Two organizations that meant the world to me growing up have undergone fundamental changes locally that make my head spin and my heart hurt – the Methodist Church and the Boy Scouts.
As the son of a Methodist preacher, I grew up in the church, from Big Sandy to Commerce and from the second grade on, in Denton.
In some ways I am glad that Dad isn’t around to see the split in the United Methodist Church (UMC), although his reactions would be insightful.
Many area churches are among those leaving the UMC for the Global Methodist Church.
I’ve had a few conversations with some local church members, and while the topic evokes many emotions (one said John Wesley, the denomination’s founder, is rolling in his grave), one of the more prevalent feelings is confusion.
Among the reasons for confusion is that there are still so many unanswered questions about what this new denomination is going to look like.
I’m sure there are intelligent and caring people searching for answers to numerous questions, for issues ranging from finances and property to pastor assignments.
One of the frustrations Dad sometimes had was navigating the church hierarchy – at times a cumbersome bureaucracy – and trying to understand some of the decisions that came from the upper levels. Now the former UM churches will be having to learn a whole new system.
In Mineola, the Boy Scouts are intertwined with the church, which has been its chartering organization. I know a little about that as I was chartering organization representative for the Kiwanis Club in Henrietta, which meant not much more than signing paperwork every year. Still there was the slightest uneasiness of knowing that if the new Scout leader turned out to be a serial killer, it could come back on you.
I have learned that Methodist churches have been one of the premier supporting organizations of Scouting nationwide but have understandably backed away from that relationship given the Boy Scouts of America’s problems that have unfolded over decades of sexual abuse claims.
Coincidentally the split in the Methodist Church also revolves around sexual issues, though it is orientation rather than abuse, like that which has wracked the Catholic Church.
Our Denton Scout troop was supported by the First Baptist Church, and the Methodist church there also sponsored a troop.
If memory serves I stayed through eighth grade.
Our son, Sam (the excellent photographer at the Monitor), made it all the way through to Eagle with lifetime memories that include a trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico and a trip to the National Jamboree.
Hearing that Scouts will likely no longer be present in Wood County is, well, just a shame.
The experiences I had in church and through Scouting have remained with me all these years. They have reinforced life lessons on how to be a good citizen. In the case of church, and especially the youth choir during high school, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that it may have saved me from going down some very dark paths.
Only time will tell if the Methodist Church split was a good thing, a bad thing or a mixed bag. As church goers make their way through this unknown maze, I am sure that as long as they follow the tenets of a loving and caring body, things will work out just fine.
But as for the Scouts, if it is not saved soon by a concerted community effort, we will lose something that would have likely paid great dividends for years to come.
I don’t think we can afford to lose that, and I welcome your thoughts.