The Firs’ executive director’s full statement on firing a gay Bellingham teenager

An aerial view of Camp Firwood in Whatcom County.
An aerial view of Camp Firwood in Whatcom County. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

This is The Firs’ Executive Director Tom Beaumont’s full statement, provided to The Bellingham Herald on Thursday, June 13, about the firing of a gay camp counselor:

“I am writing to you who know and care about the ministries and programs of The Firs (Firwood, Fircreek, ASA…). Every year of the 34 years I have been in leadership here at The Firs our focus has been on loving and serving any and all kids in the setting of an outdoor camp environment. If The Firs has been part of your experience I suspect you would agree.

“We are a faith-based organization whose mission is not only to love kids but to introduce them to a God who loves them as well. A God that we feel reveals Himself primarily in the Bible. This, then, is what we are all about. We seek to accomplish this mission through our programs within the context of approved Statements of Faith as we understand them.

“In order for us to do this we hire young leaders each summer to carry out our purposes and we call them summer staff. It is critical that we hire people who are committed to our mission and to these statements of faith. These folks are extremely important to us, we care deeply for them and they are critical in the fulfilling of our mission.

“Just recently we extended an invitation for a young man well known and loved at The Firs to serve as a counselor at Fircreek (our day camp program). When it became evident in the process that he did not personally align with our statements of faith (in particular, one regarding sexuality) and could not sign the agreement all are required to sign he subsequently was disqualified from being a counselor.

“Our quandary was this. In order to be consistent to our beliefs and our mission we felt compelled to pass on someone we truly liked for this counselor role. I sincerely wish this was otherwise. I know this may be confusing and contrary to your beliefs. Please be assured that I and the full leadership of The Firs will continue to seek the appropriate means to carry out our mission in the context of a changing world.”

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.