BSA, UMC issue joint statement, charters extended to March 31, 2022

10/4/2021

UPDATE: October 11, 2021

Important BSA Bankruptcy Update – Receipt of Disclosure Statement Package
This update is being shared with all pastors serving local churches within the conference to ensure it reaches every local church that might receive a Disclosure Statement Package in the near future. If your church does not receive the Packet, you can safely ignore this update. If you do receive the packet, do not take any action at this time.
 
In the coming days, many United Methodist churches will receive a package in the mail from the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case.  The mailing is being sent to all chartered organizations that sponsored a troop with Boy Scouts and is called a Disclosure Statement Package. It is intended to summarize for chartered organizations how the BSA’s proposed plan of reorganization will affect the legal rights of chartered organizations with respect to Scouting-related sexual abuse claims potentially connected to chartered organizations. The Package will include the following:
 

  • A “plan language” summary of the Disclosure Statement drafted specifically for chartered organizations;
  • An “opt out” form relating to options all chartered organizations have as to how sexual abuse claims against each chartered organization will be dealt with. THIS SHOULD NOT BE FILLED OUT BY A LOCAL CHURCH UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE (more information on this will be provided in the next two weeks); and
  • A ballot for casting a vote for or against the plan (only local churches that timely filed a “proof of claim” with the bankruptcy court will receive a ballot, other chartered organizations will only receive the rest of the Package). THIS SHOULD NOT BE FILLED OUT AT THIS TIME (more information on this will be provided in the next two weeks).
 
The Package is being sent by the BSA to all known chartered organizations, so it will be received by local churches that are chartered organizations regardless of whether they filed a proof of claim. ANY LOCAL CHURCH THAT RECEIVES THE PACKAGE SHOULD TAKE NO ACTION AT THIS TIME. The United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee is also developing recommendations for local churches on how to complete the included ballot, which will be shared as soon as they are complete (and well before the voting deadline of December 14, 2021). Local churches will also be provided with a summary of the most important aspects of the plan. Additionally, information sessions for district superintendents, as well as webinars for church leaders about how to complete the form, why the vote matters, and how the outcome may affect our congregations, will be provided.


October 6, 2021
 
To the Pastors and Administrative Councils of the United Methodist Churches who charter Boy Scouts of America Units:
 
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
 
Thank you for your response to our letter of Sept. 3, 2021.  We have heard from many that our letter prompted a fresh look at the utilization of scouting as a piece of a local church’s youth ministry.  Some of you are anxious to reaffirm your commitment to scouting as an important piece of that ministry.  Some of you are studying the redefining of your relationship with scouting by moving away from a chartered relationship and toward one that employs a facility use agreement.  Some of you are determining whether scouting continues to align with the direction of your youth ministry.  As we stated in our prior letter, we are not taking a position as to which of these alternatives is preferable. That is a decision that only your church is in a position to make.
 
For those of you still working through this process, we bring forth today some new information.  The Boy Scouts of America and the team of leaders within the United Methodist Church who have been working directly with the Boy Scouts of America to resolve our denomination’s concerns about the impact the BSA bankruptcy may have on local United Methodist Churches who charter BSA units, have just issued the following joint statement:
 
The Boy Scouts of America and the United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee 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.

In short, a pause in implementing any further decisions concerning the future of scouting within the life of your local church is now being recommended by both the BSA and national United Methodist leaders.  We believe that this joint statement signals that the concerns being expressed by United Methodist leaders are being heard and that some progress is being made in the various negotiations that have been taking place on a national level.  We recommend that your church continue your study of whether scouting continues to be an effective ministry tool but accept this invitation not to implement any final decision concerning the future of scouting at your local church at this time and to continue your church’s current relationship with your local BSA council until we know more about the results of these negotiations, which we now believe will be revealed prior to March 31, 2022. 
 
We close by asking for your continued prayer for those harmed by past abuse while participating in scouting activities and that those seeking to bring closure to the BSA bankruptcy proceedings will be guided by both wisdom and compassion.

Gregory V. Palmer
Interim Bishop

Rev. Michael L. Potts
Treasurer/Director of Administrative Services

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