WSCF International Event 2023, Jakarta, Indonesia
“Envisioning Ecumenical Youth Advocacy and Solidarity in the 21st Century: Human Rights, Gender Justice and Leadership Engagement”
Jakarta, Indonesia, 13-23 July 2023
Under the theme “Envisioning Ecumenical Youth Advocacy and Solidarity in the 21st Century”, the World Student Christian Federation held a global event from 13 to 23 July 2023 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Organised by the Interregional office of the WSCF, the Regional Office of WSCF Asia Pacific Region and the Student Christian Movement of Indonesia GMKI, this event held four different activities:
- Staff and Officers Meeting
- International Seminar on Human Rights and Fundamentalisms
- Gender Sensitivity Workshop
- Regional Committee of WSCF Asia Pacific Region
- Meetings with Senior Friends
- Media and Social Media Coverage
STAFF AND OFFICERS MEETING:
Leading through change
From July 13 to 15, officers and staff of the WSCF gathered in person for the first time since the 37th General Assembly held in Berlin in 2022. The 3-day agenda included a planning and capacity-building workshop, marking a turning point in the continuation of work on the new strategic plan of the WSCF for the next quadrennium, which needs approval from the Executive Committee.
The overall outcome affirmed the WSCF and its multiple levels agreement of working on best practices for mutual accountability, communication, and the creation of codes and standards under the so called New Federative Covenant discussed at the General Assembly. This approach aims to enhance a collaborative and cohesive implementation of program endeavors and governance decisions.
Some of the main outcomes are:
- Affirmation of the path to follow both programmatic and operational changes mandated by the 37th General Assembly. The new global programmatic areas are as follows:
- Youth, Security, and Peace (Peacebuilding)
- Climate and Economic Justice
- Democracy, Human Rights and Fundamentalisms
- Identity, Diversity and Dialogue and Gender Justice
- Ecumenical Leadership
- Engaging the team in collaborative planning sessions, learning opportunities, worship activities, and team-building exercises to foster a cohesive and harmonious working environment.
- Establishment of a consensus on the overall direction and framework for the program and operative model, including the roadmap, design, and work plan.
- General understanding of an aligned global - inter-regional plan with clear agreements.
- Development of a clear and comprehensive global-interregional plan that includes strategies and actions to be taken interconnectedly and inter-regionally.
- Clarity regarding the roles and responsibilities of board and executive members in implementing the strategic plan.
WSCF Strengthens Collaborative Approach with New Global Program Coordinators
On July 15, a staff meeting was held to define the role of the new staff group resulting in the affirmation of the role of Regional Executive/Program Coordinators. This perspective emphasises collaboration and inter-regional synergies to manage and improve capacities within the Global Staff Team. The new global program coordinators are as follows:
- Youth, Security, and Peace (Peacebuilding): Serena Tiburtini
- Climate and Economic Justice: Inter-regional Office
- Democracy, Human Rights and Fundamentalisms: Dianet De la Caridad Martínez Valdés
- Identity, Diversity and Dialogue and Gender Justice: Yowanda Yonggara
- Ecumenical Leadership: Morgan Mambwe
The Program Coordinators will work closely with the General Secretary and the Inter-regional Office Staff for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the global programs following the Strategic Plan framework.
INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTALISMS
An International Seminar on Human Rights and Fundamentalisms was held on 17/07 at Universitas Kristen Indonesia (UKI) to address the emerging global challenges related to the relationship between Human Rights and the rise of new expressions of fundamentalisms. The opening session began with formal greetings from ecumenical international organizations and local partners, followed by the opening sermon and scripture reading by the General Secretary of the Indonesian Council of Churches, Pdt. Jacky Manuputty, and the presentation of the choir of Senior Friends of GMKI.
The first session was focused on the discussion of Human Rights and Fundamentalisms. Keynote speaker Prof. Yasonna Laoly, Minister of Law and Human Rights of Indonesia and Senior Friend of the WSCF, inaugurated the Seminar by practicing a local tradition of striking the gong three times. In his speech, he emphasised the Indonesian government's commitment to Human Rights and the need to strengthen International Solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice and peace. The Minister's speech was aligned with WSCF's policies on solidarity and advocacy with Palestine, which were established at the Bogotá Assembly in 2015 and reaffirmed in Berlin in 2022.
The second speech was delivered by Marcelo Leites, WSCF General Secretary, who presented the WSCF's perspective on human rights and fundamentalism. In his remarks, Marcelo highlighted the intersection of Human Rights, Democracy, and the rising fundamentalism, stating: “The creation of counter-narratives is of utmost importance in challenging fundamentalism and its detrimental impacts. Counter-narratives provide alternative perspectives and promote inclusivity and pluralism”.
The second session featured insightful reflections on democracy, the role of youth, and ecumenical discussions on fundamentalisms by esteemed speakers, including Dr Jerry Sambuaga, Deputy Minister of Trade Indonesia; Dr. Verdinand Robertua, M.Soc.Sc. Dean of Social and Political Science at UKI; Karen Puimera, Executive Committee Member of the World Council of Churches; Dianet de la Caridad Martínez, Regional Secretary WSCF LAC; and Serena Tiburtini, Regional Secretary WSCF Europe.
As part of the closing ceremony, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Universitas Kristen Indonesia and the World Student Christian Federation, celebrating their commitment to further collaboration in education, training, and advocacy.
The seminar provided a significant opportunity for the official launch of a new thematic area of WSCF for the next quadrennium: Democracy, Human Rights, and Fundamentalisms. Attendees included members of ecumenical movements, social organisations, scholars, practitioners from over 18 countries, local ecumenical bodies, and theological institutions. Throughout the event, participants recognised the importance of developing actions to address inequalities and injustices as a vital step in countering fundamentalist narratives and hate speech.
The Seminar served as an affirmation of the continuing relevance of WSCF, which remains empowered by faith and radical love in its dedicated struggle for justice and peace.
GENDER SENSITIVITY WORKSHOP
A Gender Sensitivity Workshop took place on July 18-19 in the framework of the WSCF Global Event and the Global Program on Identity, Diversity and Dialogue and Gender Justice. Based on a constructive dialogue among young people of SCMs, Churches and faith communities, participants were able to deep into gender issues discussions from a human rights and theological perspective. The WSCF believes young people must be exposed to various traditions of Christian faiths to understand the different faith perspectives and theological understanding of gender.
Discussions were led by Yowanda Yonggara, Regional Secretary of WSCF Asia Pacific and IDD and Gender Justice Global Program Coordinator, Nina Najoan, Former Women Coordinator of AP, Serena Tiburtini, Regional Secretary WSCF Europe and Dianet de la Caridad Martínez, WSCF Regional Secretary WSCF LAC. The following are the main outcomes of the 2-day program:
- Talking about gender identity is not easy. And while in some countries, it might be an open discussion (Australia), in others, it might threaten people's safety. Therefore, there are two different discourses about gender: on the one hand, women's rights and gender (in)equality; on the other, the recognition of different gender identities and gender expression.
- Patriarchy has a role in how we are socialised from early childhood. Men are raised to be strong, non-emotional and brave. Women are raised to care for man's feelings and the family. Men's fragility is regarded as unmasculine, yet it is a cage for men, who lack emotional skills and suffer the oppression of patriarchy. One way to break this cycle is to start socialising children not according to their gender but according to their skills. To help young people find their uniqueness to start building their own identity. In addition, getting rid of stereotyped behaviour would help bring down the capitalist way of exploiting the patriarchy to create perfect customers.
- As Christian activists, we have a model in Jesus in the stories of the woman suffering from bleeding and Jairos'daughter (Mark 5:25–34). Jesus shows us how to give a voice to people from the margins and provide a platform for those considered unworthy to speak up for themselves. The unnamed women who had no agency for themselves have found in Jesus the perfect ally to those in the margins; he notices suffering among a crowd of indifference. Jesus could've just healed the woman, but he took the time to make the crowd and his disciples aware of her suffering and that he did not ignore her.
The Gender Sensitivity workshop was the first activity framed into the Identity, Diversity and Dialogue and Gender Justice Program reaffirmed during the last General Assembly. This program continues WSCF's persistent efforts since 2014 to address issues related to Identities, Diversity and Gender Justice.
WSCF is dedicated to organising Gender and IDD programs at regional and national levels, primarily fostering education and critical thinking among younger generations and promoting human dignity, freedom, and love for all individuals. The WSCF's commitment to justice compels it to combat all forms of Gender-Based Violence while simultaneously celebrating and affirming the lives of people from diverse Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities (SOGI).
