As mentioned in Bishop Lewis’s September 8, 2021 letter, The United Methodist Church must re-evaluate its relationship with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) given their pending settlement of 84,000 child sexual abuse claims in the bankruptcy court. The BSA’s unwillingness to include sponsoring organizations (that is charter groups like United Methodist churches) in the settlement of the claims with child sex abuse victims is very disappointing.
It is important that we re-assess our relationship with the Boy Scouts. An initial step, as discussed in the September 8, 2021 letter, is for churches to enter into a facilities use agreement with the Boy Scouts through December 31, 2021. The template for such an agreement is attached (pdf).
This agreement was prepared by the General Commission on United Methodist Men and slightly modified for the churches in the Virginia Conference. After independent review, assessment, and minor modifications by the Chancellor, Bishop Lewis has determined this is the best course of action for the local churches in the Virginia Conference.
Please note that the Facilities Use Agreement does not alter in any way a church’s ability to be fully supportive of the Boy Scouts. Rather, it shifts legal liability to the Boy Scouts, where it should be, and better protects the local church from claims in the future.
The 84,000 child sexual abuse cases with the Boy Scouts is a tragedy. As Bishop Lewis has stressed, we should pray for the survivors of child sex abuse and their families. Similarly, this tragedy is a reminder to be vigilant, update your Safe Sanctuary Policy, and continue to review your policy to ensure the congregation is following the policy.
Thank you for your attention to these important matters.
Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministries