Frequently Asked Questions and Related Resources
In conjunction with this Saturday’s Special Annual Conference, below are frequently asked questions and responses as well as links to numerous related documents.
As announced on January 10, 2022, the Virginia Annual Conference was asked to pay $988,456 as part of the $30 million total United Methodist settlement with the survivors of child sexual abuse as part of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) bankruptcy.
- Why did The United Methodist Church reach a settlement agreement with the BSA?
Answer: The settlement will provide monetary and non-monetary assistance to survivors of child sexual abuse. In exchange, local churches, Districts, the Conference, and other boards, committees, etc. associated with the UMC will be released from any liability for claims of child sexual abuse that may have occurred during BSA activities at our local churches. The settlement benefits both the survivors and The United Methodist Church. For additional information, please see the December 21, 2021 news release announcing the settlement here.
- What is the purpose of Saturday’s Special Annual Conference?
Answer: We will review the reasons for the settlement. A vote is necessary on the recommendation of the Council on Finance and Administration (CFA) and Conference Board of Trustees that 50 percent of the $988,456($494,228) be collected through a special, temporary apportionment line item in 2023 and 2024. These funds will be used to reimburse the reserve amount for the Conference. For additional information, see the January 21 letter from Bishop Lewis here.
- Why is the Conference recommending that there be a special apportionment to pay $494,228 back into the reserve account?
United Methodists are connectional. We have seen repeatedly the value of our connectional system when we work together to address challenges and crises. We work together not only for our individual needs but for the good of the whole denomination and particularly for those who are in crisis, who have been harmed, or to collectively help one another. Following through with our commitments strengthens the connection and our witness.
Not every church in our Conference had or has a BSA troop but we are asking all churches to help shoulder the burden of resolving this issue that is important to so many of our local churches. We all pull together in moments of crisis and need, and we are asking for everyone to do so now.
Bishop Lewis, the Cabinet, CFA, and the Conference Board of Trustees believe that it is important for this connectional approach to now include a special 2023-24 apportionment to replenish the reserve account. We have a reserve account for unexpected issues like this and we need to ensure that we continue to maintain the reserve as good stewards in case we have other needs in the future.
- What are the non-monetary items that are important to survivors?
Train leaders to meet with and hear the experience and hopes of any survivor who participated in Scouting activities connected with a United Methodist congregation;
Review all Safe Sanctuaries/Ministry Safe policies and update as necessary;
Develop a series of articles about how to ensure safe youth programing; and
Participate in a survivors’ justice and healing working group formed by survivors who filed claims.
- How was the Virginia Conference’s $988,456 allocation of the total $30 million UMC settlement determined?
Answer: The UMC BSA Leadership Team developed the allocation analysis by having a sub-team of treasurers evaluate several methods to make it fair for the various annual conferences. The sub-team recommended that the total claims be reduced by the claims after January 1, 1976 (claims after this date are paid by the BSA, BSA Councils, and insurers) and all claims not associated with a conference. The remaining claims were calculated as a percentage of the total claims. The percentage was applied to arrive at each Conference’s contribution.
- How many claims are there involving Virginia Conference churches and related organizations?
Answer: There are 38 claims that have been made involving churches and related organizations in the Virginia Conference. Initially, there were 129 claims. Through due diligence, the number of claims has been reduced, largely by eliminating duplicate claims, identifying claims that occurred in non-UMC churches, and identifying claims that should be tied solely to the BSA and not the local church.
It is important to keep in mind that these 38 claims, like all claims, will be paid from the national Survivors Trust Fund which is expected to have approximately $2.7 billion. The Boy Scouts are the major contributor to the Survivors Trust Fund. The $988,456 Virginia Conference payment is a contribution to the Survivors Trust Fund. It is not paid to Virginia survivors’ directly. The Virginia survivors will be paid from the $2.7 billion fund.
- Why did the Conference agree to make any payments as so many cases are outside the statute of limitations?
Answer: There are ways, under Virginia law, by which claims going back several decades may be allowed and legal action, i.e., civil lawsuits, filed against local churches and various individuals. Depending on the facts, one case alone could result in a judgment or a settlement exceeding $1,000,000. The attorneys’ fees to defend even one case could easily exceed $250,000.
- Are the various conferences in the United States also required to pay an additional $100 million as part of the settlement?
