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Founder of United Methodist scouting ministries dies

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David W. Worley
Jan. 5, 2006

A UMNS Report
By Rich Peck*

David W. Worley, 72, the first United Methodist scouting executive, died Jan. 1 at his home in Hot Springs, Ark., after a five-and-a-half-year battle with melanoma.

Worley served as director of scouting ministries for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship from 1981 to 1990. During that time, he organized district and conference scouting coordinators and the National Association of United Methodist Scouters, a group later named an affiliate organization to the board. He also launched several fund-raising efforts for scouting ministries, including annual "Bowl-a-Thons," in which sponsors pay bowlers for the number of pins knocked down. In 12 years, Bowl-a-Thons raised $1.2 million.

"We were saddened to hear of the passing of Dave Worley," said Larry Coppock, United Methodist scouting executive with the Commission on United Methodist Men in Nashville, Tenn. "He led my orientation when I first came to the scouting ministry office in the fall of 1997."

Coppock remembered Worley as a "pioneer who laid the groundwork for fund raising" and noted that he originated Bishops' Dinners for Scouting, the primary tool for encouraging churches to charter Scout troops and to sponsor other youth-serving organizations. Because of the early efforts by Worley, Coppock said, the United Methodist Church is now the second-largest church sponsor of Boy Scouts of America, with almost 400,000 youth in 12,000 units, meeting in 8,500 United Methodist churches.

"Dave served with the Boy Scouts and the United Methodist Church to help the denomination to attain the largest BSA membership of any religious body at that time," said James L. Tarr, chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America from 1979 to 1984. "Dave exemplified the principles of scouting: 'Duty to God and country, duty to others and duty to self.'"

Worley was a veteran of the United States Air Force, serving from 1952 to 1954 as a radio-radar technician in the Alaskan Air command. He graduated from Duke University and Duke University Divinity School and was ordained a deacon in the Methodist Church's Virginia Annual (regional) Conference in 1959 and an elder in 1960. He served Virginia churches from 1955 to 1967 before embarking on a career in scouting.

He served Boy Scout councils in Suffolk, Va., Newport News, Va., Glens Falls, N.Y., Springfield, Mass., and Albany, N.Y., before moving to Nashville as the director of scouting ministries for the Board of Discipleship in 1981. In 1990, he was named an associate director of the Relationships Division of the national office of the Boy Scouts in Dallas; he retired from that position in January 1996.

He is survived by his wife, a son, four grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m., Jan. 10 at the Christ of the Hills United Methodist Church, Hot Springs Village. Memorials may be made to Christ of the Hills UMC, 700 Balearic Road, Hot Springs Village, AR 71909; the Good Samaritan Campus 121 Cortez Road, Hot Springs Village, AR 71909; or the Boy Scouts of America, 1325 Walnut Lane, Irving, TX 75015.

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

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or

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