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Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Chartering Development


October 05, 2021

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

Since then, the BSA, various claimants and the “ad hoc committee” representing United Methodist interests have continued in conversation. On October 4, the BSA and United Methodist ad hoc committee issued the following joint statement:

The Boy Scouts of America and the United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee 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.
 
The Office of Finance and Administrative Ministries of the Missouri Annual Conference and the Conference Chancellor, Jordan Ault, believe this signals the possibility of a settlement that will effectively settle the past claims related to United Methodist entities.

We recognize that many pastors and lay leaders have already put in significant effort to bring their chartering agreements to a conclusion by December 31, 2021. We also remain concerned that the current chartering agreement imposes much more responsibility on local churches than they are aware.

Given that, we do not believe the new statement should change the approach taken by church leaders. If your local church and troop have become the process of ending the chartering agreement or shifting it to another organization in your community, you should continue with that process. This is, by far, the safest approach for local churches given the current situation.

If, on the other hand, the pastor and church leaders believe that ending the charter will cause too much conflict within the church or too much hardship for the local church and community, we do affirm decisions to extend only through 2022. We are aware that several churches were already choosing this very option.

If the church does agree to extend the charter, we strongly recommend three additional steps be taken:

  1. Contact your current insurance company to insure that (a) current limits are sufficient to cover the liabilities that arise from scouting activities (i.e., generally $1 million single occurrence and $3 million in the aggregate); and (b) that the insurer still intends to honor policies with respect to injuries arising out of scouting activities.
  2. Read the charter agreement thoroughly to understand exactly the responsibilities imposed on the local church.
  3. And, finally, any church chartering a Troop should have trusted church leaders involved in all scouting activities, including those occurring away from the church.
The advice in No. 2 and No. 3 has been given by chancellors and the Office of Finance and Administrative Ministries since at least 2014. These are critical if the church wishes to continue chartering a Troop of any sort. The charter agreement as written imposes responsibility on the church to “conduct” all scout activities, meaning the church is likely responsible for any injury occurring during activities at the church or in other locations, like Boy Scout camps.

As noted in our last statement, the situation involving the bankruptcy remains in a significant state of flux. This can be frustrating, but it is the typical way of mediating settlements. 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. We have incorporated Frequently Asked Questions in one place for you and local church leadership to access.