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Student Christian Movement of Great Britain

Student Christian Movement of Great Britain (or SCM) is a British religious charity led by students, past and present. The movement is an ecumenical and inclusive community that recognises unity in diversity and explores faith through worship, discussion and action. SCM's vision is that "every student can find a vibrant, open and inclusive Christian community, where they can explore faith and be inspired to put faith into action."[1]


SCM began in 1889 as the Student Volunteer Missionary Union[2][3] and set out to unite students with an interest in overseas mission, but it rapidly broadened its aims and became the largest student organisation in Britain. It went on to help establish the National Union of Students and the World University Service. Its first General Secretary was Tissington Tatlow.[4] Without SCM, the Edinburgh conference, which was to give birth to the modern ecumenical movement, would never have taken place.[5] SCM went on to play a vital role in the formation of the British and World Council of Churches and continued to be a leading voice on ecumenism.[6] It founded the SCM Press which became one of the leading Theological publishers in the UK, attracting controversy with the publication of Honest to God in 1963.

In 1928 the Inter-Varsity Fellowship was formed by members of the SCM who disagreed with its liberal position.

Until the 1980s, SCM covered the whole of Britain and Ireland, but subsequently split into two organisations. However, both remain members of the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF). This period also saw the growing participation of Catholic students in what had previously been a Protestant organisation.

Present day SCM

SCM participated in the 37th General Assembly of the World Student Christian Federation in Berlin, Germany.

University groups

SCM has links in approximately 60 universities and other higher education establishments across the United Kingdom, taking the form of either a student group or chaplaincy who subscribe SCM's aims and objectives. Some of the student groups carry the SCM name (for example, SCM Sheffield and SCM Leeds) whereas others do not (for example, Christian Focus York and Durham JAM). Some groups are denominational societies and are connected to a particular church, whereas many are ecumenical. The characteristics of each link vary, with SCM making no determinations as to how groups should be run, however, most SCM affiliated student groups follow the principle of student leadership. SCM also has a number of individual members (present or recent students) who want membership independent of a local group or chaplaincy; either because they want to support the movement, get more involved in the movement, or there is no local group for them to join.

Link churches

SCM has a number of "link churches" that support the aims of SCM with the aim of administering to students and young people. Each link church varies in how they support SCM, but many run student groups, promote SCM and its events, and celebrate Student Sunday.


In February 2020, SCM appointed the Revd Naomi Nixon as Chief Executive Officer.[7]

Social issues

Responding to the Church of England's pastoral statement on civil partnerships in 2019, SCM made an official statement which reiterated its commitment to the full affirmation of LGBT+ people.[8]

In August 2022, at the Greenbelt Festival, SCM launched its Honest Church campaign, whose purpose is to encourage churches to be transparent about their inclusion of LGBTQ+ people.[9] In September 2023, the Oxford Safe Churches group published advice on which churches are "safe" for LGBT+ students, based on resources developed for the Honest Church campaign.[10]


  1. ^ "Who We Are | Student Christian Movement". Archived from the original on 23 September 2023. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  2. ^ Brian Stiller, Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century, Thomas Nelson, USA, 2015, p. 17
  3. ^ Chris Cook, The Routledge Companion to Britain in the Nineteenth Century, 1815-1914, Routledge, UK, 2014, p. 128
  4. ^ Tissington Tatlow. The Story of the Student Christian Movement.
  5. ^ Stanley, Brian (2009). The World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 8–9. ISBN 9780802863607. Archived from the original on 23 September 2023. Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  6. ^ Bruce, Steve (1 January 1982). "THE STUDENT CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT: A NINETEENTH CENTURY MOVE‐MENT AND ITS VICISSITUDES". International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy. 2: 67–82. doi:10.1108/eb012943. ISSN 0144-333X. Archived from the original on 23 September 2023. Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  7. ^ "SCM ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF A NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER". Archived from the original on 23 September 2023. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  8. ^ "A Response to the Church of England's Pastoral Statement | Student Christian Movement". Archived from the original on 23 September 2023. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Be honest about stance on sexuality, Student Christian Movement tells churches". 30 September 2022. Archived from the original on 23 September 2023. Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  10. ^ "Oxford University students advised which churches are 'safe' for LGBTQ+ peers". Archived from the original on 23 September 2023. Retrieved 23 September 2023.

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