By Bob Allen
A large Southern Baptist church in North Carolina is ending its nearly 60-year-old relationship with the Boy Scouts of America and shifting allegiance to an alternative outdoor character-development organization to be launched next month in Nashville, Tenn.
Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., a 6,400-member congregation affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, announced on the church website it will cease sponsorship of its Boy Scout organization at the end of December.
Rob Peters, pastor of the church since June 16, called the decision a “thoughtful and patient response” to a decision in May by the Boy Scouts of America to lift its longtime ban on Scouts who identify as openly gay.
A background document said the church would no longer sponsor Boy Scout Pack, Troop and Crew 942 “due to the higher commitment to Scriptural teaching as accepted in traditional Christian values.”
“This moral standard is essential to uphold in policy as the Bible teaches that homosexuality is both a moral and behavioral issue,” the document said.
Stemberger’s group will team up with Faith Based Boys, TrailHead USA and Frontier Service Corps in a national meeting Sept. 6-7 in Nashville, Tenn., to launch a new yet-to-be-named organization modeled after American Heritage Girls, a “Christ-centered” alternative to Girl Scouts formed in 1995.
Calvary’s decision comes two months after the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution expressing support for churches and families “that as a matter of conscience can no longer be part of the Scouting family.”
The resolution encouraged churches that choose to sever ties with the Boy Scouts to consider expanding their Royal Ambassadors ministry, “a distinctively Southern Baptist missions organization” administered by Woman’s Missionary Union, auxiliary to the SBC.
Peters came to Calvary Baptist Church from First Baptist Church in Weston, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. He succeeded Al Gilbert, a North Carolina member of the SBC Executive Committee who resigned in 2011 to become director of Love Loud, the ministry evangelism arm of the North American Mission Board.
The church is assisting those in the Eagle Scout process to achieve their award in this calendar year and will help those who want to stay with the Boy Scouts to find another pack or troop.