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Bishop’s new advice on Scout charters

Scout assembly

Bishop Bard recommends that churches to pause rechartering of Scout troops through March of 2022; continue with the present charter or facilities use agreement.

BISHOP DAVID A. BARD
Michigan Episcopal Area       

October 5, 2021 | LANSING, Mich. –Today, those working on the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) bankruptcy are recommending a modification from previous advice on how United Methodist congregations charter with Scout troops and Cub packs. This effort is to resolve more than 5,200 abuse claims dating back to 1940 against United Methodist congregations

Several months ago, on the advice of those working directly on these matters, our chancellor and I recommended that congregations pause the rechartering process and extend existing charters only through the end of the year and/or enter into a facility use agreement. This pause has been a very helpful practice up until this time. It provided needed 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, rechartering, 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Not using a congregation’s insurance to resolve any of the more than 5,200 UM claims.
  4. 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 invite 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 United Methodist Church.                                        <br