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.
Statement on 8/31/21
To clarify an earlier communication regarding the BSA and the CFA’s recommendation that congregations not develop new or recharter with Scout groups, GNJ leadership is recommending that until there is a settlement that also includes our UM congregations, ALL agreements, including recharters and usage/lease agreements, should end by Dec. 31, 2021.
Statement on 8.17.21
The denomination continues to maintain a relationship with the BSA, and churches may continue to support scout troops. However, the ad hoc committee, established to represent United Methodist interests, and United Methodist leadership is disappointed and concerned that the BSA did not include its sponsoring organizations, charter groups in the agreement with the claimants. This leaves as many as 5,000 United Methodist U.S. congregations or more than 15% of U.S. congregations exposed to potential lawsuits by the claimants. Charter organizations were promised by the BSA to be covered by their insurance, but at this time, this does not appear to be the case. The ad hoc committee has advised that churches that support scouting units should (1) agree to extend an expiring charter through Dec. 31, rather than renew that charter, (2) replace an expiring charter with a usage/lease agreement that expires on Dec. 31, or (3) terminate an existing charter and replace it with a usage/lease agreement that expires on Dec. 31. All those options allow for time to see how the bankruptcy will impact the UM congregations.
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. 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).