The Boys’ Brigade, the pioneering youth organization in uniforms, celebrates a remarkable 140 years since its inception.
Back on October 4, 1883, in Glasgow, Sir William Alexander Smith initiated this group, with a steadfast commitment to instilling Christian values in young lives.
What began modestly has now grown into an international movement with a presence in 60 countries and more than half a million members. Despite its vast reach, the Brigade remains loyal to its core principles of embedding Christian ideals into its youth-oriented programs. Their UK website highlights a variety of activities, from kayaking to crafts, and from first aid to five-a-side football.
The Brigade’s original aim, as articulated by Sir William, was “the advancement of Christ’s kingdom among Boys and the promotion of habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-respect, and all that tends towards true Christian manliness.” This philosophy still guides their activities today, and their motto ‘Sure & Steadfast,’ derived from Hebrews 6:19, reflects this unwavering commitment. Regular meetings involve Bible studies, prayer sessions, church services, and an array of recreational activities. The late Queen Elizabeth II, a staunch Christian, was the Brigade’s patron until her passing.
Celebrating the 140th Anniversary
To commemorate this significant milestone, The Boys’ Brigade will plant an oak tree honoring its founder’s life and legacy in a special Heroes of the Faith Woodland, established near Birmingham, close to the Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer. Jonathan Eales, the Chief Executive of The Boys’ Brigade, expressed, “An oak tree seems a particularly fitting way to celebrate our founder’s vision for a Christian youth organization, which started in Glasgow but grew across the UK and around the world.”
Eales continued, “Our 140th anniversary is an amazing opportunity to celebrate the impact the organization has had on generations of young people. While there is so much to be thankful for through the last 140 years, we’re not standing still – we are looking forward in hope. Many Churches and denominations are rightly making their work with children and young people a priority. Our hope is that we can play a significant role in partnering with Churches in this mission. Later this month, we will be launching new research, carried out in partnership with YouthScape, which focuses on providing key insights into the lives of young people today in 2023, and what this means for our work in the future.”
With more than 750 local groups in communities across the UK and Ireland, the organization currently supports over 20,000 children and young people with the help of thousands of dedicated volunteer leaders.
As The Boys’ Brigade celebrates this significant milestone in its history, the organization remains dedicated to its mission of nurturing Christian values among future generations. Their enduring commitment to instilling Christian principles in young lives has left an indelible mark on countless individuals over the past 140 years.
The Brigade now eagerly looks forward, poised to continue its vital work in the coming years, partnering with churches and adapting to meet the needs of today’s young people.