In three of the four town meetings held on the Vineyard this week, proceedings began with a recitation of some fine words celebrating American values. In the fourth, it began with the actual exercise of the core American value — democracy.

But that decision in favor of democracy caused some grief for Tisbury town moderator Deborah Medders.

The story begins several weeks ago when the Island Boy Scouts approached the moderators of the various towns with a proposal that the scouts lead town meeting in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning.

In Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury the moderators agreed straight away and groups of scouts were duly deployed on Tuesday night.

This did not happen in Tisbury, though. Ms. Medders thought the decision on whether the pledge should be recited was one the meeting should vote on. Reciting the pledge has not historically been a part of Tisbury’s — or indeed any other Island town’s — meeting procedure, and she did not want to unilaterally overturn 340 years of precedent.

That’s what she told the man driving the initiative, cub master Ewell Hopkins when they spoke, and that’s where the matter rested until the day of the meeting, when she received a phone call which disturbed Ms. Medders and prompted her to explain herself to the 170 or so assembled townspeople.

The call came, she said, from “an Island newspaper” [not this one] and it was predicated on a distortion of her position.

“The line of questioning, I found, was quite to put the town in an unfavorable light, as though we had refused to do the pledge of allegiance,” she told the meeting.

“I engaged in conversation with the newspaper only to clarify our response and make it very clear that if the town wanted to begin that practice we certainly could.

“Because my style is not to alter past practice, I was not prepared myself to take that decision,” she said.

She also repeated to the crowd what her research into the relevant history of proceedings at Tisbury meetings had found: The town had never begun a meeting with the pledge, although there was a time when town meeting began with a prayer.

That practice, however, was ended as a result of concerns among the townspeople about the separation of church and state.

Then Ms. Medders put the question to the townspeople: Did they want the Boy Scouts to lead them in a recitation of the pledge at future meetings.

There was a call from the floor that Girl Scouts should also be included.

When the vote was taken a majority of voices was in favor, although there also was a strong minority opposed to the idea. There was no debate.

At the next town meeting, Ms. Medders said, she would invite scouts to lead the gathering in the pledge.

Ewell Hopkins said he was delighted that all the Island towns now had agreed to his proposal.

“What a phenomenal opportunity for those young boys — hopefully future leaders of our community — to get up in front of the towns and express their commitment to God and country,” he said.

He expressed some surprise that anyone could oppose the idea.

“I would have thought it was a slam-dunk. A no-brainer,” Mr. Hopkins said.

In fact it is a significant change. Tisbury’s democratic tradition of town meetings predates American independence by more than 100 years, and reference to a God has been absent from town meeting for close to 200 years.

As Tisbury historian Jim Norton points out, until 1817, a minister of religion — Puritan, of course — was on the town payroll and taxes were levied to support him.

After much debate that practice was ended. Mr. Norton said he could not be sure exactly when the prayer was dispensed with, but it was probably about the same time.

In any case, it was long before a minister of religion (and incidentally an avowed socialist), Frank Bellamy, wrote the Pledge of Allegiance. And it was even longer before reference to God was inserted into the pledge in 1954, in response to the perceived threat of secular communism.

So a new tradition is born.