125 years of mission amongst girls!
The story Girls’ Brigade’s development 1893 – 2013 is truly inspirational.
It focuses around pioneering women in countries all across the world, joined by a shared sense of God’s call to empower girls to discover God’s transforming love and power in their lives and, in response, to live as people of mission in his world
Ever since our birth we have been on the move, joining in with God’s mission in His world
The Founding Years: 1893 – 1902
As a result of Margaret Lyttle’s pioneering, The Girls’ Brigade of Ireland began in Victorian Britain in 1893. She founded the first ever group for girls at Sandymount Presbyterian Church in Dublin.
Helping girls to discover personal Christian faith was at the heart of this innovative mission.
Their way of expressing this was a motto; ‘The establishment of Christ’s Kingdom amongst girls’
It’s exciting to see how the relevance of GB Ireland’s approach to mission amongst girls resonates loudly in today’s world – The 2 pillars of early GB were enabling girls to experience personal (physical) health and spiritual health.
Just imagine the impact of women taking a lead in church and society, long before women had freedom for public education or a public voice and vote.
A God-movement amongst girls had begun!
The need for a dynamic, welcoming and skills building church mission for girls was also being felt in Scotland. And with this stirring came God’s prompt on women in Glasgow to establish The Girls’ Guildry in 1900.
Christian discipleship was a key heartbeat of the Scottish mission. That’s why they stated their aim to be; ‘helping girls to become mature Christian women’.
Girls’ Guildry did begin to spread to England but in fact it wasn’t long before God seemed to be prompting women in England to reach out amongst girls through another route
As a result, in 1902, Girls’ Life Brigade church mission groups began to emerge. GLB was spurred on by an English church initiative amongst children, ‘the Sunday School movement’. The key difference was that GLB went beyond a focus on solely teaching the Bible, and moved away from Sunday as the key time to discover how God fits in to our lives.
GLB met during the week, and offered girls the opportunity to develop in their whole lives, based on the discovery of what it meant for God to love them and gift them in unique ways.
This holistic mission engaged girls into all kinds of activity and opportunity, with God at the centre. Christian leadership and service were hallmarks of GLB, and girls soon learnt that whatever their age, they are called with purpose in God, to love him and serve one another! GLB aimed to help girls become responsible, self reliant Christian women
So, against a social and economic background where women slowly began to emerge as contributors, leaders and decision makers in Britain, the ministries of GB in its different forms were making a Godly contribution to shaping the lives of many of these emerging women!
The Sending Years: 1923 – 64
Just as the identity and contribution of women in public life began to grow in Britain in the early 1900′s, so did the more global calling of Girls’ Brigade’s Christian mission – by women for girls.
By 1964 GLB in particular was being used by God as effective mission in well over 50 countries. The first ‘international’ groups began in Jamaica in 1923, and were soon followed in 1925 by women pioneering work in Capetown South Africa and Latvia
Singapore and Australia soon followed in the ’20′s and so the movement spread across what are now known as the five GB Fellowships (Africa, Asia, Caribbean Americas, Europe and Pacific).
Hundreds of thousands of girl’s lives were being transformed, and God’s world enriched through the mission and ministry of the 3 mission groups.
1964 – 68 A new pioneering moment
Women had grown in confidence and contribution in Britain during the world-war years. The absence of men ‘at home’ meant that they were leading more at home, in church, in industry, in various professions – and Girls’ Brigade’s work amongst these women as they grew through childhood undoubtedly had an influence. Godly women were taking a lead!
So, when the similarity of vision and approach shared by the founding mission groups came to a head in 1964, brave women from the leadership of the three missions took the decision to birth yet another era in the life of the movement – through amalgamation into one, now world-wide, Christian mission organisation. The Girls’ Brigade (GB) was formed!
Can you imagine the discussions and debates? What a lesson in our sub-mission for the sake of God’s-mission.
Papers were signed in 1965, and preparations made to launch the inaugural conference, on the 10th June 1968, of the now international Mission Organisation “The Girls’ Brigade”.
It seems that through history, in some form or another, every movement (whether Christian or not) seems to gather around a form of organisational structure. And GB is no different. Miss Joan Chenhalls MBE was the first International President of this mission organisation, and she headed up the first ever meeting of the now familiar International Council of Girls’ Brigade.
A mission for the future
Some organisations stay around forever, they become part of a country or a society or even the world. We expect them to be around forever.
In 2018 GB celebrated 125 years of mission around the world. This demonstrates a long legacy in Christian outreach, discipleship and leadership empowerment amongst girls. But of course Girls’ Brigade is a mission called by God to work in His world, and the church’s history is filled with examples of mission initiatives that are called for only a certain time.
Is that so for Girls’ Brigade?
GB is working alongside churches, communities and governments in over 51 countries at present to deliver holistic mission that transforms girl’s lives and enriched that part of God’s world. The leadership of each individual mission area is empowered to discern how God is leading them. And the sense of God’s leading seems the same throughout the world – this is not a time to cease our work – there is more for us to do!
Since the 1990′s GB has developed in Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Romania and Kosova. Projects of various kinds are emerging from our transformational vision. Schools work, Aids and health care, social enterprise, new style children’s work, leadership academies, internships, mission action teams, youth gatherings – and the list is growing!
Along with the membership style approach that underpins our mission work in so many countries, reaching 100,000 girls every week in diverse parts of the world. Girls’ Brigade is on the move!
The International Leadership team (Presidents Committee) meets annually to steer and respond to the growth of GB’s mission work in God’s world.
Together, in all our forms, Girls’ Brigade around the world is committed to seeing Girls’ lives transformed: God’s world enriched!
Document from this link: http://www.gbworldwide.org