From John Croft

United Methodist Men and Boy Scouting

(John Croft-AWF UMM President) - As you probably know by now, the leaders of Boy Scouting on May 23 voted to lift any restrictions on Boy Scout youth membership based on sexual orientation. However, two things did not happen: Boy Scouts did not lift a ban on adult homosexual Scouters, and UMM did not endorse the change.

In the little more than a week between that decision by Boy Scouting officials and annual conference, Vaughn Nichols, your AWFUMC scouting coordinator, and I, your UMM conference president, have discussed the impact of this decision on the churches and UMM in our conference. We have prayed over the matter, sought the input of the General Commission of United Methodist Men, talked with several of our district Scouting coordinators, discussed church polity with Bishop Leeland, and welcomed the input of thoughtful Christians.

Below we offer you the fruit of our labor: a policy statement Vaughn presented to our conference Board of Laity on Sunday, June 2, the opening day of annual conference; a set of bullet points and references to the Discipline I used in my report to the annual conference on Wednesday, and an essay given to us by Bo Sharpless, our Pensacola District scouting coordinator. The essay was written by Chris Aiken, a Baptist minister and chaplain of a BSA troop. I believe that it beautifully describes the Christian’s dilemma in dealing with this issue and heartily recommend it to you.

I will also note two other things as you peruse these pieces: the decision to remain affiliated with Boy Scouts is a personal decision and a church decision. Neither the district superintendent, the Bishop, the conference leadership of UMM or the General Commission on United Methodist Men can tell you what you as an individual or a church must do. This material is simply a recommendation. And secondly, input into these three documents came from a number of people who have had a rich history with Scouting. Bishop Leeland, Vaughn, and I are all Life Scouts with sons who are Eagle scouts.