Are UMC churches responsible for claims on or after January 1, 1976, or will the BSA and BSA Councils pay all claims after January 1, 1976? How about prior to 1976? What is the status of claims for abuse prior to 1976?  Will they be funneled into the bankruptcy?

All claims from 1940 through 2020 are included and will be channeled to the Survivor Trust Fund once the settlement is approved.  Insurance carriers, the BSA, BSA Councils and Charter Organizations are contributing to the Survivor Trust Fund. If United Methodists do not contribute the full $30 million to the Survivor Trust Fund, all individual cases for United Methodists pre-1976 may be litigated through the courts and for cases after January 1, 1976 cases may be litigated in the courts except for cases in which a United Methodist congregation had purchased insurance with one of the settling insurers. In other words, Hartford Insurance Company is a settling insurer because it insured the BSA and only if a congregation purchased its own insurance from Hartford would their case be channeled to the trust. If the congregation had no insurance or purchased from a non-settling carrier, the congregation’s case may be litigated in the courts.

Please clarify what local congregations are to do with our Boy Scout troop after March 31. Will there be an updated Charter Agreement? Will there be a different kind of agreement? Can a written statement about how congregations can handle both the facility use agreement and the relationship agreement when finalized?

The UMC and BSA came to the agreement that all rechartering would be paused until March 31, 2022, so that we could work together on a new agreement. UMC leadership has continued to work with BSA leadership, Annual Conference chancellors, insurance companies and legal counsel to create a new Relationship Statement. This would replace a Charter Agreement. In addition to the Relationship Statement, local churches can also use a Facility Use Agreement with a local troop. Additional information and instructions will be made available when the Relationship Statement is complete, before March 31. 

Has it been determined going forward if local churches will be allowed to continue to charter troops/packs? Would we consider not allowing BSA to use UMC churches at all?

Relationships between a congregation and a scout troop and the BSA is a local church decision. The denomination and conferences can provide a recommendation, but the local church is the entity that enters into the agreement. Furthermore, throughout the mediation process, the UMC has put the survivors first in all conversations. The UMC has also had clear expectations of what would need to be in place to continue our partnership. At this time, through this settlement, our objectives are being reached and we expect to continue to work with BSA. The decision to host a local troop is made by the local church, who will use the new agreement put in place, and/or facilities use agreement.

Will the BSA honor the facility use rather than the charter organization relationship and how will that work? If a church has just a relationship agreement, then will a troop need another entity to be its official sponsor?

The UMC leadership has been in conversation with BSA leadership to create a new Relationship Statement, that will serve as the basis for agreements between a congregation, a scout troup and the BSA. It will include the relationship between the entities and a facility use agreement. Congregations will be encouraged to use both which will protect scouts, volunteers, the congregation, and the facilities. If a local council or troop has questions about the new agreement, they should contact the national BSA office.

In future ministry, including collaboration with scouting programs, there is an obvious need for enhanced attention to Safe Sanctuary/Safe Ministry policies.  Will our GNJ liability insurance company, our attorneys, or someone else provide with at least the basic requirements of such a policy?

Our insurance covers more than basic coverage in this area. Additionally in the new relationship statements, the BSA is to also carry insurance that names our congregations as additional insured for appropriate amounts. Our insurers also provide tools for safe sanctuary programs, including the Ministry Safe program.  The team working on our non-financial commitments will reach out our insurance providers and chancellors on guidance to create policies.

The $100 million commitment involves good faith effort to raise funds from non-UMC charter entities and, if not achieved, will not be viewed unfavorably by the court if not achieved.  Correct?

This is a good faith commitment to raise the $100M, not a guarantee and will have no impact on our settlement if not achieved.

How many other Charter Organizations are contributing to the settlement?

As part of the settlement, UMC has committed to raise $100M from charter organizations, including small community nonprofits, small denominations (including sister denominations of the Pan-Methodist Commission), parent-teacher organizations, grange halls and many other chartered organizations who were not represented in the mediation process. Additionally, the Latter-Day Saints are contributing $250 million to the Survivor Trust Fund.

