BSA Updates

Updated 12/2/2021
 

Action is now needed by churches that filed a Proof of Claim in November 2020. Information has been sent to clergy on next steps.

As you may know, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is currently going through a bankruptcy process. Representatives of The United Methodist Church and the North Georgia Conference are monitoring the proceedings closely. There has not been a final decision or ruling made in the matter.

We want to communicate that the partnership between the BSA and United Methodist Church remains strong and we are working to see that this partnership, which has borne so much fruit and ministered to so many young people, continues to flourish for years to come. Scouting is an important and vibrant ministry of the church. As such, we celebrate the large number of churches in the North Georgia Annual Conference that have a scouting presence and would love to see that number continue to grow. 

Given this, Conference and denominational leaders offer several recommendations at this time:

  • We strongly encourage churches to continue supporting their Boy Scout (and Girl Scout) packs, troops, and crews. 
  • We ask that churches renew their charter agreements with the BSA only through March 31, 2022. (More info will be forthcoming to provide additional guidance over the coming weeks and months).
  • We ask that churches review and follow the latest update from the denomination, found below:

November 30, 2021 Update

After months of mediation to achieve a settlement in the BSA bankruptcy and working with annual conferences about voting on the plan, we do not have a signed settlement that would bring healing to the survivors and a release from claims against United Methodist local churches and other United Methodist entities. 

District Superintendents received information today about steps to move forward. This information is important, time-sensitive, and requires action.

  • Churches that did not file a Proof of Claim: Take no action.
  • Churches that filed a Proof of Claim: Clergy should check their ngumc.net email for information on next steps. 
     

November 29, 2021 Update

While the UMC Ad Hoc Committee had hoped to have an announcement by now, United Methodists do not yet have a settlement agreement in the BSA Bankruptcy Case. The United Methodist mediation team has been mediating and negotiating almost daily for the last two weeks, including through the holidays. 

The Ad Hoc Committee is aware that charge conferences are being held and recommends that charge conferences give the church board of trustees the authority to vote on behalf of the congregation. They are aware that congregations need to cast a timely vote so that the vote is received by December 14, 2021. Voting NO at this point will have impact on plan approval if we receive a fair settlement, and the same for voting YES if we do not have a fair settlement. 

The Ad Hoc committee projects that in a few days it will be clearer if a settlement will be finalized.

November 2 Update from United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee

United Methodist churches that have sponsored Boy Scout troops can expect to receive (or have already received) a “disclosure statement package” from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) regarding its pending bankruptcy proceeding. The mailing seeks to summarize for chartered organizations how the BSA’s proposed plan of reorganization will affect those organizations’ legal rights with respect to Scouting-related sexual abuse claims to which they may potentially be connected. 

The BSA is mailing the packets to all known chartered organizations. The packet is expected to include an “opt out” form related to chartered organizations’ options. In addition, churches that filed a “proof of claim” with the bankruptcy court during the designated timeframe will also receive a ballot. 

The United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee, which advocates for United Methodist interests within the bankruptcy process, has advised that churches that receive the packet should not take any action at this time and should not fill out the opt-out form under any circumstances.

More information will be forthcoming later this month.


In Summary

  1. All churches who ever chartered a Boy Scout Troup according to BSA records have already or soon will receive packet from the BSA.
  2. All churches which filed a proof of claim will receive a packet AND it will include a ballot for approval/rejection of the BSA settlement and plan of reorganization.
  3. Wait to complete your ballot until you hear from the ad hoc committee.
  4. The packets contain a release or opt-out. Churches SHOULD NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES sign the opt-out.
  5. Once a settlement is announced and the ad hoc committee has a recommendation, a church can call a charge conference to vote on the matter. However, since there is a 10-day notification rule in the BOD, it may not be practical to have a charge conference.
  6. Therefore, the ad hoc committee or GCFA will provide delegation of authority language that will allow either the administrative council or the trustees to vote on the matter.


Timeline

  • Nov. 22 – Last day for UMC to negotiate settlement
  • Nov. 23 – Guidance issued by GCFA and sent to District Superintendents (NOTE that guidance has not yet been issued)
  • Dec 14th, 4pm EST – all ballots must be received; postmark is not sufficient

Updates


October 6 Letter from Our Bishop and Conference Scouting Coordinator

United Methodist leadership and the BSA have released 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, 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.

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and Scouting Coordinator Chris Karabinos offer an update from our United Methodist Ad Hoc committee and other leaders in a letter below. 


