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Putting the justice into faith since 1921...

The ideals of charity and the evangelism have a special appeal to young adults. Most missionaries are in their late teens or early twenties when they are sent to their mission field. 1858 Records of the Cambridge University Church Missionary Union reports regular meetings to pray for missionaries around the world.

The records of the Student Christian Movement (SCM) in Canada go back as far as 1871, when a small group of men and women met together in Toronto for prayer. The desire for social reform and evangelization of the poor resulted to the formation in 1886 of the Student Volunteer Movement in New York, a protestant student movement with an appeal across North America "to evangelize the world in one generation." For many young people this meant to offer their active services in overseas missions. In 1891 the movement counted 6200 volunteers in 350 institutions, of which 320 were active overseas.
In 1921 the Canadian Student Christian Movement split from the more conservative SVM, and gained the reputation for bold social action. Their enduring motto "putting the justice into faith since 1921" reflects that what to the SCM is most essential and at the time necessitated the split.

The SCM looked at Canada's political leaders who acted out of a Christian conviction, such as the Rev. J.S. Woodsworth who spoke to the SCM conference of 1929 at Jasper Park. Present was Stanley Knowles, then 21, who became first a leader in the SCM before being ordained, like Woodsworth, as a minister in the United Church of Canada. Knowles became later a founding member of the New Democratic Party. Other Canadians who attribute much of their spiritual formation as young adults to the SCM are The Right Reverend Lois Wilson, former moderator of the United Church of Canada and Canadian Senator and president of the World Council of Churches, The Right Reverend Ted Scott, former Archbishop and primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and Margaret Laurence, author.

In 1928 the work of the YMCA in Canadian universities was taken over by the Student Christian Movement of Canada. During the depression of the thirties and the war years of the 1940s, the SCM was active on the edge of society. Engaging issues of justice, peace and minority rights, the SCM offered expression to the same missionary impulse which motivated the missionaries of the 19th century.


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