March 31st, 2016


Still finding the path

Anna and I got out the latest newsletter for what is now to be called The Indiana UM Pathfinder, Inc. Our NAUMS Chapter has incorporated itself and applied for a 501.c.3 letter. This will allow us to give donor letters to people who give us money for our various causes -- something we've never been able to do before. But it also positions us to chart a steady course amidst the treacherous blowhards -- er, winds -- emanating from the storm that has broken apart the National Association of United Methodist Scouters (NAUMS) from the General Commission on United Methodist Men (GCUMM).

Blame for the breakup that happened three years ago could be attached in varying degrees to several different persons and agencies. But there is no doubt that GCUMM has been trying to rid itself of NAUMS for many years, and took advantage of a difficult transition in NAUMS's leadership to issue a set of demands intended to force a breakup. Since that time, they have stonewalled all efforts by NAUMS to repair the breach on reasonable terms, counting on the passing of time (and the passing of legislation at General Conference in a few weeks) to render NAUMS's claims moot. NAUMS, meanwhile, has wasted a lot of time trying to work the offical UMC systems, seeking a justice that I am ashamed to say is not to be had anywhere in United Methodism: time that could have been better spent re-branding itself and doing ministry.

In the meantime, the Pathfinder folks have kept up what we have always done: help the Conference Coordinator of CYSA/Scouting Ministries; disseminate information to members, friends, and leaders in the connection; gather money for Bibles for high adventure bases; fund high adventure scholarships; and so on. The GCUMM/NAUMS storm reached us just as we were preparing to launch our efforts to lead a jamboree in the Dem. Rep. of the Congo in 2014 -- a project we undertook in support of a promise made by the then-Conference Coordinator in the name of the Indiana Annual Conference. Suddenly, we were informed that we -- and our project -- were toxic, because we were "NAUMS." NAUMS didn't belong anymore.

I was utterly flabbergasted by this, as were others who were involved. We are all of us registered multiple different ways with this ministry and have worked together for years. To say that the Conference Scouter part of me can no longer have dealings with the NAUMS part of me is ridiculous. But witch hunts are like that. In the end, we have decided that we will not be divided by somebody else's schism: Hoosier UM Scouters will not butt heads with the buttheads in Nashville, Tennessee. We will work together to support the causes we hold dear and invite others to join us.

So, we have incorporated ourselves as an Indiana non-profit. Our bylaws allow us to affiliate with NAUMS as a Chapter, and we have voted to continue to do so. If NAUMS were to go under, we would not; however, if NAUMS revives nationally, we will be pleased to be part of it. For those who look askance at NAUMS in the Indiana Conference, we point out that we have a separate legal existence now. You will have no official contact with whoever you object to having contact with when you have official contact with us. Just, please don't deny us the right to have friends on both sides of the fence you think so important.

All of which reminds me of an old Edwin Markham poem, "The Outwitted."
He drew a circle to shut me out --
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him in!

In the end, we are about serving Jesus Christ by making disciples through the ministry of Scouting in all its forms. And we say to all others who claim the same calling, in the words of John Wesley, "'If thine heart is as my heart,' if thou lovest God and all mankind, I ask no more: 'give me thine hand.'"