LDS Church announces split with Boy Scouts of America, new youth initiative

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SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Tuesday night, that in 2019, it will end the long standing relationship with the Boy Scouts of America, in favor of a new church produced activity program, that will involve both boys and girls, ages 8 to 18.

The announcement was made in a joint statement by the LDS Church and the BSA, which reads, in part:

"We have jointly determined that, effective on December 31, 2019, the Church will conclude its relationship as a chartered organization with all Scouting programs around the world. Until that date, to allow for an orderly transition, the intention of the Church is to remain a fully engaged partner in Scouting for boys and young men ages 8–13 and encourages all youth, families, and leaders to continue their active participation and financial support."

Scouting has often been referred to as the activity program of the Aaronic Priesthood for LDS boys, providing opportunities for more than 100 years and the LDS Church has been a major sponsor of Scout troops in the United States. With the expanding global church, the decision to end involvement with Scouting was not a big surprise to many Latter-day Saints.

Just one year ago, the Church announced that Scouting would only serve Cub and Boy Scouts ages 8 through 13, with a new Church produced activity program for young men ages 14-18.

Tuesday night’s announcement said that the Church would continue to be a sponsor of Scouting for approximately the next 18 months.

“While the Church will no longer be a chartered partner of BSA or sponsor Scouting units after December 31, 2019,” the statement read, “it continues to support the goals and values reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law and expresses its profound desire for Scouting’s continuing and growing success in the years ahead.”

The Church’s decision to no longer sponsor Scouting will certainly have an impact on Utah’s Scout councils.

Latter-day Saint boys who want to continue to participate with Scouting, would be able to join troops sponsored by community organizations, but participation will certainly decline without the Church’s involvement.

As part of the announcement, the Church also said it was discontinuing the Personal Progress program for Young Women, in favor of the new program that will serve for both LDS boys and girls and be used worldwide.

A spokesperson for the Church, Karlie Guymon, said the plan to split from BSA had been under development for some time.

“For years, Church leaders have been preparing a new initiative to teach and provide leadership and development opportunities to all children and youth, to support families and to strengthen youth everywhere as they develop faith in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” she said. “This new approach is intended to help all girls and boys, young women and young men discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills and fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God.”

Details about the new initiative were expected to be posted at closer to January 2020.

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