Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Oxford Churches To Continue Support of Boy Scouts

Pictured attending BSA Camp Yocona, all four of these young cubs now are Eagle Scouts. From left are Hale Houston, Drew Mulkey, Ben Wright, and Gage Dorris. Scouting receives strong support from the Oxford Community which recently dedicated the  Bob Dunlap Pavilion at recently established Camp Toby Tubby located at the Clear Creek Recreation Area on Sardis Lake.
Pictured attending BSA Camp Yocona, all four of these young cubs now are Eagle Scouts. From left are Hale Houston, Drew Mulkey, Ben Wright, and Gage Dorris. Scouting receives strong support from the Oxford Community which recently dedicated the Bob Dunlap Pavilion at recently established Camp Toby Tubby located at the Clear Creek Recreation Area on Sardis Lake.

While some churches across the nation and in North Mississippi are abandoning their sponsorship of scouting as the national council of Boy Scouts of America (BSA) voted to admit gay Scouts, Oxford churches will continue their aggressive support.

According to Rick Chapman, scout executive for the Yocona Area Council which covers Northeast Mississippi, at least three Baptist churches, two in Pontotoc County and one in Corinth, have withdrawn their support of scouting in protest to the admission of gays.

“There are other churches considering their positions of support,” he said.

The national council of BSA recently voted to allow gay youth to participate in scouting, but not to permit adult gay leaders.

“There have been no conversations regarding scouting, but this it is my decision, and I want to continue our support of scouting without question,” said Dr. Gary Richardson, pastor of North Oxford Baptist Church. North Oxford sponsors Troop 146, one of the larger troops in the region.

Oxford Churches To Continue Support of Boy Scouts
Scouts gather for a Court of Honor

“The decision to admit gay youth and not admit gay adult leaders was a good balance. I am not sure I would feel the same way if gay leaders were permitted,” he said.

News reports indicate some Baptist churches are abandoning scouting, and one CNN report suggests a mass exit after possible action is taken by the Southern Baptist Convention at its annual meeting next week. However, Robert Oldham, spokesman for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “There has not even been a resolution written. If that happens, it will be early next Wednesday before the convention opens, followed by open debate.”

”Regardless of any resolution, churches which belong to the Southern Baptist Convention are totally independent. A resolution has no binding effect,” he said.

The Church of the Latter-Day Saints, a Morman Church with 16 million members and 45,000 congregations, sponsors some 4,000 scout activities.

“I am certain our church will continue it’s long-standing relationship with scouting and continue to sponsor our troop,” said Paul Roberts, a local church member of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints. Roberts is former scoutmaster and an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi.

Father Jay Tonas, Rector of Oxford’s St. John’s Catholic Church which sponsors a local troop, said his church supports the BSA action which is “consistent with our teaching and beliefs.”

“We don’t believe in any kind of discrimination in any way,” he said.

Jim Greenlee, trustee chairman of Oxford-University United Methodist Church, said OU Methodist will continue its nearly 50 year tradition of supporting scouting while Pastor Warren Black said that he wants to “gather our Eagle Scouts to discuss how we can strengthen our support of scouting.”

Oxford’s First Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest churches in the county, has long supported scouting. Currently, the church sponsors Troop 45, which is provided meeting space in the church basement. Pastor John Simmes said his congregation will continue to actively support scouting.

Roughly 61 percent of the 1,400 delegates to the National Boy Scout Conference voted to admit gay scouts, reversing a long-held tradition.

In advance of the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and a possible vote on a resolution, R.Chip Turner, chairman of the BSA Religious Relationships Task Force and past president of the Association of Baptist for Scouting, urged Baptist congregations to carefully consider their decisions. Writing in the The Baptist Standard, Turner said “the Great Commission (to reach all people) remains unchanged, and no vote can alter this reality. As ‘fishers of men’ are we not to not go where the fish are located?,”  he asked in the May 24 report. –– Jim Roberts, staff writer, HottyToddy.com

Email Jim Roberts at hottytoddynews@gmail.com

Members of Troop 45 gather for a photo op before embarking on a camping expedition.
Members of Troop 45 gather for a photo op before embarking on a camping expedition.
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