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Update on Boy Scouts of America Bankruptcy Case

Posted: September 19 2021 at 12:00 AM
Boyscout

10/12/21 Update:

If your church currently charters or previously chartered a Boy Scout, Cub Scout or Explore Troop, you are likely to receive a “Disclosure Statement Package” from the Boy Scouts of America in the next few days. 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. Learn more. NIC leaders are holding a webinar this Thursday at 7 pm for churches affected. If you didn't receive the information, please contact your District Superintendent or Lonnie Chafin at lchafin@umcnic.org.

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9/18/21 Update: 

You may have read in recent news or seen other communications,  the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) along with its local council reached an agreement with representatives of most of the sexual abuse survivors on a proposed $850 million settlement.  While the bankruptcy case is ongoing, this would be the largest settlement in a child sexual abuse case in U.S. history with more than 80,000 claimants.

The United Methodist Church and its predecessor denominations have had a relationship with the BSA dating back more than 100 years. In February 2020, the BSA announced the national organization would file for bankruptcy to allow it to continue carrying on its mission while also compensating sexual abuse victims who were harmed during their time in scouting. 

Questions remain about how that agreement might affect chartered organizations, including thousands of United Methodist congregations that have sponsored scouting programs. United Methodist congregations represent the largest active collection of chartered organizations. The interests of those congregations are represented by an ad hoc committee established to represent United Methodist interests, which is actively engaged in the bankruptcy process and related negotiations. 

While the denomination continues to maintain a relationship with the BSA and churches may continue to support scout troops, the ad hoc committee of denominational leaders and attorneys are closely following the proceedings in the bankruptcy court in hopes of developing a recommendation to UMC chartering organizations. Northern Illinois Conference leaders are in regular communication with this group, but little can be shared when legal matters are under discussion.

While the conference does not direct local churches on their BSA programs and their legal arrangements, in a recent press release, the ad hoc group has provided recommendations on how to proceed.  Click to read the press release.

United Methodist leaders across the denomination grieve for those who experienced harm and call upon the church to pray for healing for the victims and their families.

NIC leaders say this case is a reminder for all of us to recommit ourselves to being that sacred and safe place for children to know the abundance of God's love and encourages churches to review and renew Safe Sanctuaries policies to ensure children's safety in all church programs, even those operated by invited organizations. Find more on Safe Sanctuaries and the Safe Gatherings training on the conference website at umcnic.org/safesanctuaries.

NIC Treasurer Lonnie Chafin has been in direct communication with churches with BSA troops and the conference and will continue to closely monitor how this case will impact local churches while working towards a reasonable end result. If you have a troop and have not been receiving the information or if you have any further questions, please reach out to Lonnie at lchafin@umcnic.org.

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