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Affirmation of Missouri Conference Statement on BSA Chartering Agreements with United Methodist Congregations


September 22, 2021

You may recall that the Office of Finance & Administration released a statement with respect to the Boy Scouts of America and the United Methodist General Council on Finance & Administration’s recommendation that churches end their chartering agreements for Boy Scout, Cub Scout and Explorer Troops in late August 2021.

It has now come to our attention that some in our local churches have heard rumors that the Missouri Annual Conference has eased its position since issuing that statement.

This is simply not true. The Missouri Annual Conference’s Office of Finance & Administrative Ministries, Director of Finance & Administrative Ministries, Rev. Nate Berneking and the Conference Chancellor, Jordan Ault, Esq. strongly recommend following the advice of GCFA and its named “ad hoc committee” representing United Methodist entities in the bankruptcy proceedings of the Boy Scouts of America.

This means that local churches with current chartering agreements for Boy Scout Troops of any sort (i.e., Boy Scout, Cub Scout or Explorer Troops) should begin a conversation with troop leaders about ending the chartering agreement no later than December 31, 2021. Troops may continue utilizing the church’s building under a Facilities Use Agreement that clearly requires adequate insurance and does everything possible to insulate the local church from unwanted liabilities.

Taking this step is important because of the link that chartering agreements create between the local church and a troop. Under a chartering agreement, the church is essentially agreeing to “own” the troop. It means that the church is, in some way, assuming responsibility for the actions of the troop and its leaders even when conducting activities in places over which the local church has no control. A very large percentage of the claims brought by claimants against the Boy Scouts of America arose from activities in places like scout camps. If a church ends its charter but allows the troop to continue operating in its facilities under a Facilities Use Agreement, the church very likely maintains some responsibility for actions occurring at the church, but likely removes responsibility for activities that happen anywhere else. 

As stated in the original release, this does not mean the United Methodist Church is ending its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. By shifting from a chartering relationship to a building use agreement, the church may continue to provide volunteers and other assistance to the troop, but without a source of real risk to the local church.

The situation involving the bankruptcy remains in a significant state of flux. We are aware that new terms of settlement have been proposed with more parties providing funds. But those developments have not changed our position, contrary to information coming out of Regional Councils of the Boy Scouts. We continue to monitor the situation and will let churches know if any development changes our guidance. You may still contact Rev. Nate Berneking at nberneking@moumethodist.org with any questions. And you may find the original statement issued in August by clicking here.