Acclaimed Author Named Spokesperson for Scouting Ministry
January 4th, 2010
ATLANTA, Ga.––Alvin Townley, 34, a nationally-acclaimed author who has traveled thousands of miles around the world to write two celebrated books on Eagle Scouts, has been named spokesperson for scouting ministry in the United Methodist Church.
Townley, an Eagle Scout himself, may be the most qualified person in America to tell how scouting can expand the ministry of churches and enrich the lives of young people.
In a 2004 leap of faith, Townley decided to sell his house, quit his job and travel across America to discover the legacy of scouting. During his journey, he met with nationally known leaders who attained the rank of Eagle; men like U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Apollo 13 Commander Jim Lovell; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, businessman Ross Perot, and Bill Gates Sr., co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The result was Townley’s landmark first book: Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America’s Eagle Scouts, published by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press in New York.
Following the release of his first book in 2007, this graduate of Washington and Lee University again hit the road; this time to meet Eagle Scouts in their 20s and 30s who are already making a difference in the lives of others.
His second book, Spirit of Adventure, released in May 2009 by Thomas Dunne Books and St. Martin’s Press, captures the spirit of America’s rising generation. In the book, Townley travels the world to interview Navy SEALs, a NFL Super Bowl starting lineman, an Olympic skiing medalist, CBS Survivor contestants, a marine biologist on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Purple Heart veterans from Iraq, and Peace Corps volunteers in Africa. He even sailed home with Eagle Scouts aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.
Townley will now help United Methodist churches discover the value of scouting ministries.
“Many United Methodist churches are looking for new ways to reach young people,” said Townley. “Scouting is one of the best ways to develop our church’s youth – and also help reach teenagers who are not active members of the church or of United Methodist Youth Fellowships. Scouting empowers young people to realize their potential and prepares them to live a life with passion and a greater purpose. It’s right in line with our church mission.”
Townley now serves as a volunteer commissioner for Troop 455 chartered by Haygood United Methodist Church, an Atlanta church where he is a lifetime member. His grandfather once served as Scoutmaster of Haygood’s troop and his father earned the rank of Eagle Scout there in 1961.
Townley’s primary goals as a spokesperson for scouting ministry are to increase the number of troops now meeting in United Methodist churches and to engage more church members as Scouts and volunteers. He also hopes the scouting program will help churches reach out to the 50 percent of troop members and their families who have no church home.
“There are so many United Methodists who are former Scouts who could make outstanding Scout leaders if they were challenged or simply invited to use their skills and knowledge,” said Townley. “Scouting is a perfect avenue to engage adults in the process of growing our church and developing America’s next generation of leaders.”
This adventurous writer, Eagle Scout, and volunteer leader will also be one of the speakers at the August 1 United Methodist worship service at the National Jamboree of Scouting in Fort AP Hill, Va., and at the September meeting of the General Commission on United Methodist Men in Nashville. Not one to stand still, Townley has begun another around-the-world “adventure with a purpose,” as he calls it, and is working with the U.S. Navy to write an already-anticipated book about naval aviation, due out in 2011.
“We are pleased to have Alvin as our spokesperson for scouting ministries,” said Larry Coppock, national director of scouting ministries for the General Commission on United Methodist Men. “He truly embodies the soul of this ministry in his achievements as an Eagle Scout, his enterprising and adventurous spirit, and his commitment to the ministries of the United Methodist Church.”