The other day I was speaking at a meeting in another circuit and the subject turned to how things change over the years. Then someone said “Oh well! Rene must have seen so many changes in her life – she’s a hundred after all!”
I cast my eyes around the room to see if I could spot anyone who might fit the description of a hundred year old person, but I was flummoxed. Eventually someone piped up, “Yes it’s a completely different world. I don’t recognise it sometimes”. It turned out the spritely, tall, slim, rather elegantly turned out lady sitting opposite me was Rene. How on earth could she be a hundred years old?
She launched into a tale about her earliest memories; about the fact her father was killed in the First World War and how the family survived, about what the neighbourhood was like and her childhood in the 1920s. During her lifetime she has seen so many changes and, as she said, not all of them have been good… but in general life is easier now than it was then.
This month we celebrate the centenary of the Girls’ Brigade at Wesley Hall and the Church Anniversary: how things have changed. A hundred years ago there were few distractions and no shops open on a Sunday. Church was a focal point of the week for many. Sunday school was packed and Girls’ and Boys’ Brigade were popular.
But where did it all start? You might be surprised to hear that it was founded in Ireland originally. The GB website encourages us to
‘Imagine eighteenth century Ireland and two pioneering women sitting on a bench chatting and wondering how they could answer the needs of girls in their community.
OK, the two women may not have actually existed but in this era – a time when women didn’t have the vote and when girls were given no formal education – the radical ministry that has become Girls’ Brigade was born.
The Girls’ Brigade (Ireland) was set up in Dublin in 1893 and in July 1965 merged with The Girls’ Guildry (founded in Scotland in 1900) and The Girls’ Life Brigade (founded in England in 1902) to form The Girls’ Brigade.
The organisation set out to offer significant opportunities for girls and young women, as well as giving them Christian teaching, and GB has continued to do so ever since.
The aim of the Girls’ Brigade is to help girls to become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ and through self control, reverence and a sense of responsibility to find true enrichment of life.
The badge has a cross in the centre, the symbol of Christ and His church. Below it a lamp, that His glory may shine out upon the world. Above it a crown, that we may own Christ as our King. Behind it all a torch, the flame of Christ’s living spirit and our devotion to Him.
All this is also reflected in the motto:
Seek, Serve and Follow Christ‘
Things change over the years and GB has developed its own identity in every age, but still offers significant opportunities for girls to develop a sense of themselves and their place in the world. We look forward to sharing in the GB centenary celebrations and the service that they have prepared for us.