Steve Richards, a mining engineer and a former Scoutmaster, noted that there were no Boy Scout troops in any of the six United Methodist churches in this town of 6,500 people.
“I really wanted our church, the Washington United Methodist Church, to sponsor a troop,” said Richards. “I travel a lot out of the country and knew I could not be the Scoutmaster like I was 30 years ago.
Richards received approval from the church board to form a troop and he hopes the other five United Methodist congregations will support his efforts. However, his business travel has limited his time to recruit boys or adult leaders.
While Richards has had a long history in scouting, he learned about the office of scouting ministry specialists at the 2010 National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia where he met Larry Coppock, national director of United Methodist scouting ministries.
“Larry did a great job of motivating me to assist with the scouting ministry,” said Richards.
Shortly after meeting Coppock, Richards was certified as one of three scouting ministry specialist in the Kentucky Annual Conference.
“I have attended the online scouting ministry specialist training sessions and they are wonderful,” said Richards.
He now serves as a unit commissioner with the Shawnee District of the Bluegrass Council, and he helps with fundraisers, training and program activities.
“The first thing I did was to assist the Society of Mining Engineers by working a booth to promote the Mining Merit Badge,” said Richards. That merit badge was one of the original scouting merit badges, but has been ignored in recent years. As a mining engineer, it was natural for Richards to support the badge.
While Richards travels a great deal, he still finds time to serve as a church usher, help his wife, who serves as the church treasurer, and he serves on the Board of the Limestone Ohio Valley Emmaus Community.
Richards is still disappointed that he has not yet been able to form a United Methodist Boy Scout troop. “So far I have not been able to make a difference that can be seen,” he said, “but God has ways of doing things through people that cannot be seen until we look back at where we have been. Hopefully, in another year, I may have some measurable progress to report.”
The other two scouting ministry specialist in the conference are Stephen Bays in Louisville and Whitney Dunlap in Richmond.
If you are interested in becoming a scouting ministry specialist, please contact Coppock (firstname.lastname@example.org) (615/620-7261)