Student Christian Movement Peace Workshops for Students

In March 2020 the Trust awarded a grant of £2,000 to Student Christian Movement to run a series of peace workshops for students across the UK. A month later the Covid pandemic hit. SCM was quick to adapt to the restrictions which the pandemic brought, by holding the workshops online, and by creating blogs and developing social media content.

The aim of the workshops was to deepen students understanding of pacifism within the Christian faith, increase the number of students taking part in campaigns and improve students’ confidence as leaders. Topics covered included Northern Ireland; nuclear disarmament; refugee rights and the ethical and moral issues with the Nationality and Borders Bill; the relationship between faith and social justice; the role of the church in challenging issues such as war and climate change; and ethical issues around working collaboratively to achieve peaceful campaign wins.

One of the techniques SCM used in responding to social justice issues was craftism. Students decorated bunting with messages and symbols of peace, and the bunting was displayed at a silent vigil protest against the DSEI arms fair in London. In March 2021, SCM joined with international peace organisations in welcoming the new UN nuclear ban treaty and published a statement in response to the recent plans to lift the cap on Trident’s nuclear warheads. In September they ran an online prayer meeting with Friends of Reconciliation to mark the UN International Day of Peace 2021.

Reflecting on the project, SCM write: ‘The pandemic required us to re-work this project, for example by conducting workshops on Zoom instead of in person, as originally intended. One benefit of running some of the workshops on Zoom was that it provided an opportunity for more SCM members to attend. As a result, we saw higher numbers of attendance. The combination of workshops, social media content and blogs allowed both a breadth and depth of engagement. When asked what they most enjoyed about the workshops, members said:

  • [I will] change the way I talk about nuclear weapons and pass on the knowledge I have gained.
  • [I will] make sure I think more about how I can apply liberal theology to the everyday choices and actions I take.
  • What I enjoyed most was discussion around conflicting laws as an argument against nuclear weapons and what is already being done for nuclear disarmament.
  • SCM has helped me to develop and strengthen my faith as someone who has only recently become a more liberal Christian, including new ways I could put my faith into practice and seek justice.