United Methodist churches that have sponsored Boy Scout troops can expect to receive a “disclosure statement package” from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) regarding its pending bankruptcy proceeding in the near future. 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 to United Methodist churches within the next couple of weeks, well in advance of the December 14 voting deadline. The Ad Hoc Committee is developing recommendations for local churches on how to complete the included ballot, and will provide a summary of the most important aspects of the plan.
“Webinar sessions will be conducted for district superintendents and church leaders to share additional information about the vote, the ballot and how the outcome might affect our congregations,” said Bishop John Schol, chair of the UMC leadership team created to support the denomination in the bankruptcy matter.
Information regarding rechartering
While the United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee continues to engage in mediation related to the bankruptcy case, the Committee and the BSA have issued a joint statement which addresses how United Methodist congregations that sponsor Scouting programs should proceed in the meantime regarding expiring charters or facility use agreements.
The Committee previously recommended that churches either extend existing charters or utilize a facility use agreement until December 31, 2021. This recommendation was made to protect the interests of United Methodist churches in light of the bankruptcy proceedings because they were not included in an initial settlement. To simplify the issue for chartered organizations, and because the bankruptcy process will extend beyond December 31, 2021, the BSA and the Committee have agreed to the following statement:
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.
"This means that churches can now pause any rechartering conversations and use what is in place at this time to continue these valuable Scouting ministries while work takes place on a new charter for future use," said Bishop Schol. "As we continue with the negotiation process, we ask that you pray for the healing of the survivors. We also ask you to pray for those leading the effort to reach just settlements."