‘We’re not going on a vacation’
UM clergy prepare for National Scout Jamboree
NASHVILLE, Tenn.––Sixteen UM clergypersons came to the national office of the Commission on UM Men to prepare for service as chaplains of the July 19-28 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia.
“We’re not going on a vacation,” said the Rev. Jason Fry, pastor of Grace UMC in Corpus Christi, Texas, and leader of the April 24-25 training event. “We are also not going as United Methodist chaplains. We are going as Jamboree chaplains who happen to be United Methodists. We are there to serve all Scouts, Scouters, and staff of all faith groups in our area of responsibility. Scouting is an interfaith environment and we serve alongside our interfaith colleagues.”
The 77 chaplains to the 28,000 Scouts and leaders and the 6,000 jamboree staff will come from a variety of Christian denominations as well as Jewish and Muslim faith communities.
After serving in two previous jamborees and the National BSA Religious Relations Committee, Jason will serve in the jamboree headquarters area as the chief liaison with the medical staff. Two of the UM chaplains will serve as lead chaplains of the six 5,000-member base camps. Twelve will serve in sub-camps, and two will serve in the Duty to God area where religious organizations host exhibit areas. One of the chaplains may also be asked to visit Scouts or leaders who have been rushed to area hospitals.
A graduate of Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, Ky. (M.Div.), and United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio (D.Min.), Jason said that while chaplains must deal with conflicts between adult leaders, injured youth and adults, and even death, their most important function is a “ministry of presence.” to the 34,000 participants at the jamboree.
Scouts and leaders will attend at least one worship service during their 10-day adventure in the 70,000 acres of managed wilderness and the New River Gorge River.
Following a July 23 Protestant worship service, Scouts and leaders will be invited to attend a United Methodist Communion service led by West Virginia Area Bishop Sandra L. Steiner Ball assisted by the UM chaplains. Participants in that service will be given the Scout edition of Strength for Service to God and Country.
Jason has been married to Joan for 39 years and the couple have two adult children, Sarah, a pediatric nurse, and John a PhD candidate at the University of Texas. They are used to Jason leaving home for Scout trips.
Members of Grace UMC, home of a Boy Scout troop, a Cub Scout pack, a Venturing crew and a Girl Scout group, are also used to sharing their pastor with the district, regional and national Scout adventures.