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By Bill Chaffin, Virginia Conference Scouting Coordinator

We in the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church will be celebrating our Boy Scout programs, now over 100 years old, in February.  All worship, all celebration is different these days.  That is not news to any of us.  Regretfully many will not have the opportunity to worship with our young uniformed men and women in our churches then. Many will use the new tried-and-true Zoom worship.  Many will celebrate in limited numbers, all socially distanced or in a myriad of other ways. For those of you with active scouting programs what does it feel like without uniformed youth…young men and women not roaming your halls, cooking Brunswick Stew, selling popcorn, setting up tents, learning about God, and cleaning up around your church? Things are different but our youth still need great programs and leaders.  But young women and young men learning, sharing and enjoying life skills are around; we just don’t see them as much in today’s COVID-19 world.  They are still learning and practicing first aid skills to geocaching, Citizenship in home, community, nation and the world, over one hundred and twenty more. Each possibly setting groundwork for serving others and a passionate career. 

Living on values set over a hundred years ago in the United States.  And in 1920 the United Methodist Church looked to the Boy Scouts of America and not only liked what they were going but offered a partnership, an allegiance.  So through these one hundred years millions of American young men and recently young women have been embedded with skills, abilities, talents, knowledge, and passions staging them to lead businesses, governments, families, teams and others in the years to come all queued to step strongly into their future.

The United Methodist Church is the number one sponsor of BSA units in our country. COVID-19 has stifled, redirected so much in our churches.  Your church may not have a scouting celebration this year. You may not see scouts handing you a bulletin or offering a prayer. You may not have youth stepping forward to be recognized having earned P.R.A.Y. Jesus & Me, God & Me, God & Family, God & Church, or God & Life.  In these programs they may have discovered God, learned more about Him and discovered a foundation block for their life.

Frankly in most of our Conference churches we may rarely see all the great things these scouts are doing and learning.
You may not have the opportunity to stand in honor when asked to proudly stand if you were a Scout or a Scout Leader.
However, fellow brethren in the Virginia Conference, think all you will miss on this 100th Scout Sunday in the Methodist Church.  Honestly, when loved ones are far away, in different ways we can still celebrate them.  So it is with our scouts. But in this time we each have the opportunity to look to BSA units in our churches and offer congratulations to them and even offer yourself in time and effort to enhance so much what these young men and young women who come into our churches learn.  You can aid building the foundation blocks.  God willing next year you can proudly sit in your pews and see results of your efforts all the while knowing what you have shared and taught in the Scouting year.  Know that you have done all our God has asked of us.

Perhaps Scout Sunday 2022 you may stand and add your name to those guiding the youth sponsored by your church.  As we’ve said so many, many times leave a trace of who you are as a follower of Christ and your church as a welcoming faith home. 

We should be in celebration on February 14, 2021 of our Boy Scouts of America.  Many churches celebrate Scout Sunday the first Sunday of February.  Most of us in the United Methodist Church wait until the second Sunday so we do not conflict with communion.  Also many support scouting Boy Scout and Girl Scout together and some honor the Girl Scout programs in our churches on March 7th.  Regardless of the month or date we should be in celebration of these programs affiliated with our local church.  When you encounter a scout introduce yourself to them and thank them for being a scout.  If you know some adult in your church or neighborhood simply thank them for serving our youth. That is a gift itself.  And don’t forget to welcome them and their families to join you when your church doors reopen.   May our omnipotent and everlasting God bless and keep you and your families in all you do. Thank you UMC and BSA!

For more information about Virginia Conference Scouting Ministries, contact: Bill Chaffin, Scouting Coordinator, 2020 Buford Rd, North Chesterfield, VA 23235, (804) 356-6075, bcumcbsa@juno.com