Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 2. March 13, 1952
At Scots College ... — Students Confer
At Scots College ...
Students, 150 of them, members of the S.C.M. met at Scots College for a week during January.
The Summer Conference of the S.C.M. took as its theme "Worship and Life" and Salient here publishes a report, a personal report from one of the students who attended and found the Conference informative, interesting as well as an excellent holiday.
The theme of the Conference was "Worship and Life." Perhaps already you will exclaim "How dillettante! Have you nothing, then, to offer us? The Conference, however, found the theme relevant enough. Do you think that the prevailing idea of the Conference was one of pepped-up humanism; some people, on seeing the title of the theme, will doubtless have a vision, in pseudo-psychological jargon, of something to do with the myth of the balanced life, of the necessity for Man to pay his respects to his Maker if he is to preserve that fully-rounded psychological wholeness which is considered the prerequisite of the good life. Such an idea was not current at Conference.
There may have been whispers of it when speakers referred vaguely to the apparently evolution, any progress in man's response to his environment, and the necessity of workshop which it involved, but the idea was never explicitly affirmed. Any worshipping Christian community will bear witness to the inadequacy of that conception and the Summer Conference of the S.C.M. is no exception.
A large part of the studies at Conference were centred around the Holy Communion, and from the affirmation in those studies of the reality of that sacrament, sprang perhaps the most fruitful idea which emerged from the Conference: sacramental living; that is to say, living which draws not only its strength hut also its inspiration from worship in the sanctuary; and that not by any process of psychological satisfaction, but by the grace of God manifested particularly through the sacrament.
By referring to the Holy Communion as a sacrament we mean, as was made abundantly clear by our considerations of the New Tastament sources and [unclear: tv] nature of Christ's sacrifice, roughly that, in the performance of that act of worship, God's grace is conferred upon us in a peculiar way; that the mere performance of the sacrament ensures a sufficiency of grace through as a real work of the church. Living becomes so centred around the performance of worship that there is a sense in which all our endeavour is directed towards and from the sanctuary in which that worship is performed.
Such a conception of worship has serious implications for the life of the church. In the first place there is restored the unity (not the balance) of human life, in which work and worship are one; and this unity is not an individual matter. The performance of worship, and supremely of the Holy Communion, is essentially a family business; the church is a worshipping family and there can be no sacramental living unless the Christian goes forth from a community to which he belongs in worship and in life. The unity of the whole Christian church was necessarily something which had to be considered in relation to the Holy Communion. This is a question always very much on the conscience of the S.C.M. and at Conference it was made more obviously desperate when separate Holy Communion services had to be held.
Probably most of the Conference was firm in the conviction that thetre is nothing to be gained by rushing into inter-communion until all the members of the Movement can do so with a good conscience and perfect freedom. In the meantime we can only acknowledge the sinfulness of our position.
Friends, Not Individuals
Probably the most pleasing feature of Conference was the very real Christian fellowship and friendship which was evident at all times. In the general life of the Conference there was less of that individualism which can easily choke any effort to live in a community and which Christian student groups are not always free from. At mealtimes, in the sporting activities and tournaments, in ordinary leisure time, in the general daily affairs, there was an easy informality and genuine caring for people which made no distinctions. It is important to realise, however, that any movement which works for the unity of the church requires a sense of fellowship intellectually also, and must be free from intellectual pride and misunderstanding, or lack of desire to understand. In a Conference the tragedy of division is always most apparent and sometimes the spirit of friendship and understanding is not always carried into theological fields, especially by those to whom differences in theology matter most.
However, the general spirit of goodwill at this Conference was something which helped students over their differences more than anything else.
Pacificism An Issue
How did the Conference respond to the challenge of the world's social conflicts? What had Christian students to say about peace, and politics, and economics, and so on? There were two tendencies observable in the attitudes of students to this. The first was in the direction of a rather stereotyped "party line" approach, perhaps coloured by Christian principles, but more or less conforming to a secular radical approach. The second became noticeable in an informal discussion on pacifism; there was no very wholehearted attempt to relate the discussion to the modern situation; it was rather an abstract consideration of principles, of violence as opposed to non-violence.
There is a very serious situation to be faced by Christian students in this direction if the faith is to retain any vigour in its redemption of the ordering of society, and it may be a situation which will receive more serious and wholehearted consideration in preparation for the next Summer Conference on the theme "The Evangelisation of the World in this Generation." The question of missionary activity will perhaps make us think out more carefully our attitude to the contemporary political situation
There are lots more things could be mentioned—the great interest in music shown at the Conference, the talks, the services, the outdoor life. An important experiment in the life of the S.C.M. followed the Conference when a work-camp was held in Wellington for six weeks and an opportunity of worshipping and working in a Christian community was taken by some of the students. The best way of finding out about Conference is to attend; next year's is being held in Christchurch.
B. A. Walker.