ASIA PACIFIC REGIONAL COMMITTEE MEETING
From 19-20 July, the 24th Regional Committee Meeting of the WSCF Asia Pacific Region took place. Delegates from SCM Australia, SCM Korea, SCM Taiwan, SCM Timor Leste, SCM India, SCM Sri Lanka, SCM Bangladesh, and SCM Indonesia participated in the meeting. The General Secretary, Marcelo Leites, and the IRO assistant, Camila Ulloa, participated as Ex Officio members.
The main highlights and outcomes of the RCM were:
Report from the Regional Secretary of WSCF APAC, Yowanda Yonggara: The main process reported was relocating the regional office from Hong Kong to Indonesia. This new office is being sponsored by Paulus Lubis, WSCF Senior Friend and GMKI member, who gave space to the new regional secretary at his office with a little contribution to the electricity and service fees. The 24th RCM acknowledges the paramount in-kind support that Paulus is giving to the life of the region. The RS finalized her report stating that in the framework of the relocation, a new official Bank Account was created.
Approval of reports: The RCM approved all reports presented by the Standing Committee, Executive Committee, and the Regional Secretary.
SCM National Report: Presented by the delegates representing nine national SCMs – Australia, Korea, Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Myanmar
WSCF Global updates on the Strategic Plan 2023-2026: The General Secretary of WSCF, Marcelo Leites, shared updates on the Federation’s process and work after the 37th General Assembly held in Berlin. He presented the new federative covenant, new strategic framework, resolutions, public issues and recommendations that resulted from the GA, and the new operation model proposal. He emphasised the need for joint work of the three levels of the Federation in the operationalisation process of the new strategic plan.
Programmatic planning 2024-2025: The meeting agreed that programs for 2024-2025 will be in line with the Global Programmatic Areas of the New Strategic Plan: Youth, Security, and Peace (Peacebuilding); Climate and Economic Justice; Democracy, Human Rights and Fundamentalism; Identity, Diversity and Dialogue and Gender Justice; and Ecumenical Leadership.
Election of the new Asia Pacific Committees:
- Chairperson: Monika Biswas (Bangladesh)
- Vice-chair: Manuel Simbolon (Indonesia)
- Member at Large: Joel Samuel (India)
- Member at Large: Tsao Tsai Hsun (Taiwan)
- Executive Committee member: Timothy Pathum Kumarathunga (Sri Lanka)
- Executive Committee member: Hnin Wai Thi Aung (Myanmar) -
continuing her term that started in 2020
- Shoptoka Pandey (Bangladesh)
- Andrella Hutabarat (Indonesia)
- Ibatista Shylla (India)
- Tsao Tsai Hsun (Taiwan)
- Hnin Wai Thi Aung (Myanmar)
Human Rights and Justice Committee
- Kjerrimyr R. Andres (Philippines)
- Lagawng Sut Jai Aung (Myanmar)
- Anna Claudia (Sri Lanka)
- Remi (Timor Leste)
Other important points of the agenda were: The discussion and approval of the budget 2024-2025. Reg. secretary informed that budget work is in progress, and the General Secretary of WSCF explained to the RCM meeting the process of how WSCF works on the budget together regional offices. The RCM also decided on the next RCM, SCM Taiwan and Bangladesh are shortlisted as organisers.
General Secretary Announcements:
- Following the recommendations from the Senior Friends Gathering, held parallel to the 37th General Assembly in Berlin, WSCF General Secretary requested the RCM to support the creation of a WSCF Senior Friend network to coordinate the support to the younger generations and enhance the inter-generational dialogue among the federation.
- It was requested that the Asia Pacific SCMs continue promoting SCM membership fees and contributions to the whole WSCF to sustain the work of the Regional Offices and programs. 3. WSCF General Secretary acknowledged the work done during the RCM regarding the alignment of the regional plan with the global strategic plan affirmed at the 37th General Assembly and congratulated the Regional Secretary, her team and the Local Committee Chair and GMKI Chairperson for the excellent work done in hosting the event. He highlighted that the excellent work done between the IRO, Regional Office of Asia Pacific, and GMKI is an example of success and the intended way to continue working together for the sake of the Federation.
Any other Business: To have the national reports published online to motivate other SCMs who are no longer/not active to restart their activities.
