Tampa church drops Boy Scout troop sponsorship - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa church drops Boy Scout troop sponsorship

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

A Tampa church has told a Boy Scout troop that it won't renew its sponsorship because of the national organization's decision not to ban openly gay Scouts. "We feel like the policy actually says you need to accept homosexuality as a practicing lifestyle as part of your sponsorship of this organization. And that's just something that we feel like violates our conscience"said Pastor Stephen Caselli of Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church.

The church sent a letter to leaders of the troop this week and referred to the national organization's decision.

"We underscore our grief at the decisions made by the BSA which have led to this point," the letter said.

In May, Boy Scout delegates met in Grapevine, Texas, and by a 61 percent margin of 1,400 voters approved the proposal. The delegation, however, stopped short of allowing gay adults to supervise the youths.

Brian T. FitzGerald, former scoutmaster for Troop 4, said there are about 120 boys in the Boy Scout troop and Cub Scout pack who are being displaced come Dec. 31. "That's unfortunate its affecting us. It's most unfortunate for boys that are in the troop and the boys that are in the cub scout pack. but in a way I guess it's a life lesson" said FitzGerald.

The troop will need to find a new sponsor and a new chartering organization.

FitzGerald says the troop has had a continuous charter at the church for the past 60 years, long before Holy Trinity Presbyterian moved in about four years ago.

"We were not totally surprised by this," FitzGerald said. Over the summer, "we were told that the church was considering this action."

Church leaders say, they are sorry to displace the scouts. "We're simply seeking to be faithful to our biblical convictions and to live accordingly" said Pastor Caselli.

Across the region, a few sponsors have opted out since the May decision, but most have stayed the course, said George McGovern, CEO of the Gulf Ridge Council, which encompasses troops in eight West Central Florida counties, including Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk.

Ninety-seven percent of the charter organizations have remained sponsors, he said in a recent interview, adding that more than 400 troops are in those eight counties.

 

 

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