Symon Hill

Radical Christianity thriving at British universities, say students

By Symon Hill
March 23, 2009

Increasing numbers of British students are exploring radical and open-minded forms of Christianity, according to the Student Christian Movement (SCM), which will celebrate its 120th anniversary with a service in Manchester Cathedral this week.

“At a time when religion is increasingly associated with intolerance and prejudice, it is vital that students have the opportunity to explore faith in an open-minded way” said SCM's National Co-ordinator Martin Thompson. “SCM works to promote Christianity that is inclusive, aware, radical and challenging.”

The service will take place at 11.00am this Saturday, 28 March in Manchester Cathedral. The preacher will be the Rev Tim McClure, Archdeacon of Bristol and a former general secretary of SCM.

Having existed continuously since 1889, SCM is Britain's oldest national student organisation. It was instrumental in establishing the National Union of Students (NUS) in the 1920s and has more recently been at the forefront of campaigns for peace, trade justice and the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

“I was really excited when I came across SCM” said Richard Boden, a student at Birmingham University. “SCM thinks that spirituality and political activism naturally belong together. It's a message I want other students to hear”.

The anniversary service comes only weeks after SCM's latest annual conference, which drew students from across Britain with the theme 'Liberating Gender'. Speakers included the feminist Catholic theologian Tina Beattie as well as Sarah Jones, the first transgender person to be ordained in the Church of England.

SCM has formal links with groups and chaplaincies at over sixty universities. Its patrons are John Saxbee, Anglican Bishop of Lincoln, Kathy Galloway of the Iona Community and Michael Taylor, former director of Christian Aid.

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