There are 127 scouting ministry specialists in the United Methodist Church. Each one of these volunteers helps area churches understand how Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts, Campfire USA, and Big Brothers Big Sisters can enrich and expand their ministries to youth within and beyond their local congregations.
Steve Bays, a scouting ministry specialist in Kentucky, also helps churches understand how the Christian education program of St. Louis-based Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY) can provide their young people with educational opportunities beyond the Sunday morning classroom. He serves as the Boy Scout Council Religious Emblems Coordinator for the Lincoln Heritage Council, and he is currently recruiting district religious emblems coordinators for the eight districts in the council to help promote the religious emblems programs.
Bays also makes sure there is a display of PRAY materials and opportunities at Boy Scout Council meetings and district events. The display includes information on awards for churches, adults, and young people as well as samples of PRAY books.
The PRAY program replaces for former God and Country Award program and includes God and Me (grades 1-3) God and Family (grades 4-5), God and Church (grades 6-8) and God and Life (grades 9-12). The God and Church program is used by some churches as part of their confirmation training. Sometimes young people who are not church members take the God and Life course and become church members. When that happens, their families frequently join their sons and daughters as members of the faith community.
Bays receives support from the Kentucky Conference United Methodist Men. This year he hosted a booth on scouting ministry and the PRAY awards adjacent to the United Methodist Men booth at the June session of the Kentucky Annual Conference in Covington, Ky.
“I talked with many pastors and people who said they did not have scouting because they were a small church and did not have young families,” observed Bays. “I replied that was even more a reason for them to have scouting to help their church grow and bring young families and children into their congregation.”
“One day the booth was manned by a scouting district executive from our local conference,” says Bays. “He was able to meet pastors and talk about scouting to those that had a scouting ministry and talk with those that did not. This was a great opportunity to talk about scouting to a large group in one location.”
Bays encourages other scouting ministry specialists to provide similar display areas at a variety of events.
“The booth was easy to prepare and set up. I had assistance from the Scouting Ministry office for any literature I needed. I also received a scouting banner, scout stickers, and other scouting literature from our local council office.”
Bays expressed gratitude to United Methodist Men for paying for the booth space, and he says he will participate again next year and invite other scouting ministry specialists to help.
Bays advises other scouting ministry specialist to work closely with your local BSA council office, the General Commission on United Methodist Men, and your bishop and/or district superintendents. “You will get lots of support and assistance,” says Bays.