Boy Scouts and the First United Methodist Church

Scouting was officially recognized by the Methodist Episcopal Church in February 1920. In truth, Methodist churches were supporting Scout troops prior to 1920 when James V. Thompson, superintendent of Young People’s Sunday School, wrote to James E. West, the Chief Scout of BSA.

But that letter marks the first formal relationship between the Methodist Episcopal Church and Boy Scouts of America. Grace Methodist Church in Delaware, Ohio, may be the first local church to sponsor a troop. In 1908 The Rev. L. Eugen Rush wanted to keep Methodist boys off the streets, and he founded the Eastside Roughnecks. The name was eventually changed to the East Side Gang and they became involved in activities like Scout troops engage in today. Our church signed a charter for Scout Troop 104 in 1926.

Rush later contacted Sir Robert Baden-Powell, a British military hero who founded the Boy Scouts in England. Baden Powell sent Rush a charter, making East Side Gang a troop in the British Scouting movement. When the Boy Scouts came to America in 1910, Rush’s troop became Troop No. 1 in Delaware, Ohio. Now there is a Number One BSA Troop in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. There were dozens of Methodist Churches in 1908-1909 who had established Boy Scout Troops. They joined the BSA after its creation in 1910. The pastor was often the first Scoutmaster. The connection of values, character, and the church was natural.