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Church cuts ties with Scout pack over policy on gays

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Collinsville Church of Christ, which is not affiliated with a denomination, recently cut ties with Cub Scout Pack 166 because of the national Boy Scouts of America’s new policy of allowing gay Scouts.

Minister Tom Duff said the church elders revoked the pack’s charter. The church is at 2115 Daniels Creek Road

“Our stance is based on scripture,” he said, mentioning Leviticus Chapter 18 and Romans 1:26-29.

Duff also said the Scout Oath says, among other things, “... I will do my best to do my duty to God ... ” and “to keep myself ... morally straight.”

“They (the national Boy Scouts of America) are not holding to the principles they set,” Duff said.

Duff said the church’s decision to revoke the pack’s charter is “no reflection on the kids. They probably don’t know what the term (gay) means.”

Church Elder Jack Beavers said he was in “total agreement” with Duff. “The Bible is very clear about homosexuality,” Beavers said. For the pack to continue to use the church building “would imply we were in agreement to allow homosexuals into the Scouts.”

“The sad fact is the Cub Scouts probably don’t know what caused the problem,” Beavers said.

Beavers and Duff said Scout leaders understood the church’s position and the parting was on good terms.

Duff said to his knowledge, the pack has met at the church for more than 20 years.

According to the church’s Facebook page, “We are the church of the New Testament. We strive to do all things by the pattern of the New Testament.” It also says, “We strive to speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent.”

Pack 166 leader Linda Henley declined to comment. She referred questions to Lew Hege, the Patrick Henry District executive for the Boy Scouts, who could not be reached.

Dan Johnson, scout executive for the Blue Ridge Mountains Council of BSA, said he anticipates another church in the area will soon sponsor the pack.

“We’re sorry they (Collinsville Church of Christ) felt the need to sever ties with scouting but very grateful another church is very willing” to pick up the pack and serve boys in the community.

The Blue Ridge Mountains Council serves 21 counties and nine cities in southwest and south central Virginia, according to its website.

Johnson estimated more than 300 churches in those localities charter scouting units, such as Cub Scout packs and/or Boy Scout troops, and he said, to his knowledge, Collinsville Church of Christ is the first church in those localities to cut ties with scouting.

Officials with several other local churches said or have said they plan to continue to sponsor scouting units.

The Rev. Russell Gresham IV said Bassett Memorial United Methodist Church will continue to be the chartering organization and provide a meeting place for — or sponsor — Pack 68. He said it’s an organization that helps boys develop skills to be productive citizens.

The Rev. Keith Ritchie of First United Methodist Church in Martinsville said, “Scouts are welcome here; this is a hospitable church,” and the church has had a good relationship with scouting, one that has been beneficial to both the church and the Scouts. The church sponsors Pack 63 and Troop 63, according to Ritchie and BSA online information.

Pastor Thomas Durrance said Fieldale United Methodist Church’s relationship with Pack 73 “absolutely” will continue. “The decision of the national Boy Scout board does not affect our relationship with the Cub Scouts here at our church,” he said.

Pastor Kenneth Cleveland of Stanleytown United Methodist Church said it would be inappropriate for him to comment because the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church deals with discipline and polity. “As far as the United Methodist Church is concerned, there is no change,” he said.

“Our denomination has long been a strong supporter of scouting for both girls and boys,” Linda S. Rhodes, director of communications, Virginia Conference, The United Methodist Church, said in a phone interview in May. “I would expect that to continue.”

Pastor Jim Wilson of Ridgeway United Methodist Church said Monday, “we will continue to support our local Scout troop (168). That is in keeping with the discipline of the United Methodist Church to minister to all of God’s children.”

The Rev. Clint Spivey issued a statement in May saying, “Troop 326 at Broad Street Christian Church is as strong as it has ever been, with 35 scouts and many active adult leaders.

“The troop will remain, as it always has been, a chartered member of The Boy Scouts of America,” Spivey’s statement said. “With regard to scout sexuality, Troop 326 has always taught that boys of scouting age should not be sexually active and this will remain the teaching emphasis when discussing such topics as sexuality.”


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