New United Methodist Scout executive laments departure of LDS Church from Boy Scouts
NASHVILLE, Tenn.––Steven Scheid, new director of scouting ministries for the General Commission on United Methodist Men, says he is disappointed in the decision of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) to discontinue its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America at the end of next year.
Decision based on LDS growth outside the U.S.
In the May 8 statement, the LDS Church says it has grown from a "U.S.-centered institution" to an international organization whose members mostly live outside of America's borders. Therefore, it needs to start its own youth program that "serves its members globally."
The LDS Church said the scouting program has “benefited hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saint boys and young men” and it thanked “thousands of Scout leaders and volunteers who have selflessly served over the years in church-sponsored scouting units.”
Largest number of Scouts
In December 2017, 450,743 LDS youth were part of the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs. That’s the highest number of any faith group, about 18.5 percent of the BSA’s total youth membership. The United Methodist Church has the second highest total with 326,421 youth.
The church did not mention any other reasons for its decision to end a 105-year-old relationship.
Scheid reached the rank of Eagle in a LDS troop
The announcement came on the third day of Scheid’s arrival in Nashville from his home in Lexington, S.C.
“The news did give me a moment to reflect,” says Scheid. “I remember growing up in the Great Salt Lake Council where I was a member of LDS Troop 643.
“We camped during the winter snow, swam in the frigid lake at Camp Steiner and burned every food we could carry. I learned a sense of confidence and independence. On the worst rainy day, when the tent leaked and the food you cooked was less than good, there was a law to lean on. A Scout is cheerful. We worked together as patrols and a troop. We learned to live with others even when we disagreed. The traits young men developed in scouting allowed the youth of the church to be able to reach out into the nation and the world.”
Scheid says his experience in scouting prepared him for a two-year LDS mission from Salt Lake City to Nashville. “Not many organizations send their 19-year-old men out to face the world and preach. Armed with the character and the skills of a Scout, living independently a world away is achievable.”
United Methodist pastor grateful for his LDS experience
Speaking today as a person who has served as a licensed local pastor in the United Methodist Church, Scheid says, “My faith has walked a different road from the LDS Church. Christ has taken a central role and I have found the United Methodist Church speaks to my heart daily.”
But, Scheid says he is still grateful for his experiences with the LDS Church.
He recalls the words of his childhood hero Thomas S. Monson who served as the 16th president of The LDS Church from 2008 to his death in 2018. President Monson said, “Brethren, if ever there were a time when the principles of Scouting were vitally needed—that time is now. If ever there were a generation who would benefit by keeping physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight—that generation is the present generation.”
“President Monson’s words ring true for me today,” says Scheid. “Change does come but the need for character remains.”
Wishes Mormons well
The United Methodists Scout leader says he wishes the LDS Church well in their program development.
“My brothers and sisters in LDS youth development are taking another road,” says Scheid. “The cause of aiding the youth of the world is fraught with choices in a rapidly changing world. I pray for all youth across this world. May God pour out blessings upon them.”