October 27, 2020 | Messages from the BishopRead This Article
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is going through a bankruptcy process due to the financial impact of multiple sexual abuse claims. This bankruptcy may have an adverse financial impact on our local churches that have served or are serving as “Chartering Organizations” for Troops or Packs.
Update 11.12.2021 – BSA Special Charge Conference
New Update 12.21.2021 – United Methodist Leaders Reached a Settlement
United Methodist leaders have reached a fair and just settlement in the matter of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) pending bankruptcy proceedings. Upon final court approval, the settlement would resolve any claims of sexual abuse that may have occurred in congregation-sponsored Scouting programs. The settlement follows months of mediation by an Ad Hoc committee of bishops, chancellors and general agency staff that has been advocating for United Methodist interests and includes concrete actions United Methodists will take to prevent sexual abuse of children and youth. Denominational leaders continue to work with the BSA to delineate a path forward for future scouting ministries in United Methodist congregations by March 31, 2022.
You can read the full press release from United Methodist Communications, here.
Now that United Methodists have reached a settlement in the BSA bankruptcy, the Ad Hoc Committee who has guided the work for the settlement on behalf of United Methodists, is recommending for all congregations that filed a proof of claim to vote to “accept” the plan, as the plan now provides releases and protection from sexual abuse lawsuits for all United Methodist churches who presently or in the past chartered a BSA Troop or Cub Pack.
Important Reminder Regarding BSA Ballots
Churches who charter a Boy Scout troop have already or will soon receive a package in the mail from the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case. If your church filed a “proof of claim,” the package will include a ballot to cast a vote for or against the reorganization plan. This is very important material, and you should not complete any part of the ballot at this time. Completing it incorrectly could possibly affect your congregation’s protection from a lawsuit. The United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee is developing recommendations for local churches on how to complete the ballot, which will be shared as soon as they are complete. GNJ will work closely with churches on completing the ballot well before the voting deadline of Dec. 13, 2021.
Statement regarding Rechartering (10/4/21)
If your church has Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts, the letter below is to share with your church and scouting leaders by Wednesday, October 6.
Dear Clergy Whose Church Charters Boy Scout Troops and Cub Packs,
Sometimes there is a need to change a practice to achieve desired results. Today, those working on the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy and resolving more than 5,200 abuse claims since 1940 against United Methodist congregations, are recommending a modification in how UM congregations charter with Scout troops and Cub packs.
Several months ago, it was recommended that congregations pause the rechartering process and extend existing charters through the end of the year or use a facility use agreement. This has been a very helpful practice up until this time. It gained clarity about liability issues, resolved a couple of critical issues through the mediation process, and helped people working on resolution recognize how important United Methodists are in the healing of survivors and serving young people. The following is a joint statement of the Boy Scouts of America and United Methodist leadership working on resolving United Methodist claims.
United Methodist leadership and the BSA have agreed to the following joint statement regarding the status of units chartered by United Methodist churches.
The Boy Scouts of America and United Methodist leadership continue to work together to resolve matters related to BSA’s financial restructuring and have agreed, in the best interest of the young people who participate in Scouting, to strongly recommend to United Methodist chartering organizations and Boy Scout Councils to extend existing charter agreements and facility use agreements in force at this time through March 31, 2022. There will be no additional fee required from those chartering organizations through March 31, 2022. This will pause new chartering, re-chartering and the use of facility use agreements with United Methodist churches. This automatic extension will allow Boy Scouts of America, United Methodist leadership, and other parties in the bankruptcy case time to resolve important issues affecting chartered organizations, including a favorable release for chartered organizations for any Scout abuse claims.
Congregations that charter Scouts are strongly encouraged to follow this process as it resolves confusion and helps us resolve our concerns in the mediation process. To be clear, this statement calls for the BSA and UM congregations to pause any rechartering conversations and use what is in place at this time.
There is a team working on a new UM charter for Scouting ministries that may be used in the future.
The United Methodist church has four goals to meet through the mediation process.
- The healing of survivors and commitment to how we will continue to work to end abuse. Our congregations and UMC leadership have and continue to make progress on ending abuse. Less than 1% of our cases occurred in the last 20 years. The other 99% occurred prior to 2000. While this is significant progress, we strive to work toward ending abuse.
- Gaining a release for all of the UM claims against our congregations that will prevent anyone from suing a congregation for a claim directly related to Boy Scout activity prior to 2020.
- Not using a congregation’s insurance to resolve any of the more than 5,200 UM claims.
- A financial settlement.
We want to assure you that our UM chancellors and more than 200 UM leaders are working on your behalf to reach these goals. In addition to pausing all rechartering through March of 2022 and continuing with the present charter or facilities use agreement, today we ask that you pray for the survivors’ healing.
We also ask you to pray for those leading this effort. God has gifted us with compassion and wisdom to reach just settlements and faithfully steward the resources of the UMC.
Bishop John Schol
The United Methodists of
Greater New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania
Usage/Lease Agreement & Relationship Statement
- Usage/Lease Agreement – used with groups and organizations that are using church facilities multiple times. Access here.
- Relationship Statement – used with groups and organizations that use the church facilities and the church is not responsible nor provides oversight for the activities and individuals of the organization using the church facilities (coming soon).