Scouts look for new home as church ends charter - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Scouts look for new home as church ends charter

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Tim Hester Tim Hester
Greg Bourke Greg Bourke
John Stemberger John Stemberger
Clint Scharff Clint Scharff
Southeast Christian Church Southeast Christian Church

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The decision by the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban of openly gay scouts from the organization's activities has hundreds of Louisville scouts and their parents wondering where they will meet.

WAVE 3 News took calls from viewers who want to know why one of the area's largest churches will no longer allow a local scout troop to meet there. Southeast Christian Church is one of the BSA's biggest charters with 100 scouts and 200 Cub Scouts meeting there each week.

Church leaders tell WAVE 3 this decision was not a knee jerk reaction. They tell us it was made months ago when the Boy Scouts of America first began talks of ending the ban. Southeast Executive Pastor Tim Hester says it was a difficult decision for the church to sever its relationship with the Boy Scouts.

"No question about that," Hester told us, "A lot of prayer, a lot of thought and a lot of discussions."

Some 300 kids from Troop 212 come to the church campus.

"We have enjoyed our association with Boy Scouts for a lot of years," said Hester, "and our local leaders are great leaders and we are with them in sharing their disappointment of the direction the National Boy Scouts have decided to go."

That direction is being both criticized and applauded.

Former Boy Scouts who happen to be gay and were denied membership as well as ousted gay leaders like Greg Bourke of Louisville say it's a historic step toward compassion and acceptance. While adult gay leaders are still not accepted in scouting, Bourke said after hearing the decision, "This is a victory for scouting, it's a victory for gay youth and gay youth will no longer have to hide in the closets when they are participating in their scout activities and with their troops."

Others, like Florida evangelical leader John Stemberger, had the opposite reaction.

"We wouldn't put boys and girls sleeping together," Stemberger told a group recently of changing the ban.

Stemberger, who campaigned against the ban change, is upset about the decision. He told the New York Times that like-minded groups will meet in Louisville next month to discuss new alternatives to scouting.

Southeast Christian Church wants its own leadership programs for kids without discussions of sexuality.

"What we want is to be able to partner with organizations that are more on mission with what God's called us to do and spreading the Gospel through Jesus Christ," said Hester.

Clint Scharff with the Boy Scouts Lincoln Heritage Council tells WAVE 3 News they don't focus on sexuality either or discuss sex and never have. Scharff said scouting is simply about helping kids become productive citizens.

Scharff believes other Louisville churches, and VFW's will offer Troop 212 and their parents a place to call home. He believes 90 to 95% of their charters will continue to operate with scouting as they always have.

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