How will churches in GNJ be called to contribute to the settlement? How many churches?

There is a team of DS, chair of CFA, the CFO and the DCM working on legislation which will be brought to the May 2022 Annual Conference Session which outlines the allocation of GNJ’s contribution to local churches. To respond in a unified voice that sexual abuse is not tolerated by the UMC and healing, prevention and education is a priority, all churches (around 500) will be allotted a portion of the funds. The allocation formula is not yet complete; however, we expect that the payment will be spread over 2-3 years to reduce the impact to any local church’s budget.

How will the allocation to local churches be calculated? Will churches with larger budgets be allocated more? Or will a greater % be allocated to churches with a proof of claim or 1 of the 35 cases from pre-76?

The allocation formula has not yet been decided. It will be included in legislation brought to the May 2022 Annual Conference Session to be discussion and approved by the body. GNJ leadership has been clear that this is a moral and ethical obligation, and we will all respond to the harm done through a financial contribution and the non-financial terms of the settlement, including reviewing all Safe Sanctuaries policies, listening to survivors and sharing articles about the case and child sexual abuse for education and prevention.

Will the accounting for these receipts be excluded for calculation of subsequent shared ministry billings (i.e. treated as a pass through not a local church receipt)?

The leadership team has not finalized the means in which the allocation to local churches will occur; however, this is fair feedback for the team to consider as we finalize this work (to exclude from shared ministry calculation).

Does the average of $1,700 per congregation assume that the churches will assume all of the costs of the settlement?

A quick estimation of the total settlement cost ($910,420) divided by the number of local churches (approx. 500) yields an average church contribution of $1,821 over the course of 2-3 years. The team working on the allocation is in discussion with CFA about having GNJ’s designated funds cover a portion of the settlement cost. This would decrease the cost allocated to local churches.

Are all congregations invited to participate tonight, or only those who hosted troops? How many participants were on the call and how many answered the poll?

All congregations and leaders were invited to the January 26 Information Session. There were a total of just over 300 participants and 234 contributors to the poll which was taken.

Did I hear correctly that we in GNJ are asked to raise our $900,000+ over a three-year period – thus about $300,000+ per year? 

GNJ leadership moved swiftly to respond and used the Designated Fund Policy for an “Emergency Disbursement” to cover GNJ’s full portion of the overall settlement as soon as the settlement is approved. All local churches will be allocated an amount of GNJ’s portion to contribute, which we expect to be paid to GNJ within 2-3 years.

Regarding the 7 poll questions, specifically #3, can you discuss what the options are as to how the percentages will be raised?  If the churches are not in the end funding 100%, where else are the funds coming?  Insurance?  Other?

Conference leadership will update the conference at our Annual Conference session about how the conference will raise and contribute to the Survivor Trust Fund

Is it that the Retirement Reserve fund may be used to pay for this?

Conference leadership will update the conference at our Annual Conference session about how the conference will raise and contribute to the Survivor Trust Fund; our goal would be not to tap into any of the Designated Funds.

Is the sale of church property as a source of funding under consideration as an option for local congregations?

Conference leadership will update the conference at our Annual Conference session about how the conference will raise and contribute to the Survivor Trust Fund.

Will Church Insurance coverage pay any of the $910,420 or is that net of insurance coverage?

No, as part of the settlement, insurance funds will not be available to fund our contribution.

Follow up question regarding insurance.  One of the initial goals of settlement was to protect UMC purchased insurance plans.  Are there such plans and are they contributing?  to UMC contribution or directly to the BSA Settlement Fund?

Insurance for non-boy scout related sexual abuse claims are protected; a congregation retains its insurance for all non-related claims.  All boy scout related claims are being channeled to the Survivor Trust Fund.

Some members of my congregation have asked how and if the claims are being validated. How would you recommend I respond?

