This letter provides important and notable developments about the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) agreements with local churches.
For churches that have not implemented new facilities use or affiliation agreements in 2022, please note that existing agreements will expire on December 31, 2022. There will not be an additional extension.
Those churches that partner with the BSA are strongly urged to use the Annual Affiliation Agreement or Facilities Use Agreement provided in the Virginia Annual Conference’s July 8 communication, Important, Positive News Regarding the Boy Scouts and Our Local Churches. As you will see, the form date for the Annual Affiliation Agreement is June 29, 2022 and the form date for the Facilities Use Agreement is July 2022. The text of these documents should not be modified and only those forms should be used.
However, the Virginia Conference has recently learned that a revised version of the Annual Affiliation Agreement is being circulated by the BSA and the General Commission on United Methodist Men. We have a concern about this revised version because it removes an important, reasonable clause explicitly requiring a criminal background check at least once every three years on every adult that is already serving with the BSA in the local church. This is a follow-up background check to the initial background check when the person first starts with the BSA in whatever role. Requiring specific times for follow-up background checks as a contractual term in the Annual Affiliation Agreement is essential in the effort to protect the children involved with scouting at the local church.
The removal of this language from the Annual Affiliation Agreement dated June 29, 2022, is not supported by the Virginia Conference. When frequent background checks are included as a material term in a contract, there is a reason: it is another way to make organizations accountable to the children and it helps reduce the liability risk for the local church. We strongly urge that only agreements sent with the above July 8 correspondence be signed by local churches that want to partner with the BSA. If a local church chooses to sign the BSA modified agreement without this material term, it would be prudent to have legal counsel provide advice on that decision.
Thanks for your attention to these important matters.
The Rev. Dr. Steven J. Summers
Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministries
The Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church
Office: 804-521-1133; Cell: 804-822-2824
P.O. Box 5606, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5606
Full Link to July 8 communication: https://vaumc.org/important-positive-news-regarding-the-boy-scouts-and-our-local-churches/