A real joy, I think that's how I'd describe the GB anniversary weekend. The Saturday reunion was great fun - although quite a few people I'd have loved to have caught up with weren't there - with a lovely buffet supper and superb display of photos and memorabilia going back to 1934 (when it was Girls' Life Brigade of course). We spotted several photos of my sister but none of me, though I did have my name recorded in various places. Most people we knew were instantly recognisable and the cries of 'you haven't changed a bit' rang out loud and long.
Today we were incredibly grateful for warm sunshine for the parade. Due to a late change of plans, which meant the leader due to 'fall in' and lead the parade was moved to the colour party and I was given the task - honour, privilege - of doing this. The years rolled back as I mustered my best parade ground voice and for the first time ever headed up a GB parade! I was amazed how many people- a lot older then me - said 'thank you' when we got to the church commenting that it was forty years since they'd last paraded and how much fun to do it now. The service itself had a lovely feel to it - and ended up decidedly ecumenical! The service was held at the URC to which the company is affiliated and District chaplain, Revd Dr Jennifer Smith, a wonderful American-born Methodist minister, drew everyone into worship with energy and grace. My reading added a further dimension of ecumenism (though confused a few folk who assumed I must be a URC minister with that heritage).
The main thrust of the service was the way that the 'amen' of public worship is the link between past, present and future: amen isn't a word, it's a worldview, a mindset, a commitment to live what we pray, to be what we say, to do what we claim. With two of the original girls present, one now aged 85 and quite frail (and who taught us intricate club swinging routines and complex skipping steps) and some little five-year old Explorers who might be there in another 75 years time, as well as some fifty or so old girls in between, something of the interconnectedness and continuity of gopsel as shared through GB was evident.
We closed with GLB/GB vesper Captain Divine (sung to Finlandia). I loved it when I learned it and I still love it. Indeed, I commented to my sister that if she outlives me, I want it sung at my funeral when the day comes:
Captain Divine! Our work is now complete
And, ere we part, we gather at Thy feet,
To give our labours and ourselves to Thee
Without reserve, Thy cause to serve;
O Captain, hear us as we pledge to be
True to our creed, in thought and deed
I doubt anyone much sings it in the UK in 2009 (though many overseas companies still do) which is a shame, because it expresses a level of commitment to which so many in Brigade surely aspire.