120 years young


On 10th June every year, The Girls' Brigade celebrates its International World Day of Prayer. This year, however, is hugely special as we are celebrating 120 years of GB. I am hugely proud to be part of an organisation that is so old, and still going strong providing friendship, faith and fun to girls around the world. Lately, GB in England and Wales has been changing, and a lot of the time I don't feel like it's changing for the better and I'm often not sure whether I still want to be a part of such an organisation. But, actually, I have been a member for fourteen years, have made friends that I otherwise never would have and have learned skills and tried things that other people would perhaps not. Yes, the uniform has changed and the responses to it seem to be being somewhat ignored and, yes, the whole set up of the thing has changed and is becoming a lot less formal (something which for me does not fit in with the ethos of GB), but in reality, although for me these things are a big part of GB and it won't be the same without them, this isn't removing the real essence of GB - the friendship, faith and fun. At our District Church Parade today, the theme was 'Stories'. I suppose that this is all part of the story of GB. It may not be one that I like - I suppose I am a traditionalist - but it is a part of a bigger thing. And if these changes mean that more girls come to join GB then I won't complain. 

Sally Hitchiner was the guest speaker today, and she was certainly a very interesting lady. On Friday nights, we have a devotional session for fifteen minutes or so, and during one of these we had discussed Sally as she had featured in the press due to her being a female priest who, in short, isn't over the age of 60 or frumpy. Or both. I am certain that there are many other young, attractive, fashionable female priests. But Sally is a part of the group within the Church of England who deal with media, and so offered her services when she heard that the press wanted to interview such a person. She admitted today that she's 'not even that into fashion', though clearly she takes pride in her appearance and worries about looking good - my friend today said that before she came to meet us all (there were perhaps 60 people all wearing uniform), she asked her for advice on which jacket to wear. But speaking to her after the service, during which she delivered an interesting sermon that was suited to the young people as well as those who are older, she spoke to us about what it was like to take part in a fashion shoot, showed us some 'behind the scenes' photographs of her time there and even told us that the Daily Mail, in their usual fashion, had photoshopped her heels to make them appear taller. She was just a downright lovely lady, taking time and effort to speak to everybody who she could and not just speaking to them for a few minutes - she was with us for a good fifteen or so. And it wasn't just asking us about GB; she took an interest in what myself and my friend are hoping to do at University next year, and at what stage the other girls were at in terms of their exams, spoke to us about what we had discussed in our devotional session in terms of the vote for women bishops (to which we all let her know that we are very much for them) and, like I have said, talked to us about the fashion shoot and how it came about. I hope that she continues to promote a good image for Christians across the world.

I like to think that 120 years in the future Girls' Brigade will still be going strong and that it perhaps will finally get the recognition that it deserves.

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