Photo: Greg Nelson and son, Dillon. Greg was the first person to register as a scouting ministry specialist. He knows scouting can reach unchurched families because that's how he became a United Methodist. He started attending a church in Swartz, La., because he was an assistant scoutmaster charted by St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.
NASHVILLE, Tenn.––A total of 234 people have now registered as scouting ministry specialists, so 47 of the 59 annual conferences now have at least one person ready to help neighboring churches establish Boy Scout troops, Girl Scout troops, Cub Scout packs, 4-H clubs, Camp Fire USA clubs, and to encourage church members to participate in a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program.
Twelve people registered as scouting ministry specialists during the July National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, bringing the number of trained volunteers in that state to 13.
In order to be certified, scouting ministry specialists must show proof of having completed the BSA Youth Protection Training or Safe Sanctuaries and Sexual Ethics online course. All candidates must also authorize the Commission on United Methodist Men to conduct a criminal background check. The volunteers are required to have read Scouting Guidelines and they are encouraged to attend scouting webinars or additional training.
These specialists also encourage neighboring churches to establish Programs of Religious Activities (PRAY) activities for young people in their communities. Formerly called God and Country, these studies and awards include “God and Me” (grades 1-3); “God and Family” (grades 4 and 5); “God and Church” (grades 6-8) and “God and Life” (grades 9-12). Some churches have used “God and Church” in their confirmation classes.
Volunteers also encourage churches to consider encouraging youth and adults by presenting awards such as the Good Samaritan Award, the Shepherd Church Charter Recognition, The Cross and Flame Award; The Torch Award, and the Bishop’s Award of Excellence.
Scouting has been part of the Methodist Church’s outreach to children and youth since 1920. More than 1.5 million people are estimated to be affected by scouting ministries in the United Methodist Church.
These programs provide churches with a way to minister to their communities and a way to invite families to consider making a United Methodist Church their spiritual home.