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UMM Leader Says Agency Has Not Bowed To "Pressure" On Boy Scouts; Urges Continued Church Support

From: James Gibson osjude@attglobal.net 
Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2000 12:25 PM
To: Warrener, John
Subject: Harris Letter for Posting on UCMPage

The following is the response of Dr. Joseph Harris, head of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, to a letter sent to him by 20 clergy and laity asking for clarification of his agency's position with regard to the Boy Scouts of America.

The original letter was prompted by an article from United Methodist News Service which made it appear (INCORRECTLY) that United Methodist Men, one of the strongest supporters of the Scouts in the recent Supreme Court case involving the prohibition of homosexual scoutmasters, was retreating from its pro-Scout position. Dr. Harris's response reassures us of his agency's resolve in this matter.

James Gibson Marshallville United Methodist Church http://sites.netscape.net/saginazmon/homepage  (Now Updated!)

Wesleyan Heritage Recovery Project http://ucmpage.org/sgca/wesley_index.htm


Rev. Gibson,

Thank you for your recent letter. I gives me the opportunity to clarify remarks I made that were not within the context of the totality of my statement at our recent Commission meeting. First let me say that the Commission has not changed it's position on the court matter, despite some 'pressure' to do so. We are as committed as ever that the scouts should determine there own leadership requirements, without outside government interference. Second, my comments about monitoring, and review of membership requirements, related to the role that our agency has always played with the Boy Scouts, the Camp Fire organization, the Girl Scouts and the 4-H clubs. As the agency empowered by the Book of Discipline with responsibility over these agencies, we have always regarded our role as representing the UMC with each organization and making sure these organizations remain compatible with UMC practices and polity. It is also our responsibility to 'bring up' to these organizations concerns that arise from our churches as well as explore with them minority views from our denomination. We do this without pressure or determination about the outcome of the discussions. We also work with the groups to make sure their programs are as effective as possible in our churches.

Finally, we have a Federal Appellate Court Judge on our Commission who reviewed the outcome of the case with our Commission and reminded us that the narrowness of the Supreme Court decision meant that further 'issues' related to scouts (i.e.. membership requirements) will likely be brought before the High Court. He was signaling to us that we will probably be called upon in the future to decide where we stand on those issues.

We have appreciated all those who stand with us in our support of the scouts right of self determination. We need those churches and individuals to continue to do so by making sure they charter with us and sign up as many people as possible for EMS membership. (Visit our website for more information GCUMM.ORG). Without this show of support it will be harder in the future to have the resources to fight the coming battles. Please pray for us and for the scouts as we attempt to make scouting ministry one of the strong ministries of the United Methodist Church.

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