Founder of The Girls' Brigade in Singapore: Mrs Elsie Lyne (1892 - 1968)
Mrs Elsie Lyne nee Duncan was born in 1892. At the age of fifteen she joined the 1st Gateshead Company of the Girls' Life Brigade (known since 1962 as The Girls’ Brigade) in Durham, England. She rose through the ranks to become an officer. She came to teach in the Methodist Girls' School in 1927. There she started the 1st Singapore Company and pioneered the Girls' Brigade movement in Singapore.
Full of enthusiasm for the development of the Girls' Brigade, Mrs Lyne built up a nucleus of dedicated young leaders. Then slowly but surely she set out to start companies in Geylang Methodist Girls’ School, Fairfield Girls’ School, Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School and Kuo Chuan Girls' School. She made sure that each company was running well before starting another one. By December 1941 when Singapore was attacked by Japan there were five flourishing companies with hundreds of girl, seeking, serving and following Christ.
God preserved Mrs Lyne for the extension of the Brigade movement. Just before Singapore fell to Japan, she was evacuated to Melbourne, Australia. Whilst there she served the Girls’ Brigade. After the Japanese occupation, she returned to re-establish and expand the Brigade in Singapore, and also to pioneer Brigade work in Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Mrs Lyne’s faith and patience was greatly taxed when she got down to expand the Brigade in Singapore. Support from the Church was slow. The strict discipline of total abstinence from alcoholic drinks demanded of its leaders did not attract the necessary manpower to facilitate its expansion. There were many occasions when her heart ached for the Brigade and her eyes wet with tears. However, she presevered.
She trained and built other officers and encouraged potential ones to join the Brigade family. Her faith in the God, her love for His work, and the moral support of her husband, Mr Roland Lyne, as well as of her close friends, urged her to press towards her goal.
Having served the Girls’ Brigade in England, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and Hong Kong, Mrs Lyne was eager to bring about regional and international mutual aid. Over a period of about fifteen years, numerous meetings with visiting Brigade National leaders took place at her home. Her dreams were realised with the inauguration of the Pacific Fellowship of the Girls’ Brigade in Suva, Fiji, in 1964, and of the Brigade International Council in London in 1968. She was present at the inauguration of the former but not of the latter due to ill-health. With her hope fulfilled she went rejoicing to be with the Lord in November 1968.
As we celebrate the works of The Girls’ Brigade Singapore, we specially remember Mrs Elsie Lyne with love and gratitude. She laid the foundation, provided the means, injected enthusiasm, nurtured the wayward, sustained the weary, and led many of her charges to the Lord Jesus. Her radiant faith in Her Master and her goal in serving Him through the Brigade has enriched us. To her we owe much and we thank our Lord and King for His faithful servant, Mrs Elsie Lyne nee Duncan.