News Archives

Churches asked to strengthen ties with scouting units

7/23/2003 News media contact: Kathy Gilbert · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

This report may be used as a sidebar to UMNS story #371.

By J. Richard Peck*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - United Methodists, already major sponsors of scouting programs, will be asked to strengthen their congregations' ties with scouting when the church's lawmaking assembly meets next spring.

United Methodist churches sponsor 408,000 Boy Scouts and Venture Crews - which are coeducational groups - in 12,200 units. That's the highest number in any denomination, according to the church's Commission on United Methodist Men in Nashville. The number of Venture Crews units has doubled in the last five years.

The denomination also has 108,000 Girl Scouts in 15,000 troops - figures that are also believed to be the highest among all churches.

In an effort to strengthen local church ties to scouting, the Commission on United Methodist Men will ask the church's General Conference to define the duties of a scouting coordinator who would relate to the church council, the church school superintendent and the coordinators of children and youth ministries. Some churches already have such a coordinator, but many do not.

The coordinator would work with the pastor to plan Scouting Ministries Sunday and promote recognition awards, including the Bishop's Award of Excellence for scouting units, the Cross and Flame, and the Good Samaritan.

The commission discussed scouting, General Conference legislation and other concerns during its July 17-20 meeting. The legislative assembly will meet April 27-May 7 in Pittsburgh.

To promote the formation of scouting units, the commission is encouraging bishops across the denomination to host dinners in their annual conferences.

The denomination tops the list of churches using God and Country Awards for scouts and youth. More than 8,400 were earned in 2002. The program includes God and Me for grades 1-3, God and Family for grades 4-5, God and Church for grades 6-8, and God and Life for grades 9-12. Some churches use this material as a part of confirmation training.

The commission is also inviting church leaders to consider giving Good Samaritan Awards to youth ages 12-19. The awards can be given to any scout or youth who demonstrates the attributes of the Good Samaritan described in Luke 10:25-37. At its recent meeting, the commission agreed to raise the top age to 21.

Commissioners also learned that their agency, in partnership with the National Association of Scouters and the United Methodist Foundation, led an effort to send more than 8,500 Bibles to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico this year. The Bibles are distributed to scouts who attend the Protestant Chapel Service each evening at base camp.

More information about scouting is available from the Office of Civic Youth-Serving Agencies/Scouting, P.O. Box 340006, Nashville, TN 37203-0006; phone: (615) 340-7129. The National Association of United Methodist Scouters has a Web page at www.naums.org.

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*Peck is the communications coordinator for the Commission on United Methodist Men.

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