Pending court approval of a settlement agreement in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) bankruptcy case, United Methodists have agreed to contribute $30 million to a $3 billion Survivor Trust Fund that will receive contributions from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), insurance companies, and charter organizations. Every annual conference is asked to raise funds to contribute toward the $30 million and the Minnesota Annual Conference has made a commitment to raise $286,132 toward the Survivor Trust Fund. The Minnesota Conference Board of Trustees and Council on Finance and Administration have discussed a plan that they are convinced will help fulfill that commitment. More information will be shared by our annual conference session if the settlement is approved. The amount of our contribution is based on claims associated with the Minnesota Conference.
The fund will be used to compensate persons alleged to have experienced abuse while in Scouting. The BSA filed for bankruptcy as it faces more than 80,000 claims for alleged child sexual abuse over the last 80 years. United Methodist congregations sponsor more than 6,000 Boy Scout troops and Cub packs.
“We are making significant commitments toward the healing and well-being of those who have been harmed in the past,” said Minnesota Conference Interim Bishop David Bard. “We see this as part of the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”
United Methodists participated in the bankruptcy mediation process with five goals:
1. Healing and support for survivors
2. Releases from claims related to sexual abuse for United Methodist congregations that chartered Boy Scout troops and Cub packs
3. Releases for all charter organizations
4. Preservation of congregations’ and annual conferences’ insurance
5. A fair and just financial settlement
The settlement agreement meets each goal, but the cornerstone of the United Methodist settlement was the healing and support for survivors. “When people hurt, United Methodists help,” said Bishop John Schol, chair of the UMC Leadership Team created to support the United Methodist chartering organizations in the bankruptcy matter. “The commitments of United Methodists, working together, are bringing healing, hope, and wholeness to the survivors.”
The United Methodist Church does not tolerate sexual abuse of any kind and has consistently worked to keep young people safe. Most of the 80,000 claims occurred in the 1950s through the 1970s. Since that time, new practices and policies have been put in place by the BSA and the UMC, which has dramatically decreased child sexual abuse. For United Methodists, only 1 percent of all claims alleged to have taken place in and through United Methodist Scouting programs occurred in the last 20 years. While that is a dramatic reduction, even one case is too many.
In addition to a financial contribution, United Methodists are committing to the following:
1. 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.
2. Review all Safe Sanctuaries/Ministry Safe policies and update as necessary.
3. Develop a series of articles about how to ensure safe youth programing.
4. Participate in a survivors’ justice and healing working group formed by survivors who filed claims.
Every annual conference is being asked to follow through with the United Methodist commitments listed above, and the Minnesota Conference is fully dedicated to doing its part to fulfill them.
Working together, United Methodists are making a difference.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church