A group offering an alternative to Boy Scouts kicks off regional meeting in Tampa Wednesday

TAMPA - A new Boy Scout policy effective in January accepting gay members has caused some to back away from the organization. Now a new organization is offering an alternative for those opposed to the Boy Scouts.

It's called Trail Life USA and directors will be in Tampa tomorrow morning to kick off a regional meeting.

One local church is already moving in Trail Life USA's direction, but it comes as a huge disappointment to local gay activists

For more than 10 years, the Calvary Chapel Church in Pinellas Park welcomed hundreds of Boy Scouts. Beginning in the New Year that ends.

"We just felt that we could not partner with them anymore," said Associate Pastor Jim O'Connor who oversees the children's ministries.

O'Connor said while the church appreciates the legacy of the Boy Scouts, they looked at other options after the group's decision to accept gay scouts.

"We decided that did not coincide with our belief and our mission," said O'Connor.

On Thursday, the Pastor will host a meeting for church members on Trail Life USA.

"We have jumped in with both feet and looking forward to partnering with Trail Life, USA," said O'Connor.

A spokesperson for the local Gulf Ridge Council of the Boy Scouts that serves eight local counties says only a handful of religious institutions, like Calvary Chapel, have pulled support for the scouts.

But the news that it's happening is upsetting many gay right groups and activists in the Bay area. Activist Jay Aller helped start PRIDE in St. Petersburg.

"It is very disappointing that the church is not accepting. I went to a bible college and I know God's love and Jesus' love is to love everyone and love your neighbor and that is not really loving your neighbor," said Aller.

Aller believes starting a group like Trail Life USA  is like stepping back into the past.

"I am kind of shocked that there is another group out there that is trying to be Boy Scouts that are more restrictive," said Aller who is an Eagle Scout.

But the Pastor said for his congregation, it's just a better fit.

"It became very clear that it is exactly what we are looking for." said O'Connor.

Fundraising is also down for the Boy Scouts. Nationally, the organization does not connect the new policy with the loss in revenue.

But here locally, a spokesperson said there has been a financial impact.
 

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