Dear Partners in Ministry,
United Methodists have long been leaders in providing hope, healing, and renewal in the world. Our ministry has a greater impact in the world because we serve together, and we support one another. Connectionalism is a gift and strength of United Methodism.
In the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) bankruptcy filing, there were more than 80,000 claims of sexual abuse occurring since 1940, several thousand of which are alleged to have taken place in United Methodist-chartered Boy Scout troops and Cub packs.
The United Methodist Church does not tolerate sexual abuse in any form. We grieve for those who have experienced such abuse and take seriously our responsibility to persons who have been victimized as part of a Scout troop sponsored by a United Methodist congregation. Together, United Methodists must address any harm and work to aid survivors in the path to restoration.
Over the last year, United Methodists have engaged and led in the mediation process by putting the survivors first in each mediation session and calling everyone to work together to achieve a fair and just settlement.
The following are some of the ways we have committed to healing and a just and fair settlement that are included in our settlement agreement with the survivors and the BSA. When the bankruptcy plan is approved, we will:
- Provide an opportunity for survivors who were a part of a United Methodist-chartered Boy Scout Troop or Cub Pack to share their experiences and hopes for the church with a trained United Methodist leader who will listen, receive the survivor’s experience and hopes for the church. The United Methodist BSA Bankruptcy Leadership Team will review the survivors’ sated hopes for incorporation in United Methodist practices and procedures to make Scouting and other ministries safer for young people.
- Publish a series of articles about the Boy Scout bankruptcy case and the sexual abuse of young people in denominational resources and U.S. annual conference communication resources.
- Review all Safe Sanctuary/Ministry Safe policies and procedures for congregations in the U.S. to ensure they are up to date and are being followed.
- Ensure all BSA chartering organizations receive a release for Boy Scout-related claims. While United Methodists have the capacity to organize and have legal representation, most chartering organizations do not. Small community nonprofits, small denominations (including sister denominations of the Pan Methodist Church), parent-teacher associations, grange halls, and many other charter organizations were not represented in the mediation process, leaving them vulnerable to future lawsuits. Our United Methodist mediators advocated for their release from BSA claims, not only to assist them but also to help ensure that today’s Scouts will be able to continue. To achieve this release, the lawyers for the survivor claimants sought $450 million from all chartering organizations. There are $320 million in pledges and United Methodists have offered to assist in raising the additional $100,000 from other charter organizations so that they will be able to continue serving young people through Scouting.
- We will provide a representative to the survivor working group that will work to make Scouting and youth programs safe for young people.
- We committed to raising a $30 million settlement to contribute to the Survivor Trust Fund. Our contribution is 1 percent of a $3 billion settlement. Insurance companies, the BSA and BSA Councils are largely paying the remaining 99 percent. Our $30 million contribution is required to provide a release for all United Methodist entities from lawsuits for abuse that occurred during Scouting-related activities.
United Methodists lead by working together to advocate and work toward wholeness and justice for all people. With your support and dedication, we can turn these hopes into reality. GNJ’s contribution to the settlement is outlined in a press release which you can find here.
Please find more information about the January 26 Information Session, including an FAQ and Zoom details here.
Thank you for your commitment to provide healing, hope, and renewal for survivors and being a leader in the world.