TAMPA, Fla. - A Tampa church has told a Boy Scout troop that it won't renew its sponsorship because of the national organization's decision not to ban openly gay Scouts.
The Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church sent a letter to leaders of the troop this week and referred to the national organization's decision.
"We underscore our grief at the decisions made by the BSA which have led to this point," the letter said.
In May, Boy Scout delegates met in Grapevine, Texas, and by a 61 percent margin of 1,400 voters approved the proposal. The delegation, however, stopped short of allowing gay adults to supervise the youths.
Brian T. FitzGerald, former scoutmaster for Troop 4, said there are about 120 boys in the Boy Scout troop and Cub Scout pack who are being displaced come Dec. 31.
The troop will need to find a new sponsor and a new chartering organization.
The Tampa Tribune reports the troop has been in existence since 1916 and counts itself among the oldest in Tampa, and one of the oldest in the state. FitzGerald says the troop has had a continuous charter at the church for the past 60 years, long before Holy Trinity Presbyterian moved in about four years ago.
"We were not totally surprised by this," FitzGerald said. Over the summer, "we were told that the church was considering this action."
Across the region, a few sponsors have opted out since the May decision, but most have stayed the course, said George McGovern, CEO of the Gulf Ridge Council, which encompasses troops in eight West Central Florida counties, including Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk.
Ninety-seven percent of the charter organizations have remained sponsors, he said in a recent interview, adding that more than 400 troops are in those eight counties.
The Gulf Ridge Council serves more than 24,300 youth in 216 Cub Scout packs, 186 Boy Scout troops, 69 Venturing Crews and 52 Learning for Life units. The council stretches from Citrus County to Hardee and Highlands counties.
Among the sponsors is the Catholic Church, which has yet to pull any charters, said Frank Murphy, spokesman for the Diocese of St. Petersburg.
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