Lancaster church breaks ties with Boy Scout troop after homosexual leaders allowed

A Lancaster church is breaking ties with a Boy Scouts of America troop after the national organization voted to allow homosexuals to serve as leaders late last month.

The BSA national executive board voted 45-12 to lift the nationwide ban while allowing church-sponsored units to continue excluding gay adults.

Parents for scouts in Troop 72, which was sponsored by the First ARP Church in Lancaster, received letters this week saying the church was no longer sponsoring the troop as of July 31.

"My boys were heart broken," said scout mom Allison Baucom.

The letter, from church member and longtime-scout leader "Buddy" Lever, said the decision was made "after much research by the Church's Session." The decision was made two days after the BSA announced the change to allow homosexual leaders.

A second letter from the church was sent to parents, as well. It specifically states the reason for dissolving the partnership was the inclusion of homosexual leaders.

"There was a weak provision placed in this change that would allow Christian organizations to refuse homosexual leadership," the letter stated.

The letter then outlines three reasons for deciding to split, including that homosexuality goes against the beliefs of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

"The teaching of the Bible is clear that it is a sin [...] therefore we can not condone as morally straight what the Bible calls sin," it reads.

Church leaders say even if they chose to exercise the BSA's option for exclusion of homosexual leaders, by church groups, leaders would have no control of jamborees and summer camps.

"This would expose our children to leaders that we would consider inappropriate and immoral," the letter states.

The church says staying with the BSA would also leave them open to potential lawsuits attempting to force the inclusion of a homosexual leader.

"We have faced a hard choice and we are saddened by having to make this change," church leaders said in the letter to parents. "The BSA has taken a path that we cannot follow."

The church has decided to sponsor a Christian-based organization at the church called Trail Life USA.

Lever, who has been with the BSA organization for 48 years, will work with the church to transition boys to the new organization. The church has offered to pay the first year's registration fees for any boy who wants to transition to the new group.

"I've never heard of this other organization though and KNOW what BSA can do for boys and young men. I didn't have to think too hard about transferring them to another troop," Baucom said. "Thankfully not all of the troops are gone, but we now have to drive out to Buford."

In the letter sent to parents, Lever said he has reached out to the two closest Boy Scout troops and they are willing to accept new members who want to transfer.

“The council has met with the leadership of the Pack and the Troop," the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement to WBTV. "We’ve identified a new chartered organization for the units beginning next week and we expect no disruption of service to these Scouts."

BSA says all of the troop's parents have been contacted by council leaders via phone and invited to continue at the new chartered partner.

"I adore BSA and [the Girl Scouts] and am a firm believer in the good it does and the doors it can open," Baucom said. "A lot of wonderful memories were made through scouting and that is the one place my nine-year-old feels like he fits in."

WBTV is the Observer’s news partner.