Thursday, October 15, 2020

Shannon Sixbey Discusses Faith Partnerships for Youth in Girl Scouting

Written by Girl Scout Volunteer and faith partnership advocate, Shannon Sixbey

Do you know your Girl Scout Promise? Do you say it at every Girl Scout meeting? Are we speaking empty words or do those words mean something to us?

On my honor, I will try:

To serve God and my country,

To help people at all times,

And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

We easily repeat the promise as most of it makes sense to us. We will serve our country and other people at all times. And, even though most of us fail to repeat the law completely from memory, we are still fine with: 

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.

So where do we struggle? With serving God.

The Girl Scouts is a gloriously diverse and inclusive movement. Since our girls come from various backgrounds, they bring with them a variety of religious beliefs. Yet, we do them a dis-service to not help them grow in understanding what “to serve God” means while busily teaching them all the other aspects of the Promise and Law through petals, patches, and programs. The Girl Scout Religious Emblems program and “My Promise, My Faith” awards are two wonderful introductions to God. And neither program is limited to a Western, Christian-based understanding of God. 

For the last ten years my church, First United Methodist Church Fox Hill, has committed to running a biennial Religious Emblems program for local youth. Most of the youth attending come through Scouting programs. The church sees offering this outreach program as a natural extension of its Scouting ministry. The church hosts Girl Scout troops, a Cub Scout pack, a Boy Scout troop, and a Venture Crew.

With all the youth using the building, we wanted to share our faith and the God whom we worship in the building we share. The teachers enjoy teaching the well-planned P.R.A.Y. Publishing program for Protestant churches: God and Me, God and Family, God and Church, and God and Life. We are excited about offering the newest program, Jesus and Me, for the first time this year.

Since the Religious Emblems program requires a 1 – 3-month commitment based on age group, we also decided to annually offer “My Promise, My Faith.” The “My Promise, My Faith” program can readily be covered in 2 hours with girls rotating through 4 stations: music, inspirational quote, “tea with a member”, and artistic expression. Handouts such as music, written-down quotes, and art are all gathered in a binder which we add to each year. The program started with “honest and fair,” proceeded to “friendly and helpful”, and we hope to continue through the law so by the end of their Girl Scout career the girls will have a binder covering the entire Girl Scout Law.

So, may this serve as an invitation to reach out to teach “to serve God” in Girl Scouting. There are two programs: One is a cursory introduction, and the other one leads to a more intense understanding. Both offer great resources to help leaders. Feel free to contact me if you have questions or desire guidance!

Shannon Sixbey