History

The Girls’ Brigade is a Christian Uniformed Organisation: International and Interdenominational. In July 1965, The Girls’ Brigade Ireland 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.  Membership at the time of union was 8,000.

The Girls’ Brigade was founded in Ireland by Miss Margaret Lyttle in Sandymount, Dublin in 1893 on twin pillars, Bible Class and Physical Training, and had as its aim: “The extension of Christ’s Kingdom among girls”.
The Girls’ Guildry founded in Scotland in 1900, was a church-centered organisation providing programmes for four age groups. Its varied activities were aimed at helping girls to become mature Christian women. The movement was Interdenominational and International, with a strong emphasis on service to others. Membership at the time of union was 35,000.
The Girls’ Life Brigade which was founded in England in 1902 by the National Sunday School Union (now known as the National Christian Education Council) was a church-based International organisation with a varied programme for four age groups. Its aim was: “To help and encourage girls to become responsible, self-reliant, useful Christian women”.  International membership at the time of union was 120,000.

All these organisations were designed to provide week-day activities for members of Sunday Schools and Churches and an opportunity to develop mind, body and spirit in preparation for a life of useful Christian service and witness. Methods have been adapted over the years, and the union of the three organisations into The Girls’ Brigade can be seen as a strengthening of their purpose in the face of the challenges of the present day.

Aim of the Girls’ Brigade

To help girls become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and through self-control, reverence and a sense of responsibility, to find true enrichment of life.

Our Motto

“Seek, Serve and Follow Christ.”

Principles

We acknowledge Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord according to the Scriptures and seek to fulfil our aim to the glory of one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We witness to the standard set by Jesus Christ and give positive teaching on the Christian attitude to life. We promote a just society where all are equally valued.

International Girls’ Brigade

The wide membership of the Brigade includes many races, with a variety of language and dialect.  In 1923, the first overseas Company was registered in Jamaica. Today, the Brigade is operating in over fifty countries and islands throughout the world.  Programmes of work have to be modified and in some cases extensively amended to suit differing environments.

The varying climatic conditions have led to the adaptation of the official uniform (blue or white) in different countries, but the badge is common to all. Nevertheless, the supreme aim, adhered to throughout the whole organisation, is to help girls to find true enrichment of life.

At the I.C.G.B. (International Council of The Girls’ Brigade) in 1998, five fellowships were formed with each country in which there is Girls’ Brigade becoming a member of a fellowship.  The Fellowships meet at least once a year, holding its meeting in each country in rotation.  The Fellowship Executive consists of the officer bearers meeting between the AGM.

There are Five Fellowships:  Africa, Americas/Caribbean, Asia, Europe and Pacific.   The Chairman of each Fellowship is also an International Vice President.  www.gbic.org

The Steps towards Union

As early as 1928 The Girls’ Life Brigade had approached The Girls’ Brigade of Ireland asking if their governing body representatives would be willing to meet with the representatives of The Girls’ Life Brigade to consider the possibility of a union of the two organisations, and as a result, informal meetings were held in January and March 1928, when it was agreed that an interchange of ideas would be beneficial.

Ten years elapsed before discussion was renewed in 1938, when it was thought that amalgamation was not possible. Further negotiations commenced on 23 April 1955, however, and continued throughout the following years until, in 1960, The Girls’ Life Brigade made a similar approach to The Girls’ Guildry in Scotland. A meeting with their representatives was held on 3 November 1961. Ultimately, the representatives of all three organisations realising that union would undoubtedly strengthen their work and witness in the field of youth service, agreed to work on the preparation of a statement of constitution and basic principles, viz:

“The Girls’ Brigade of Ireland, The Girls’ Guildry and The Girls’ Life Brigade, all sister organisations of The Boys’ Brigade, announce that agreement in principle, has been reached on the formation of a new united organisation. Details will be worked out as soon as possible. This agreement is the result of negotiations which have been carried on for some time in a spirit of cordiality and it is believed that the united body, which will be known as The Girls’ Brigade, will be of great benefit to all concerned.

Discussion continued on the Aim and Principles of the new organisation. A Central Council representing Ireland, Scotland and England and Wales was instituted. A new badge and new uniform were designed and new working programmes were produced.

Finally, on 10 June 1968, at the first meeting of the Central Council held at Brigade House, London, the Legal Document of Union was formerly signed and witnessed. Thus, on this historic occasion, the union of The Girls’ Brigade of Ireland, The Girls’ Guildry and The Girls’ Life Brigade was completed, and The Girls’ Brigade was formed with a total membership of over 165,000. The Badge of The Girls’ Brigade illustrates the union of the three organisations, and is itself symbolic of the foundation of the Brigade, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and allegiance to Him.

Our Badge

In the centre a Cross, the symbol of Christ and His Church.
Below it a Lamp, that our light may shine out upon the world.
Above the Lamp is a Crown, that we may own Christ as our King.
Behind all a Torch, the flame of Christ’s living Spirit and our devotion to Him.