Letters and Updates


Ask A Question

The North Georgia Conference and our Conference UMCOS have developed a helpful Q&A on this topic. Read below and if you still have questions, ask here. 

Click here to ask a question or click below.


Q&A

IMPORTANT Update (10/6/2021): We have received updated guidance from The Boy Scouts of America and United Methodist leadership. Both organizations jointly recommend that United Methodist chartering organizations and Boy Scout Councils 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. 

While many answers offered below remain the same, please consider the Oct 6 update the most current information. 


PREVIOUS Q&A

 

Questions Answered August 16 


Why not extend our charter agreement beyond December 31?
Representatives of The United Methodist Church are reviewing the charter agreement program that has been in place for years and have been working to draft agreements that better reflect the relationship between the local church and its BSA packs, troops, and crews today.

While churches typically provide facilities and support, and clergy and church members may help with programs like P.R.A.Y. (God and Country) and serve as scout leaders, churches do not run or oversee the activities of a scout unit. Boy Scouts provides a program to do this which includes Youth Protection Training (YPT), background checks and membership authorization, and is ultimately responsible for the safety of Scouts. 

We expect future agreements will likely resemble Facility Use Agreements, such as ones most churches use with other organizations (e.g. YMCA) and better reflect today’s needs.

While our representatives are working on a new document, we ask that churches not extend their current charter agreements with the BSA beyond December 31, 2021.
 

Who makes the decision about whether our church will charter our scouting unit?
This is ultimately a decision of the Board of Trustees of each local church.

 

If our church elects not to sign a charter agreement for our unit(s) in 2022, can the scouts keep meeting at and recruiting out of our United Methodist church? 
Yes, in the vast majority of cases troops, packs, and crews will be able to continue meeting and recruiting at your church. The scouting leader, senior pastor of the church, and COR (Charter Organization Representative) will want to talk through this together. 
 

Can our BSA Council charter our unit(s)?
Check with your local BSA Council.   


Can the UMM (United Methodist Men) at our church charter our unit(s)?
The same guidance offered to United Methodist churches applies to UMM and UMW units.

 

If our church elects not to re-charter our unit(s) in 2022, can our unit’s Scout leadership start looking for another partner? 
Yes, you can. We do recommend waiting though as additional information will be forthcoming which may have a bearing on your decision. We also recommend speaking with the senior pastor of your church and COR (Charter Organization Representative) to walk down this path together.    

 

What other organizations can we consider as charter partners?
The BSA requires charter partners to have a national Charter or MOU (Memorandum Of Understanding) with an organization before councils can charter local units to the local organization. Check with your local BSA council DE (District Executive) to find out if an organization you may be thinking of has been approved. Some organizations that already have been approved include:

  • Boy Scouts of America (BSA) – local councils
  • Civic organizations (Lions Club, Rotary Club, Elks, Civitan, Kiwanis
  • Veterans Groups (VFW, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans)
  • Youth Organizations (Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA)
  • Faith groups who may not have space to offer, but have a partnership with BSA (such as the Jewish Committee for Scouting)

 

Is there someone I can contact with more detailed questions?
Chris Karabinos
North Georgia Conference Scouting Coordinator
Chriskarabinos1@gmail.com
770-490-4940

 

Questions answered 8/18/2021

Has the North Georgia Conference been in contact with the BSA Councils within our Conference?
We are in the process of reaching out to all 9 BSA Councils within the footprint of the North Georgia Conference about this upcoming change, but we have not yet contacted them all. 


If the relationship between a United Methodist Church and a Boy Scout unit changes to a facility’s use agreement, who will fill the role of Charter Organization Representative (COR)? 
The new Charter Organization will appoint a COR (Charter Organization Representative). Boy Scout units will need to find a new charter partner, whether it is the BSA council or other BSA-approved organization. 


Who are the “Representatives of The United Methodist Church”? Is this an Annual Conference, Jurisdictional, National or Global recommendation? What organization is making this decision?

This is a denominational level conversation which includes an “Ad Hoc” committee with representatives from several national church bodies, including: the GCUMM (General Commission on United Methodist Men) which is responsible for Scouting in the UMC and the General Council on Finance & Administration of the UMC. Additionally, each U.S. Jurisdiction is represented. The North Georgia Conference Treasurer, Chancellor (legal counsel), Bishop, and Scouting Coordinator have all been briefed and updated as the bankruptcy process has progressed.

