Sheffield church opens arms to Boy Scouts

Published: Jul. 4, 2013 at 10:07 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2013 at 10:08 PM CDT
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Grace Episcopal will offer scouts the use of their facilities.
Grace Episcopal will offer scouts the use of their facilities.

SHEFFIELD, AL (WAFF) - The pastor at Grace Episcopal Church in Sheffield extended his welcome in a letter inviting the scouts to use their facilities.

The Boy Scouts of America have been under fire since they voted to allow openly gay scouts, a decision that has some churches in Alabama denying them the use of their facilities.

Pastor Rick Oberheide states in his letter his beliefs as to why everyone should be welcome in the church. He feels young scouts should not have to suffer for decisions that are made beyond their control.

Pastor Oberheide also said that his decision to write the letter is not to criticize the beliefs of others, but a statement of disagreement with any decision that makes a group or individual feel unwelcome in the church. He said he'd like to see more people become more open and welcoming to others, especially those who are different.

"I think there's too many people walking around with rocks in their hands," said Oberheide. "We all need to drop them and admit we're all flawed in our own way and part of that is we need to listen to one another and respect other points of view."

"Maybe there's a middle ground here that's loving and unified."

Daniel Giles, Westmoreland District Executive for the Greater Alabama Council of Boy Scouts of America, released a statement in response to Pastor Oberheide's letter. It says in part, "We greatly appreciate the support to Scouting from Grace Episcopal. We are excited about the opportunity to work with the church to further the scouting movement with a program that instills the cornerstones of leadership, citizenship, and character."

Pastor Oberheide hopes that other churches will follow in this example.

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