The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

November 2, 2012

Eagle Scouts earn four-star religious awards


Friday, November 2, 2012 — Two Eagle Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 202 in Locust were recently recognized by the Programs of Religious Activities with Youth (PRAY) organization as Four-Star Award recipients.

Josh Swain, 18, a freshman at Clemson University, and Matt Swain, 15, a sophomore at West Stanly High School, completed the final level of the program in May and were presented their medals and certificates at Oak Grove United Methodist Church on Sept. 16. They are the sons of Doug and Mary Margaret Swain of Locust and the grandchildren of Edgar and Rosa Swain of Ahoskie and the late Cuyler and Mary Jane Heath of Sneads Ferry.

The Protestant Series of the PRAY program “helps young people to develop a deeper relationship with God and to understand how God is active in their lives and in the world around them. It is a Christian Education Resource that uses Bible lessons paired with service projects to help young people not only grow in Christian faith but to also express their faith by reaching out in love and in service to others.”

PRAY also offers youth programs for other faiths.

In 2011, just under 26,000 youth completed some level of PRAY program.

“Less than 1 percent of all participating youth earn the Four-Star Award each year, so this is a major accomplishment,” said Doug Swain, coordinator of the PRAY religious programs for Troop 202.

To earn the 4-Star Award, youth must complete all four levels of the program. The first level, God and Me, is done while the boys are in grades 1-3. The second level, God and Family, is used in grades 4-5. God and Church is for grades 6-8, and the final program, God and Life, must be done during high school. The Swains completed the first two levels through Cub Scout Pack 226, chartered by Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Wilmington.

After moving to the Red Cross area in 2007, they completed the middle and high school levels with Troop 202, chartered by Mission Baptist Church in Locust and led by Scoutmaster Richard Sides.

For their required service projects in God and Life, the Swains worked with their own church, Oak Grove United Methodist, to plan, promote and begin operating a new children’s church program that is led by members of the church’s youth group.

This new approach benefits both the children and youth by getting them involved with a variety of Bible stories, games and crafts that help to reinforce the message of the week. Youth members take turns planning the activities and then work in pairs to lead them during the 9:45 a.m. service each Sunday. Various adult church members work with the youth, and the entire congregation helps to provide resources and supplies. Visitors are always welcome.

Rev. Ervin Houser, pastor of Oak Grove United Methodist Church, recently said, “Josh and Matt have developed a successful ministry to our children. Both have conducted the children’s worship through object lessons and Bible stories. Everyone in the congregation appreciates their contribution to the life of our church. They excel in all they undertake. They tackle everything they do with enthusiasm and dedication. They are role models for all ages. Children adore them, and adults are amazed at their integrity. Each of these young men has received the highest of honors in Boy Scouts of America, including the God and Country Awards and the Eagle Scout award. They are to be commended for these high achievements.”