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.
Charters with the Boy Scouts (7/27)
Due to the Boy Scout bankruptcy and other legal matters, all United Methodist Churches should pause in developing charters with the Boy Scouts through Dec. 31, 2021. This will allow The United Methodist Church to assess the liability issues and the ability of the BSA to protect our congregations and conferences from any lawsuits arising from past and future Boy Scout activities. If a congregation presently charters a scout troop and the charter is due to be renewed between now and Dec. 31, then a church may renew the charter only up until Dec. 31 and that the charter state that either the Boy Scouts or church may terminate the agreement at any time prior to Dec. 31, 2021.
It is unclear at this time because of the bankruptcy if the Boy Scouts can protect our congregations and conferences from any liabilities. This is a decision of the bankruptcy court, but The United Methodist Church and GNJ are continuing to monitor this closely. We are receiving reports of phone calls and letters sent to UMC congregations from the Boy Scouts indicating they are protected or promises of liability protection, but there has not been a final decision or ruling in the matter, and our congregations are still exposed for any past and present liabilities during the bankruptcy. Please forward any written communication you may receive so that our lawyers may review it.
GNJ Leadership is recommending that congregations not charter or re-charter scout troops prior to Dec. 31. They are having conversation with denominational leaders and scouting leaders to determine the best path forward for churches. Look for additional information toward the end of the summer.
When the congregation charters the scouting group, it becomes a ministry of the congregation, like a youth program or youth group of the congregation. The congregation is responsible for all activities onsite and offsite, such as camping trips. It carries significant liability and a congregation’s members may not be providing the ministry oversight that is needed.
Alternatively, with usage/lease agreements and relationship statements, the congregation has significantly less liability. From a liability and insurance standpoint, it is the scouting organization that assumes responsibility and insurance for the program.
Usage/Lease Agreement & Relationship Statement
- Usage/Lease Agreement – used with groups and organizations that are using church facilities multiple times (coming soon).
- 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).