LDS-BSA Report of the BSA National Annual Meeting

The BSA National Annual Meeting was held in Orlando, Florida, May 24-26, 2017. LDS Scouters were involved in and recognized during several of the meeting events.

Duty to God Breakfast

The Thursday morning Duty to God Breakfast celebrates the religious aspects of Scouting. Significant Church leaders—Thomas S. Monson (when he was 1st Counselor in the First Presidency in 2003), former Presiding Bishop Gary L. Stevenson (2013) and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (2016) have all been keynote speakers at the breakfast in the past. This year Elder Holland and members of the Young Men and Primary general presidencies attended the breakfast.

During the religious awards presentations, LDS Scout Carson McCulloch from Winter Garden, Florida, received his On My Honor award from Brother Stephen W. Owen, Young Men General President. Scouts from other religions were also recognized by their respective church leaders.

Paul L. Moffat, Chairman of the Religious Relationships Committee, chaired the Duty to God Breakfast. During the opening remarks Brother Moffat shared a photo of his Eagle Scout son, Andrew, who is currently serving a mission in India. Andrew met fellow Scouts at the Indian Embassy and found a connection to home.

It was noted during the breakfast that 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Forty percent of BSA religious chartered partners trace their foundational roots to the Reformation.

LDS Reception

Thursday evening a reception was held for LDS Scouting professionals, volunteers and friends. The reception started with casual visiting among Scouters and members of the Primary and Young Men general presidencies including Sisters Joy D. Jones and Bonnie H. Cordon. Brothers Stephen W. Owen, Douglas D. Holmes and M. Joseph Brough also visited with the attendees. Elder Jeffrey Holland also visited with those in attendance.

Mark Francis, LDS-BSA Relationships Director, welcomed the group and then introduced Elder Holland who spoke to the guests.

Elder Holland commented that many people were anxious regarding the recent Church statement about the change of Varsity and Venturing. However, with a twinkle in his eye Elder Holland quoted Groucho Marx as he observed an old folks’ home, “‘There’s a lot less going on here than meets the eye.’ Those boys can still identify with a troop; we just have to do a few different things with that age-group. Don’t read more into this change than there is. The programs were just not being used effectively, but don’t panic.” Elder Holland noted that the Church is still working on a plan for the older boys and that there is now a large world to think about. “Be patient,” he counseled. “We don’t want anyone to be anxious or frustrated.”

Elder Holland visits with Scouters.

Remarking on the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Elder Holland shared Martin Luther’s comment: “The kingdom of God is like a besieged city surrounded on all sides by death. Each man has his place on the wall to defend, and no one can stand where another stands, but nothing prevents us from calling encouragement to one another.”

Sister Bonnie Cordon visits at the LDS Reception

He encouraged everyone to help people move on in great causes including Scouting. “We are here to shout encouragement to each other,” he said.

Brother Owen visits with Lawry Hunsaker and family.

“You can tell a lot about society by the language it uses.” Elder Holland shared that recently Google had measured which words have been used more and less frequently in the past years. There’s been an increase in self words—like me, I, mine; and a decrease in words of community like character, conscience, and virtue. For example, the word gratitude is down 49%, humility is down 52%, and kindness is down 56%.

Brother and Sister Holmes at the LDS Reception

“There is a need for the work that we are doing,” Elder Holland said.

Brother and Sister Brough at the LDS Reception

Elder Holland shared the love of President Monson and remarked, “You know of his standing with the BSA. I will let him know what good meetings we have had. He is happy and healthy but he doesn’t have as much energy.”

Elder Holland concluded with the words of Viktor Frankl, “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We were those who were being questioned by life.”

Sister Jones visits with guests

“I love you for your service and your camaraderie,” Elder Holland said. “I’m grateful for you. Society has a ton of questions, but you deal in a world of answers.”

Russel Smart, Carol McCarthy, Dan McCarthy

Awards Received by Church Members

Several Church members received awards at the National Annual Meeting. Ange Workman from Morgan, Utah—Trapper Trails Council—received the Silver Antelope Award during the Western Region Luncheon.

During the closing Silver Buffalo Banquet on Friday evening several LDS Scouters were recognized. It was noted that in 1976 LaVern W. Parmley, former Primary General President, was the first woman to receive the Silver Buffalo Award. Also, 19 Young Men, Primary and Church presidents have received the award.

Russ and Lawry Hunsaker were recognized as a father and son team who had both received the Silver Buffalo Award.

Carol McCarthy of Fayetteville, West Virginia, received the Silver Buffalo Award. She and her husband, Dan, were one of three couples in attendance at the banquet who had both received the award. The McCarthys are also the only Silver Buffalo couple who have both received their Vigil Honor recognition in the Order of the Arrow.

Brother and Sister Owen, Brother and Sister Holmes at the National Annual Meeting

National Executive Board and Advisory Council

President Thomas S. Monson continues as the longest-serving member of the BSA National Executive Board. Elder Holland, Brother Owen, and Sister Jones also currently serve on the National Executive Board as well as LDS Church members Charles Dahlquist (current National Commissioner), Lyle Knight, Howard Bulloch and Wayne Perry. Brother Holmes, Brother Brough, and Sister Cordon serve on the National Advisory Council as do LDS Church members Howard Bulloch (chairman), Larry Gibson and Willard Marriott, Jr.

Next year’s National Annual Meeting will be held in Dallas, Texas.

~Compiled by Nettie Francis and Roma Bishop

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  1. Mac McIntire says:

    The following quote makes it sound like the recently announced changes to the teacher/priest activity program are temporary and there is a future, enhanced program coming:

    “Elder Holland noted that the Church is still working on a plan for the older boys and that there is now a large world to think about. ‘Be patient,’ he counseled. ‘We don’t want anyone to be anxious or frustrated.’”

    To me this could send a signal to some to not put too much effort into changing what they are doing now with their teacher and priest-age boys. This is fine if their current activities are focused on accomplishing the eight purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood and the other objectives outlined on the YM activities website (https://www.lds.org/youth/ymactivities?lang=eng&cid=email-MC_VarsityVenture_051117_ymactivities#resources)

    If a ward’s teacher and priest activity program is NOT focused on these purposes and objectives, I would hate for any priesthood leaders to delay organizing their new program because they are waiting for additional changes to come from the Church. In my opinion, every Church activity should always be purpose-driven. We know what those purposes are for our young men. There is no need to delay having a well-organized program for our 14 to 18 year old boys. Just like with the BSA in the past, there are plenty of resources available now on the Church websites to run a quality Young Men program. It’s just a question of whether the Young Men leaders will utilize those resources.

  2. Derrick Larsen says:

    I am grateful that LDS Church leadership continues to be a positive light in the affairs of Scouting and are working hard to see the program succeed. Scouting is a force for good in this world and it is so horribly sad that there are so many within and without the LDS Church who want to see it torn down. Scouting is one of the best bridges the LDS Church has to reaching into each community and bringing boys to understanding better character and ideals. We should move forward with our support of the BSA and work hard to continue to serve our young men well!

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