So having ticked off CU it seemed only appropriate to visit the newest, small but perfectly formed Christian Group on Campus.
Southampton University SCM. (Student Christian Movement).
Now there are several Christian Societies. There is Cath Soc. for Catholics and CU and SCM.
Now it seems to me that SCM have a reputation for being a bit liberal.
Funnily enough though as society we quite like liberals, when it comes to religion most people, regardless of whether they have a faith or not, misunderstand liberals. Which is why in the media the conservatives are painted as the authentic Christians and liberals as the ‘semi atheist don’t really believe it bunch’. So it goes like this:
Liberal “Well it depends on how you look at it.”
Hard Liner “Truth is the same from all angles.”
Liberal “You need to listen to people’s stories.”
Hard Liner “People need to be told the truth.”
Liberal “There are often more than one right answer.”
Hard Liner “Is it Monday? How many right answers are there to that one?”
Liberal “It’s really all about love.”
Hard Liner “Let me spell it out for you T….R…”
Liberal “I’m not sure I can commit myself to that.”
Hard Liner “U…T…”
So I put on my hat and coat and gather up 500 elastic bands to form into letters on my flexible doctrinal basis and head out to meet liberal theology head on. SCM have all sorts of speakers and discussions. I’ve done a session for them. They like to really explore what faith is. They also like to tackle difficult subjects and look at other religions.
The meeting starts at 7. With some very fine veggie food before hand. People sit and chat. They get about 20 or 30 at their meetings. Including Christian Maxwell who I met at St John’s Ambulance and promised to mention on my CU Tick. Whoops!
Mel the president opens the meeting. Mel is studying social work and likes everyone to be heard. For that reason I think she finds me ‘challenging’. Mel likes to run SCM like a big committee. UNLIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN HER LIFE. (Is that ok Mel? Do you think we've cleared that one up?) The VP also shares the notices –Everyone participates. Andy, the VP, was, until his love life picked up, a bit of a cynic. He is famous for living in chaplaincy, being welcoming to everyone, and pouring out all his wrath and hatred on the chaplaincy pot plant in the corner. As he addresses the meeting in his dulcet brummy tones, the plant visibly withers.
The main speaker turns out to be the Bishop of Southampton, my boss and also a former CU president at Nottingham University and UCCF staff worker. So someone who has actually signed the Christian Union Doctrinal Basis.
Oh Irony how I love you. For you tease me so. And yet you are a slut for you belong to us all.
Where was I?
Oh yes the Bishop spoke but then…. And pay attention here, there was a discussion. People actually asked him questions and there was quite a bit of chat. There is room to do this because the group is smaller than CU.
Having spent the evening listening to a very evangelical speaker discuss with the group, it is clear that some people disagree with him but quite a lot agree. It seems that on reflection CU and SCM have quite a lot in common. It’s just that SCM allows more room for flexibility and discussion. SCM members all know one another which gives the group a very friendly feel.
I suppose at the end of the day if you want to turn up to a meeting with a couple of hundred other people have an extended time of worship and then a good talk then go to CU if you want to really get to know all the people and you value discussion and quite pauses well maybe SCM is more for you. Or maybe you’re not Christian. In which case join something else.
The evening ends, like so much in chaplaincy, down the pub.
SCM: EVERYONE included in a tick.
Church of England Chaplain University of Southampton SCM The Big Tick Southampton University University Soton Uni