By Darryl Alder
Dec 23, 2015

LDS/BSA Summit: Summary and Conclusion

This is part 8 of an 8-part report. Other reports include these:

Early in December, a team of determined Scouters, including Council Key 3s and professional staff gathered on Temple Square in Salt Lake City to discuss ways to better meet the needs of The Church IMG_1058of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through Scouting. The Chief Scout Executive joined others from throughout BSA’s Western Region.

In previous reports we explained how those participating were divided into five discussion groups to consider the topics listed above. In this final post we report on the conclusion of the summit, including a summary and a question and answer session.

Following each group’s report, there was a summary and question and answer session conducted with the Chief, Larry Gibson, Western Region President and Bob Johnson, Western Region Commissioner. Each offered comments and answered questions.

IMG_1067[1]President Gibson said that setting up LDS/BSA Relationships committees for each council is a must-do from this meeting. He reminded us that Area Seventies could be an important part of defining our direction for those committees. He also explained that districts and councils don’t “recruit volunteers” from within the LDS Church, the Church “calls” them, but whenever church leaders do call someone that new Scouter needs support immediately. He suggested we use use crowdsourcing to help the  BSA obtain information or input into this project by enlisting more people via the Internet. He also suggested that the LDS/BSA quarterly newsletter be used for council meetings, blogs and all church-directed communications. He then called for these four action items for all donors:

  • A clear and transparent budget
  • A reminder of what they contributed last year
  • An honest statement of exactly how their contribution was used
  • An explanation of the cost per boy served

Gibson went on to charge us all to offer local LDS churches more program support and to make a special effort to give the Primary organizations using Cub Scouting increased service and support. He challenged us to establish Church-sponsored training programs for senior priesthood leaders. He clarified that essentially our relationship is experiencing a temporary pause, but he feels most church leaders are ready to move on. This in spite of limited trust between mid-management leaders and the National Council, which will ease as we come to know the church is involved in determining BSA standards.

President Gibson closed by saying: “We must make the umbilical cord to the church stronger and give them reason not to cut it.” Then he explained that this is just the start and that we can all look forward to regular electronic communications with the region’s Key 3, the first one being “what we will do and who will do it by when.”

During the Q& A session a council president from Colorado thanked the regional key 3 for this effort. He said ” I feel like I know more of how to work with LDS now.”

Mark Francis, LDS-BSA Relationships Director, reminded the group that he offers a quarterly newsletter, a blog and a semi-annual church tour for council leaders the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday prior to LDS general conferences. He also stands ready to support LDS-BSA committees in local councils.

Mike Surbaugh, CSE, when asked about the new membership standards for adults said that “BSA needed relief from litigation—church is protected. Their standards and values are protected by the first amendment.  BSA had no choice to exist or fight.” Regarding uniform costs, he encouraged uniform banks, but said that BSA’s standard of quality is similar to other quality brands and priced similarly.

Surbaugh went on to say that he feels the commitment of adults to Scouting in the LDS Church. He is impressed by the work behind the scenes of this BSA LDS Leadership Conference, which included a visit to the Missionary Training Center, where he observed and spoke with full immersion Mandarin missionaries. Then he said, “we must recognize what the LDS use Scouting for. It’s to lead the church, their families and businesses and this nation.”

Commissioner Johnson reported there were 89 in attendance and that 50 more had joined us online or by phone. He also reminded the group of the meeting purpose which was to bring together key leadership from the region and with church leaders to identify strategies to strengthen relationships and to develop several action items for councils, areas and regions and for the national council. He felt the Area 2 meetings last fall had gone a long way in helping to define five areas for discussion.

As the region and local councils continue to work on better serving LDS Scouts and volunteers, we will continue to report on our progress.

Darryl head BWAuthor: Darryl Alder | Director of Strategic Initiatives, Utah National Parks Council, BSA.

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