The members of the Ad Hoc Committee are:

Buzzy Anding (Louisiana)
Sandy Brown (Greater New Jersey)
Mark Hanley (Florida)
Gil Hanke (GCUMM)
Bill Hewig (New England)
Rich Marsh (Mountain Sky)
Leticia Mayberry Wright (GCFA)
Bryan Mills (GCFA)
John Moorlach (Iowa)
Jay Rosenlieb (Cal-Nevada)
Steven Scheid (GCUMM)
Andy Vorbrich (Michigan)

 

Why make what feels like a dramatic change?
The chartering system was set up more than a 100 years ago. Going forward this system will need to match today’s legal settings allowing for the church and BSA to stand strong. We are working to find the solution that promotes the best for everyone involved and reflects the needs of today for both organizations. 

Most importantly, we are working to ensure that the vital ministry partnership between the BSA and United Methodist Church remains strong and vibrant. 

 

Why share this now when units are in the process of re-chartering and not announce earlier in the year?
The United Methodist Church is making this decision now because of the timing of BSA bankruptcy activities. There is a momentum building for a resolution. The need to be proactive in working through this process has driven the timing. We are actually making this announcement now, before the impact of bankruptcy outcome is known, in order to give advance notice to churches and BSA Scouting units. 

 

What does this mean for the relationship between churches and Boy Scouts?
We want our churches partnering with youth in Scouts. We encourage Boy Scout units to continue meeting on church campuses, participating in P.R.A.Y. (God & Country) programs in our churches, participating in Scout Sunday Services, assisting with service projects with our churches and more. We want to ensure that the vital ministry partnership between the BSA and United Methodist Church remains strong and vibrant. 

Changing the legal relationship between a Boy Scout unit and a United Methodist church doesn’t change the rest of the relationship. We absolutely want to maintain a strong relationship with our Boy Scouts, their leaders, and their families. We want to continue growing Scouts BSA programs at more churches in the North Georgia Conference and at churches where Scouting currently exists.
 

Questions Answered 9/22/21(from 9/9 “Open Q&A Zoom Session”)


Can my church decide to re-charter our troop with our BSA Council, even if the Conference advises against it?

The North Georgia Conference will not prevent a church from signing a charter agreement with a local BSA Council in 2022. This is ultimately the decision of a church Board of Trustees. But the BSA unit and congregation should understand the impact on their insurance commitments and will want to take steps to address those impacts and questions.
 

Is the BSA open to modifying the charter agreement to accommodate unique needs of the UMC (United Methodist Church)?
Yes, it is a possibility that the BSA could tailor the charter agreement with the UMC. Both organizations are giving this some thought, though a new agreement is not a certainty. Check back over the coming months for updates.


It was suggested on the 9/9/21 Q&A session that Scout leaders should wait on finding a new charter partner for their troop.  How long should they wait and is it ok to do some preliminary research to be prepared for the possibility?
(a)  The North Georgia Conference recommends a BSA unit wait until late October before making a decision to change its charter partner to another organization. This will likely allow time for negotiations to take place that will present a more clear path with appropriate options to be finalized and shared. Note that this is about waiting to sign a new Charter Agreement with a new charter partner. This is NOT about the Charter Renewal Process where an inventory of youth and scout leaders is conducted in Oct and Nov.  Scout leaders should begin the process of conducting their Charter Renewal Process when they receive their packets in October as they typically do.

(b)   It is certainly ok to conduct preliminary research on a potential new charter organization for a BSA unit. However, we recommend you not officially “ask” a new organization to partner with your unit until the Conference gives the official word later in the fall. As mentioned elsewhere, the UMC is working on another potential option to the current BSA charter and would like negotiations between all parties to be concluded before any congregations sign new charter agreements.
 

Will our BSA unit be “closed down” on January 1st if we don’t sign a 2022 Charter Agreement before 12/31/21?
Ben Buckelew (BSA Atlanta Area Council) said on the 9/9/21 Q&A session that units are not “closed down” if they don’t have a Charter Agreement in place at that time.

It was also noted that the BSA’s general liability insurance coverage extends 3 months beyond the end date of a charter agreement to allow time for units to move charters or for the rechartering process to play out in case of a delay of some kind.  This covers a unit camping and meeting for that duration.

Steven Scheid (Executive Director, Scouting Ministries, GCUMM) said on the call that the UMC is working with the National BSA office to provide an option of some kind to “keep the door open for Scouting in United Methodist Churches throughout all of 2022.”  So you shouldn’t worry about your United Methodist Scout unit shutting down in 2022. 
 

