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.
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.”
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.”
He encouraged everyone to help people move on in great causes including Scouting. “We are here to shout encouragement to each other,” he said.
“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%.
“There is a need for the work that we are doing,” Elder Holland said.
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.”
“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.”
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.
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