Answer: As part of the negotiated settlement, the UMC BSA Leadership Team has agreed to provide leadership to encourage all BSA chartering organizations that are not part of The United Methodist Church to make a $100 million contribution to the Survivors Trust Fund. If UMC churches decide they also want to participate in this additional fundraising, they can certainly do so. All of these contributions are important, but voluntary. This additional support for survivors is not only appropriate, but part of our mission as committed Christians. For additional information, see the December 21 news release here.
- What does the settlement mean for the future of scouting activities at The United Methodist churches in Virginia?
Answer: As announced on October 6, 2021, the UMC BSA Leadership Team reached an agreement with the Boy Scouts “to extend existing charter agreements and facility use agreements in force at this time through March 31, 2022.” At this time, the UMC BSA Leadership Team (comprised of bishops, treasurers, chancellors, and bankruptcy lawyers) is discussing with the BSA the possible structure of future agreements between the local churches that desire to have an ongoing relationship with the BSA.
The UMC BSA Leadership Team is also the group that negotiated the settlement in the bankruptcy court. This negotiated settlement still needs to be approved by the judge. It is expected that any new agreement will make it clear that the local church is not liable for the conduct of the BSA when using the facilities of that church.
Everyone will be advised of these important developments in the very near future. Meanwhile, no new agreements with the BSA should be entered into with any local church until further notice. For additional information, see the October 6, 2021 letter from Bishop Lewis with information from the UMC BSA Leadership Team here.
- What background do you have on how the BSA is handling the sexual abuse cases that can be shared with our congregations?
Answer: We are not aware of the details to how the BSA has handled or is handling the child sex abuse cases that were filed against them. We know that the BSA denied liability in many cases and they settled many cases before filing bankruptcy. We also know that the number of cases and the projected costs of those cases forced the BSA into filing for bankruptcy protection.
What is important for the UMC is to make sure the survivors of child sex abuse that arose out of the relationship with the BSA are resolved in a favorable manner. That requires non-monetary and monetary relief and those topics are discussed in the Conference’s January 10, 2022 communication here and in this FAQ.
- Are there any accused perpetrators from BSA activities that are still around any children in our local churches?
Answer: To date, the Virginia Conference is not aware of any allegations against a local church, local pastor, or active lay person in a child sexual abuse case tied to the BSA. The Virginia Conference was diligent in checking into these issues. Our policy is to report all alleged incidents of abuse to the police and to encourage local pastors, District Superintendents, Lay leaders, and others to also do so. Nationwide, the percentage of claims in the last 20 years potentially related to United Methodist local church sponsored scouting troops is less than 1% of all UMC claims. For additional information, see the December 21, 2021 news release here.
- Does the Virginia Conference have confidence in the BSA’s efforts to prevent any type of abuse of children at the local level now and into the future?
Answer: The Virginia Conference is reviewing what preventative measures the BSA is putting in place to prevent any abuse going forward. At this time, the Virginia Conference is not ready to offer an opinion on what preventative measures are in place by the BSA but there have been statements made by the BSA that they have such preventative measures. We will remain vigilant on this matter.
- What type of accountability will there be to ensure survivors’ benefit from the UMC’s settlement?
Answer: The UMC’s $30 million settlement with the BSA is part of a larger $2.7 billion settlement that must be approved by the bankruptcy court and then administered by a trust put in place by the bankruptcy judge. The actual disbursements will be made by the court appointed Trustee of the Survivors Fund.
Special Annual Conference — Letter from Bishop Lewis
January 21, 2022
Virginia Conference Churches Survivor Trust Apportionment
Estimate of 2023-24 Special Apportionments by Church; Referenced in Bishop Lewis’s Above Letter
January 21, 2022
Save the Date/Notification of Special Annual Conference
January 13, 2022
Annual Conference Asked to Raise Funds for Survivor Trust Fund
News Release – National UMC Leadership Team
January 10, 2022
United Methodists Reach Settlement in Boy Scouts Bankruptcy Case
News Release – United Methodist Communications
December 21, 2021
The UMC and the Boy Scouts: Important Developments
Letter from Bishop Lewis
November 30, 2022
Developments Regarding The UMC and the Boy Scouts
Letter from Bishop Lewis
October 6, 2021