Westminster and Boy Scouts USA

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February 1, 2013

Westminster are elated to read reports in the media that the Boy Scouts, USA  might overturn their ban on people who identify as gay.  Last year our Session struggled with the decision when the Scouts reaffirmation their policy of excluding "open or avowed homosexuals" as it was inconsistent with our own conviction as the charter organization of Troop 61, and as a community of faith that is "intentionally inclusive".   At that time Session felt that we needed to engage with sensitivity in conversation with Troop 61.  There is a desire to stay in the relationship as we celebrate one hundred years together this year!  At the same time we know that we cannot be timid as we speak out for equality for all.  Here at Westminster we know all to well that it is not easy to make these changes and that it will take courage and conviction as we add our voice to the chorus encouraging the Scouts to move towards full inclusion.  Therefore I invite you to add your voice to mine as the Boy Scouts of America's board is meeting early next week to make a formal decision.  You can call BSA at 972-580-2000or send a message via the internet (we are in the Buckeye Council).

Yesterday I sent the following message as pastor of Westminster to Dave Truax, Scout Executive, Buckeye Council; "Westminster Presbyterian Church, Wooster, Ohio, is the charter organization for Boy Scout Troop 61 and Cub Scout Pack 61 who have been servicing our area since 1913. As the charter organization, we are encouraged by recent reports in the media of changing the national Boy Scout policy of excluding "open or avowed homosexuals" from membership. 

As a charter organization, the current policy is inconsistent with our convictions. We also believe this policy is inconsistent with the Scout's own principle of inclusiveness.  We strongly feel that a move towards full inclusiveness will strengthen the Scout's mission of positive youth development and enhance the quality of life for families in all communities. This move will also allow our troop to share the values of Westminster Presbyterian Church, the charter organization.

With this letter, I strongly encourage you to move towards full inclusion by allowing children and youth and selecting adult leaders based on commitment, ability, and adherence to Scout principles and not sexual orientation.   If you wish any further information, please contact me. Sincerely, Andries J. Coetzee, Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Wooster, Ohio."

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