Happy 100th birthday to Methodist Scouting
Scouting was officially recognized by the Methodist Episcopal Church in February 1920.
In truth, Methodist churches were supporting Scout troops prior to 1920 when James V. Thompson, superintendent of Young People’s Sunday School, wrote to James E. West, the Chief Scout of BSA.
But that letter marks the first formal relationship between the Methodist Episcopal Church and Boy Scouts of America.
First local church
Grace Methodist Church in Delaware, Ohio, may be the first local church to sponsor a troop. In 1908 The Rev. L. Eugen Rush wanted to keep Methodist boys off the streets, and he founded the Eastside Roughnecks. The name was eventually changed to the East Side Gang and they became involved in activities like Scout troops engage in today.
Rush later contacted Sir Robert Baden-Powell, a British military hero who founded the Boy Scouts in England.
Baden Powell sent Rush a charter, making East Side Gang a troop in the British Scouting movement.
When the Boy Scouts came to America in 1910, Rush’s troop became Troop No. 1 in Delaware, Ohio. Now there is a Number One BSA Troop in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. There were dozens of Methodist Churches in 1908-1909 who had established Boy Scout Troops. They joined the BSA after its creation in 1910. The pastor was often the first Scoutmaster. The connection of values, character, and the church was natural.
UM Men take the lead
The Center for Scouting Ministries of the General Commission on UM Men takes the lead in nurturing scouting ministries in the denomination. Today 3,111 UM congregations charter 9,611 Scout units serving 309,739 young people. UM churches provide home base for more Scouts than any other denomination in America.
The UMC designates the second Sunday in February for Boy Scouts of America and the second Sunday in March for Girl Scouts of the USA. Many congregations use a Sunday of their choice to celebrate all ministries offered in collaboration with the Center for Scouting Ministries.
Scouting ministry specialists
There are 171 active scouting ministry volunteers serving conference, district and local church Scout units across the U.S. These specialists encourage local churches to sponsor Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY) classes for four age groups. Some pastors use God and Church courses in confirmation classes. In addition, these scouting ministry specialists provide churches with information about awards to honor Scouts and express appreciation to leaders.