

PERSPECTIVES

Restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic

have changed so much about the ways we live our

lives and connect with our faith. SCM members

Josh Mock and Victoria Turner share the highs,

lows, and lessons from life under lockdown.

Adriaan’s most recent book Kenyan, Christian, Queer:

Religion, LGBT Activism, and the Arts of Resistance in

Africa is the culmination of these concerns and has been

the subject of overwhelming academic attention with

multiple journals holding roundtables for it. But as Adriaan

says, ‘I couldn’t have written this book five or ten years ago

– partly because the experiences that triggered the writing

of the book, and to write it in the way I did, were relatively

recent, such as my diagnosis with HIV in 2016.’ The book’s

four case studies (about Christian LGBT activism in Kenya)

are interspersed with ‘interludes’ where Adriaan explicitly

reflects on his role as researcher, in a surprisingly honest

and revealing way, which is what makes Kenyan, Christian,

Queer so unique. It was during the process of doing research

for the book, in 2016, that Adriaan was diagnosed with HIV.

‘It made me think deeply about how my own identity, and

my body, is enmeshed with the identities and bodies of the

people I was researching and writing about. I realised that

I could not write about their stories without including my

own story. So I decided to explicitly write about my own HIV

status, how I contracted it, and to reflect on its significance

for me personally, intellectually, and politically. As feminist

scholars have argued, the personal is political. The interlude

Having the freedom to explore his own concerns, Adriaan

says, ‘The book brings together my interest in African

Theology, Cultural Studies and Queer theory. With this book

I tried to take the methodological freedom to write in the

way that I wanted to write, and not bother about academic

conventions and disciplinary boundaries.’ It’s clear that this

project is something of a homecoming for Adriaan, of a

long process of coming into his place in academia, and it

makes for a candid and honest read which is accessible

for both academics and students. Adriaan with his natural

self-assuredness puts himself in a very vulnerable place,

but he pulls it off. He’s proud and surprised by its reception,

but he’s particularly humble about it. Now he’s established,

with what might be called a professional identity, I ask him

directly; if he isn’t an anthropologist or theologian, then

what is he? ‘In terms of professional identity…’, and with

a characteristically frank, but articulate and thoughtful

response, Adriaan says after a pause, ‘Well I don’t like

boxes. So let’s call it queer – thinking outside the box.’

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17



Sitting at home

with not much to

do, I found that I

had a lot of time

to keep up-to-date

on global current

affairs and I

couldn’t help but

feel overwhelmed

by the injustices

around the world.

Times of difficulty are often make or break

for people’s faith; it either brings us closer

to God or makes us question their existence

altogether. Though lockdown was a gruelling

experience and not one that I wish to glorify

as “an opportunity to take time out and

reflect,” my faith definitely grew stronger.

Sitting at home with not much to do, I found

that I had a lot of time to keep up-to-date

on global current affairs and I couldn’t help

but feel overwhelmed by the injustices

around the world. Government policy meant

that thousands of coronavirus deaths could

have been prevented, but it was deemed

that the economy was more important. The

extrajudicial and unjust killings of George

Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others by US

police officers and the ensuing suppression

of peaceful protestors revealed the depth of

white supremacy and how it is far from being

resigned to history. Reports showing that

people from ethnic minority backgrounds

are more likely to die from COVID than white

people, often because of social inequality,

made me feel uncomfortable to live in such

an unfair society. But rather than giving in

to despair, these injustices reminded me of

why I follow Jesus and what my Christian

faith is all about. Being a Christian means

showing the love of God for the world and

the message of Jesus through protest,

dismantling systems, standing up for the

marginalised, and fighting against social

inequality. Lockdown reignited the fire that

fuels my Christian life.

I found it really hard to be hopeful for the

future in a world full of uncertainty and

relentless bad news. Feeling hopeful felt

ridiculous, naive, unrealistic. But that is to

fundamentally misunderstand what hope

is. Theologically, hope is not about simply

wishing for things to get better but instead

about defiantly saying that in the face of

injustice God’s kingdom will prevail and

we have a part to play in building a better

world. I discovered the writing of Jürgen

Moltmann, who in his book Theology of

Hope wrote:

“Faith, wherever it develops into hope,

causes not rest but unrest, not patience but

impatience. It does not calm the unquiet

heart, but is itself this unquiet heart in man.

Those who hope in Christ can no longer put

up with reality as it is, but begin to suffer

under it, to contradict it. Peace with God

means conflict with the world, for the goad

of the promised future stabs inexorably into

the flesh of every unfulfilled present.”

Being hopeful does not mean sitting and

waiting. It means empathising with the

oppressed and fighting for change in the

knowledge that God’s love is stronger than

any unjust system. Lockdown showed me

what true hope is and I will take this with me

on the rest of my journey with Christ.

I am a massive extrovert. I never stop talking,

I am always busy, jumping from one project,

idea, meet-up, to the next and I absolutely

live for heated discussions, drama,

conferences, lectures, being distracted…

you get the picture! So the fast transition

from usual me, to lock down me, was a bit

of a shock. I also usually have a pretty tough

five-six times a week training schedule by

fighting competitively with Taekwondo and

Kickboxing, which obviously also stopped. So

my mind, and my body, have had to adjust to

living quite differently.

I believe this experience has finally enabled

me to realise the importance of having

mental space. Dipping in and out of thought,

projects, and issues keeps me excited and

engaged but also taking time in between

them all and dwelling on things has brought

me deeper into my relationship with Christ by

being able to understand the ‘other’ better,

and also myself better. I feel more connected

to the Body than before lockdown. I have

heard my Black brothers and sisters speak

frankly and powerfully, I have taken time to

read the theological books I have never got

round to reading – Bonhoeffer is a new hero

of mine, and I’ve been able to worship with

people who inspire, challenge and nurture

me more regularly than I ever could have

imagined. Instead of just being angry about

why people think differently to me I have

spent a lot of time trying to understand why

this may be the case.

Rowan Williams always says when he meets

somebody new he always asks ‘how can I

love this person and what can I learn from

them.’ Taking time away from my usual

schedule and business and encountering

things differently (maybe not less) has

allowed me to really practice this. How,

when I am in a conversation about Israel/

Palestine, can I not be angry about what I

believe is a question with the wrong agenda,

but be grateful that someone else has a

different balance in personality to me. How

can I not be upset when somebody seems to

be prioritising the economy over the safety

of people, but realise that I know nothing

and have no interest in understanding the

economy and see that it is a necessity that

the economy functions to also keep people

safe. And a non-religious one, I’ve been doing

workouts every day with a famous Instagram

influencer who is constantly shamed for

having a little plastic surgery and being the

typical ‘Essex girl’ kind of personality. And I

realise I probably would not be friends with

this person in real life, but her workouts are

amazing. I find her funny and motivating and

not intimidating and these daily endorphins

have been something that really have helped

me during lockdown.

