Today the Daily Mail has printed a misleading and inaccurate piece suggesting that we have changed our position on the Promise and are considering offering an alternative. This is not the case.
While Girlguiding remains committed to ensuring all girls have the opportunity to be involved in guiding, we are also fully committed to one Promise for all and the wording that resulted from the consultation.
The article refers to guiding units in Jesmond Parish Church. We did recently meet with some of the members and leaders and suggested to them a way forward. However that suggestion did not include changing the wording of our new Promise or compromising Girlguiding’s commitment to having just one Promise for all girls. Discussions are continuing with the group.
Had the General Synod actually discussed Christianity being side-lined in society this week, when discussing the loss of the word ‘God’ in the Girlguiding promise, I probably wouldn’t have such a bug up my butt. When I read the background documents, spluttering at the inaccuracies and misrepresentations of the Girlguiding organisations, I was angry but I understood the intention. However, that intention never materialised.
That the Church of England recognises the importance of Girlguiding is great. We are the leading charity for girls and young women in the UK. We also have a massive worldwide presence working on equality, women’s rights, education and more by engaging with girls early. We teach leadership, build girl’s confidence and raise their aspirations.
No one from Girlguiding was consulted during the compilation of the motion and no one was asked to speak before the Synod. A few ambassadors spoke on our behalf but Guiding representatives had to queue for the public gallery along with everyone else.
The Synod weren’t debating the loss of God in the secular environment, but had seemingly (from the background documents) based their position on a few anecdotal conversations and newspaper reports, which are not reliable. The Synod agreed to ask us to offer an alternative so those who want to can promise to God and the next day in the press there was a lot of claiming of victory. Girlguiding released a statement responding specifically to one story in the Daily Mail but those doing the happy dance missed the fact that the position outlined was the current one. Any girl can say anything she likes as part of the promise ceremony but the promise wording is set.
I was really glad Guiding didn’t capitulate at all and were strong in their response even if it was spun in the media.
There was a huge consultation on the changes to the promise, which was open to anyone inside and outside the organisation. The CofE could have and should have got involved then rather than passing judgement a year later.
For Girl Guiding to have offered any change at this point would have created a two tier promise, a “right and wrong” scenario and undermined the entire consultation process. It would have undermined their integrity and they wouldn’t have been able to run a democratic process like it again.
Honestly, I’ve never been that keen on a promise at all, or certainly think we should make it when we’ve been on the Guiding journey longer than a few weeks which is when we make it now.
The National Secular Society accused the Synod of bullying and I this it looked that way too. You don’t stand on a stool and denounce something that was done fairly, openly and say you’re oppressing people if you haven’t taken the chance to speak when invited. Be really informed, and engage with the other parties. Listen to some people who have a different view. I couldn’t believe the spin in the Synod documents, talk of the old promise being ‘jettisoned’ and replaced with a whole new promise. It really hasn’t been.
It made the Synod look foolish. We all know they move glacially slowly, sometimes for very good reasons, but to bring this motion a year and change after the event raises serious questions to be answered over how this motion got to the floor of the synod at all. If the only information the members of the Synod had were the background documents, they were all sorely mislead on facts and the hyperbole and scaremongering in the documents beggared belief.
“Most Guide units meet in church premises and for all these units to now be banned from being able to say in the promise that I ‘love my God’ cannot be right. …..They are being forced to choose between faith and Girl guiding. It is also a wonderful opportunity for girls to hear about God and the Lord Jesus Christ when learning to understand what the Promise means. This then is a serious Gospel issue.”
I’m really not sure how the fact we meet in churches leads to a direct correlation that the girls in those units are going to be frustrated they can’t promise to God. Are the religious preferences of a person somehow related to where the group they go to can afford the rent? My understanding is that Guides and Scouts meet in churches because historically they were the only places with large enough spaces for community groups to meet. My Brownie unit meet in a church because it was free (it’s not anymore, understandably.) We’re not named after the church but the neighbourhood in which we meet.
And not one girl is being forced to choose between faith and Guiding.
And as for the promise being a chance to evangelise, well we might well tell girls about Jesus when talking through the promise, but equally we’d talk about other faiths and none. Girl Guiding is NOT an outreach mechanism for the Anglican church, thank you very much. Do the CofE really think these girls come to us as blank slates ready to be co-opted into the Church? This sort of underhand, opportunistic evangelism is part of the reason why I left the CofE.
I have even heard of churches putting attendance at Church Parade into the terms and conditions of rent with Guide companies, suggesting if they don’t attend, they won’t receive a discounted rent anymore. There is no grace or true generosity there.
Also can this really be representative of something a large proportion of the Anglican communion is worried about? If it had been about the secularisation of society I’d have understood. If it had been well researched I’d have thought ok. If someone had shown the motion to GirlGuiding so they could help get it right before hand, it might have been a useful exercise.
I approve wholeheartedly of the wording which we’ve been using since September. See my other blogs on the promise and its content.
Best – that’s how I wanted to say it – blog of the week.
HTB often strikes me as an example of a highly successful ecclesial adaptation to contemporary capitalism. Implicit within its approach are new models of the Church, the world, and the Christian. The Christian is now the religious consumer, to whom the Church must cater. The Alpha Course (whose approach has been imitated by many others) is a polished and franchised showcasing of Christian faith in a manner that minimizes the creative involvement of the local church. It provides a technique of evangelism and discipleship along with a vision of Christianity in which the distinct voice and authority of the local church are downplayed in favour of a predictable, uniform, and airbrushed product. The danger is that evangelism becomes the implementation of a standard series of marketing scripts, rather than the practice of a distinct voice of local witness.
Best bringing it altogether blog.
For anyone who has ever said – well of course it is a stereotype, sterotypes are based in truth…and ended their discussion there…
What have toys got to do with violence against women? At Let Toys be Toys by Liz Ely Of Zero Tolerance
If ‘girl’ is such a potent insult, what are we teaching boys about girls? But isn’t that just nature? Some people might suggest that stereotypes mimic natural behaviour; however evidence shows that stereotypes shape behaviour too.
Best – tongue in cheek but making a really important point – blog
The curse of Genesis 3 clearly describes man’s primary activity as difficult physical labor. “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground,” God declares in Genesis 3:19.
The men of Scripture—Abraham, Isaac, Sampson, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, Paul—are men of action whose occupations centered around physical labor like farming, shepherding, carpentry, tent-making, and fighting animals with their bare hands. (Note: any exceptions to this trend should be immediately discounted as irrelevant anomalies.) Nowhere in Scripture is a man of God described as sitting at a desk in an office building from nine to five. Nowhere.