Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The End of our Cub Scouts

In the last couple of weeks, our family saw the moving on from Cub Scouting. Andrew was promoted from Webelos to Boy Scouts. We are very proud of him because he was able to complete his requirements for the Arrow of Light. This is the only recognition of Cub Scouting that can be carried into Boy Scouts. It requires learning the basic meaning of the Boy Scouts including knowing the Boy Scout Law, Motto, and Oath. It was a big moment for him.

It was also a big moment for our family. We started working with Cub Scouts 8 years ago. It started with Nick as a Tiger Cub. It us required to attend regular meetings and going to see places. It led us to new relationships. It necessitated the purchase of three tents so we could camp in cold and windy places with bathroom facilities that were neither rooms nor allowed bathing. Cub Scouts allowed us to watch boys learn about qualities that good men  possess. They discovered the meaning of citizenship, responsibility, and imagination. Now, 8 years later, we have no more Cub Scouts.

As we prepare to transition to Boy Scouts with both boys, we are ready to see our boys become young men we can be proud of. We have hopes and expectations of what will happen as they move forward through the ranks.

The reason I love the boys' experience of Scouting is that I didn't get to experience Scouting myself. I wanted to be a part of Scouting. It just wasn't feasible when and where I grew up. I get to see some of what it means to be a Scout in and through my boys. I don't know what impact their time in Scouting will have on Nick and Andrew. But I believe it is part of shaping them into responsible, helpful, and faithful men.

That brings me to recent decisions within the Boy Scout organization. Recently, it was decided by the national organization to take a clearer position regarding the discussion of homosexuality. That decision is best summed up in saying that youth who identify themselves as homosexual are welcome to participate in Scouting programs. The decision of the Boy Scouts of America did not speak to adults who identify themselves as homosexual.

I know this decision doesn't please some people. There are strong feelings on both side of this issue. There is also a lot of misunderstanding. I can't possibly bring clarity to the larger issue. All I can do is clarify how I operate within a given circumstance.

I accept the decision of the Boy Scouts with respect for the choice they have made. Boy Scouts had been about accepting boys and young men and sharing with them qualities that help them become men of character with qualities that support our nation, communities, and families. Removing a barrier to acceptance only allows more young men to be so developed.

As a United Methodist clergy member, I have to look to our Book of Discipline for guidelines on ministry. We support that all people are worthy of our ministries without regard to how a person may identify themselves or be identified by others. The Boy Scouts are a vital ministry within the United Methodist Church. In churches I serve as pastor, I see that ministries should be open and accepting of anyone who seeks to better themsleves through those ministries. At this time I will continue to support Scouting and encourage its inclusion in the local church.