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World Student Christian Federation North America Regional Office Records

 Collection
Call Number: RG 46A

Scope and Contents

The records document the activities of the North America Regional Office of the World Student Christian Federation during its fifteen-year period of operation, 1973 through 1988. The collection focuses primarily on the North American Office and student movements in the United States and Canada, but includes some material relating to other WSCF Regional Offices and related organizations.

Series I, North America Committee Records, contains records of the major decision-making bodies of the North America Region: the North America Regional Committee (NARC), the Canadian "affiliated" movement (SCM-Canada), various national U.S. committees, and the North American Trustees of the WSCF. These committees sometimes met jointly under the North America Regional Committee, but frequently held separate meetings to discuss more specific issues. These records document the Region's policies and programs as well as changes in NARC staff and structure. The materials include reports, minutes, meeting agenda, by-laws and constitutions, dating from 1973 through 1987.

Some materials from the Geneva office of the WSCF are included in Series I. Reports include activities of the North America region, and other materials were collected by North America staff members who attended Geneva meetings. Other documents include papers and reports presented by the North America staff to the Geneva office.

Series II, North America Regional Office Operations, documents the daily activities of the North America Regional Office and its staff. These office files provide insight into the duties of the Regional Secretaries and reflect their specific activities and concerns. Correspondence details the interactions of the office staff with each other, with staff from the Inter-Regional and other Regional Offices, and with related movements and organizations. Of particular interest in Series II is material relating to the planning and execution of the many conferences, programs, workshops and projects sponsored by the Regional Office. Conference themes reflected issues of interest and importance to Christians in North America during the period, particularly political, social and moral concerns. Such issues included political unrest in other regions, labor unions in Canada, women's roles in the church and society, and homosexuality.

Series III, WSCF Inter-Regional Office (IRO) and regional offices, contains material pertaining to the operations of the Geneva office of the WSCF and of the Regional Offices other than the North America Office. These materials were collected by the North America Regional Office staff through communications with the Geneva and Regional Offices and through participation in their committee meetings, conferences and other activities.

The Geneva office papers include material pertaining to the Inter-Regional Office, WSCF Executive Committee, General Assembly and Universal Day of Prayer for Students. Also included are materials from the Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Middle East Regional Offices.

Regional material in Series III is valuable for the insight it provides into the difficulties of Christian activities in war-torn countries and politically-repressed societies. The collection is particularly rich in material on Nicaragua, with accounts of daily life as seen by WSCF visitors. There is documentation on the arrests and torture of Asians. Material pertaining to Africa reveals the region's social situation in the 1980s, focusing on such issues as apartheid, poverty and church work.

Series IV, Related Ecumenical Student Movements, is comprised of material from student Christian movements which share the same focus and goals as the World Student Christian Federation. Several movements in this series are officially associated with the WSCF, including the California Student Christian Movement, Lutheran Student Movement of the U.S.A and Canada, and the University Christian Movement in New England. These movements are filed among the papers from other related movements in the collection. The lack of a complete, current list of associated movements prevented the identification of other movements' official relationships to the WSCF.

Series V, Related Organizations, contains material from various religious organizations which was collected by the North America Regional Committee staff. The reasons for their collecting this material are varied and, sometimes, unclear. Some organizations sponsored joint conferences or programs with the NARC. NARC staff attended other independently-sponsored events. The NARC apparently acquired other materials by being on these organizations mailing lists.

Denominational organizations such as the United Methodist Church and the Lutheran Student Movement (a movement officially associated with the WSCF) are also included in Series V. Of particular note are the Frontier Internship in Mission and Young Christians for Global Justice, in which the NARC actively participated.

Series VI, Addendum, contains a variety of types of material, recieved in 2015 as an addition to this collection.

Overall, the collection provides insight into the challenges of student Christian work throughout the decades of the 1970s and 1980s. The management styles of the regional secretaries contrasts greatly with that of earlier global WSCF leaders. This material reflects a more casual style of interaction among staff members. Any gaps in correspondence can be attributed to the wide use of telephone communication. The papers reflect a willingness among the regional movements to adapt to social change. Their desire to uphold a Federation which did not discriminate on the basis of race, gender or sexual preference is evident, as is their continued status as an ecumenical movement.

Dates

  • 1920-2010
  • Majority of material found within 1973 - 1989

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited by the WSCF North America Regional Office.

Arrangement

  1. I. North America Committee Records
  2. II. North America Regional Office Operations
  3. III. WSCF Inter-Regional Office and Regional Offices
  4. IV. Related Ecumenical Student Movements
  5. V. Related Organizations
  6. VI. Addendum

Related Materials

The World Student Christian Federation records (RG 46) contain the records of the WSCF from its founding until approximately 1925, and consist mainly of materials from John R. Mott's personal collection. RG 46C is an addendum to these materials. The remaining records of the WSCF, roughly 1925-present, are in RG 46F. These materials were held at the WSCF offices in Geneva until 2017.

