DAYTON, Ind. – The Dayton United Methodist Church has severed ties with the Boy Scouts of America, becoming the only church in The Indiana Conference with a charter partnership to do so to-date.

On June 11, the church’s administrative council voted unanimously not to renew the charter for Cub Scout Pack 3316.

In a statement to the congregation read Sunday, June 16, by Pastor Mike Dominick, the church’s administrative council stated: “This action was taken in response to the recent action of the Boy Scouts of America to open its membership to homosexual members. The issue, for us, is Biblical faithfulness. We hold no ill will toward the members or leaders of Cub Scout Pack 3316, nor toward any other persons.

“We disagree with the direction being taken by the Boy Scouts of America. We believe the stated position of The United Methodist Church is Biblical: that all persons of any sexual orientation are persons of sacred worth, but that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. We love all people, but we do not endorse all lifestyles. We wish only grace and peace for those who disagree with us.”

Chris Mehaffey, Scout executive for the Sagamore Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said the local organization respects the church’s decision.

The decision comes in the wake of the Boy Scouts of America’s recent move to extend membership to openly gay youth. Such decisions about organizational relationships rests with each congregation, not with the annual conference.

According to Scouting’s website, on May 23, 1,232 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America voted on a resolution that maintains its current membership policy for all adult leaders and states that youth may not be denied membership in the BSA on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone. The resolution passed with 757 votes, a 61 percent majority.

Following the Boy Scouts’ decision, Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner issued a statement to reporters saying, “The decision by the Boy Scouts of America to welcome all boys as Scouts without regard to their own perceived sexual orientation brings the BSA into alignment with the Social Principles of our United Methodist Church, where we encourage all of our churches to be in ministry to and with all persons.

“I trust that our many congregations who sponsor Scout troops will continue to do so, because I believe Scouting ministries are an excellent way for us to be in ministry to boys and girls.”

Less than week after Dayton United Methodist Church announced it was severing ties with Cub Scout Pack 3316, the Scouts found a new charter home. The ruling board at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Dayton voted unanimously June 18 to become the pack’s new charter organization. Pack 3316 had until Jan. 1 to find a new charter partner.

Scouting and UMC

“The United Methodist Church is the second largest sponsor of the Boy Scouts with 363,876 Scouts in 10,868 units chartered by 6,700 churches,” said Larry Coppock director of scouting ministry for the denomination. “I would love to see those numbers increase. Scouting remains one of the finest youth-serving agencies in America and it will continue to serve as a positive influence on boys and young men.”

Since the 1996 creation of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, scouting ministry has expanded to include the BSA, Girl Scouts of America, 4-H, Camp Fire USA and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Within the past three years, the office has recruited and trained 215 persons to serve as scouting ministry specialists to encourage churches to expand their ministries to the community through these youth-serving programs.

“More than 1.5 million participants and family members are estimated to be affected by scouting ministries in the United Methodist Church,” said Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on United Methodist Men.

“Scouting ministries provide local congregations the opportunity to mentor children and youth in the areas of spiritual and character development through service projects, Bible-based resources, and healthy peer and intergenerational relationships.”

Information from the Lafayette Journal Courier and UMNS was used in writing this story.