A charter was signed 105 years ago to make First Congregational Church of Webster Groves the sponsor of the first Boy Scouts of America (BSA) troop west of the Mississippi River. The church will have its first of two congregation-wide meetings on Sunday, April 28, to decide whether or not to resign the charter and continue its historic relationship.
In July of 2012 the National Council for BSA reiterated its stance on disallowing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual persons to be scouts or leaders in BSA.
First Congregational Church of Webster Groves implemented an opening and affirming clause to its policy in 2008. Some members of the congregation believe that if BSA keeps its exclusive stance then the church should no longer keep Troop 301 in its programming.
The church formed a committee of volunteers to create a resolution document that will outline what steps the church will take. Each volunteer is a member of the church’s congregation.
One of the seven-committee members Charlie Brader is an Eagle Scout and has been involved in scouting 64 years. He said the committee is going to present four options for the rest of the congregation and community members to begin discussion on Sunday, April 28.
The four options are:
—Do nothing and allow the troop to continue being a part of the church’s programming.
—Completely sever any ties with BSA.
—Resign the charter and continue to decide on year-by-year basis if the BSA is willing to change some of its policies.
—Resign the charter, but make them a larger part of Troop 301’s decision-making process.
Brader said that option one has been close to ruled out by the committee themselves, but they want to give all possible options a chance to be discussed.
In the church’s bulletin they stated that present at the meeting will be each member of the volunteer committee, Troop 301 leaders and regional BSA representatives.
Sunday’s meeting will begin at 11:30 a.m, and the second meeting is scheduled for June 2. Brader said no final decision would be made on Sunday or at the June meeting. They will make a final resolution and the congregation will vote on that document in September.
Check back for updates from the meeting and audio from those speaking.