United Methodists work to reverse Scout losses

NASHVILLE, Tenn.–The number of young people involved in Scouting declined from 2.85 million in 2012 to 2.49 million in 2013 (the last full year of reporting).

The number of youth involved in scouting programs within the United Methodist Church declined from 365,565 in 2012 to 349,614 in 2013.

The General Commission on United Methodist Men, meeting Sept. 5-7, is seeking ways to reverse the loss of nearly 16,000 young people.

Gil Hanke

Gil Hanke, top staff executive of GCUMM

Churches with members who don’t look like their neighborhood can change that through scouting,” said Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the commission.

Scouting is down because the church is losing its identity as a servant of the community,” said Bishop James Swanson, president of the commission. “If we don’t’ see our role as serving the people of the community our numbers will continue to go down.”

The bishop said efforts to increase the number of young people in churches must begin with children. He called for a new emphasis on Cub Scouts and Daisies from the Girl Scouts. . “You can’t get youth without beginning with children,” he said.

Larry Coppock, commission staff executive for scouting and other youth-serving agencies, said efforts to help churches understand how scouting can minister to communities is supported by 261 scouting ministry specialists, 2014-15 Bishops Dinners for Scouting, and “Faith in Scouting,” a six-minute film produced in cooperation with the Boy Scouts (http://youtu.be/4mjrJ_73shY).

Coppock said 6,300 United Methodist young people received God and Country awards through the St. Louis-based Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY), the highest number of all denominations (http://www.praypub.org/).

United Methodists lead all denominations with 212,503 Cub Scouts and is second with 129,503 Boy Scouts in 4,837 United Methodist churches. Many of the 988 churches with Venturing crews use that co-educational program for their youth organization.

In other business, the commission:

  • Celebrated the completion of a new storage area and the renovating of commission offices on famed Music Row in Nashville;
  • Agreed to continue to provide 6,500 “Backpacking New Testaments” to Scouts attending Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, Northern Tier High Adventure bases in Minnesota and Canada, the Summit in Tennessee, and the Florida Sea Base;
  • Agreed to cooperate with Strength for Service Inc., a non-denominational ministry launched by the commission that has published 485,000 copies of daily devotional books for members of the military and 30,000 copies for police officers fire fighters and other first responders;
  • Suggested the addition of a part-time staff person to continue providing webinars for Scout leaders
  • Learned that the four deployed staff members of the commission are working with 38 men’s ministry specialists to form eight teams composed of candidates for the position;
  • Learned that the number of pounds of food gleaned by Society of Saint Andrew in 2014 is up 15 percent from 2013, but giving by United Methodist Men is off by 8 percent in the first eight months of 2014. Last year UM men gave $85,310 to the Meals for Millions program of the society.

Larry and Phil Howard.jpg


Larry Coppock, director of scouting ministry (left), and Phil Howard, president of the Scouting Ministry Committee, lead a discussion on ways to increase ministries to communities through scouting.


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