Conferences Asked to Contribute to BSA Survivor Trust
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 funding from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), insurance companies and charter organizations. Every annual conference in America is asked to contribute toward the $30 million.
The Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference has been asked to contribute $650,300 based on claims associated with the Conference. Conference leaders have committed to providing that amount for the Trust Fund.
The Survivor Trust 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 deeply regret that any persons were abused while participating in the activities of troops and packs that were sponsored by United Methodist Churches. It is our moral and ethical obligation to continue to work toward healing for those persons,” said Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi. “However, financial compensation is only one part of the healing process.”
United Methodists participated in the bankruptcy mediation process with five goals:
- Healing and support for survivors
- Releases from claims related to sexual abuse for United Methodist congregations that chartered Boy Scout troops and Cub packs
- Releases for all charter organizations
- Preservation of congregations’ and annual conferences’ insurance
- A fair and just financial settlement
The settlement agreement meets each goal, but the cornerstone of the United Methodist settlement is 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 UMC which have 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:
- 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.
- Participate in a survivors’ justice and healing working group formed by survivors who filed claims.
Each annual conference is now being asked to follow through with the United Methodist commitments listed above by agreeing to:
- Identify leaders who are willing to be trained and listen to survivors’ experiences.
- Review all Safe Sanctuaries/Ministry Safe policies of congregations and the conference to ensure they are up-to-date and are being followed.
- Re-publish the series of articles about child sexual abuse.
- Raise funds for the Survivors Trust Fund.
The Rev. Alyce Weaver Dunn, Director of Connectional Ministries, is already working with the Coordinating Cabinet to develop a plan to ensure that the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference will be ready to carry out the programmatic commitments of this settlement if it is approved by the courts.
“This entire settlement bears testimony to the blessing of our connection,” according to Bishop Moore-Koikoi.
“Local churches will be given resources that will enable them to be up to date on all of the policies they will need in order to continue or develop relationships with the Boy Scouts of America, if they choose to do so. Each local church will receive information about child sexual abuse. Those who possess the gift of listening will be given the opportunity to be trained to listen to survivors’ experiences. If the settlement is approved, no individual church will bear the financial burden of having to defend any claims brought against it," she explained. "Working together, United Methodists are making a difference.”