There are over 4,000 claims that were made against United Methodist congregations. Those claims have been reviewed by staff at the United Methodist Men who is trained to review these cases. Treasurers and CFOs of annual conferences working with districts and others made sure claims are against a United Methodist church in that annual conference.  They have been reviewed from several different vantage points. In a class action suit like this, it is not a settlement for claim by claim.  It is a pool of money that is put together to settle all the claims.  A survivor trust is being established and there will be a trustee for that survivors’ trust.  That trustee is working with staff to review each claim and claims will be given a point system and there is a variety of ways that they look at claims. This is the work of the Survivor Trust, not the United Methodist Church.

I understand that the votes to accept BSA are still being counted and are currently below goal of 75%.  If the court does not approve the settlement, what impact if any does it have upon UMC settlement agreement?

The court will review this case starting February 22. It will review that the law is followed, everything was done appropriately, and be very concerned about fair compensation to survivors. One means of reviewing this is the survivor vote; this was just over 73% in favor, which is above the 66% super majority that is often discussed. The judge will have the opportunity either to approve or modify the plan. If the plan is not approved, United Methodists would not be responsible for the $30M and it would have to go back into mediation.

Is there an expectation that the court will approve this plan?

It is our deep desire and hope that the judge will approve the plan. We will be participating in the trial, giving testimony as to why we believe the plan is good for survivor claimants and helps BSA reorganize.

How will the settlement be affected by the possible splitting of the UMC, as per The Way Forward?

All churches in GNJ will be allocated an amount of GNJ’s contribution to the Survivor Trust. If a church decides to leave the UMC, there will be a disaffiliation agreement which outlines its financial responsibilities, and we expect this allocation would be included.

Does this settlement create an admission of guilt on the part of the conference?

The BSA went to trial on several cases and recognized that they needed to file for bankruptcy to compensate survivors and continue to serve scouts. Most of the cases are from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. United Methodists have maintained that we did not operate Boy Scout Troops and were not responsible for the oversight of the program but that this was a Boy Scout program. We also recognized that people were harmed who were a part of the scouting programing that was hosted in a United Methodist Church, and when people hurt, United Methodists help. Our participation is to help people in their healing and receive releases so that congregations would not have to defend themselves in court for programs they did not operate.

Did all US Annual Conferences agree to the settlement? (Since there is no single entity in the UMC that can do this)

Yes, there were commitment forms submitted from all Annual Conferences for the settlement. Each Annual Conference is making its own decision.

Will the names of the churches where this took place be shared with everyone?

No.

Did I hear correctly – just one case could easily cost $250,000 – just in terms of legal fees – not even settlement costs?

That is a conservative estimate of legal fees in the best-case scenario.  An average attorney fee is $500 per hour.  So, this estimate, is just for attorney’s fees, not even including expert fees, investigator, etc.  so yes, that number is separate from any judgment in the case.

Please clarify.  In answering question regarding costs of pretrial litigation, the figure of $250 thousand is an estimate should cases proceed in civil court litigation.  This estimate cost would not apply should the BSA Settlement be approved

Correct, if the settlement is approved, United Methodist claims will be channeled to be paid by the Survivor Trust.

Follow-up care of victims of abuse will require facing expenses for such things as professional counseling in many cases/ How will those expenses be handled?

Once the settlement is reached, all claims will be channeled to the Survivor Trust and the Trust and survivors will decide how their settlement may be used.

I am pleased that our planned response has gone beyond the legal and financial issues to the needs of the individuals who were victimized.  As Christians, are there specific plans to minister to the needs of perpetrators to interrupt the cycle of abuse and support them spiritually?

We are convening a team to work on GNJ’s non-financial commitments to the settlement and other work we need to be doing. We will continue to share their work to support healing, prevention and education.

Will there be a day of fasting and prayer for healing and the grace and mercy of God on this matter? 

That is a good idea and the team looking at GNJ’s non-financial commitment will work on it.