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October 5, 2021 | Update and Joint Statement of BSA and UMC

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Greetings of grace and peace to you in Christ’s name.

I write with deep gratitude for you and all the conversations and prayers you have led with your congregations concerning the bankruptcy case of the Boy Scouts of America. The conference leadership has been praying with and for you as well, and they have been providing me with updates as you have grappled with the situation in your context and as progress has been made. Thank you for your attention to this matter, as well as for your continuing ministry with Scouting, for the sake of this ministry with young people and the Scout leaders.  
One of the commitments I made to you was to keep you updated as this process unfolds. Today, the Ad Hoc Committee that is working in the bankruptcy case to resolve the more than 5,200 abuse claims that implicate United Methodist congregations, announced a helpful modification to the Committee’s prior recommendation on how United Methodist congregations should structure their relationship with Scout troops and Cub packs while the bankruptcy case is pending.
Several months ago, the Ad Hoc Committee recommended that congregations pause the re-chartering process. In particular, if a congregation’s existing charter agreement runs through the balance of 2021, the Ad Hoc Committee was asking United Methodist congregations to hold off on renewing the charter agreement for 2022 pending further developments in the ongoing settlement negotiations. Alternatively, for congregations whose charter agreements will expire before the year-end, the Ad Hoc Committee recommended that those congregations extend their existing charters only through the end of the year or enter into a facility use agreement to cover the same time period. As you know, I supported these recommendations and passed them along to the congregations in the Baltimore-Washington Conference last month.

These recommended interim chartering practices have proved helpful in the denomination’s effort to navigate the bankruptcy process up to this point. They provided space for the mediating parties to gain clarity about liability issues, to resolve a few critical issues through the mediation process, and to reinforce for all parties how important United Methodists are in the healing of survivors and in providing young people with a viable Scouting ministry going forward.

In keeping with this progress, my office has now been notified by the Ad Hoc Committee that the Boy Scouts of America and United Methodist leadership have agreed to the following joint statement regarding the recommended status of units chartered by United Methodist churches while the mediation process is ongoing:
“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, 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.”
After consultation with the Baltimore-Washington Conference personnel working on this matter, I concur and strongly encourage all congregations that charter Scouts to adopt this recommendation as it resolves much confusion based on conflicting information, and it provides a more realistic timeframe for the parties to resolve remaining disagreements in the mediation process.

To be clear, this joint recommendation calls for all United Methodist congregations that charter Scouting units, and all of their corresponding local Boy Scout Councils, to pause any pending re-chartering conversations and to continue operating through at least March 31, 2022, under whichever charter agreement or facility use agreement is currently in place. Meanwhile, please know that there is a team of United Methodists that is working with Boy Scout representatives with the goal of developing a new charter agreement for Scouting ministries that may be used by United Methodist congregations going forward.
Finally, always bear in mind that the overarching goals of The United Methodist Church in this process, and certainly of the annual conferences that I am privileged to serve, are these:
  • The healing of survivors.
  • An ongoing commitment to end all abuse in Scouting. Our congregations and United Methodist leadership have and continue to make progress on ending abuse. Less than 1 percent of the cases implicating United Methodist congregations occurred in the last 20 years. The other 99 percent occurred prior to 2000. While this is significant progress, we will always strive to eliminate abuse altogether.
  • Achieving a global resolution of the pending bankruptcy case that both:
  • fairly allocates financial responsibility among the various responsible parties; and
  • charts a course that allows United Methodist congregations to continue their Scouting ministries on viable terms.
We want to assure you that our United Methodist chancellors and more than 200 United Methodist leaders are working on your behalf to reach these goals. In addition to pausing all re-chartering 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 ask 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.
In Christ,
Bishop LaTrelle Miller Easterling