TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — The Senior Pastor at Harrisburg Baptist Church says after the boy scouts decided to welcome openly gay scouts, church leaders held several meetings about steps to move forward.
On Sunday church leaders, including the boy scouts committee, voted and changes are on the way starting in 2014.
"I think Boy Scouts of America will be hurt drastically because of the move they have made," said Dr. Forrest Sheffield senior pastor at Harrisburg.
After several decades the church has decided to sever ties with the Boy Scouts of America, following a controversial decision made earlier this year to allow openly gay scouts to become members.
"I personally believe that there will be many churches around America who do not embrace homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle that will certainly take a stand in the time to come," said Dr. Sheffield.
Sunday's vote means, starting in January of 2014, Boy Scout Troop 85 will no longer be sponsored by Harrisburg.
WTVA spoke with Yocona Council Scout Executive Rick Chapman to get his reaction to the church's decision.
"Well we are disappointed in the decision they made. You know, we certainly understand it and respect it. But you know, as far as Troop 85, the troop has been around a long time and it was Troop 85 before it was with Harrisburg and we'll make sure it continues," said Chapman.
Church leaders tell WTVA they have found an alternative to the Boy Scouts.
"There is a wonderful alternative that is in the making right now, and it's name is On My Honor, and certainly it will be an organization built on the highest principles and morals," said Dr. Sheffield.
Despite Harrisburg's decision, Chapman says they will continue to look to churches first as local sites for scouts to meet.
"We've had churches across the council, and I'm not speaking for all of them, but most of them are saying we are not leaving scouting," said Chapman.