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New WSCF leader Christine Housel 01 M.Div. reflects on YDS training

Christine Housel ’01 M.Div., newly appointed general secretary of the World Student Christian Federation, says her time as a student at Yale Divinity School confirmed her belief that she should complete her theological education at a place with strong ecumenical commitments.

Housel“I came to Yale Divinity School in part because I had the conviction that I needed to do my theological formation at an institution where ecumenism was a priority,” she said in the days following the Nov. 4 announcement of her selection to lead the global student organization.  “At YDS this conviction was strengthened from deep interaction with the varied backgrounds and beliefs represented in the classroom and community. At the same time, I gained tools to make this commitment take shape into real life.”

In announcing Housel’s appointment, the officers of the WSCF cited Housel’s “many years of experience in youth and student ministry” and “strong grounding in community reconciliation and human rights advocacy work.” 

Housel, who has worked since 2008 as project manager at the Federation’s international office in Geneva, has been instrumental in establishing and building the WSCF’s Advocacy and Solidarity Committee, which works on justice issues, and its Development Team, which does leadership training and skill-building at all levels of the organization.  She has also been involved with international advocacy work, focused on the WSCF presence at the Commission on the Status of Women and the World Council of Churches’ United Nations Advocacy Week and Human Rights Council.

About her time at YDS, Housel said, “I witnessed formal dialogue processes between denominations and church traditions. I learned more about the intellectual, ecclesial, political landscape of our debates. And I had the ability to make connections between our academic and spiritual formation while serving as co-president of the Div School my last year. My Co-President and I took the opportunity to practice living in unity, though we had very different profiles, beliefs, and approaches, as our approach to leadership.”

Prior to her work at WSCF, Housel served in several other capacities in Europe, including, among others, communications consultant to indigenous representatives to the U.N. in Geneva, and youth ministries coordinator for the Convocation of American Churches in Europe, in Geneva and Paris. 

“The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) has been inspiring university and seminary students all around the world with a similar vision since its founding in 1895,” said Housel.  “The founders of WSCF, including American Nobel Peace Prize winner John R. Mott, extended this vision of uniting Christian students not only denominationally but internationally from the outset, adding to the challenge and also the potential of seeking our unity in Christ. 

“I am very thankful for the many opportunities I had at YDS and for the ways my time there has very specifically prepared me for this leadership role.”

The World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) is an ecumenical global federation of student Christian groups, welcoming people from all Christian traditions and encouraging dialogue between students of different traditions. It has members from Protestant, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions and from other faiths.

Local and national groups that make up the federation are largely known as Student Christian Movements (SCMs). In some cases the youth or student movement of a national church or other ecumenical organization is a member of the WSCF. While university, polytechnic and other tertiary students make up the bulk of SCM membership, high school students are also involved in some movements.

Today WSCF has over 100 affiliated national movements that span the six WSCF regions: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and Caribbean, Middle East, and North America.