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Annual conferences to raise funds for BSA Survivor Trust Fund

Posted: January 12 2022 at 10:11 AM

Pending court approval of a settlement agreement in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) bankruptcy case, United Methodists have agreed to contribute $30 million to a $3 billion Survivor Trust Fund that will receive contributions from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), insurance companies and charter organizations. The agreement asks every annual conference to raise funds to contribute toward the $30 million. The Northern Illinois Annual Conference's calculated contribution is $754,348 toward the Survivor Trust Fund.

The fund will be used to compensate persons alleged to have experienced abuse while in Scouting. The BSA filed for bankruptcy as it faces more than 80,000 claims for alleged child sexual abuse over the last 80 years. United Methodist congregations sponsor more than 6,000 Boy Scout troops and Cub packs.

NIC Interim Bishop John L. Hopkins says he's grateful to the United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee that worked diligently to come to this point in the process that works toward helping the victims and protects local churches who may face liability for a chartered BSA troop.

"Not only have we witnessed connectionalism at its best, but we have also worked to ensure that all BSA chartered organizations receive a release for Boy Scout-related claims,” said Bishop Hopkins. "Our United Methodist mediators also advocated for small community nonprofits,  other denominations such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church and many other chartered organizations not represented in the mediation process, which left them vulnerable to future lawsuits. This inclusion will help make certain that today's Scouts will be able to continue in the future."

United Methodists participated in the bankruptcy mediation process with five goals.

  1. Healing and support for survivors.
  2. Releases from claims related to sexual abuse for United Methodist congregations that chartered Boy Scout troops and Cub packs.
  3. Releases for all charter organizations.
  4. Preservation of congregations' and annual conferences' insurance.
  5. A fair and just financial settlement.

The settlement agreement meets each goal, but the cornerstone of the United Methodist settlement was the healing and support for survivors. 

"When people hurt, United Methodists help," said Bishop John Schol, chair of the UMC Leadership Team created to support the United Methodist chartering organizations in the bankruptcy matter. "The commitments of United Methodists, working together, are bringing healing, hope and wholeness to the survivors."

The United Methodist Church does not tolerate sexual abuse of any kind and has consistently worked to keep young people safe. Most of the 80,000 claims occurred in the 1950s through the 1970s. Since that time, the BSA and UMC have put new practices and policies in place, which have dramatically decreased cases of child sexual abuse. For United Methodists, only 1 percent of all claims alleged to have taken place in and through United Methodist Scouting programs occurred in the last 20 years. While that is a dramatic reduction, even one case is too many.

In addition to a financial contribution, United Methodists and the Northern Illinois Conference are committing to the following:

  1. Train leaders to meet with and hear the experience and hopes of any survivor who participated in Scouting activities connected with a United Methodist congregation.
  2. Review all Safe Sanctuaries/Ministry Safe policies and update as necessary.
  3. Develop a series of articles about how to ensure safe youth programing.
  4. Participate in a survivors' justice and healing working group formed by survivors who filed claims.

"Our conference leadership through the work of Treasurer Lonnie Chafin, the Board of Trustees, and the Committee on Finance and Administration have given their full attention to the welfare of churches in our conference," said Bishop Hopkins. "They have approved the NIC's contribution commitment to the survivor's trust fund and will be working in the coming months on funding options, awaiting final approval of the settlement."

Working together, United Methodists are making a difference.

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