I am genuinely really excited to meet and

hear more people who are different to me

and I can thank lockdown for allowing me to

go beyond myself when I have had to spend

so much time with myself.

VICTORIA TURNER

I believe this

experience has

finally enabled

me to realise the

importance of

having mental

space... taking

time... and

dwelling on things

has brought me

deeper into my

relationship with

Christ by being

able to understand

the ‘other’ better,

and also myself

better.

JOSH MOCK

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19



HOME FROM HOME

After the success of our first ‘Home’ LGBTQ+ gathering in 2019, we held an

online event this year with speakers and workshops, and chance to get to know

other members of the SCM community. SCM member Debbie reflects on what

she got from the event, and we share an excerpt of Lu Skerratt’s excellent talk.

In 2019 SCM held their inaugural ‘Home’ event for LGBTQ+ students in Manchester, which I attended

and loved, so I was very pleased to hear that it was happening again this year. Because of Covid-19, it

took place on Zoom and while it was a shame not to be able to see everyone in person, only having to

travel from my bed to my laptop instead of from home to Manchester made it all much easier.

The keynote was by Lu Skerratt, a non-binary Anglican, and this was my highlight of the day – they

talked honestly, engagingly and thought-provokingly about queering the Eucharist, especially

in a time of lockdown. Typically there were technological problems but fortunately Lu had the

foresight to know that might be the case! I’m not sure I can successfully give anything other

than a flavour of the talk, but I’m still thinking about it now. What does it mean to celebrate

the Eucharist, as Christians, as queer people, as people isolating (or some combination of

the above)? For me, queerness, the Eucharist and SCM have one main thing in common

and that is community, so the main question is how we can recreate that in situations

where we can’t be in community with one another, either because of social distancing

or because, for queer people in particular, we are too often locked out or turned away

from those communities. Home was a real chance to be a community while isolating.

The second session was on LGBTQ+ people of faith led by SCM members – it was

really interesting, and I learnt new things and gained some book recommendations,

which is always a good thing, although my bank card would disagree! It felt relevant

and important – taking a look back at some of the different people helps us see

where we fit into that, and maybe helps us to work out where and what we

should be doing, as well as keeping us informed about our community’s past.

Finally, we had time for ‘social space’ – there was a choice between chat

and compulsory/organised fun! I chose the organised fun option and we

played online Pictionary, which I was very bad at but enjoyed a lot.

Thank you to everyone involved in organising the event – whenever

people ask what SCM involves part of my answer includes ‘a truly

inclusive community’ and it is events like these which really show

why. Bring on Home 2021!

DEBBIE WHITE

EXCERPT FROM:

QUEERING OUR

EUCHARIST

(KITCHEN)

TABLES

LU SKERRATT

One of the most important parts of the Eucharist

service is what can be understood as the

transformation. This is when the priest asks

for the Spirit to be poured out onto the gifts of

bread and wine so we may also be transformed

in the image of God, and so God may transform

our lives also. The Spirit searches our hearts;

comforts us; holds us; turns our lives upside

down; helps us to pray when we can’t find the

words; gives us wisdom; and sends us out to live

authentic lives in the world. It is part of Christian

discipleship regularly to acknowledge our need

for this, and to put ourselves in a position to try

and receive this sacrament, this outward sign of

inward grace.

However, I don’t think that the Spirit can be

constrained or only called down upon those

who have special permission to do so. It’s pretty

complicated, which is why I think God is also in

or can be within the movements and the rituals

we have created for ourselves as we try and

make sense of such a new way of worship when

20 21



EXCERPT FROM:

QUEERING OUR

EUCHARIST

(KITCHEN) TABLES

CONTINUED

so much has changed, or such an old way of

worship when so much has changed. I don’t

know about you, but I understand queerness

to be rooted in fluidity and transcendence. Like

God’s love, the presence and the movement

of Christ through the Eucharist has distinct

similarities with how queer experience has a

remarkable capability to move beyond all of the

boundaries, the constraints, the constructs and

norms that have tried to order the world in one

particular way.

The very fact that there are as many different

ways to be queer, as there are queer people,

highlights this. There is no code or particular

way, one just is, carrying all their joys and their

sorrows, their love and their pain with them. In the

way that binaries and patriarchy have attempted

to keep society in a certain shape where all are

ordered depending on their value, the Eucharist

has this amazing ability to disrupt the status

quo. As Mary calls out in the Magnificat: ‘He has

shown strength with his arm. He has scattered

the proud in their conceit. He has cast the mighty

down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things. And

the rich he has sent away empty.’

REVOLUTIONARY

GARDENING

Josh Grear shares his findings on how we have become disconnected

from our food systems, and how taking matters into our own hands

can be a revolutionary act.

GIVE PEAS

A CHANCE

Through the act of sharing a meal, a holy

meal, God is inviting us in, so that there are no

conditions. Because wherever you come from,

however you are, whatever your story, you have

a place at the table.

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You may well be

asking yourself,

what is guerrilla

gardening? In

short, it is the

act of growing

and gardening

in public spaces

that don’t belong

to you, without

permission.

A few years back I was studying for my

Masters and working on my dissertation.

It had a pretty fancy title: Exploring the

potential for Urban Agriculture as a

politically emancipatory human rights

social movement. Now before I start, I

should confess – I am a bad gardener. I

am trying to get better, but if my plants

are anything to go by, when I have kids… I

really need to up my game.

Why, then, did I write a dissertation on

urban agriculture? Well, its certainly not

because I am a keen gardener looking

to make my hobbies and interests more

important. I started to think about urban

agriculture and especially guerrilla

gardening during my undergraduate. At

that time my mum was involved in setting

up a guerrilla gardening collective in Bristol

as a part of the Incredible Edible network

and she sent me a link to a TED talk by Ron

Finley aka the ‘Gangsta Gardener’. By now

it’s pretty old, but if you haven’t seen it, I

cannot stress enough how important that

talk is.

