Since our last message about the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) bankruptcy case, we have received additional guidance from the denomination’s ad hoc legal team along with some questions from our churches.
This communication is long and somewhat complicated; thank you for reading it thoroughly and to the end.
If your church has not received any official mail regarding the BSA bankruptcy case, there is nothing for you to do and no need to read further. NOTE: there appears to be no consistency with the specific individuals within a church to whom these mailings are addressed. Before concluding you have not received any mail regarding this case, check with others in leadership or on staff at your church.
If you have received mail regarding the BSA bankruptcy case, you are likely trying to figure out what it means. You are not alone. While we know some things with confidence, we are awaiting guidance on other matters. Thank you for your patience. Here is the guidance we can offer you today:
If you currently charter a troop, chartered a troop at one time, or a church that merged with your church once chartered a troop:
You should have received a mailing titled “PARTICIPATING CHARTERED ORGANIZATION OPT-OUT ELECTION FORM.” If you meet the above criteria but did not receive a mailing, there is no action for you to take.
- The guidance we have received and strongly support is that under no circumstances should your church opt-out of being a participating chartered organization under the bankruptcy plan. Doing so could directly expose your church to financial claims not covered by BSA or other insurance. You may shred or otherwise take action that ensures you do not accidentally opt-out.
In addition to the above document, IF and only if you filed a “Proof of Claim” in the case by November 20, 2020, you should have received a “BALLOT FOR CLASS 9 (INDIRECT ABUSE CLAIMS).” This is a 21-page document that provides your church the opportunity to cast a vote to accept or to reject the Bankruptcy Plan.
- If your church received a “BALLOT FOR CLASS 9” please email firstname.lastname@example.org indicating you received the ballot for class 9 and include your church name and District, and you will be given further instructions on how to proceed. Guidance on whether to accept or reject the plan will be available on or about November 23. You will also receive instructions on how to complete other requested information. Ballots must be received by the court’s agent by either mail or online before 4:00 pm EST, December 14.
The other official document you should have received is a Plain Language Summary of the case. Though plain to lawyers, it is not likely plain language for the rest of us – and it’s lengthy.
In addition to these three documents, you may have received solicitations from claimant groups or the Boy Scouts to cast your ballot one way or another. These solicitations are informational only.
Finally, mail intended for the Boy Scouts or its local council may well have been sent to your church. You may disregard or pass along as you see fit.
If you were contacted by your DS about a claim in which your church was implicated:
There is now a distinction between claims occurring before and after 1976. If the alleged abuse occurred after 1976, there has been an agreement that insurance for the Boy Scouts will provide coverage. If the alleged abuse took place before 1976, negotiations are continuing on how to atone for those claims.
If for pre-1976 claims you have not discovered who was the church’s insurance company, please continue to search your archives and historical documents for that information. If you cannot find your insurer from that period, look for additional guidance in the coming weeks.
If you have identified your insurer, whether the alleged abuse occurred before or after 1976, notify that insurer that your church has been implicated in a claim that is part of the BSA bankruptcy case. Provide them only with the year the alleged abuse took place. No additional information should be shared with your insurer at this time. If you received this information, you are under a nondisclosure agreement that must be honored.
If available, send to email@example.com the name of the insurer when the abuse occurred. We hope to prepare a listing of insurance providers to assist you in claims if that becomes necessary in the future.
Chartering & Facility Use Agreements
We take this opportunity to remind you that all chartering and facility use agreements are paused because it is creating disruption to scouts, ministry, and the work of mediation. There is a team of people working on the relationship agreements with scouting that will better assist congregations and potential liability that can be used in the future. Any work on chartering now is creating disruption that is not assisting everyone in moving forward.
If you or congregational leadership is approached by a Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Council representative about re-chartering, indicate that the BSA and UMC have an agreement to pause all chartering until after the bankruptcy is resolved. All existing charters should be able to be extended through the end of March 2022 by agreement of the BSA and UMC. We anticipate a new charter or agreement being available by the end of March so that scouting ministries continue as agreed upon by the BSA and UMC.
Further Guidance & Questions
Please continue to follow the guidance listed in this message or on our Boy Scouts of America page on our website. We will share new information from the denomination’s ad hoc legal team when it is received.
A video will be released the week of November 15 to review this update in more detail. As we anticipate charge conferences will be required to approve each BSA reorganization plan vote, churches who filed proof of claim will be contacted by the district office over the next couple of weeks with those plans. This will also be reviewed in the video update.
Please know we will walk alongside you as you navigate this challenging work with great care.
Please direct any questions you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bishop Leonard E. Fairley