Records from the WSCF Board of Trustees can be found in RG 46B.

Records from other regional WSCF offices can be found in RG 46D (Africa) and RG 46E (Europe).

Extent

15 Linear Feet (34 boxes)

Language of Materials

English

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/divinity.046a

Overview

This record group documents the operations of the North America Regional Office of the WSCF and the issues that were of concern to the Office. The North America Regional Office of the World Student Christian Federation existed from 1973 to 1988, then was reinstated in the early 2000s. National and local movements, especially in Canada, continued throughout the hiatus of the regional body. Its purpose is to coordinate ecumenical Christian student work in the United States and Canada.

Biographical / Historical

The North America Regional Office of the World Student Christian Federation was formed in 1973. Six WSCF Regional Offices (Africa, Asia/Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and North America) were created at this time to serve as governing bodies for the student Christian movements. The Regional Offices were in turn coordinated by the WSCF Inter-Regional Office (IRO) in Geneva, the central administrative body of the WSCF.

Within the North America Region, the North America Regional Committee (NARC) made official decisions regarding policy, program and budget. This Committee was composed of eight delegates, four from the Student Christian Movement of Canada (SCM-Canada) and four from the United States, the majority of whom were students. It met every 12 to 18 months.

The North America Regional Executive Committee was comprised of a smaller group of four delegates (two from Canada, two from the U.S.), elected by the NARC. This group met monthly, in conjunction with the North America Regional Office staff, to conduct the business of the Region between NARC meetings.

According to the structure of the WSCF, one student Christian movement in each country can be considered for "affiliated" status with the WSCF. Affiliated movements are to be national, ecumenical and student-run, with more than one active local unit. Affiliated status is conferred at the quadrennial meetings of the WSCF General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Regional Committees. Affiliated movements are entitled to one voting delegate at the General Assembly. In the North America Region, the affiliated movement for Canada has been the Student Christian Movement of Canada.*( Documentation is available in this collection for movements indicated with an "*".) The SCM-Canada was founded in 1922 and continues to exist. The designation of one student Christian movement in the United States as an affiliated movement of the WSCF has been problematic. The University Christian Movement had affiliated status until it disbanded in 1969. Twelve years later in 1981, the National Ecumenical Student Christian Council of the U.S. (NESCC) was formed. It applied for affiliated status with the WSCF, which was conferred upon it at the 1986 General Assembly. However, at the same General Assembly, the NESCC disbanded. Since that time, there have only been sporadic national ecumenical student Christian movements in the United States.

Regional Committees can grant "associated" status to movements which do not meet all the criteria for affiliation (i.e. are not national, ecumenical and student-run). Associated movements are allowed to send a representative to the General Assembly who can speak and make proposals, but not vote. The associated movements in the North America Region included the Association of Christian Student Leaders (ACSL), California Student Christian Movement*, Lutheran Student Movement in the U.S.A.* and Canada*, the National Student YWCA and the University Christian Movement in New England*.

The North America Region was under the leadership of several regional secretaries during its 15-year period of operation. Placide Bazoche and Jan Griesinger were appointed by the IRO in 1973. The NARC selected successors Peter Johnson and Judy Skinner in 1975, Inge Thierauf and John Boonstra in April 1978, Debra House in September 1978, Gary Whynacht in 1980 and John O'Brien in 1984. The position brought many challenges, requiring frequent traveling, planning for and attendance at many meetings and conferences, and continuous communication with regional and inter-regional staff members.

The demands of dealing with such a varied constituency of persons, movements, organizations, issues and goals making up the Federation led to a shortened tenure for some staff members. Peter Johnson left his position in 1978. Inge Thierauf was released from her duties as Regional Co-Secretary in September 1978, followed by John Boonstra and Debra House in 1980. Their releases resulted in some controversy among North American staff members. Gary Whynacht resigned in 1983. John O'Brien's term of office ended with his death in 1988.

Staff changes and structural inadequacies in the North America Region slowly took their toll on the movement. The changing needs of their constituency in the late 1980s required structural adaptations which the North America Region was not prepared to make. The collapse of the NESCC and the disbanding of the NARC significantly affected the Region. United States and Canadian movements decided that the changing needs of Christian students must be met through more creative structures and programs. Thus, the WSCF North America Regional Office, as it had existed, had become obsolete.

In July, 1988, the IRO officially announced the closing of the North America Regional Office. (See the IRO's letter dated July, 1988 announcing the dissolution of the North America Regional Office. Series II, Box 7, Folder 129A) The Region's administrative affairs were absorbed by the IRO and unspent funds were used for travel and projects in North America and other regions. The Regional office has since been reinstated.
Title
Guide to the World Student Christian Federation North America Regional Office Records
Author
Compiled by Joan R. Duffy
Date
1990, 2015
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared According To Local Divinity Library Descriptive Practices
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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