LYMAN PADEN ISN’T A MEMBER of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Houston, but that’s where he’ll be on the first Sunday of February. The Webelos den leader says it’s a chance to thank the church for supporting his pack, Pack 34, which has been continuously chartered there since 1939.
Typically held on the Sunday before Feb. 8 (Scouting Anniversary Day), Scout Sunday gives church-chartered packs a chance to say thank you and to demonstrate that the pack and the church have similar goals. Scout Sabbath, typically observed on the Saturday after Feb. 8, offers a similar opportunity to packs chartered to Jewish congregations. (Mosque-chartered units rarely have equivalent opportunities; Jumu’ah, the time of communal prayer on Fridays, takes place during the school day.)
By participating in worship, you offer a subtle reminder that your pack is a ministry of the congregation, not just an outside group that meets there.
Scout Sunday and Scout Sabbath observances don’t have to be elaborate. Still, there are some things you can do to make them as meaningful as possible for both pack members and members of the congregation.
Why Coordination is Key
First, keep in mind that you are inserting yourself into a worship schedule. The earlier you start to plan, the better. You may find that the first Sunday in February (Feb. 3 this year) doesn’t work—that’s OK. Talk with worship leaders to compromise on a date.
If the church or synagogue offers multiple services on the designated day, find out which service is most suitable for Scouts to attend.
Once you have a date confirmed, begin exploring ways the pack (and other Scouting units at the chartered organization) can participate in the worship experience.
Possibilities for Participation
Scout Sunday and Scout Sabbath participation begins with just that: participation. Scouts, Scouters, and family members should attend the service together, probably in reserved pews in a designated part of the sanctuary.
Beyond simple attendance, there are plenty of ways to weave Scouting into the service:
Worship Bulletins: Offer to provide covers for the service’s worship bulletin. ScoutStuff.org sells Scout Sunday bulletin covers, or you could design your own.
Recognition: Whoever handles the greeting and announcements should recognize the Scouts in attendance. Some pastors like to recognize former Scouts as well.
Processional: If the service begins with a processional that includes flags and banners, see if Scouts can participate. Similarly, Scouts who are acolytes could serve this role in uniform.
Greeters and ushers: Have Scouts greet worshipers as they arrive and/or collect the offering during the service.
Readers: If the service involves the reading of Scripture or responsive readings by laypeople, recruit Scouts to handle these tasks.
Religious emblems: If Scouts have earned religious emblems, have the pastor present the badges during the service. This effectively demonstrates the shared values of Scouting and the congregation.
Beyond the Sanctuary
Your unit’s participation in Scout Sunday or Scout Sabbath doesn’t have to be confined to the sanctuary. Set up an information table in the lobby or a model campsite on the lawn.
Host a pancake breakfast or chili luncheon—either as a thank-you to the congregation or as a money-earning event.
What Comes Next?
Scout Sunday or Scout Sabbath shouldn’t be the only time that your chartered organization hears about Scouting. Paden’s pack makes sure it’s visible year-round by sponsoring a hole at the church school’s golf tournament.
If you do nothing else, at least earn some goodwill by participating in Scout Sunday and Scout Sabbath. You may need that goodwill some day.
“Every once in a while there are some maintenance issues that arise,” Paden says. “We want to encourage positive relationships with the chartered organization.”