North Georgia Conference expands scouting opportunities
CUMMING, Ga.––There are over 450 Boy Scout units in the 900 congregations of the North Georgia Annual Conference.
No single individual can meet the needs of those 450-plus units, nor can any single individual challenge the 670 congregations that do not use scouting as a way to minister to their communities.
Barry Herrin, scouting ministry coordinator for the conference, is drafting scouting ministry specialists (SMSs) to serve on the nine Scout councils and the 12 districts within the conference.
More than a cool patch
“Some people sign up to become SMSs just because they get a cool Scout patch,” says Herrin. “My team uses that SMS list to prospect for people who will serve on Scout council religious relations committees, to provide services conference-wide on our UM Committee on Scouting, and to act as ‘religious unit commissioners’ to provide service and support to existing units and to meet with church leaders who are considering dropping or adding a pack or a troop.”
Herrin says having a conference representative on each of the nine Scout councils within the conference helps both the scouting movement and local churches respond to needs and provide resources. “While I was attending the Atlanta Area BSA Council Religious Relations Committee meeting, I found they wanted a ‘Messengers for Peace’ project for a Duty to God Encampment,” he says. “I contacted the UM Committee on Relief for information about flood buckets and provided that information to the encampment leaders.”
Herrin reports that, as a result of that information, the 200 campers at the 2014 September encampment prepared 15 flood buckets.
Herrin also recalled a district Scout executive telling him a local church was about to discontinue three Scout units. He immediately sent a SMS to discuss the issue with church leaders.
Plugged into training
Herrin regards the scouting ministry specialist program as a major ally as it keeps volunteers plugged into the training and resources provided by the General Commission on UM Men.
Tapping into a $2,500 annual budget from the North Georgia Board of Laity, the Conference Scouting Committee is able to provide scholarship funds for people who attend national training events on scouting ministries and for churches who are not able to fund recognition awards for deserving Scout units or leaders.
Herrin also developed recognition coins that team members use to recognize UM leaders in scouting, Scouts receiving their Eagle award as a part of a troop chartered to a UM congregation, and others.
“The North Georgia Conference serves as an example for other annual conferences,” says Larry Coppock, director of scouting ministry for the commission. “I especially appreciate the coins they present as tokens of appreciation to their volunteers.”
“SMSs not only create and service units but they provide ministry opportunities that serve as entry points to make disciples. Barry and his North Georgia colleagues understand the value of being servant leaders for Christ through scouting.”