LCMS dissolves relationship with Boy Scouts

LCMS dissolves relationship with Boy Scouts December 2, 2015

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has formally dissolved its Memorandum of Understanding with the Boy Scouts of America.  As of now, congregations may still sponsor troops, though a task force will apparently study whether that should continue.  The action is due to the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow for gay scoutmasters and various legal issues that grow out of that decision.

I wonder if this could help the LCMS relationship with the Wisconsin Synod (WELS) and the Evangelical Synod (ELS), who rejected scouting a long time ago, though on grounds of syncretism and unionism rather than the gay revolution.

From LCMS president Matthew Harrison:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

First, we apologize for the slow nature of this letter, realizing that congregations and individuals have been waiting for word from the Synod on this issue. However, the recent Boy Scouts of America (BSA) adult leadership standards change — effected by the BSA National Executive Board July 10, 2015, that lifted the BSA’s ban on openly gay Scout leaders — caused great concern and has led us formally to dissolve the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the BSA. As of Dec. 1, 2015, the LCMS no longer has an official relationship with the BSA.

Second, while we understand the legal concerns that led to this new BSA direction, it is simply a place the church is not willing to go. At our summer 2013 meeting with the BSA, we were assured that changes concerning adult leadership would not be on the table, but that was not the case. We are now being told that the LGBT agenda, even with the most recent change, won’t affect the content of Scouting or the BSA experience, but we do not believe that will be the case.

Third, it is important to know that the LCMS has never “endorsed” Scouting formally. Past Synod conventions determined that participating in Scouting was not a matter of fellowship and did not undermine our theological convictions or violate our position on unionism and syncretism. Therefore, the matter of Scouting was “left to the individual congregation to decide,” with each congregation having the responsibility to “establish its own policy as pastoral wisdom on the part of both the congregation and the ministry in its own particular situation dictates.” “Synod thus neither encourages nor discourages Scoutism in any congregation” (1953 Convention Proceedings, pp. 555–556). Unless the Synod in convention issues a change, this is still the case.

We have had an MOU with the BSA for some time that was based on mutual trust between the LCMS and the BSA. The memorandum was renewed periodically through the years by different LCMS presidents. The BSA’s recent inconsistent direction on human sexuality and its policy changes, however, have led our office to conclude that such an MOU is, regretfully, no longer tenable, and thus our decision formally to dissolve the MOU between the LCMS and the BSA.

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