At the close of the meeting, Stan Lockhart, Council President, said that he has found there are two kinds of people. The first he says are “those that just keep the ship running” and just keep doing the “same old, same old.” The other type are those that come in and say, “What are your problems and how can I help?” Then introducing Elder Dane Leavitt, Council LDS-BSA Relationships Chairman, he said that Elder Leavitt is the second kind.
Lockhart went on to explain how Elder Leavitt has provided “key guidance and counsel to us the last couple of years and I am very, very grateful to him for doing that. As we listen to him today I just want him to know of our love for him.”
Then Elder Leavitt offered his thoughts saying that he appreciated the opportunity to speak and that he loved what we had done so far this day. He then explained that he had a few things that he wanted to mention to us as Scouters, remarks that struck the audience with a healing effect.
The first thing was our status on Friends of Scouting. He explained, “Suddenly in July there was all this tumult and we were very nervous about Friends of Scouting. We asked the question of the Brethren: should we delay Friends of Scouting until things are calm?”
He gave this account, saying that he was confident Elder Clayton had gotten this from those above him: “No, press on. Press on and we anticipate that we’ll do the best we can in the environment we have this year.”
Elder Leavitt, who led the priesthood-driven Friends of Scouting in 2014 for 2015 said that it was the best fundraising campaign we had ever had, with 65,000 donors. However, he said, “If in July you had told me that we would have had 50,000 donors, that the average donation amount would not go down materially, I would have been elated.…So on balance, let’s recognize that we’ve done okay. Not as well as we’re going to do next year, not as well as we’d like to do, but we’ve done okay.”
“You’ve noticed that this year we haven’t been crisp in requiring … that we quickly wrap this [FOS] up and that’s because the momentum got a little better as the months went on. So let’s not overreact, let’s not wring our hands concerning Friends of Scouting.”
Then he asked us to consider the ebbs and flows in the life of any enterprise, stating: “we’ve had an ebb. It’s undeniable that the challenges tied to the leadership issue are something that’s jarring to people. The church understands that and we understand that. Part of what we have to do is to recognize that we come to this problem with different sets of feelings and experiences.”
He pointed out that we all have different views on political matters, and similarly “we have an array of feelings on this topic. As those feelings are recognized, we have to be loving and kind and respectful of those that are to our right and those that are to our left. Why must we? Because it’s how eventually we come to unity. We come to unity as we love and as we seek to be patient with each other.” He asked us each to ask ourselves “What lack I yet?” and “How can I serve?” Then he said: “As we ask those questions eventually we come to unity.”
He suggested we approach this year of challenge that way, because that is how the Brethren would do it. He explained that they’ve recognized that feelings will settle.
Referring to both staff and budget cuts, he stated that he has been impressed with the response the Council’s paid staff to the “painful realities” that the drop in Friends of Scouting has required this year. “They’ve done well and I’m confident that their activities and management will be stronger than ever as a result of the thought that’s been required of them in this process. We’ve heard a number of people say, ‘Let’s not waste this crisis.’ Operationally, I don’t think this crisis has been wasted. I think it’s been well handled and I think that we can have confidence in that.”
Speaking from his position as LDS Relationship Chairman, he acknowledged that not all attending were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, for LDS members, he thinks “a guiding principle in this whole matter is that we are led and guided by prophets and the process that they go through in making decisions and seeking to be guided by God are not given easily or automatically.”
He said that he had heard Elder Perry once say that “it’s remarkable how God requires that we scrape and scrimp for guidance. …he requires that they become one. In that process, remarkable things happen,” he said.
Elder Leavitt explained that though he is not privy to what’s happening among the top councils of the church, he knows a few things: “One is that they love boys. I know they want to serve boys in ways that are remarkable. The second thing I know is that they’re connected with heaven. Third, I know that heaven requires much of them and the process of development that occurs in their lives we need to be patient with. Fourth, I know that we live in an imperfect world. The very reason that we need prophets is that we live in an imperfect world and they guide us through.”
He suggested that as individuals when it comes to the Church’s leadership, he said, “pay careful attention to them—we will be guided. That’s particularly true on issues that are of our age.” He promised that doing so will help us know what to do as we work with young men through Boy Scout programs.
To all Scouters serving both inside the Church or as a Scouting volunteer, he said: “Know that we’re engaged in God’s work. It is His means of serving His children …whether we are a church leader or a Scout leader, we are in God’s work as we serve the young men of the Church through Scouting.”
As he wrapped up his message he stated that Utah National Parks Council is a good model of how Scouting can serve and align with Church purposes. “That is powerful!” he exclaimed. “There is nothing going on at Utah National Parks Council and the way it serves young men that shouldn’t be applauded and shouldn’t be viewed as aligned beautifully with the church…That is a message that I think can be sent without apology or without question.”
In serving he admonished the group to “continue to seek to be trained. Let’s attend Wood Badge, let’s go to Philmont. What we learn there will bless our lives and bless our service. It represents generations of learning with the Boy Scouts of America and I appreciate the great work that’s done here.”
He closed by sharing his love and gratitude in being a fellow servant with other Scouters. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve in this assignment and the chance it’s given me to get to know many of you and I say this in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Elder Dane Leavitt | Area Seventy for Utah South Area, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints | LDS-BSA Relationships Chair, Utah National Parks Council