From Boy Scouts to “A Way Forward” to “But it won’t end there”

by Jamie Westlake

The church I am privileged to serve (First UMC of Brandon) is theologically orthodox and evangelical in our expression, and in the midst of the controversy that the Boy Scouts of America has found itself in, we have decided to be the chartering organization for a Trail Life Boys Troop (which quickly has grown to 45 active boys) and the American Heritage Girls (65 active girls) while still offering hospitality to local Boy and Girl Scout Troops with different sponsoring organizations. We plan to continue to offer this hospitality.

I do think what we’ve seen happen in the BSA over the last few years is indicative of what the United Methodist Church could anticipate if “The Way Forward” or the Connectional Table proposals (local options) are adopted at General Conference in 2016. In 2012, for example, many BSA troops didn’t imagine the decision from 2013 to allow GBLTQ boys to be a part of local troops would come so quickly. At that time the executives sold the decision to rank and file members by saying this expansion didn’t (and wouldn’t) include leadership.

Now just two years later there is another shift in policy, and they say “This is it; you still have local freedom to do as you please as it relates to GBLTQ leaders,” but it won’t be the end of this slippery slope, because the people demanding the changes won’t settle for such small victories. I also doubt the corporate funding the BSA expects to return will be on the way just yet. Troops that refuse to allow GBLTQ leadership will now be targeted for attack by outside organizations, and this should be diagnostic for what awaits us if “The Way Forward” or the Connectional Table proposals are adopted. Such local options will cause chaos, and strong evangelical, orthodox congregations will then be targeted by activists who aren’t invested in making more and better disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Just my take on what may be in our future.

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