Her Majesty the Queen attends Scripture Union’s 150th anniversary celebration in Islington
This month marks a significant milestone for Christian children and young people’s charity, Scripture Union (SU) as they celebrate their 150th anniversary. To recognise this important milestone the charity had the great honour of recently welcoming Her Majesty The Queen to a special celebration service held at St Mary’s Church in Islington, close to where the organisation’s first meeting was held in December 1867.
Her Majesty’s attendance at the event highlighted the positive and lasting impact Scripture Union has had in the lives of countless children over the years. Active in 120 countries around the world, SU aims to help children and young people from all backgrounds to explore the difference Jesus can make to the challenges and adventures of life.
The 150th anniversary service was led by the National Director of Scripture Union, the the Revd Tim Hastie-Smith and the Revd Simon Harvey, the Vicar of St Mary’s Islington, and was attended by Scripture Union supporters, volunteers and others connected to the charity’s work. Music was provided by the All Souls Orchestra and also featured a performance by a choir of local school children from St Mary’s Primary School.
Baroness Floella Benjamin, who led a prayer, and the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, were also involved in the service and, as the service was recorded by BBC’s Songs of Praise for future transmission, classical singer Katherine Jenkins and presenter Pam Rhodes were also present, with Katherine greeting the Queen on her arrival as part of the official line up.
A new Scripture Union Jubilee hymn titled ‘God of Unchanging Grace”, composed by Bishop Timothy Dudley-Smith, was revealed and guests enjoyed an engaging hour of song, drama and presentations highlighting the incredible impact of Scripture Union’s work, both past and present, in the UK and overseas.
Tim Hastie-Smith, Scripture Union’s National Director, said:
“We were thrilled that Her Majesty The Queen chose to join us as we celebrated 150 years of sharing the good news and love of Jesus Christ with the children and young people of this nation. For so many young people, it is the faithful and gently inspiring witness of parents, grandparents and great-grandparents that testifies most powerfully to God’s enduring love. Her Majesty embodies this witness, and just as she seeks to serve all people of this nation regardless of race or religion, so SU seeks to testify to the abiding presence of a life transforming loving God, whose love is for all, and is found freely in His world.”
The Revd Simon Harvey, Vicar of St Mary’s Islington, said:
“We were delighted that The Queen joined us to celebrate the way that the gospel has been shared with countless children across the world through the work of Scripture Union.
“From really small beginnings – just fifteen children – the Scripture Union movement has grown to share the Bible in over 120 countries. This is part of the St Mary’s story too. Faith is often best shared by one person to one person. We have no records of a reigning monarch worshipping at St Mary’s in the last thousand years, so it’s wonderful that The Queen was able to join us. Her example and the natural way that she speaks about her Christian faith inspires millions of people.”
Reaching those beyond the Church has always been an important part of Scripture Union’s mission and this year, in light of statistics that suggest a staggering 95% of children and young people in England and Wales are not in a church, the charity launched The 95 Campaign. The initiative aims to help raise awareness of this issue and asks others with the same heart to join SU as they explore what it means to take the good news of Jesus beyond the church, to meet today’s children where they are.
Scripture Union’s ministries are wide and varied but all are aimed at meeting the charity’s vision to see a new generation of children and young people with a vibrant, personal faith in Jesus. Alongside their partners, they work with churches and in local communities, sharing the good news of Jesus with children and young people. Specific ministries include schools work, sports ministry, residential holidays/camps and resources such as Guardians of Ancora, Scripture Union’s ground-breaking digital Bible game.
Image credit: Scripture Union