Vadstena Castle Sweden, 1895
Yale professor Clarence Shedd wrote Two Centuries of Student Christian Movements in 1934. Why two centuries? Christian students began connecting with each other on college campuses as soon as there were college campuses in the United States in the early 18th c. Why movements instead of movement? Although the YMCA and YWCA, from the mid-19th century, were the key organizers of campus SCM chapters, seminaries, medical schools, foreign students studying in the U.S., all had their own organizations that were loosely affiliated with each other. In the U.S. the SCM was a web with lots of different nodes. By the late 19th c., that web extended to Christian students around the world. Pictured here is Vadstena Castle in Sweden where the World Student Christian Federation was organized in 1895. American John Mott was the moving force behind its organization.
The Yale Divinity Library has posted a terrific online exhibit on the Student Christian Movement. Followers of the CGCM website and activity know that we are vitally concerned with reclaiming the memory of the Student Christian Movement in the United States. From the 1880s to 1969, it invited college students to engage with their world in the context of their Christian faith. Through the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), it linked them to Christian students around the world. Generation after generation, these students not only went into the world but also back to communities and churches around the country and connected those communities to the world, too. It is an astonishing history! Check it out!
The WSCF just put out a few great new web-posters through Facebook that perfectly capture the astonishing degree to which the WSCF was at the forefront of the need to humanize modernity and globalization because of the experience of participating in a transnational and transcultural network and point-of-view grounded in a common Christian faith. Check out their Facebook page.
This is where it all began. It was supposed to be just a Bible Conference, sponsored by the YMCA and hosted by the famous evangelist Dwight Moody at the Mount Hermon School he had recently founded. What actually happened was Northfield Summer Conferences became the engine of the first international student fellowship that by the turn of the century had spread all over the world.
The brainchild of Luther Wishard, the YMCA's campus organizer, it was announced in April for July and even on such very short notice, 250 students showed up. Of those, in an uprising of interest in mission, one hundred of them who came to be called the Mount Hermon Hundred declared their intention to become foreign missionaries. Many followed through on that pledge.