scouts-l Mail Archive for August of 2000: Re: Why not non-denominational?
Bob Lazell (rlazell@QED.NET
Mon Aug 14 2000 - 21:50:17 CDT
A few years ago at a District camporee final night SPL/SM meeting a SPL
stood up during the call for suggestions for improvement. He told us that he
was a Hindu and that he long felt that the 3 worship services offered --
Non-denominational Protestant, Catholic and Jewish -- did not serve his
needs or the needs of any number of boys of different faiths (including
Muslim, the worlds largest religion) What was begun was a service named
Scout Vespers. Yes, wordsmiths on the list will be able to tell us that
Vespers is primarily the Western Christian name for an evening service, but,
vespers refers primarily to the time of day and coupling it with
"Scouts"..... well, it does the job. The "service" itself can best be
described as anything that recognizes the importance of a higher power in
our lives. Often it is a reflection on how Scouting does the work of God.
Without fail the service uses the glory of the great outdoors as an example
of God's work.
The best thing about Scout Vespers is that anyone can lead it. Something as
simple as a poem, or a story, is enough to give it shape and meaning.
Although I am an Episcopalian, I found that the "non-denominational"
service did not meet my spiritual needs. I began attending the Scout
A side story to this is that before Vespers was offered I would sometimes
attend the Catholic service to receive communion which is central to the
Episcopal faith (Catholicism without a Pope). However, although I have been
welcomed at the communion rail of many Catholic churches, I was approached
by a scout in my troop who was concerned that his church adhered to a strict
interpretation of church law and did not allow non-Catholics to receive
communion. Out of respect for his faith, I stopped attending communion at
the Catholic service.
And that's what it's all about isn't it? Respect. Respect for each others'
faith. I can no more tell you how to respect your faith than you can tell
me how to respect mine. I will not question another man's religion, nor ask
him not to be offended by what mine offers. There is nothing wrong with not
being able to offer all faiths a service, but, to insist that what is
offered must meet another's needs is wrong. It is all about the other
persons perception and not about our intent. That boy knew I did not intend
to offend by receiving communion, but, offend I did, and that is what
matters. So, while the term Non-denominational is not meant to offend or be
exclusionary, the fact that it does offend and does exclude, is enough.
Bob Lazell, SM
Valley Cottage, NY