AWF UMC Conference Moving Forward, Beyond the BSA Decision
(Vaughn Nichols-AWF Scouting Coordinator) - Over the last six months we have spent quite a bit of time waiting to see how we would implement whatever decision the Boy Scouts of America might make related to a proposed change in membership policy. On May 23rd after the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units. The BSA is an independent organization that transcends denominations; thus, their recent decision is not a denominational issue.
The Boy Scouts of America have restated that they will not sacrifice its mission to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetime by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law or the youth served by the scouting program by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved social issue. It should be pointed out that sexual education or any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is contrary to the virtues of scouting, not a part of the scouting program and violates the Youth Protection guidelines considering scouting youth are of minor ages.
Neither the United Methodist Church nor any other religious organization was a part of this decision. There are disheartened and disappointed people on both sides of this issue, but it is time to move forward and continue to promote scouting as a youth ministry as we are doing now. The UMC has stated in our Discipline that our doors are open to all people and in fact none of us are perfect therefore all need to be involved in a church in order to become more like Christ.
Each individual church is the chartering organization and must decide for itself whether BSA continues to provide a positive program to introduce the Christian faith to young people as it has for the past 103 years. The AWF UMC Conference does not insist that every church start a BSA program nor does it insist that churches discontinue BSA programs. Our primary concern as a church should be to bring young men and women to Christ. That is our criterion when we judge whether BSA is a viable program to accomplish that goal. In doing so we must follow the Scouting Program, the Youth Protection program of Scouting and Safe Sanctuaries of the UMC.
“The righteous keep moving forward and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.” –– Job 17:9.
The right thing to do is move forward with energy, passion and dedication to what we are about: making disciples of Jesus Christ. Trust in Jesus, our Lord, to lead the way.