The Boys' Brigade, the world's first uniformed youth organisation, is celebrating a landmark 140th anniversary. Founded in Glasgow on 4th October 1883, by Sir William Alexander Smith, the Brigade has been unwavering in its mission to instil Christian values in young lives.
From its modest beginnings, the Boys' Brigade has grown into an international movement with over half a million members across 60 countries. Despite this expansion, the organisation remains true to its founding ideals of integrating Christian principles into its youth-focused programmes, with their UK website promising a range of activities from "kayaking... to crafts" and "first aid to five-a-side".
The Brigade's original objective, as stated by founder 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 a true Christian manliness". This ethos continues to drive their activities today, under the motto 'Sure & Steadfast', taken from Hebrews 6:19.
Regular meetings incorporate Bible studies, prayer sessions, church services, and a wide range of recreational activities. The late Queen Elizabeth II, who professed a firm Christian faith, was their patron until she died.
To mark the milestone, The Boys' Brigade will be planting an oak tree to commemorate the life and legacy of its founder in a special Heroes of the Faith Woodland, which is being created on the outskirts of Birmingham, close to the site of the Eternal Wall of Answered Prayer.
Jonathan Eales, chief executive of The Boys' Brigade, said: "An oak tree seems a particularly fitting way to celebrate our founder's vision for a Christian youth organisation which started in Glasgow but grew across the UK and around the world.
"Our 140th anniversary is an amazing opportunity to celebrate the impact the organisation has had on generations of young people," he continued. "Whilst 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 organisation supports more than 20,000 children and young people today with the help of thousands of dedicated volunteer leaders.
As they celebrate this significant milestone in their history, The Boys' Brigade is looking to continue their mission of fostering Christian values among future generations.