You may well be asking yourself, what is

guerrilla gardening? In short, it is the act of

growing and gardening in public spaces that

don’t belong to you, without permission.

It can be anything from beautifying with

flowers, to growing food, filling potholes

with plants, to planting wildflowers on an

unused grassy verge. My interest is how it

can be used to grow food.

I was a grassroots youth and community

worker, and I began to see how

transformative and powerful

growing food in urban spaces

could be. Ron Finley and Pam Warhurst

(from Incredible Edible) shared a vision

that went beyond growing food in your

garden or allotment into something that

was socio-economically and politically

subversive. Their shared vision, one that

captured my imagination so much, looked

beyond the individual growing food for

themselves, toward growing food in public

spaces for the common good. Growing

food in communities can affect the health

of the community, the socio-economics of

the area, increases biodiversity, educates

the community about food, and builds

community resilience. All this alone

makes urban agriculture a compelling and

powerful tool for local communities.

But why stop there?

Barack Obama has a fantastic story that he

told during his first presidential campaign.

We haven’t the space to tell the whole

story but it crescendos with a mantra: if

one voice can change a room, then it can

change a town, and if it can change a town,

it can change a city, and if it can change a

city, it can change the nation, and if it can

change the nation, it can change the world.

I believe that the ‘simple’ act of growing

food can change the world. Our food

systems are part of a global power structure,

a structure that exploits and oppresses in

the global south for the privilege of global

northern consumption and the economic

benefit of an incredibly small group. That

oppression takes form in the guise of land

grabs, environmental degradation, poor

working conditions, unpaid labour, and so

much more.

However, its is important to note that

growing food is not some benevolent rescue

mission performed by the powerful on behalf

of the meek – absolutely not. In the Global

North, we are all incredibly vulnerable and,

for the most part, completely disconnected

from our food supplies. We are beholden to

a tiny minority of big agri-businesses, and

their only concern is profit. Growing food is

about mutual emancipation. We are at once

complicit in the global food system, but also

victims of it.

Growing food, then, is about an act of

solidarity and interdependence. In the global

south there are some fantastic movements

that have emerged to resist domination in

the name of food. Via Campesina are one

such group that work internationally to

articulate the rights of peasants to retain

stewardship over the land they live on and to

grow food for the needs of their community.

It makes clear that the relationship they hold

to the land is key to their identity and their

humanity.

The eagle eyed among you will see that

there are some pretty interesting theological

and biblical themes that emerge connected

to land, who we are as humans made in the

image of God, stewardship, and not least

issues of social justice and oppression.

Throughout the bible there is a constant

shadow cast over the Israelites; that

shadow is the various empires that emerged

throughout the course of history. There are

numerous examples that we encounter

through God’s story; the Babylonian,

Egyptian, and then later the Roman empires.

God’s story with the Israelites throughout is

a consistent message of liberation for the

oppressed and dominated. God promises

the Israelites land, and freedom to live out

God’s distinctive desire for the world. In

the global south, corporate land grabs and

environmental degradation are doing huge

harm to people and planet, and in the global

north a similar pattern of privatisation of

space and subjectivity to food systems that

we have little control over. I believe that

guerrilla gardening provides us an opportunity

to join in God’s work of an inclusive Kingdom

by transforming our communal relationship

to land and space for the common good.

Our relationship with food, like so many

things, reflects our relationship with God’s

creation and with God herself. I believe that

guerrilla gardening is a practice that can truly

traverse global divides and through which

we can discover a deeper sense of unity,

that is rooted in our learning from brothers

and sisters who are demanding a different

vision for the world, rooted in justice and

care for creation. Growing food for the

common good is a great way to join in with

God’s revolutionary work in the world.

Viva la revolution.

Josh currently works at

Christian Aid supporting

engagement with children

and young people. He has a

Masters degree in Human

Rights, Culture, and Social

Justice where he explored

social movements and

systemic change.

We are beholden

to a tiny

minority of big

agri-businesses,

and their only

concern is profit.

Growing food

is about mutual

emancipation.

We are at once

complicit in

the global food

system, but also

victims of it.

VIVA LA

REVOLUTION

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25



WHO

AM I?

SHAPING IDENTITY

SINCE 1889

SCM is a movement of students past and present – our members stay connected to SCM

throughout their lives, and often go on to become ‘Friends’ and regular supporters of

SCM’s work. This is in no small part because SCM shapes people’s faith and life in a

lasting way – here, two SCM Friends share how SCM has had a lasting impact on them.

I can say with confidence that my time

with SCM as a student profoundly

influenced who I am and what I do

now. I first became involved in the

movement whilst undertaking my

undergraduate degree in chemistry

at the University of Southampton. As

with many people going to university

for the first time, I was full of questions

and trying to establish who I was. It

was a time of challenging what I’d

been told to believe and working out

my own faith. My local SCM group

provided the space to do this with

people I trusted. These people saw

me through this formative stage of my

life and I was able to support them on

their journeys too. As a result, I remain

close friends with many of them nearly

15 years later.

As I came towards the end of my

time as an undergraduate, I was still

grappling with the questions of who I

was and what I was going to do with

my life. Having developed an interest

in my final year research project

and not willing to give up being a

student, I took the only logical course

of action and started a PhD. At the

same time, I became more involved

with SCM nationally and attended

several discussions on vocation. I

felt that for many of the people

around me, vocation was about a

calling to ministry, and occasionally

I thought that this might be my path

too. However, following my election

as a trustee of SCM, I found myself

getting involved in the financial side

of the movement. More surprisingly

perhaps, I found myself loving it. It

was a bit of a shock at first. Could it be

that SCM had helped me to discern my

vocation as an accountant? It seemed

an unlikely story. But the more I did,

the more I enjoyed. Others around me

found it baffling to understand what

enjoyment I found in something they

found quite dull. But my journey had

taught me that trying to pursue what

made other people happy was going

to leave me disappointed. It gave me

the confidence to say that I’d really

enjoyed my 8 years of chemistry, but it

was time for a change.

Leaving university, I was successful

in gaining a place on a finance

graduate scheme and retrained as

an accountant. That was 8 years

ago. Now as a senior accountant in

the public sector, I can confidently say

that I really enjoy what I do (at least

most of the time). The skills I learned

and the questions that my time in SCM

prompted me to answer have enabled

that. I continue to give financial

advice to SCM as a member of the

trustee advisory body, the Council of

Reference. I’m grateful to be able

to give back to the movement that

gave so much to me. I continue to be

proud of the work that SCM does to

support students in asking those very

important questions: who are we and

what do we do next?

Andy Treharne is an accountant and

an SCM Friend

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How has my faith

identity been

shaped by SCM?

It’s given it a

depth, a breadth,

and an openness

that I only hope

continues to grow.

It introduced

me to Christian

traditions and

theologies that

I doubt I would

have otherwise

encountered so

early in life.

October 1984. Warwick University. The

spirit of Germaine Greer still just about

stalked the English department corridors,

and Simon Mayo had not long finished

spinning the discs at student radio station

W963 (“Bring-ing the cam-pus together”).

I’d been to Taizé over the summer

with some Anglicans from our local parish

church, and I’d recently felt called to be a

Methodist minister and had started training

as a Local Preacher. First, though, I had a

degree to get and university to experience.

I knew I wanted to find the MethSoc, but I

also wanted to find an ecumenical group on

campus. I’d heard about the CU, but I wasn’t

sure it was for me. Praise the Lord, then, for

the Christian Society – C-Soc – which later

became Warwick SCM, part of the Midlands

and West SCM Region. Three years of

creative worship, lively debate, challenging

Bible study, ecumenical education, social

awareness, strong prototype Fairtrade

coffee and even stronger veggie chilli,

and I was ready to apply to work for SCM

as a Regional Secretary. Three more years

of that, based in Bristol and Birmingham,

led me to Queen’s College in Birmingham

and training for ordained ministry in an

ecumenical setting. Thirty years later, and

the papery bits and pieces on the pinboard

above my desk in the manse still include

SCM postcards. Once an SCMer…

How has my faith identity been shaped by

SCM? It’s given it a depth, a breadth, and

an openness that I only hope continues

to grow. It introduced me to Christian

traditions and theologies that I doubt I

would have otherwise encountered so early

in life. Having been part of SCM meant

I arrived at theological college aware of

feminist theology, liberation theology and

gay and lesbian theology (as it was) in a

way many of my contemporaries were

not. It made a concern for social justice a

core part of my Christian faith, and when

I left college and started in circuit ministry,

it meant that I automatically sought out

ecumenical colleagues and ecumenical

ways of working.

SCM introduced me to the Iona Community

and its rich worship tradition and emphasis

on peace and justice, which continues

to inspire me. It gave me an awareness

of being part of a significant heritage in

the history of the church worldwide and

rooted me in a community far bigger than

Methodism. In SCM, I learned that size isn’t

necessarily important, but that commitment

and co-operation are. SCM gave me skills

that have been part of my faith identity

and practice as well – chairing meetings,

taking minutes, facilitating small groups,

organising events, using IT and the ability to

keep going for hours, fuelled only by coffee

and Chocolate Hobnobs (other biscuits are

available).

SCM is needed more than ever in the HE

world today, and those with a faith identity

shaped by SCM are needed more than

ever in the world. The support of Friends is

essential. Keep me signed up, please.

Jennie Hurd is a Methodist minister and an

SCM Friend

Find out what denomination you really

belong in with these seven questions.

1. Your Sunday is incomplete without…

a. Electric guitars and drumkits

b. An organ and choir is more your jam

3. Hymns by John Wesley are…

a. The absolute best

b. Hymns by who?

5. You like your sermons…

a. Short, sweet and to the point

b. At least 40 minutes, as much

exegesis as possible

7. Incense reminds you of…

a. A Sunday service

b. A Wednesday yoga class

2. An hour of silence makes you feel…

a. Peaceful and connected to God

b. Stressed and full of existential dread

4. Your beliefs come from…

a. Conscience and experience

b. Scripture and tradition

6. Worship leaders usually wear…

a. Whatever they like, skinny jeans are

a staple

b. Colour coordinated liturgical robes,

the more gold embroidery the better

Answers

If you answered mostly A or mostly B, you are probably a…

Christian! You love Jesus and should join whichever

denomination works for you. SCM has been proud to

be an ecumenical movement for over 130 years –

you’re welcome here!

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CAMPAIGN NEWS

FAITH IN ACTION

Despite spending more time at home and less time taking to the streets than ever

before this year, SCM has not stopped taking action for justice. Here is a roundup of

the campaigns we’ve been involved with so far during 2020.

DIVERT MILITARY

SPENDING

In May SCM joined calls from Peace Pledge union and

Fellowship of Reconciliation to divert military spending

away from warfare and towards healthcare in light of the

urgent support needed for the NHS during COVID-19. This

online day of action saw individuals and organisations from

different areas of society coming together to support the

day of action on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtags

#DivertMilitarySpending and #HealthcareNotWarfare.

CLIMATE

COALITION’S

EARTH DAY

SCM has been a member of the Climate Coalition since

2017. We support their work bringing together voices from

across society to tackle climate breakdown and call for

climate justice. On the 22nd of April we joined the Climate

Coalition and organisations and people around the world to

mark Earth Day 2020 by creating green hearts at home.

CLIMATE VIGIL

In April, SCM members joined communities from the

Extinction Rebellion Faith Bridge for a peaceful prayer vigil.

The vigil saw people of various faiths pray continuously

throughout the 40 days of Lent. At first, this action was

taken in London outside Parliament to demonstrate the

urgent need for climate action from our government, but

a few weeks in we had to move the action online due to

COVID-19 restrictions.

However, the vigil was still a blessed time of prayer and

community, with daily prayer Zoom calls and a full rota

of people praying in their homes for action on climate

breakdown. A group of 14 SCM members filled an entire 24-

hour slot, setting up prayer stations at home, reading bible

passages, painting, walking, and meditating for climate

justice. The action brought our community together, and

there was a real sense, despite being socially distanced, of

people gathering from different walks of life to reflect on our

hope for real change on this issue.

Jack, our new campaign portfolio on General Council, said,

‘I feel really proud of what we’ve achieved, thank you for

organising and everyone for taking part.’ SCM member

Ellie tweeted that they were ‘Thankful for Christian Climate

Action and SCM for their leadership and community during

this Lent vigil.’

We’ll be joining in future actions for the climate in

conjunction with Christian Climate Action and the Fellowship

of Reconciliation, so look forward to similar events coming

up later this year.

PPU said of the campaign, ‘Money diverted from military

budgets could contribute towards NHS and social care costs,

initiatives to assist those losing their jobs, and support for

people whose mental health is affected by isolation. In the

long term, we need to shift “defence” resources away from

preparing for war and towards tackling serious threats to

human security, including pandemics, epidemics, poverty

and climate change.’ They also tweeted, ‘We’re delighted

that SCM Britain have declared their support for the

#HealthcareNotWarfare campaign.’

This action was part of our wider Peace campaign focus,

which will continue for the next academic year, so keep an

eye out for more peace resources coming your way soon!

THE DAILY

BREAD CAMPAIGN

We are excited to announce that food justice will be our

new campaign focus for 2020-22. We will look at everything

from food poverty in the UK, to sustainability of food

production, to the effects of our food systems on those

in the Global South. The campaign will be launched this

academic year, so watch out for more resources and events

coming your way. For now, you can start by reading about

the revolutionary effects of Guerrilla Gardening on page 23!

The organisers of Earth Day said, ‘With COVID-19 causing

public health lockdowns around the world, Earth Day, the

planet’s largest civic event, went entirely digital for the

first time in its history. On every continent, in dozens of

languages, humanity celebrated our shared home. We

resolved that after the COVID-19 pandemic ended, we

would restore our Earth to a cleaner, fairer, better world for

everyone.’

Earth Day has been an annual event since 1970 and has

seen landmark legislation passed as a result of protests

around clean air, clean water, and endangered species. In

2016 the United Nations chose Earth Day to sign the Paris

Climate Agreement.

This year, the campaign focused on rebuilding greener

after COVID-19, with calls in the UK for a green economic

stimulus including jobs in sustainable industries, sustainable

public transport, and using what we have learned from the

urgent legislation around lockdown restrictions to call for

huge changes in legislation around climate protections.

Head to twitter for the Climate Coalition’s declaration for

green and fair recovery, and news on actions in the run

up to COP-26 climate talks which will now take place in

November 2021.

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Called

to be...

SCM’s vocation resource Called to Be… has recently been re-published

with new content from Christians living out their vocations in ways that

don’t necessarily follow the conventional path of ordained ministry. In

this extract from the resource, Dr. Feylyn Lewis reflects on where she

has seen God at work through her academic career.

You can find the full resource at

www.movement.org.uk/resources

VOCATION RESOURCE

I spent much of my childhood as a young carer for

my disabled mother. It was a profoundly isolating,

frightening, and traumatic experience, yet God has been

so faithful to take care of me and my family. Growing

up in the United States, I didn’t meet any other young

carers. I wasn’t even aware the term “young carer”

existed until my Masters counseling program, when

I chose to write a developmental psychology minithesis

on young adults who provide care for their ill

family members. This is when I discovered a wealth

of research largely stemming from one world-renown

academic: Professor Saul Becker in England. Around this

same time, I had been searching for PhD programs. My

search primarily focused on very sunny locations like

Southern California or the beautiful mountain scenery

in Denver, Colorado. Coincidentally—or perhaps in

hindsight not so coincidentally— my developmental

psychology professor was also my mentor. Thankfully,

my mentor told me I had been conducting my search

for a PhD program all wrong. He told me that I should be

looking for programs where I could find academics with

my research interest. With a chuckle, I told him, “Well,

that’s England”. Winking, my mentor replied, “Well,

that’s where you need to go”.

Long story short and four years of many sleepless

nights later, I completed my PhD research on the

identity development of young adult carers in the United

Kingdom and the United States under Professor Becker.

In the two years post-PhD, I’ve been working as a

research fellow where I lead a six European nation study

on the mental health well-being of adolescent young

carers.

It’s been a phenomenal journey. I’ve found myself

traveling the world being asked to share my life story

as a young carer and my research. I’ve presented

my research to the European Parliament and to

Congressional representatives in Washington D.C. I’ve

also been incredibly privileged to hold the precious

life stories of the hundreds of young carers I’ve met

around the world who, like me, felt alone and lacked

support. My mother once gave me this word from God

about my time in England: “God-ordained, God-fueled,

and sustained by the favor of God”. What a true word

that’s been! The joyful mountain tops of success have

been just as real as the pain of the valleys, and, like any

journey, I’ve often felt like giving up. In fact, other people

have even suggested that the challenges facing me are

insurmountable and that I should quit! However, I’ve

seen God orchestrate my life so many times, through so

many people, that I can’t deny the Lord is at work.

I’ve also learned to follow God’s voice especially when

you’re the only person hearing God say, “Walk this way”.

That doesn’t mean that I’m always confident I’m hearing

God speak, nor does it mean that I’m always confident

that I’m making the right choice. In actual fact, I’m

very often unsure. Nevertheless, I have learned to take

every decision concerning my life path to God, and pray,

cultivate His presence through worship, and seek wise

counsel from those individuals whom I trust, admire, and

respect. Whilst I’ve often felt alone, this hasn’t been a

journey made in complete isolation— and I don’t think

God intended it to be so. In all of the beautiful things

that I’ve seen God do in my life, I recognize that God has

used both me and others to carry out His plans. I don’t

know how everything will play out in the end, but I know

it will be good.

You intended to harm me,

but God intended it for good to

accomplish what is now being

done, the saving of many lives.

Genesis 50:20

Dr. Feylyn Lewis is a research fellow at the University

of Sussex, and has just finished serving as BAME Rep on

SCM’s General Council.

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Identity

inChrist?

Faith has played a pivotal role in Archuna Ananthamohan’s life, medical interests and

activism. His poetry and writing explore faith, justice and life itself. Here he explores his

identity as a Hindu Christian, and what it means to find an identity in Christ.

inChrist?

When I was six years old, I would majestically illustrate the

Ramayana with the joyful aid of my Crayola crayons and a

fiercely boundless sense of imagination. I had attended a

Church of England primary school, where the vast majority

of pupils were ethnic minorities. Most did not come from a

Christian family. It was a multi-faith school and, for me, it was

a multi-faith family. Every now and then, a lady called Elise

would visit our school to give assemblies. She was part of

the local parish church and would share wonderful stories

about Jesus, emphasising his teachings of compassion and

his parables of love. My heart would stir.

Every time I heard about Jesus’ life and teachings, I would

experience an intense form of joy that would sing from the

very depths of my soul. The choral hymns on the television

and radio would fill me with awe. The parables would feed

me with questions. And, above all else, the sight of Christians

helping and caring for the community would sustain my

pursuit of Christ.

Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me’ (Matthew

19:14, NIV). I was that little child. And in the end, it was

neither the promise of a literal Heaven nor the threat of a

literal Hell that would draw this little child to Jesus. This little

child, whose parents were laid-back Hindus, did not come to

Jesus through a desperately defined exercise of the mind.

He did not come to Jesus through spoon-fed proof-texts

or questionable apologetics. He had come to Jesus through

Love. It was this divine Love, the little boy had realised, that

had been the source of every loving work and every faithful

deed. And it was this Love that would

change this little boy forever.

Sadly, not everybody would share

the same enthusiasm about my faith

journey as I had done. My family

would soon adjust to my interest and

pursuit of Christ. However, most of

my difficulties would in fact arise at

secondary school. Throughout my

time at secondary school, people

would judge me for taking an interest

in Christianity. Some people had felt

that my decision to become Christian

was somehow an endorsement of the

grave historic atrocities that had been

committed by the imperial ‘Christian’

religion. Others felt that my interest

in Christianity may have come out of

a desperate desire to be white. Both

judgments were poisonously offensive

and untrue.

Why must my ethnic and cultural

identity be irreconcilable with a

Christian identity? I found this

particularly perplexing given that

Christianity, the world’s largest religion,

had followers from all over the globe.

Furthermore, a significant number of

Tamils had always been Christians.

It felt like their contributions to the

Tamil struggle against the Sinhalesesupremacist

Sri Lankan state had

offensively been erased.

By contrast, my earliest experiences

of British conservative evangelicalism

felt very inclusive in terms of race. The

Gospel, after all, was for everyone.

Evangelistic organisations such as

South Asian Concern recognise how

we can still engage with our South

Asian heritage and pursue a Christian

faith. Indeed, I am still discovering

more expressions of the Christian faith

found in South Asian and Tamil culture;

Clement Vedanayagam, for instance,

has become renowned for using Indian

classical music as a medium to convey

his Christian faith. The marvellous

Twitter account ‘Indo-Christian culture’

has also affirmed the reconciliation of

these identities.

Unfortunately, South Asian Concern

and other evangelistic settings’

approach to faith would soon lead

to another crisis of identity. When

I was about seventeen years old, I

had found other Christian friends at

school. Given how some of my other

classmates had reacted badly towards

my interest in Jesus, a space that was

welcoming towards Christians had felt

like a breath of fresh air. My Christian

friends had invited me to attend one of

their Christian holiday camps. During

the camp’s Bible study, I asked, ‘What

about people from other faiths? Can

they still experience God?’

Predictably, the young lad running the

session quoted John 14:6: “I am the

Way, and the truth, and the life. No one

comes to the Father except through

me.” In hindsight, I should have asked

him whether he knew and understood

other interpretations of this verse. Given

the miserable conformity of that camp,

I don’t think he would have. I myself

have since come to discover more

liberating interpretations. However, at

the time, their reading of this verse

invalidated the experiences of God

I’d had prior to becoming a Christian.

I started to look down on my parents’

Hinduism, deeming them to be ‘lost’.

And I felt that, compared to the white,

upper-middle class Bible camp that I

had attended, I was inferior. I started

to think that my Hindu spirituality was

demonic. I was gaslit, and it poisoned

the way I experienced my faith.

Today, I consider myself both a Hindu

and a Christian. Both traditions serve

one another and enrich my faith. In the

past, I was told that the only identity

we should have is an ‘identity in Christ’.

However, the people who would tell me

this came from cis, white, privileged

societies. ‘Identity in Christ’ had

become a coded way to dismiss ‘Black

Lives Matter’, validate transphobia, and

justify deeply harmful rhetoric about

‘same-sex attraction’. It has resulted in

the perpetuation of colonialism, which

underscored the Christian exclusivism

that I had experienced.

And yet, throughout Scripture, we see

how Jesus would celebrate the most

marginalised identities and recognise

their sanctity. Finding my ‘identity in

Christ’ has been the realisation that

I was made in Love. For marginalised

people, this has meant to reject the

ways of the world and the systems

of domination that oppress us and

desecrate our bodies. And as we shed

our hierarchical illusions and selves,

we instead open up our hearts and

minds to the reality that we are all One

with each other. This, in my view, is

what happens when you find your true

identity in Christ.

Archuna Ananthamohan is a poet,

writer and filmmaker. He is the

founder of ItMatters, a global network

of young creatives who use the Arts to

explore mental health.

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THE LONG READ

BLACKNESS,

QUEERNESS, AND

THE MISSIO DEI

Earlier this year, Augustine won the Church Times

Theology Slam speaking on theology and race in the

wake of recent waves of Black Lives Matter protests.

Here, he unpacks the intersections of his Black, Queer,

and Christian identities, and explores God’s mission to

liberate all from oppression.

I was 8 years old when I realised that in the Black community, being gay was

the worst thing you could ‘choose’ to be. I was 15 years old when my 27-yearold

transgender cousin was murdered by an unidentified man late at night. The

Chicago Police Department did not do an investigation into her death. I was 16

years old when I came to the conclusion that I’m not heterosexual. At the time

my world was turned upside down.

I never grew up in the Black Church. I became a Christian in a predominantly

white church, therefore my experience of the Black church is more as a visitor

than a worshipper. But the Black Church shaped how Black folks think about God

and each other. How we do theology is always considering our understanding

and surroundings.

African American theological hermeneutics were shaped by many years of many

of us not being able to read or write, but relying on the pastor to truly testify

the words of the Lord for Black folk, and the Black literal interpretation of the

Christian text and queerness as it relates to our community will continue to be

shaped in a negative light. This understanding is not too different from the Black

Queer British Believer’s experience as well.

Being Black and queer

was never something that

would be considered as

positive. After all, it was

“gay” that meant “weird,”

“strange,” “bizarre,”

“unworthy,” “disgusting.”

The community, church,

and culture all expressed

a certain way that Black

men and women should

express themselves.

Homosexuality and Transgender identities were always framed to be something

that was outside our community. Outside the cultural understanding of what

it meant to be fully human. Gender and sexuality were framed as an innate

framework and if you deviate from this then you are disrespecting the natural

being of humanity and in effect rejecting your blackness. It was seen as something

that ‘white’ people participate in. Being Black and queer was never something

that would be considered as positive. After all, it was “gay” that meant “weird,”

“strange,” “bizarre,” “unworthy,” “disgusting.” The community, church, and

culture all expressed a certain way that Black men and women should express

themselves. The Black man should be hyper-masculine, expressing almost

animalistic uncontrolled urges to reproduce. He should work physically hard in a

blue-collar career. While Black women are to be feminine, but only a little. They

are supposed to be loud and opinionated, and frankly difficult to live with.

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Like every marginalized group, Black communities and LGBTQIA+ communities

have safe spaces. They are spaces of inclusion that foster safety, belonging,

and sometimes family. These two groups often experience similar rejection and

discrimination but at the same time can fiercely be opposed to each other. Many

Black churches and communities feel an uncomfortable resonance when the

Queer community uses the fight for gay rights and equates it to the fight for Black

rights. At the same time, queer communities often exclude or do not engage

Black people because they have already made up their mind on their personal

views about their personhood. When you add the Christian community in with

the Black Community and the Queer community it then becomes muddy water

of complication and complex identity. Father Jerel Robinson-Brown, an Anglican

minister in London, writes about this intersectional approach to identity in a

chapter in the Book of Queer Prophets.

have become a normalised euphamism for discrimination. The rainbow cannot

be a sign of joy and peace if it doesn’t recognize the missing colours. It ceases

to be a rainbow.

For many Black Queer

Christians, this balancing

act of understanding

their identity can feel

overwhelming, if not

traumatic. A feeling of

constant rejection and

in a world that people

desperately want to feel

cared for, loved and

accepted.

Imago Dei

For many Black Queer Christians, this balancing act of understanding their identity

can feel overwhelming, if not traumatic. A feeling of constant rejection and in a

world where people desperately want to feel cared for, loved and accepted. A

sense of identity is something that we all crave. This is a part of our humanity

and how God has created us to be. It’s the same sense that the prophets of the

Hebrew Scriptures continued to cry out for. It is the acceptance that Esther looked

for in her leadership and it’s the acceptance that we all look for with our friends,

families, and faith communities. The Psalmist tells us that “we are fearfully and

wonderfully made”. This image of the Creator of the universe handcrafting each

of us to be who we ought to be is the doctrine of Imago Dei.

Queer people need to examine the onslaught of anti-blackness not just in the

overall culture but in their homes, night clubs, and brunch clubs. Blackness is

polyphony. It’s multi-textured and free from one dominant voice and way of being.

Blackness moves and creates. It bends and shapeshifts and resists normativity.

It’s queer.

Missio Dei

As Black Queer Christians, and those who are queer or just Christian, must

remember, the mission of God is that everyone would know and love Christ

and his creation. This mission is a community venture. This means making sure

people who feel othered are brought in.

Professor Anthony Reddie wrote, ‘Over the years I have come to the firm belief

that one’s commitment to full inclusion of LGBTQ people, whether conceptually

or in more activist terms, represents the litmus test for one’s authentic praxis

as an advocate of Black Liberation theology’. The mission of God is to liberate

us, and Black theology teaches us that God is the God of the suffering and

the resurrection. That God desires us to be liberated from the suffering of the

oppressor, and that God wants to truly liberate the oppressor from their evils. In

this way, God’s mission is to liberate and reconcile. The question for the Christian

and the Queer and the Black folk is, are you ready to take on this mission?

The mission of God is

that everyone would know

and love Christ and his

creation. This mission is

a community venture.

This means making sure

people who feel othered are

brought in.

Augustine taught that true freedom is not a choice or lack of constraint but being

what you are meant to be. Humans were created in the image of God. True

freedom, then, is not found in moving away from that image but only in living it

out. This acceptance is something that, if you have been around the Church long

enough, you know God desires for you. The question is, does his people?

My early childhood experiences of queerness were negative, and now as an adult

they have been negative; but I’m a prisoner of hope. I believe we don’t have

to allow this narrative to stay for the next generation. I believe we serve God

and emulate a faith that continues to evolve and calls us to repent for the past

conscious and unconscious evils we are party to. I hope that we can help others

who feel othered. The Black Queer child of faith will grow up with fewer barriers,

and know their worth in Christ and in their respective identities.

Missing Colours of the Rainbow

The Queer community at times can make Black folk feel inadequate. Statements

on media platforms for gay men saying, “No Blacks or no Chocolate” can

attempt to make a Black man feel unwanted and dehumanized. At the same

time, statements like, “She is pretty for a black woman”, is so normalised that I

doubt a reader has never heard that statement, and it is in our queer vernacular.

Black trans women are being murdered without mass protest or even a column

in Gay mass media. Queerness should not be hostile to the experiences of Black

folk or blackness. But in the mainline queer practices in media, relationships, and

friendships, Blackness overall has become identified with otherness. Preferences

Augustine Tanner-Ihm is MA Student in Theology at St. John’s College, University

of Durham. He is a writer, speaker, theologian, educator, presenter, and justice

activist.

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Students from across the movement entered the ‘Letters for Creation’ project this summer.

Soph, who organised the group, tells us why the project was important to her, and Ellen,

the author of the poem, helps us dive into the metaphors and imagery she used. You can

hear the full poem, read by SCM members, on our Facebook page.

Where the Four

Rivers Meet

An Introduction

In 2017, the Archbishop of Canterbury invited senior clergy

from across the Anglican Communion to share their thoughts

on what caring for God’s creation meant to them. Letters for

Creation is a follow-up project, which invites young people

to reflect on what it means to them to care for the world

around us and how they want their voices to be heard in the

call for climate justice. It’s a creative project that serves as

an opportunity to amplify the voices of young people on the

topic of climate justice. Letters can take a traditional or more

creative form. At SCM, we decided to come together and

make a film of members reading a poem that was written by

one member.

Young people have been at the front line of climate action

in the last few years. In February 2019, thousands of young

people across the UK left their classrooms and took to the

streets to stand up for their futures, chanting: “We need

change and we need it now”. Since then, young people

have been regularly protesting and lobbying politicians. I

believe that young people care so much about climate action

because they are tuned in with God’s call for us to care for

the His Creation. This is the model of faith and action that we

should base our lives on. God’s creation is a gift, one that we

have been tasked with the stewarding of. This provided the

inspiration for the final line in Where the Four Rivers Meet,

“this is our thing to bear”.

Selected letters from the project will be curated into an

exhibition that will be launched digitally later this year,

followed by a travelling exhibition that we hope will tour a

number of UK cathedrals, COP26 (the UN’s climate change

conference), and the Lambeth Conference in 2021. To find

out more about Letters for Creation, check out the web-page.

SOPH MITCHELL

Ideas and Inspirations

Where the Four Rivers Meet is set in Eden and starts with

a tree. Roots are embedded in the earthly soil while the

branches reach up to heaven, a physical link between the

two like Captain America holding back the Winter Soldier’s

helicopter in Captain America: Civil War.

I based Where the Four Rivers Meet on three big ideas which

I hold as part of my personal theology. The first of these was

a function interpretation of the Imago Dei. This is the idea

that humans’ being made in the image of God is not to say

that there is something about humans which images God

in some way (such as intelligence or rationality) but rather

that the image of God is a responsibility given to humans

to care for creation around them. This particularly comes

out in the second stanza, where I specifically reference the

image and how being made in the image makes creation

and its flourishing ‘my thing to bear’.

The second idea is that of a positive relationship between

Christian theology and evolutionary biology. Specifically, I

wanted to reference the long process by which life on Earth

emerged and the ancestry of the species Homo sapiens. I

brought this out in the third stanza, referencing earthly life’s

oceanic origins and that humans are, however distantly,

descended from those first underwater organisms.

The third idea is that of universal redemption – that

everything, human or not, will go to heaven. In stanzas

four and five, I reference earthly (biological) death and a

heavenly life after death. Just as all life on Earth ends up

as dust, so too will all life on Earth share in a heavenly life.

ELLEN LESSER

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Where the Four

Rivers Meet

REVIEWS

THE BOOK OF

QUEER PROPHETS

‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,

let us throw off everything that hinders…’ (Hebrews 12:1)

Rooted down and still standing

against a battering wind, and I swear

something like that is holding heaven and

Earth together: this is my thing to bear.

Lending its limbs to a flighty

parent who carries on despite my staring:

I, made in the image of the Almighty,

which makes this my thing to bear.

So family – ancestors, distant – teem

in the depths but I am no longer welcome there.

I feed my children further upstream

but even from here, this is my thing to bear.

Then, foaming at the mouth, it crashes

on the shore: and all this is fair

and just and where our ashes

will one day end up – which is my thing to bear.

So this is where the four rivers meet:

at the crossroads of all this and a human prayer.

And every one has its seat

in heaven: this is my thing to bear.

Being an LGBTQ+ person of faith can

be disheartening, difficult and even

dangerous. SCM changed my course;

suddenly, I wasn’t alone— I met

wonderful Christians whose faith and

queerness enriched each other. I began

to see that the ‘life in all its fullness’ that

Jesus promises was far more colourful

than I could have imagined. Picking

up The Book of Queer Prophets, I was

once again aware of being surrounded

by a kaleidoscopic cloud of witnesses,

saints and prophets, whose queerness is

a beautiful reflection of the creative love

of God.

From Pádraig Ó Tuama’s poetic

reflections on his path from selfhatred

and isolation to freedom in

community, to Amrou Al-Kadhi’s

wonderful realisation of the poetry and

intrinsic queerness of Sufi prayer, to

Jarel Robinson-Brown’s breath-taking

letter to his nephew – bittersweet with

pain and hope – reading this book is

an astonishing privilege. The stories

contained within it are vignettes of

sacred, precious queer lives, each one

touched by discrimination and abuse,

but also held in love.

So often, the conversation about gender,

sexuality and the church is treated

as a philosophical issue; real lives are

sacrificed for the sake of ideas, ‘truths’

which seem to me to stray so far from

the all-embracing love of God. I charge

anyone who reads The Book of Queer

Prophets to take such an approach

again. To the queer person of faith,

this book holds healing in its pages.

To the ally, it offers fuel for empathy.

To the non-affirming, it is a prophetic

challenge, to turn from hate towards

love. May many be courageous and

humble enough to heed it.

MOLLY BOOT

The Book of Queer Prophets

Ed. Ruth Hunt

Hardcover

IBSN 978-0008360054

MOVEMENT Issue 162

43



REVIEWS

WE NEED TO

TALK ABOUT

RACE

Lindsay’s aim with this book is to

prompt white majority churches in

the UK to start seriously thinking

about issues of race. This book is not an

auto-ethnography, biblical exegesis,

theological argument, or a political

polemic, but a snippet of each. Cleverly,

after each chapter Lindsay also provides

specific questions to readers of his book,

for people of colour, the white church

leader, the white church member and a

general question, encouraging the reader

to think about these issues further in

their own context.

Lindsay does not shy away from

depicting the difficult, beginning his

book with a racially charged attack

at age fourteen, and the church’s nonresponse

to his suffering. In contrast,

later on he praises the solidarity of a

Newday youth camp held in Norfolk,

who stopped their day’s events to

pray for a young black man killed in

London. This, Lindsay exclaims, is a real

understanding of the body of Christ.

This book is a really good starting

point for delving into more Black and

liberation theology, or Black literature

in general, a pretty good bibliography

is added which incudes some of my

personal theological favourites, Anthony

Reddie and Michael Jagassar, and the

currents greats of Reni Eddo-Lodge and

Akala (must reads) who also feature a

few times in this book. Missing however,

for me, were any non-Western black

authors- Kwame Bediako, Lamin

Sanneh or John Mbiti or Mercy Amba

Oduyoye would have been great

We Need to Talk

About Race

Ben Lindsay

London, SPCK, 2019

IBSN 978-0281080175

additions to the conversation. But, as

mentioned, this book was designed to

be a springboard and Lindsay should

be praised for eloquently bringing

the Black experience of exclusion in

Britain’s churches to the forefront. He

explains why so many migrant churches

have come about, the importance of

recognising the legacies of slavery,

the necessity of seeing Black leaders

to inspire younger generations, white

supremacy and structural racism in the

UK system, and explains how white

people can really help the cause as allies.

Brilliantly, he also includes female

Black voices, including the Rev Dr

Kate Coleman, whose interview shows

incredible strength as she overcame both

racism and patriarchy to become such a

well-known leader in the Baptist Union

and beyond.

If you are wanting a strong introduction

into how Black Lives Matter is relevant

to our churches, this is the book to read.

VICTORIA TURNER

GROOVEMENT

WORDSEARCH

BODY, CHRISTIAN, CHURCH, DIVERSITY, ECUMENSIM, FAITH, GALATIANS, GENDER, IDENTITY, INCLUSION,

INTERSECTIONAL, JUSTICE, RACE, SEXUALITY, VOCATION.

44 MOVEMENT Issue 162

MOVEMENT Issue 162

45



scm_britain

student christian movement

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

t: 0121 426 4918 e: scm@movement.org.uk w: www.movement.org.uk

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