World Student Christian Federation

   The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), one of the key global Protestant ecumenical organizations, was founded in 1895 at Vadstena Castle in Sweden. Prominent among the founders were American Methodist John R. MoTT (1865-1955) and Swedish student leader Karl Fries. Fries became its first president and Mott its general secretary.
   Mott had earlier proposed that Christian students from different countries form autonomous fellowships to mobilize youth for mission and ecumenical tasks. WSCF became the means of linking these national fellowships internationally.
   At the national and local levels, Student Christian movement groups brought together students of diverse Protestant backgrounds, called them to a variety of full-time service, and funneled their energy into a spectrum of endeavors. In the early 20th century, WSCF recruited many future pastors and missionaries and became the training ground of Christian ecumenical leaders. W A. Vis-ser't Hooft, WSCF general secretary in 1932, went on to become the first general secretary of the World Council of Churches. Global leaders who began with the Student Christian movement would include such notables as William Temple, D. T. Niles, and Philip Potter.
   The movement has been deeply affected by the split between liberal and Evangelical Protestant leaders. In 1910, Inter-Varsity Fellowship was established by former WSCF members in England who wanted to operate out of a more conservative theological consensus. As other similar national organizations were formed, in 1947 representatives came together to create the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students that now mirrors WSCF worldwide.
   The WSCF now covers more than 100 countries. Following the formation of the World Council of Churches, it established headquarters in Geneva. In 1972, it went through a major structural change reflecting the shift of Protestant strength to Asia and Africa. Most work moved from Geneva to six regional offices around the world.
   The WSCF General Assembly meets quadrennially. Each region conducts its own regional assembly, is headed by a regional committee, and maintains a regional office.
   The work of the WSCF is conducted in close cooperation with other bodies, especially the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), the International Movement of Catholic Students, and the World Council of Churches.
   See also Ecumenical movement.
   Further reading:
   ■ C. Howard Hopkins, John R. Mott (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1979)
   ■ Ruth Rouse, The World's Student Christian Federation: A History of the First 30 Years (London: SCM, 1948)
   ■ C. Howard Hopkins and Stephen Neill, eds., A History of the Ecumenical Movement, 1517-1948 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1986).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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