Will there be a new United Methodist Charter Agreement available for 2022, and if so, when will it be available?
Per Steven Scheid (Executive Director, Scouting Ministries, GCUMM): "We are working on a United Methodist Charter Agreement as an option if needed and hope to have it finalized in mid-October and ready for use in early November. However, this is dependent upon the bankruptcy process which could be delayed. The new agreement will be issued once the judge’s final decision is made.”


If a new Charter Agreement is not ready to go by 12/31/21, will there be guidance provided by the UMC and BSA on how to proceed with re-chartering?

Yes, there will be explicit step-by-step directions on what to do coming from the GCUMM’s Scouting Ministries office and shared by the North Georgia Conference UMCOS (United Methodist Committee on Scouting).


If we start using a Facility Use Agreement, what organization will own my unit’s assets?

Your Charter Organization, whoever that is, will own the assets of your unit with the unit leadership using it and maintaining it. This includes gear, troop trailer, checking account, unit #, etc.  If your Methodist Church remains the charter, nothing changes. 

If you recruit another organization to become your charter organization (e.g. Rotary Club, Veterans Group…), you will ask your current charter (UMC) to transfer the assets to your new charter so that the unit can continue functioning as it has been. We believe and expect that all UMCs will agree to this request. The unit’s leadership will continue using and maintaining all assets as they have been. One of the important steps will be to change the checking account’s owner from the UMC to your new charter organization. The GCUMM’s Scouting Ministry office will issue guidelines for this process if it comes to pass.


If the Charter Agreement is changed, will it be similar to the LDS Charter Agreement.
No. But one of the options on the table is to create a UMC-specific Charter Agreement. The preferred option is to amend the Charter Agreement in a way that benefits all charter organizations, not just the United Methodist Church. 
 

Who can charter a unit if the unit operates with a Facility Use Agreement?
Any organization which has working with youth as part of its mission is invited to partner with the BSA. They must provide space for a Scout unit to meet (either themselves or through other organizations they partner with), have a board, have resources to approve adult leadership of the Scout unit and maintain a checking account. 
 

Can we get help from the North Georgia Conference or our BSA Council to find new charter organizations if it becomes necessary to move our charter? 
Yes. If it becomes necessary for our current United Methodist Scout units to move their charters away from their churches to other organizations, the UMCOS will communicate with our churches, United Methodist Scout Units and the 9 BSA Councils it partners with in northern Georgia to identify and make introductions to other organizations. Scout Executives of the BSA Councils we partner with have already said they will gladly help Scout leaders identify, introduce and move charters too.
 

Our units are being told by our BSA Council to find another charter partner before the end of the year. What should we do?
The UMCOS advises waiting until late October before aggressively searching for a new charter partner while conducting your unit’s membership inventory. As said in an earlier question, “Being Prepared” by conducting some initial research now is a prudent thing to do. But we suggest not signing a 2022 Charter Agreement until November at the earliest when we hope to have answers about charter options in 2022.
 

If we change our charter organization to a non-Methodist organization and start using a Facility Use Agreement with our United Methodist Church, are we just kicking the can down the road with the insurance problem?
No. It is our expectation that the bankruptcy settlement being negotiated now will settle past insurance related issues. We expect that the BSA’s increased insurance coverage moving forward will protect charter organizations (United Methodist Churches and all others) in the future. 


Do we take our direction on when to recharter from our local UM church, our local BSA council, or the North Georgia Conference?

The North Georgia Conference is asking churches and unit Scout leaders to take direction from the Conference about signing the recharter agreement. Your local BSA Council will advise you about rechartering your membership.  

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson will make the ultimate call on recommendations for North Georgia Conference churches based on all the information available to us, and will communicate to churches through the conference’s various channels (website, email, social media). We will also communicate through the UMCOS (United Methodist Committee on Scouting) via its newsletter. (You can sign up for this newsletter by notifying chriskarabinos1@gmail.com).   

We realize some BSA councils are anxious to re-charter their units asap. You might ask your local Council Scout Executive for a delay of the re-charter deadline of a few weeks to see how the process with the United Methodist Church plays out. It could very well pay dividends by not having to move your charter. 
 

Can you provide a copy of the Facilities Use Agreement mentioned above?
Yes. Click here to download a sample Facilities Use Agreement.