MEETINGS WITH SENIOR FRIENDS
Dinner at Maruarar Sirait House and commemorative award to Sabam Sirait
On 16th July WSCF delegation was invited to have dinner at Mr Maruarar Sirait's house, a Senior Friend of the WSCF, politician, businessman and philanthropist. The meal was typical Batak food and was accompanied by live singers, followed by speeches from Mr Maruarar, who talked about Pancasila, which is the pillar of the Indonesian modern state based on five principles; Robinson Butarbutar, leader of the 17th Ephorus of Huria Kristen Batak Protestan (HKBP) a Protestant Christian denomination in Indonesia, who talked about WCC, WSCF and the role of ecumenical movement; Burhanuddin Muhtadi, Executive Director of Indonesian Political Indicators, who talked about Indonesian politics; and Leonard Simanjuntak, Country Director of Greenpeace Indonesia who shared experiences about Indonesia's political developments, climate conditions, and world environmental damage, and the importance of Christian students uniting with various groups to solve world problems.
During the meeting, WSCF thought its General Secretary dedicated words of thanks to Siraits host's kindness and gave to the Sirait Family a commemorative plaque honoring Sabam Sirait's life – Maruarar’s father – for its vital contribution as a Student and Senior Friend of GMKI, WSCF and in recognition of his struggle in favour of the Palestinian people for freedom and dignity.
As a closing, the family gave Ulos traditional fabrics to WSCF delegates as a memory of the special meeting.
Visit to Constitutional Court of Indonesia
On 20th July, the WSCF delegation in Jakarta had the privilege of visiting and attending a conference at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Indonesia (Mahkamah Konstitusi). This invitation was extended by Dr. Daniel Yusmic Pancastaki Foekh, one of the nine-member Constitutional Court of Indonesia for 2020-2025, and a Senior Friend of GMKI and WSCF. During the conference and the subsequent business lunch, the WSCF delegation gained valuable insights into the workings of the Constitutional Court, as Dr Yusmic, in his capacity as a Judge he delivered an official presentation about the Constitution and the pivotal role of the Court.
After the business launch, Marcelo Leites, the General Secretary of WSCF, delivered a concluding speech emphasising the significance of forming ecumenical youth leaders and the need for their active participation in shaping transformative societal agreements. Leites highlighted SCM's crucial presence in politics, social movements, governance of international bodies such as the UN, and parliaments, showcasing how WSCF remains relevant in its ongoing pursuit of justice for all peoples.
Visit to Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation
WSCF visited the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BosF) in Bogor; the delegation was invited by Prof. Bungaran Saragih, former Minister of Agriculture of Indonesia, founder of Bos Foundation and the long-standing senior and former WSCF Centennial Fund Board Member. BosF is an organisation dedicated to the conservation of orangutans and their habitats. Orangutans, known as “the people of the forest,” face significant threats from habitat destruction and the illegal pet trade. BosF plays a crucial role in their conservation, providing rehabilitation and support to rescued orangutans. The problems faced by orangutans are problems for humans as well. Their existence is interconnected with the health of our environment. Protecting orangutans and their habitats ultimately benefits all of us. During the WSCF visit, we witnessed BosF's impactful efforts firsthand and had the privilege of interacting with these gentle beings under supervised conditions.
The visit included three rounds of discussions with the auditorium:
- Public witnessing and generational dialogue led by Professor Bungaran, who gave testimony on the importance of the commitment to political and societal changes as a key role of WSCF students and seniors.
- Dr Atnike Nova Sigiro, Chairperson of the National Commission on Human Rights Indonesia (Komnas HAM), shared a presentation on Human Rights, the Human Rights Chart, and its implications on people's lives, as well as the role of states and governments in safeguarding these fundamental rights worldwide.
- Finally, the meeting concluded with remarks from the WSCF General Secretary, who highlighted the intersection between Climate Change, Forest, and Ecosystem protections as fundamental rights to uphold the dignity of all people within the current financial architecture of an unfair economic system.
At the end of the meeting, the WSCF General Secretary and Professor Bungaran held a press conference at the BosF Chair Office. They discussed the current status of the ecumenical movement, the role of national SCMs, and the importance of fostering cooperation among present and past generations to care for the future of the Federation as a key platform for ecumenical leadership formation.
During the WSCF Global event, the organizing committee also invited participants to take part in exposure activities. These activities were held with the aim of introducing delegates to several iconic places, as well as a forum for socio-cultural exchange.
WSCF delegation at the National Museum of Indonesia
WSCF Delegation at Bogor Botanical Gardens
Sunday Service at Immanuel's Church - GPIB
Cultural Night at Lago Codian