“You walk into a room and are greeted by a couple of Methodists, an Anglican, a Unitarian and some board games…”.
Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke - but this was actually the first time I ever went to an SCM Leeds gathering just after moving to the University of Leeds! Here I am 18 months later, still going to SCM every Monday evening when my course allows (term time obviously!). If you had told me back then how much SCM would become such a big part of my life - and help to shape my identity in more ways than one - I’m not sure I would have believed you!
One of the values of SCM that I love is creating a community. Finding a place full of like-minded (but equally different) people who openly accept you has been so important to me. As a queer person, finding a group of other Christians who welcome your differences without exception has just boosted my confidence in myself. While it is good to have friends who are LGBTQ+ and indeed other Christians - having some who are both is also important. Especially with some of the unique challenges that this intersection of identities can bring.
SCM is an ecumenical movement which means that you are surrounded by individuals from different denominations (Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist etc). This also means that sometimes their opinions on faith will vary from mine. Now, I’m no theology student, so sometimes theology can really confuse me (!) but having a place to ask questions means I’m slowly developing a better understanding of faith in general and different denominational “flavours”.
Discussions can - and have - led to me challenging my own ideas on aspects of faith. Hearing other people’s views has really helped me to think about why I believe things. For example, we recently hosted a Franciscan monk who came to talk to us about mission within our local community and challenged us to think about what it truly means to live in community with one another. Although you may get a range of opinions within just an Anglican circle, the diversity of an ecumenical group provides the opportunity to know what the ‘others’ think!
I think you can never underestimate how much finding an open and inclusive group of friends within the Christian circle will positively impact you. It has made me challenge, question and ultimately be more confident in my identity. These are just two of the ways SCM is helping to shape my identity, I wonder what being part of SCM has done or is doing for you?
Siân Tredwell is a 2nd-year adult nursing student training at the University of Leeds. They are also the 2019/20 President for SCM Leeds.