United Churches of Christ and Boy Scouts sign Historic Agreement
The United Church of Christ and the Boy Scouts of America re-established a formal relationship today (Oct. 5) with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding regarding local UCC congregations chartering Scout troops.
Signed by Michael B. Surbaugh, BSA chief scout executive, and the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, the document affirms the recently-adopted BSA resolution that removed the restriction on gay adult leaders and employees, and formally states that UCC congregations chartering BSA units can conduct scouting programs according to their own values of inclusion and extravagant welcome for all.
The agreement follows similar recent moves by the Unitarian Univeralist Association, and the Union for Reform Judaism. About those earlier moves Zach Wahls an Eagle Scout, and Executive Director of Scouts for Equality had this to say, “We are planning to work with our members and partners to charter 1,000 new Boy Scout units in the next twenty-four months. With both the Unitarian Universalist Association and Union for Reformed Judiasim back, it’s clear we’re off to a great start.” Asked about the UCC’s new agreement with Boy Scouts of America, Cathie Adams, President of Texas Eagle Forum, and former Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas issued the following statement to Faith That Inspires Action, “I suggest that parents take note of what is being taught to their children in churches and schools. It must be consistent with their beliefs. If it is not, then they must protect their children from strange teachings. Train up a child in the way he should go is NOT only a suggestion. It is a tried and true principle that promises blessings to the children and their parents.”
Rev. John C. Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, who signed the agreement on behalf of The Church of Christ, had this to say, ” As a former Boy Scout growing up, and one committed to the open and affirming ministry of the United Church of Christ, it brought me a great deal of pride and satisfaction to be able to sign my name to that memorandum of understanding,”
Speaking about the July policy change that made this agreement possible Robert M. Gates National President of the Boy Scouts of America said ““Everyone associated with scouting agrees to follow national policies and comply with BSA’s behavioral standards; no youth may be denied membership to our organization on the basis of sexual orientation; and no council can deny a charter to a unit that is following the beliefs of its religious chartering organization.”
The UCC had pulled back from any formal ties and had withdrawn its letter of endorsement in 2001 because of BSA policies of excluding boys and men based on sexual orientation. The BSA changed its policy regarding youth in 2013.
The MOU states, in part, that “the United Church of Christ and the Boy Scouts of America will work cooperatively with each other within the policies and regulations of each organization to establish and nurture scouting units as an expression of the nurture and outreach of the ministry of the United Church of Christ and its member congregations so that boys, young adults, and adults may grow in their relationships with God, develop into responsible citizens, serve the needs of others, and develop personal fitness to achieve their greatest potential.”
“Since its founding more than 100 years ago, scouting has been important to many congregations in United Church of Christ. Today UCC congregations sponsor more than 1,000 units of scouting with nearly 28,000 participants,” Schuenemeyer said. “Our commitments to justice and the inclusion of all people in the life of the church continue to call us to engage in actions that promote a just and peaceful world that affirms the gifts and ministry of each individual. That is why we welcome this opportunity to engage with colleagues in Scouting, the UCC and other faith traditions to foster inclusive Scouting programs.”
Read the text of the Memorandum of Understanding.
Editor’s Note: Large Portions of this article were taken from a United Church of Christ press release authored by Barb Powell.