News 12 6pm/ Sunday July 7, 2013
Augusta, GA (WRDW)--- Rev. Sonny Mason is the Pastor at Mann Memorial Methodist Church, but before he was a pastor he was a Boy Scout.
"I grew up in troop 75. It was sponsored by First United Methodist Church in Swainsboro," he said.
Mason says the troop played a big role in his life as a kid and even now as an adult.
"I attribute that my calling to the ministry is directly linked with what I experienced as a boy through the Scouting program," he told News12.
However, Mason says some kids may now be robbed of the chance to grow in faith or even serve their community because rule changes the Boy Scouts of America has made across the nation.
The BSA will now allow openly gay boys to join all troops. The Southern Baptist Convention is the first group to say it can no longer support the BSA and many of its churches agree.
One of those is Grace Baptist Church in Evans-- who says because of their religious beliefs they cannot support The Boy Scouts of America rule change. Now, their Troop 686 must find a new home by the end of the year.
Pastor Mason over at Mann Memorial says that troop or any other looking for a new place to meet is welcome to his church. The United Methodist Church said they would do this for any troop across America and Mason said there's one reason why.
"Let the little children come onto me. For as such is the kingdom of Heaven," Mason quoted from scripture.
The Scout Master for Troop 686 says he also doesn't agree with the Boy Scouts of America rule change and that the previous policy of keeping gender preference private was better. Sadly, because of BSA's change he can no longer lead the pack after the end of the year.
"This month will be our 50th year," said William Sellers
Sellers is a member of Mann United Methodist Church and while he doesn't want to get in the controversy of the rule change, he says all churches have one role.
"We are on this corner to give the word of God and put them on the way to judgment some place else--which is not here," he said
And while some may disagree on the role of the church--Rev. Mason says one thing can't be argued.
"We see everyone in the eyes of Christ as a child of God," he said.
While the Boy Scouts of America will allow gay kid members it still won't allow openly gay Scout Masters to lead troops.
The Scout Master for the troop 686 says there are several options for his current Scouts. Tuesday the group myhonor.net will announce an alternative to Boy Scouts, which they may use at Grace Baptist Church.
His Scouts can also join Troops meeting at other locations. And, if the Troop 686 can find another location to meet they may stay together.
However, he also says each parent should make their own decision and not base their choice on what he does and he's still thinking about it, but also wondering why a rule change like this after 103 years of staying the same?