IGRC selected for scouting pilot project


The United Methodist Office of Scouting Ministries is looking for advocates to help Illinois Great Rivers Conference churches establish and expand scouting ministry opportunities.

The National Office of Scouting Ministries has selected the area as a pilot conference to test the effectiveness of “scouting ministry specialists.” 

Volunteer specialists will provide neighboring churches with information about the Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY), training opportunities, resources for Scout Sunday and various awards for young people and adults.

Scouting ministry specialists will also help churches enrich their relationship with existing Scout units. “Too frequently, churches treat troops as if they are just renting space instead of being a vital part of their ministry,” said Larry Coppock national director of scouting ministries. Fifty percent of the Scouts in troops chartered by United Methodist churches are unchurched.

“Venturing Crews can also expand youth ministries,” said Coppock.

Conference scouting coordinators

“I have been involved in scouting for over 40 years,” said Ray Gessel, co-conference scouting coordinator. “Scouting is fun; it provides high-adventure opportunities, develops leaders, provides fellowship and offers service opportunities.

“I have had the honor and privilege of serving on over 200 Eagle Scout boards of review that determine if Scouts are qualified for the awards,” he said. “Almost without exception they are more mature and aware of their responsibilities as good citizens than those not involved in scouting.”

Currently serving with Gessel as co-coordinator, Dennis Luessenheide, is a 34-year veteran of scouting, nine years as chair of the District (Eagle) Advancement Board.

For further information about becoming a scouting ministry specialist, contact LaNisha Sayles (866-297-4312). Please include name, address, phone number and email address.