United Methodist Church welcomes scouts displaced Baptists

United Methodist Church welcomes scouts displaced by Southern Baptists

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"To love your neighbor is to love your neighbor without conditions," Chuck Jones, the president of the National Association of United Methodist Scouters, said. "To love your neighbor is to love your neighbor without conditions," Chuck Jones, the president of the National Association of United Methodist Scouters, said.
"Really, there wouldn't be scouting programs if it weren't for the churches," said Larry Brown, Scout Executive for the Great Smoky Mountain Council. "Really, there wouldn't be scouting programs if it weren't for the churches," said Larry Brown, Scout Executive for the Great Smoky Mountain Council.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - After the Southern Baptist Convention came out against allowing gay Boy Scouts, another denomination announces they will welcome all scouts with open arms.

The United Methodist Church said any troops who lose their Southern Baptist sponsorship can find a new home with them.

"Really, there wouldn't be scouting programs if it weren't for the churches," said Larry Brown, Scout Executive for the Great Smoky Mountain Council. It covers more than 11,000 Boy Scouts in 21 East Tennessee counties.

"A lot of leaders are deciding whether or not they're going to stick with the Boy Scouts," Brown said.

So far, he said, 10 of the nearly 4,000 local scout leaders have resigned over the inclusion of gay youth. Now there's another hurdle with the Southern Baptist Convention voting to support churches who cut ties with the Boy Scouts. 

"We have had a couple of churches that have said that," Brown said. "We're trying to talk with them and have a conversation about the new policy and what their concerns are."

Meanwhile, the United Methodist Church has announced they support the Boys Scouts lifting the ban on gay scouts.

"Our troops are open to all persons, regardless," said Chuck Jones, the president of the National Association of United Methodist Scouters. He said the church has decided that if a Southern Baptist congregation kicks out a Boy Scout troop, they'll take them in. 

But Jones cautions that doesn't mean all United Methodists support the Boy Scouts' change in policy.

"It hasn't been resolved by this vote and it's not going to be resolved legislatively at all. It's going to be resolved in the hearts and minds of individuals as they begin to understand that to love your neighbor is to love your neighbor without conditions," Jones said.

United Methodist Churches sponsor the second most Boy Scout troops in the country, topped only by the Mormons. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said sexual orientation is not a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join their troops.

Not all local Baptist churches agree with the Southern Baptist Convention's vote.

Knoxville's West Hills Baptist Church has been sponsoring a Boy Scout troop for more than 30 years. The pastor invites any displaced scouts to join them.

"If someone has been negatively affected by the Southern Baptist Convention's decisions, then we want a positive place for them to turn," said Rev. Drew Prince.

6 News called several other local Southern Baptist churches who sponsor scout troops for their response to the convention vote, but have not heard back.

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