Scout Sunday

Yesterday I gave the sermon in my church in observation of Scout Sunday. Here are some excerpts from my message.

Here in the US, Scout Sunday is observed on the Sunday closest to the February 8 anniversary of the founding of Scouting in America. It’s an opportunity to recognize Scouts and the blessings that Scouts bring to our nation and the world. And although Scouting is not a religious organization, Baden Powell emphasized that the whole of Scouting is based on religion in the form of the realization and service of a higher power. Explaining further, he said “I have been asked to describe more fully what was in my mind as regards religion when I instituted Scouting and Guiding. I was asked, ‘Where does religion come in?’ Well, my reply is ‘It does not come in at all. It is already there. It is the fundamental factor underlying Scouting and Guiding.’” Summing it up, Baden Powell explained that religion in Scouting is a simple thing: First, love and serve God; second, love and serve your neighbour.

Members of the Boy Scouts of America are expected to adhere to its Declaration of Religious Principle: “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God. The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members. No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.”

As committee chair, I had the honor and good fortune to interview dozens of Scouts during their boards of review. I asked many of them about their interpretation of the various points of the Scout Law, especially the twelfth and final point: A Scout is Reverent. There were many different replies. Some would say it meant going to church. Others would pray or say grace at meals, or attend religious education classes. Occasionally, though, I’d get an inspiring response that showed that the Scout understood that being “reverent” meant believing in a higher power and that belief should serve as a guide for how we live our lives.

Scouting is a worldwide movement, founded in part on the religious principles that help tie the rest of the Scout Oath, Law, Motto and Slogan together. These principles are that a person should be considerate of others, be helpful to all and be responsible to oneself. The first seven points of the Scout Law deal with duty to others – helpful, friendly, courteous – the next four with duty to self – cheerful, brave, clean – and the twelfth point with duty to God – A Scout is reverent. Some have said that observing the twelfth point will also ensure that the other eleven are obeyed as well.

Faith in God is at the heart of our programs. In the Scout Oath, Scouts pledge first to serve God. Why should a Scout pledge a duty to God? Once again, Baden-Powell put it plainly: “Religion is essential to happiness. This is not a mere matter of going to church, knowing Bible history, or understanding theology. Religion means recognizing who and what is God; secondly, making the best of the life that He has given one, and doing what He wants of us. This is mainly doing something for other people.”

I hope you had a chance to observe Scout Sunday, Scout Sabbath or Scout jumuah, and if not, be sure to commemorate it in your unit or your congregation sometime during February.

This post first appeared on Bobwhite Blather.
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