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The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, 1939

Student Christian Movement

Student Christian Movement

On the mere record of events the year 1939 might be judged to have witnessed a decline in S.C.M. activities as compared with 1937 and 1938. But it is an apparent decline only and the appearance of it is owing to a change in the direction of Club energies, a change based on the past experience of the Club. A distrust of the value of the large public type of meeting has resulted this session in a general preference for the more informal variety when possible, for meetings in camps, in the homes of members, in circles of study or devotion. The emphasis has thus been placed more on the education of members to a better understanding of the implications of the faith they profess than on the endeavour to establish, by address or argument, the validity of the Christian position before the College as a whole. And whether the tendency is in itself good or bad it has certainly redounded to the profit of those who have taken advantage of its opportunities.

Nevertheless there is much to record even in the way of fixtures. The Christmas Conference held at Christchurch attracted several V.U.C. students and amply rewarded their enthusiasm. Lines of thought and inquiry started there were developed at a camp for V.U.C. and Training College S.C.M. executive members held at Makara at the close of February in preparation for the session. The opening of session itself was attended by the operation of the usual social services rendered by the Club—the Information Bureau, the Handbook (an unqualified success this), and the Second-hand Bookstall. An inaugural university service arranged by the S.C.M. was held at St. John's and a welcome to freshers was given in the popular form of a picnic to Titahi Bay.

Study circles were organised under an entirely new system—about half a dozen small circles meeting each week with student leaders; the leaders in turn meeting fortnightly for preparation under Mr. Salmond to whom our gratitude is due for his unremitting patience and interest in this direction. The study undertaken was the same as in other centres—the epistle of Paul to the Romans, and was to agitate the greatest problems of Christian faith, ethics and practice and to be profitable accordingly. A weekly devotional period was arranged for Thursday nights and has proved of great benefit to members.

In the first term a public address given by Rev. J. A. Linton on the Anatomy of Frustration called forth much comment. The May vacation camp held at Wallis House with lectures and discussions led by Mr. Cochran, Mr. Linton and George Falloon evoked enthusiasm from all who attended it. Anzac Day saw an afternoon and evening meeting at Karori with a talk by Mr. Hearnshaw which created a profound impression on his hearers.

The Day of Prayer was signalised by a service at St. John's, preceded by a tea at which a most pertinent address on the refugee problem as it affects New Zealand in general and the S.C.M. in particular was delivered.

Intermittent Saturday evening meetings throughout the year have provided interest and variety. One open forum, on "What is Freedom," has been held at the date of writing and similar meetings are projected.

The sales of "Student" have been this year comparatively small but the quality of the paper itself is encouraging and deserves better things for the future.

The lifting of the ban on the discussion of sex and religion resulted in the debating of one religious topic by the Debating Society and has re-opened an avenue for Christian witness in the College.

It is impossible to conclude a review such as this with complacency. To the sincere subscriber to the aims and objects of the movement the position is, and must be, unsatisfactory. But there is a difference between healthy dissatisfaction and disheartenment and the latter we do not feel. It is something, though not enough, to rouse the College to an occasional consciousness of the challenge of spiritual realities; and it is much, though still not enough, to be enabled through it to share in the life of the Church universal within the University.