Grace Methodist Moved Forward

Grace Methodist Church in Delaware, Ohio, maybe the first local church to sponsor a troop. In 1908, Rev. L. Eugen Rush wanted to keep Methodist boys off the streets. He founded the Eastside Roughnecks. The name was eventually changed to the East Side Gang, and they became involved in activities like Scout troops engage in today.

Rush later contacted Sir Robert Baden-Powell, a British military hero who founded the Boy Scouts in England.

Baden Powell sent Rush a charter, making East Side Gang a troop in the British Scouting movement.

Boy Scouts from the turn of the century used semaphore flags to spell out S-C-O-U-T.
Copyright by The General Commission on Archives and History of The United Methodist Church. The United Methodist Archives and History Center. Madison, New Jersey

When the Boy Scouts of America started in 1910, Rush’s troop became Troop No. 1 in Delaware, Ohio. Now there is a Number One BSA Troop in each state and the District of Columbia. There were dozens of Methodist Churches in 1908-1909 that had established Boy Scout Troops. They joined the BSA after its creation in 1910. The pastor was often the first Scoutmaster. The connection of values, character and the church was natural.

Today, we follow in Rev. Rush’s pioneer footsteps in caring for youth. Why would Rush have ever given up his charter granted by the founder of Scouting? There was a new way. One that required change. A way that opened the door for connection long after Rev. Rush would be gone. It took trust and confidence to change. But that is what people who care for youth do.

United Methodist Men Stepping Up with Councils in Building Relationship

In 2018, Mountaineer Area Council selected Scott Hanson as their new Scout Executive. Scott had no idea what the next four years of serving would bring. His commitment to Scouting and growing the opportunity to serve youth has been a strong force for partnership.

The West Virginia United Methodist Men have hosted the Circuit Rider for 32 years. It is the largest West Virginia Conference gathering of youth. This year over 300 youth and their leaders attended the Jackson Mill event. Even with some dropped units due to Covid, the event was a great restart of the Scouting and United Methodist partnership.

The event reflected the commitment of the United Methodist Church and the Mountaineer Council to a future for youth. Conversations today surround how to stay connected. With Scott’s leadership and the conference commitment, conversations were about growth and opportunities for the Scouts. The relationship with the council is already on solid ground.

This year, each unit was encouraged to utilize the Circuit Rider as a recruiting tool by inviting up to four Scout-age guests. The West Virginia United Methodist Men paid the Scout unit $25 for each Scout-age guest who attended, up to $100 per unit.

Now think about that. What if all Councils decided serving youth was the mission first? The United Methodist Men respond to that kind of mission with commitment.

I am grateful for the way West Virginia leads! Scout on in faith!

Sunday Morning Scouts Own 32nd Circuit Rider at Jackson’s Mill, WV
Rev. Greg Godwin on Sunday Morning
One of the many historic mill stones located at Jackson’s Mill
Matthew 18:4-6 (NIV)
Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

Pastors and P.R.A.Y.

I have heard that some pastors within The United Methodist Church are reluctant to be involved with PRAY Programs. There is a misunderstanding that PRAY is a part of the Boy Scouts of America. This misunderstanding has made them wary of possible liability from participating in the religious education of youth. My hope is to clarify so you are free to live into the mission of the church and the call of Christ.

Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (P.R.A.Y.) is a non-profit organization aimed at fostering the Christian growth of children, youth, and families through churches.

P.R.A.Y. is the administrative agency for religious recognition for Protestant youth who are registered members of the American Heritage Girls, Boy Scouts of America, and Girl Scouts of the USA.  There are other organizations that use the program but do not have a formal relationship.   

P.R.A.Y. is also a proud Affiliate Partner of the General Commission on United Methodist Men and the Center for Scouting Ministries ( 

The Religious Emblems programs are developed by national religious organizations to encourage their members to grow stronger in their faith. The scouting agencies have approved of these programs and allow the awards to be worn on the official uniforms, but the emblems are created and administered by various religious groups.

P.R.A.Y. develops the religious emblems curriculum and recognition program for Protestant and Independent Christian churches. The General Commission on United Methodist Men has supported religious education through P.R.A.Y. for years. P.R.A.Y. is listed within the United Methodist Book of Discipline. I have seen it used as a portion of confirmation curriculum. I have taught multiple classes and received great joy from sharing my faith.

P.R.A.Y. does not have registered volunteers.  Therefore our leadership requirements for classes or sessions should meet the requirements of the youth member’s agency affiliation and congregation.  In all of our materials and training, we ensure that mention is given regarding online and in-person requirements for youth protection. 

The costs for P.R.A.Y. materials are minimal.  Booklets depending on the program range from $5- $8 and are required for the student and the teacher/counselor.  Depending on the recognition choice selected, there are different levels of cost ($1 for certificate, $5 for the patch, $7.50 for the lapel pin, and $12.50 for the medallion).

We have many churches that with the support of their congregation and Scout leaders deliver classes annually.  For some churches, the pastor or their designee serves as the Counselor, while recognizing that faith formation starts in the home. We serve with parents that are serving as well.

A short video explaining P.R.A.Y. from a pastor-to-pastor perspective is located here:

Thank you for serving the church, the community, and most of all Christ!

If You Could See

Being the Director of the Center for Scouting Ministries, I have a rare privilege. I receive requests for Eagle Scout commendation or congratulations letters. In the last four years, there have been over 3,800 requests. These requests are from proud parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, church leaders, and Scout leaders. Each letter brings a piece of the Scout’s walk into my life.

There are so many interesting Eagle Scout projects. Many projects are for the local churches including youth group spaces, prayer gardens, storage units, and much more. Other projects reach out in outdoor Scouting spirit. Environmental projects benefit everyone. Animal shelters are embraced and helped with their needs. The homeless have been served within the community and far abroad. Veterans are aided and honored. A fitting “thank you” for their service. No matter the giving, each is a piece the Scout shared. As Baden-Powell put it, “Try and leave this world a little better than you found it, and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate, you have not wasted your time but have done your best.”

The parents’ and leaders’ glow fills the pages and my office. No Eagle has ever taken flight on its own. They have had a worldwide family of support and care. Now they soar in the light. So, do I as I hear of their journeys.

 The Bald Eagle has been our national symbol since 1782. But it was also once endangered. In the 1960s and 1970s, we became aware of the problem harming them. Action was taken to ban a pesticide decimating their population in 1972. By 2007, Bald Eagles were removed from the endangered species list.

While there are unseen dangers to the future Eagle Scouts today, I believe in the nobility and value of their foundation. It is in an Oath to duty and a Law of character. Children need not only safety but room to grow. They need positive investment in their lives. They need to stretch their wings. If we are watchful and involved, then Eagle Scouts will not become extinct. The lives of parents, leaders, churches, and communities will be all the brighter. So will our future. 

I have seen it.