United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands


Empowering Female Leaders of Tomorrow

Empowering Female Leaders of Tomorrow 
Interview with Mrs. Olive Miller 

In honour of Women’s Day (March 8, 2018), we spent some time with a female pioneer of our Church and the Cayman Islands, Mrs. Olive Miller. Mrs. Olive Miller’s work with youth, community, church, and the Girls’ Brigade is the embodiment of a life yielded to the call to serve as God leads.

Q: Why did you decide to bring the Girls Guildry to the Cayman Islands?

A: Well it was no decision of mine at all. In the 1945 Synod, the Presbyterian Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands as it was then, passed a resolution that they would adopt the Girls’ Guildry as their mission organization to girls. They asked the Scottish Mission Council and the Girls’ Guildry in Scotland to send a youth worker to Jamaica for two years, to help keep the Guildry going. It had already been started a few years ago by Ms. Margaret Stewart (from Soctland). I was an English Methodist and I was sent by the Church of Scotland to the Presbyterian Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman to ensure that the Girls’ Guildry (as it was then) was established in all the churches. That’s why when I came to Cayman in 1946, my remit was to start a Girls’ Brigade company in each of the five (5) congregations at that time...and that’s what I did.

Q: Please share with us some highlights of the history of the Girls Guildry and how it transitioned to the Girls’ Brigade.

A: Originally in Britain and in Europe, there were three (3) Girls’ organizations. There was the Girls’ Guildry of Scotland, the Girls’ Life Brigade of England, and Girls’ Brigade of Ireland. In 1965, those three (3) organizations had top-level talks and agreed to amalgamate, it took three (3) years for the administrative arrangements to be made. Three years later in 1968, there was an international council in London at which the three organizations amalgamated and agreed to be called the Girls’ Brigade. Cayman officers and Jamaica officers – including myself – we helped to formed the organization which is a combination of the three. The common denominator between the three organizations was that they were all attached to churches, they were all religious organizations. At the international council it was agreed that Girls’ Brigade would help girls to become followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by self-control, reverence, and a sense of responsibility to find the true enrichment of life. This remains the aim throughout the world.

Q: How has the Girls’ Brigade influenced the growth of young girls and women in Cayman?

A: One of the reasons the organization has been so successful is that it trains its officers. You will find that most of the officers have come through the ranks, being a part the organization since they were very small children. We have produced many community leaders, and one of our successes is our leadership training. We have trained lots of young women who are now in the community, in the corporate world, in the government services, and some who are leaders and community activists...because of their training in Girls’ Brigade. One of the assets of the Girls’ Brigade is that we have an International Council, and ever since 1968 every five (5) years (in later years, every 4 years), we have sent officers to the conference and with them a contingent of girls to the camp. We have been to London, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Scotland, Ireland, Cook Islands, Fiji, Australia, and one of the conferences was hosted here in Cayman. We have taken girls all over the world and hey have learned about different cultures and have made friends from around the world. Not only have we been to these international conferences but our officers from Cayman have served on the International council. I did two terms (five years each) as the International Vice President (1968-1973 and 1978-1983). In 1983, I handed the International Vice Presidency over to one of my own girls, Iva Good. She was an International Vice President for five years, and also served as an International President. So the Girls’ Brigade has actually had a Caymanian who has been the International President. Cayman has played a major role on the international scene.

Q: What challenges did you face as an impactful female leader in the community?

A: What challenges? ...Ever since I came to Cayman I have found people to be very cooperative and I have not had any difficulty in finding leaders. All the people that I have become associated with in Girls’ Brigade have all been excellent people. I don’t think about challenges, and I’ve always had support from the church.

Q: How did you keep yourself motivated to make a difference for women in the church and in Cayman?

A: Well, my motivation originally was from a sermon I heard one Sunday that indicated that every Christian or every person really has a spiritual talent as well as a natural talent. Each person has to work out for themselves (with the help of God) what that supernatural talent is. I decided, after praying about it...I thought my natural talent was leadership and administration. So I did my best to equip myself in those areas. I went to Sunday school teacher training courses, I went to Girls’ Brigade training courses for leadership, and I went to Scotland for camping and got my officer’s first class camping license so I could take girls’ to camp. I tried to equip myself for leadership! All through my career I believe that I have been doing what God put me on Earth to do. When God calls you to do something, God equips you! Through my career I have relied on what I call my “supernatural talent”, to help me to see what needs to be done. I like to think of myself as someone who makes things happen.

Q: What advice do you have for young female leaders?

A: If you’re going to be a leader, especially a Christian leader, you need to be very close to God. You need to know your Bible, and you need to take advantage of all the opportunities that the secular world offers for training and life skills. Be prepared to give time and effort to equipping yourself to lead others. However, the most important thing is to believe that you have been called, that you are working within the will of God, and that God is leading you and training you and leading the way. If I told you my life story, you would see that from one thing to the next that I’ve done since I was a child has all been leading me in the direction that God has wanted me to go.

Posted by: Communications Team Friday Mar 09, 2018 12:02
Categories: | Tags:

United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands