West Virginia United Methodists Have Presence at National Jamboree

By Audrey Stanton-Smith

The West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church played an important role at the 2023 Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in Mount Hope, West Virginia.

Sunday morning, during Scout’s Own Service worship, West Virginia Conference Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball led a service of communion for hundreds of the 15,000 Scouts participating in the national event.

And throughout the 10-day Jamboree, which began July 19, many of those Scouts participated in a flood bucket service project connected to the West Virginia Conference United Methodist Church’s Disaster Ministries.

It all connects, explained Steiner Ball and Steven Scheid, director of Scouting Ministries for The United Methodist Church.

“To come to the table is to remember people in terms of self with one another and self with God,” Steiner Ball said. “These Scouts remember their Scout oath and their Scout law, which reminds them who they are called to be and how they are to be in the world with one another. It’s fundamental to their life as a Scout.”

“See a need and meet it. See a hurt and help to heal it,” Scheid added, echoing a popular quote and the message of ventriloquist and Presbyterian Pastor David Weyrick, who delivered a puppet-aided sermon on the Parable of the Good Samaritan during Sunday’s Christian worship service.

“It’s just a simple fact of showing some love, and that’s what we ought to be doing as Christ’s followers — seeing needs, helping to heal hurts, and showing some love,” Weyrick, who also serves as a scouting chaplain, told those in attendance at the multi-denominational service.

“All are invited to this table,” Steiner Ball said as she invited attendees to communion. “This is not our table, my table, or your table, or any specific church’s table. This is Christ’s table. It’s the place where we come to remember God’s love for us and that God loves us so much that God will not let us go, and that God’s love is so powerful that whenever we see a need, God’s spirit will come alongside of us so that we can meet that need.”

Showing love was exactly what Scouts were doing throughout the week with the service project connected to their Messengers of Peace badge — assembling 5,000 flood buckets for The United Methodist Church West Virginia Conference Disaster Ministries.

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View the full album on Flickr. Most photos taken by Bill Eades.

Scout Jordan Schmidt of the Winnebago Council in northeast Iowa has seen communities back home in northeast Iowa brace for major flooding along the Mississippi.

“Oh, yeah, it happens a lot in Iowa,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt and hundreds of Scouts from across the country had those communities in mind — and others they learned of during this visit to West Virginia — as they sang “Country Roads” and filled flood buckets.

“They told us it was a bucket of hope,” added Scout Carizma Sander, also of the Winnebago Council.

Each 5-gallon flood bucket, also known as an UMCOR Cleaning Kit, contains laundry detergent, household cleaner, dish soap, air freshener, insect repellent, other cleaning supplies, clothespins, a clothesline, heavy-duty trash bags, N95 masks, cleaning gloves, work gloves, and safety gloves. The supplies were purchased by Boy Scouts of America donors and heavily discounted by WalMart, who made no profit on supplying the items, leaders emphasized.

Winnebago Council member Makenna Brudelie said she and others were mindful of potential bucket recipients as pairs or trios of Scouts assembled the buckets then wrote their names and messages of hope on a letter they placed inside. The letter includes the logos of the 2023 National Jamboree, Disaster Ministries of the West Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church, and Walmart.

“Some of us also put our council addresses on it, if we wanted a possibility of receiving a letter from the person,” Schmidt said.

“We want to make it real for them,” said Russell Smart, a national program chairman for BSA from Greenville, S.C., who gave Steiner Ball a tour of the bucket assembly site, which includes a staged model of a normal living room and a staged model of a living room that has been flooded. Scouts begin their assembly project at those models, then walk through rows of pallets to collect the bucket ingredients.

“The last thing I tell them is, ‘Okay, when you put the lid on the bucket, the next person who picks up that bucket is not going to be having a good day,’ ” Smart said. “ ‘And you’re never going to know who is going to open that bucket. You’re not even going to know when it’s going to be opened. You’re not even going to know where it’s going to be opened, but the person that opens that bucket — the first thing they’re going to see is who made it happen. … So you won’t know them, but they’re going to know you. And they’re going to say a thank you, that you were there for them on the day they needed you.’ … That’s why we call it service and impact.”

Flood buckets will be stored at the West Virginia United Methodist Conference’s Disaster Response Services center, New Vision Depot, in Beaver, West Virginia, and at the West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (WV VOAD) warehouse in Belle, West Virginia, for distribution when and wherever they are needed throughout the region.