Boy Scout Troop 550 still in need of home, weighing its options

CRYSTAL LAKE – More than two weeks after being told they no longer could meet at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, Boy Scouts from Troop 550 still don't have a home.

Troop Scoutmaster Charles Payseur said the group has received two offers from area religious organizations, but the group is waiting to decide on a new charter until after its summer camping trip this weekend.

“I'm looking for an organization that is absolutely open-minded and has a track record of that,” Payseur said. “I don't want to have what happened to us happen again.”

On June 1, the Rev. Brian Grady, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Crystal Lake, wrote a letter to the troop informing it that because of the overall Boy Scouts of America's vote to allow openly gay boys to participate in the organization, the church no longer would be able to charter them.

Payseur said he hasn't spoken to Grady since receiving the letter. Grady declined Tuesday to comment on the situation.

“I wish he would have been man enough to give me a phone call,” Payseur said. “We set up there five years ago. I would have appreciated a call. I would have been fine with it."

Several area religious groups – including the Rockford Diocese, which McHenry County Catholic Churches are a part of – have spoken out in support of the Boy Scouts since the group received the letter from Grady.

"The community is pretty outraged," Payseur said. "Not at the Catholic Church, but at Father Grady. It seems like Father Grady really jumped the gun."

Payseur said two weeks ago that he did not want to start a relationship with another religious group, but on Tuesday he had softened that stance – provided the organization's political views are accepting of gay Scouts.

“I'm not going to rule anyone out,” he said. “But I would still rather have a school or a business be our charter. They would be easier to work with than a religious organization.”

The church severing its ties from Troop 550 has left the Scouts asking many questions, Payseur said, ranging from, why did the church cancel the charter, to what do we do if there is a homosexual in our troop?

“We have a huge age group from 11- to 18-year-olds,” he said. “That's 'girls have cooties' to voting. Right now my guys are all questioning why the church canceled our charter.”

Payseur said the church's decision has caused a stir among other troop leaders he has spoken to, making some question whether the decision by the overall Boy Scouts organization to allow openly gay members was the right one.

“In the scouting community, people are really worried," he said. "From the people I've talked to, they are split in half as to whether they should have taken a vote originally.”

Payseur, a lifelong participant in the Boy Scouts, said he was glad to see a vote to allow openly gay members. He hopes his troop members can move on from this and continue to build on the life lessons taught by the Scouts, he said.

“We teach independence. We turn boys into men," he said. "There's no one you want to call on better than a Scout. It's a great organization.”

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