Recommendations Regarding BSA
Dear North Carolina Conference United Methodists:
We write this letter with heavy hearts.
BSA Current Reality
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is overwhelmed with potential liability exposure from sexual assault allegations nationwide. The BSA has filed for bankruptcy protection. Under the proposed plans that the BSA has suggested as a way to continue after the bankruptcy, they are leaving their Chartered Organizations in a vulnerable position. The Chartered Organizations are the local churches, schools, and civic groups that sponsor or host a Scout Troop, Pack, Crew, or other units. The details of these plans are still being worked out, but the BSA is placing United Methodist churches who have ever been involved in scouting in a challenging position.
Despite their consistent past assurances that they held enough insurance to cover their chartered organizations in case of injured scouts, we now know that the BSA did not have enough or sufficient insurance. As a result, local churches that sponsored scout troops are at risk of paying significant sums to victims to compensate them for the damages they suffered at the hands of some scout leaders. In addition, the local churches may have to pay for the cost of their own attorneys to defend those claims. The BSA did not fulfill its promise to have enough insurance to protect the local churches and has not taken sufficient steps within the bankruptcy to protect the Chartering Organizations.
Future Relationship with the BSA
We recommend that local churches change their relationship with their scouting units, at least for the time being.
If your local church currently charters a scout unit, we recommend that you NOT renew that chartering agreement when it is up for renewal or re-chartering this fall. Instead, we recommend one of two options, the choice of which is up to you.
- Tell the local scout council that you will NOT renew that chartering agreement but will only extend the current agreement until December 31, 2021.
- Tell the local scout council that you will NOT renew that chartering agreement but will enter into a Facilities Use Agreement with their unit until December 31, 2021. This will act similar to a lease allowing the scout unit to use your space, but they will be responsible for everything else, including the selection of leaders.
After December 31, 2021, we should be in a better position to see how the future will unfold.
Once a reorganization plan is approved by the bankruptcy court, we will know better how to proceed.
If your local church does not charter a scout unit at this time, we recommend that you NOT consider chartering a unit until the bankruptcy case is finalized and we have an understanding of how the United Methodist relationship with scouts will continue in the future. Again, we will be in a better position to assess whether it is safe and appropriate to charter a new scout unit after December 31, 2021.
We understand that these suggestions may be disruptive, but we think them to be the prudent course of action at this time. We want to protect our local churches from costly litigation.
We know the value of scouting. It has played a very large role in the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church for a very long time. But the BSA has not appropriately taken into account the interests and concerns of The United Methodist Church in pursuing their effort to emerge from the bankruptcy without liability to the victims who have asserted these claims. We simply cannot currently commit to having the same relationship with the BSA outside of the bankruptcy when the BSA is pursuing a plan within the bankruptcy that leaves churches within the North Carolina Conference, and the Conference itself, at an elevated risk of being sued and facing crippling liability. Until we know how the BSA will be organized and operate in the future, we must make some changes. Hopefully, we will be able to continue our long connection with scouting in some way, but we need to make some changes today to help prevent us from facing a fate similar to the BSA in the future.
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