Special organizations for young people in the Methodist Church came about as early as 1786, when the first Sunday School was organized in Hanover County, Virginia. By 1889, the Epworth League was organized to develop Christian life in young people.. During the early 1900’s, churches united with the Boy Scouts of America to provide meeting places and leaders for young people in their quest for leadership skills and outdoor experiences.
First Methodist Church had the first permanent Boy Scout Troop in Salem and possibly the longest lived Troop in the District. Troop 51 was organized in February 1927 when the church was call the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Mr. W. Frank Chapman was the first Scoutmaster, Mr. W. R. Cross was the Institutional Representative, and Dr. Julius C. Darden was Committee Chairman. The Troop was sponsored by the Men’s Sunday School Class. According to some scout records, the Troop had 10 scouts that first year. However, Mildred Chapman stated on page 107 in Through Years of Grace that “charter members of this first troop are on file as Julius Darden, Frank Farrier, Charles L. Felty Jr., Randolph Francis, William O. Goodwin, Livingston Hansbrough, Edwin Hayden, Wesley Hayden, Robert Harveycutter, Harry S. Marshall, Richard Persinger, Bentley Robertson, Edward Travis, Jack Watson, Johnnie Webber, and William E. Whitesell.”
Many scoutmasters have led this Troop. The scout leaders with the longest years of service are G. B. Rockhill (1929-1931), J. L. McCrown (1946-1947, 1949-1953, 1955), R. K. Brown (1959-1962, 1964), J. H. Lynch (1958, 1965-1975), Paul Candler (1976-1982), and R. B. Bower (1983-1985).
In 1980, Troop 51 received a trophy for recruiting more boys than any other Troop in the district. In 1982, Mrs. Tollie L. Hare presented a gift to Troop 51 in honor of James Lynch and Mac Green in appreciation for their leadership in years past. In 1985, Troop 51 lost its charter and was not reorganized until 1998 when Brooks Turner became Scoutmaster. Since 1998, the Troop has grown and thrived under the leadership of Brooks Turner, Lynn Womack, and James A. Gresham (Institutional Representative). Mr. David Edgell assumed the duties of Scoutmaster on April 1, 2004. Kurt Webber served the Troop as Scoutmaster from 2007 until 2010. Paul Boston took over in 2010, and served until October of 2012. Our current Scoutmaster, Scott Harless, took over in 2012.
Many people have given their time to the Troop over the years as Assistant Scoutmasters, Committee Chairmen, Committee members, and Institutional Representatives. Without the help of these people, the Troop would not have become the strong Troop we have today.