Tuesday, May 1, 2012

All Across the Country, Girl Scouts Celebrate Their Faith

In Utah, Intermountain Catholic reports that to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting in America, Governor Gary Herbert declared March 12, 2012 Girl Scout Day in Utah during a ceremony at the Capitol, and congratulated the Girl Scouts for operating in Utah for 92 years.

"During the ceremony, Governor Herbert and Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck encouraged the girls to continue in leadership roles and run for public office as adults," said Celeste Diller, Troop 2272 Junior Girl Scout leader from Blessed Sacrament Parish.

Catholic News Service reports that Tina Kent credits the Girl Scouts for teaching her skills in leadership, conflict resolution and critical thinking and for giving her an appreciation for the outdoors and opportunities to travel.

Kent became a Brownie at age 8 in her native Vermillion, S.D., and remained a Scout until she was a teenager in Waco, Texas. Now a wife and mother of five, Kent lives in the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., and is a Girl Scout troop leader in York, Pa., where her troop meets at St. Joseph Catholic School. Kent is well aware of claims by some that the Girl Scouts of the USA promotes Planned Parenthood and its advocacy of birth control and abortion. and after looking into the criticism herself, she told Catholic News Service, "I just don't buy that it's happening."

Girl Scouts of the USA does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood and does not plan to create one. Parents and volunteer troop leaders in churches have total control of the Girl Scout programming their girls receive.

In January, Anna Maria Chávez, a Catholic who has been the Girl Scouts CEO since last November, came to Washington from New York, along with the chair of GSUSA's board of directors, to meet with Robert J.
McCarty, executive director at the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry.

"For nearly 100 years, we have partnered with the Catholic Church to support the growth and development of millions of girls," Chávez told CNS April 19. "It is a wonderful legacy and we're grateful for the opportunity to participate in the process that will only enhance our partnership."

She said her organization has had meetings with Catholic dioceses around the country and said "those conversations have been very valuable in strengthening that relationship. Working closely together, we will continue to provide girls with the courage, confidence and character they will need to make our world a better place."

CapiTalk Blog reports that The Girl Scouts 100th Anniversary Interfaith Service was held at the Washington National Cathedral as a celebration of the rich faith traditions Girl Scout sisters share from various faith communities. We honored Girl Scouts who earned the new My Faith, My Promise religious recognition. Learn more about the Interfaith Service here.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church, spoke at the event.

"I became a Girl Scout more than 50 years ago, and what I remember of those early years has made a big difference in my life, as I hope it has for you," said The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori. "Learning to identify birds, or how to plant trees, tie knots, or build a fire, are important skills that teach us about the world around us. So are the things we learn in Scout troop or by going to camp. We meet girls from different cultures and backgrounds, we try different foods, and we learn to live together in community."

Episcopal News Service was also on hand and reports that prayers also were offered by the Rev. Frank Ready of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, the Rev. Kaz Nakata and Erick Ishii of the Ekoji Buddhist Temple (who scattered paper petals as a sign of welcome), D.C. Rao of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, Rabbi Rachel Gartner, director of Jewish Chaplaincy at Georgetown University and the Rev. Nancy Lee, of Community of Hope ANC Church. The entire service can be viewed here.

The new Girl Scouts My Promise, My Faith pin invites girls in grades K-12 to experience a faith journey through exploration of the Girl Scout Law and teachings from their faith. Girls can earn this national pin each year.

Everything in Girl Scouting is based on the Girl Scout Promise and Law. The Girl Scout Law includes many of the principles and values common to most faiths. Thus, while a secular organization, Girl Scouts has, since the movement began, encouraged girls to take spiritual journeys via their faiths' religious recognitions.

In Illinois, Trib Local reports that over the past few months, Junior Girl Scouts in the fifth grade have met several times on Sunday mornings in the Teen Room at St. Michael Church to complete the requirements to earn the Puella Mariae Religious Award. Amanda Marino was the teen facilitator of the sessions. She has had the opportunity to earn this award as a Girl Scout and is thankful for the chance to work with these young girls as they journey in their faith. For some of the girls in the group, this is the third religious award they have earned.

In Pennsylvania, The Catholic Witness reports that when she joined the Girl Scouts five years ago, Rachel Warthen signed up because she was interested in a particular activity: selling cookies. But it didn’t take long for Rachel to learn that the Girl Scouts are recognized for much more than their yearly springtime confections.

“Girl Scouts has shown us different ways to help other people, and to learn more about our faith,” Rachel told The Catholic Witness. “It also gives us an opportunity to get involved in different activities.”

Amy Stone offers a 100th Girl Scout Anniversary Round-up for Yo, Yenta. "I know I wrote a little last week about the centennial celebration of the Girl Scouts held in Savannah," she states, "but after spending the weekend immersed in Scout culture and attending the special Sunday service at my synagogue, I felt I needed to share a bit more."

Amy was on hand as Anna Maria Chávez, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, attended a special Sunday service at Congregation Mickve Israel, followed by a community reception at the synagogue.