United Methodist leaders have reached a settlement as part of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) pending bankruptcy proceedings. It calls for the denomination to pay $30 million over three years into a trust to compensate survivors of Scouting-related sexual abuse and also provides United Methodist churches protection from future abuse-related lawsuits. The settlement, announced Dec. 21 after months of negotiations, is part of a BSA reorganization plan which still must be approved by a federal bankruptcy court.
"Our first concern is the healing of the survivors," said Bishop John Schol, chair of the leadership team created to support the United Methodist chartering organizations in the bankruptcy matter. "We are deeply sorry for what happened and are praying for all those who experienced harm through Scouting activities."
All U.S. Annual Conferences are being asked to commit to paying a share of the $30 million, and a team has been formed to identify strategies and materials that may be used to raise the funds.
In Western PA, about 180 claims of abuse have been filed.
"We need to remember that there are survivors, and our primary focus is to provide opportunities for healing of the survivors," said Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi. "We also want to make sure we have a process for survivors who want to share their stories to do so... and ensure that they are able to meet with a pastor, or District Superintendent or even the Bishop."
Bishop Schol emphasized the United Methodist Church's commitment to the protection of children and youth. "The Council of Bishops will be working with the church, the Survivor Working Group and BSA to address policies, programs, and procedures in order to keep Scouts safe from abuse,” he said.
The settlement follows months of mediation by members of the Ad Hoc committee of bishops, chancellors and general agency employees that has been advocating for United Methodist interests.
“I want to thank everyone who has been working through the mediation process for the healing and just resolution of the survivors,” Schol said in a Zoom session with about 450 leaders from across the U.S. “Our settlement agreement has the support of both the BSA and the Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice.”
The United Methodist Church has long worked proactively to prevent child abuse. Under the terms of the agreement, denomination leaders will intensify efforts to prevent and raise awareness of child sexual abuse.
The Council of Bishops has committed to lead the Church in carrying out the following efforts: