World Student Christian Federation Reopens North American Doors

After a 30-year leave, the World Student Christian Federation re-established a regional office in North America.

“It’s been one of the priorities for the WSCF in this quadrennium to re-establish the office here,” said Ken Guest, chairperson of the federation’s executive committee

The federation is one of the earliest manifestations of the modern ecumenical movement and the oldest international student organization. It founded in 1895 by John R. Mott, a U.S. Methodist and Nobel Peace prize winner, and Karl Fries of Sweden, and at one point had its headquarters in Canada.

However, a dwindling Christian student movement in the U.S. caused the office to shut down nearly 30 years ago, leaving behind a loosely scattered network of students from six American denominations and the Student Christian Movement of Canada.

According to Tamara Walker, a staff executive with the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, a “multigenerational force” that included people in their 20’s as well as in their 60’s helped re-open the closed doors, providing young Christians in North America “a terribly important … vehicle to mobilize around.”

The Rev. Brandon Gilvin, 30, a minister of the Christian Church USA, was introduced as the new regional secretary for North America at a May 31 lunch in New York. The regional office is based in Toronto.

Gilvin said he hopes the regional office can help students bring the global vision of ecumenism to their own context.

The WSCF is an ecumenical body with members from Protestant, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions and from other faiths.

The group has over one hundred affiliated national movements which span the six WSCF regions: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East and North America.