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BSA Q&A

July 21, 2022

Read the latest letter from Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and Scouting Coordinator Chris Karabinos
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Q&A: UMC Scouting & BSA Bankruptcy

Q: Has the BSA Bankruptcy case been settled?

As of today, it has not been settled yet. The judge is being careful and deliberate to ensure she gets it right given that it will be appealed by either side.

Q: I have heard our Scout unit has to move from our current BSA charter agreement to either the new BSA-UMC Annual Affiliation Agreement or the new Facilities Use Agreement. What are our options?

As the letter published on 7/21/22 by Bishop Sue Haupert Johnson and Chris Karabinos (Conference Scouting Coordinator) mentions, the North Georgia Conference is aware of four BSA Agreement options before United Methodist churches in the conference.  The letter is available here.

Options:

New Annual Affiliation Agreement:  The UMC and BSA have developed a new agreement that replaces charters with an Annual Affiliation Agreement (AAA). Signing the AAA transfers responsibility for the unit from the church to the local council. The unit changes from a UMC chartered unit to a Council chartered unit with the unit continuing to recruit out of, meet at, and operate out of the church. The AAA includes the Facilities Use Agreement imbedded and provides a higher level of insurance coverage provided by the BSA’s expanded policy for United Methodist units.

Unit Charter with Another Organization (e.g. a Rotary Club):  In this option, unit leadership signs a traditional BSA charter with a new organization (such as another church, school or civic organization like a Rotary Club) and signs a Facilities Use Agreement with their UMC. The new charter organization is responsible for the unit while the unit continues recruiting out of, meeting at, and operating out of the church. Insurance coverage is the same higher level as with the AAA.

Community 501c3: In this scenario, 5-30 units group together to start their own non-profit (501c3) that will be responsible for the units, while the units continue operating out of their respective churches. Each unit will sign a charter agreement with the 501c3 and a Facilities Use Agreement with their individual church. As of May 2022, AIM insurance has offered a national insurance policy that will cover all Community 501c3 organizations. This insurance covers the traditional charter obligations and the 501c3. As a traditional charter partner, the enhanced insurance policies protecting the Annual Affiliation Agreement and facilities use agreements also apply.

Traditional Charter Agreement: United Methodist churches are not prohibited from continuing with the traditional charter agreement with their current Scout units. Keep in mind that all United Methodist units are currently chartered through 12/31/22 with either a 2021 Charter Agreement (which has been extended through 12/31/22) or a 2022 Charter Agreement.  The enhanced BSA National insurance policies also apply to the unit and charter.

Q: What does the conference recommend we do?

The North Georgia Conference is not going to recommend a specific option to local churches. This is a local church decision which should be made by the local church’s Board of Trustees and Administrative Council. Charge conferences are not required to make this decision.

Before a decision is made, the unit’s leadership should talk with their local council District Executive or someone assigned to address this in the council. 

We highly recommend talking with your insurance and legal advisors about potential liability and coverage questions in making this decision.

Q: Can I get downloadable copies of the Annual Affiliation Agreement and Facilities Use Agreement?         

Yes.  They are available at:  https://methodistscouter.org/a-new-agreement/ (scroll down the page)

Q: Which councils are accepting Annual Affiliation Agreements?

There are 9 BSA Councils in our area. We are working to collect this information, but do not have this info at this time. As of today (7/21), we know the following:

Atlanta Area Council is working on a long-term plan to accept the Affiliation Agreement. UMC units will be asked to sign traditional charter agreements in 2023 allowing time for the council to prepare for and accommodate each unit’s needs. 

Please check with your local council or check back here for updates.

Q: Why is it necessary to move responsibility of the Scout unit's assets (gear and checking account) to the council with an Affiliation Agreement?

The objective is to move liability away from the church and to the council. This includes assets as well as responsibility for volunteer leadership approval. Every council we’ve spoken with has emphasized that they have NO interest in taking over unit’s finances or micro-managing their gear. 

Q: With the Affiliation Agreement, I've heard that the council will be responsible for the checking account. How is this going to work?

Units will need to set up a new bank account using their council’s EIN (tax ID) number. The unit will still control the account, though they may have to provide a summary of the account to the council for tax reporting purposes. Unit leaders will need to talk with their councils as each council will establish a process to manage this responsibility.

Q: With the Affiliation Agreement, I've also heard that the council will be responsible for volunteer leadership recruiting. How is this going to work?

The current process should remain the same. Units recruit their leaders who approve their application and submits them to the council.  The council conducts the background check and renders the final approval. This is all the same as it has been before. The one new thing is that the council will now be responsible for any future litigation associated with this process.

Q: When do we have to sign a new agreement?

All BSA Scout units are currently chartered through 12/31/22, whether you are holding a 2021 charter or a 2022 charter. Remember that the 2021 charter has been extended 3 times and now runs through 12/31/22.  The 10/31 date is a BSA target date though some communication suggests is a hard deadline. Nothing happens if a Scout unit isn’t signed to a new agreement by then. Our churches and scout units have time to make a decision and we recommend you take the time needed to make your decision. No matter which option you select, you will want to make a decision and sign a new agreement by 12/31/22. 

Q: Can I get help finding a new charter organization for option 2 (changing our charter to another organization)?

Yes. You can contact your local BSA council which will be glad to help you. Ask for the DE (District Executive) for your area or the council’s Scout Executive for assistance.

You can also contact Chris Karabinos with the North Georgia Conference UMCOS for assistance (chriskarabinos1@gmail.com;  770-490-4940).

Q: I have more questions.

Contact the North Georgia Conference UMCOS for assistance. Chris Karabinos, Conference Scouting Coordinator, can be reached at chriskarabinos1@gmail.com