Boy Scouts of America Bankruptcy Update

August 25, 2021

Beloved in Christ:

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is with a sorrowful heart that I share this update on The Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The BSA has been overwhelmed with potential liability exposure from sexual assault allegations accruing nationwide over many years. In response to the charges, the BSA filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2020. Protection under chapter 11 would permit the BSA to restructure, consolidate and discharge its debts and obligations, and continue on afterwards as a restructured organization. 

They have proposed two plans, both of which would leave their charter organizations vulnerable and open to sexual abuse lawsuits
despite their past promises to defend and indemnify the Charter Organization if BSA or its council was sued for any misconduct by its leaders.  As a result, our churches are at risk of bearing the responsibility of damages awarded to victims.

The link below to the letter from our Conference Chancellor, William Hewig, explains the situation more fully and offers the following direction for our local churches' future relationship with the BSA.

If your local church currently charters a scout unit, we recommend that you NOT renew that Charter Agreement when it is up for renewal or re-chartering this fall.  Instead, we recommend one of the two options set forth below, at your election. 
  1. Tell the local scout council that you will NOT renew the Charter Agreement but will only extend the current agreement until December 31, 2021.  
  2. Tell the local scout council that you will NOT renew the Charter Agreement but will enter into a Facilities Use Agreement (link below) with their unit until December 31, 2021.  The Facilities Use Agreement is similar to a lease allowing the scout unit to use your space, but leaving the scout unit with FULL RESPONSIBILITY for everything else, especially including the selection of leaders, which the BSA has previously misrepresented that scout leaders are chosen by the church.  The proposed Facilities Use Agreement is being recommended precisely because it contains NO SUCH REPRESENTATION.
If your local church does not charter a scout unit at this time, we recommend that you NOT consider chartering a unit until the BSA Bankruptcy case is concluded, and we have a better understanding of our future relationship with the BSA.

These actions may seem extreme, but please be assured that our denomination has done due diligence in their research before making these recommendations, including recognizing the value of scouting and its role in the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church. I strongly urge you to review the links below from Chancellor Hewig and adhere to the stated advice.

After December 31, 2021, we expect to be in a better position to see how the Bankruptcy Court is handling the proposed reorganization plans, and whether alternative and more favorable plans are in the works.  Once a reorganization plan is approved by the Bankruptcy Court, we will then know better about what to advise local churches. It is my hope and prayer that we will be able to support a restructured BSA that ensures a safer environment for all participants and sponsors.  Until such a time, let us hold this matter and all who are affected in our prayers.

If you receive any communication from a local scout council for the BSA advising or encouraging you to contact BSA counsel, please report it at once to my office at bishopsoffice@neumc.org. Please do not contact any BSA attorney regarding the bankruptcy without first consulting your own local church attorney. 

In Christ's love,


Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar
 
Links:
NEC Boy Scout Letter
Place of Worship Facilities Use Agreement
Aug. 25 message from the denomination