OKUMC Statement on the Boy Scouts of America
Greetings in the name of Christ.
In many congregations, a relationship with the Boy Scouts of America has been a vital ministry that reaches a segment of the community that might otherwise not be served.
As stated in the press release, the United Methodist Church maintains a relationship with the BSA. However, the ad hoc committee recommends terminating the chartering relationship and transitioning to a facilities use agreement. General Conference, not an ad hoc committee, is the only entity that speaks for the United Methodist Church.
The choice of a local church to continue to charter a BSA troop or to discontinue that chartering relationship will not affect the eventual outcome of litigation that is still in process. It will not change the potential liability of a congregation. However, there are factors to consider when making the decision on next steps that will have ongoing implications for your church and its ministry.
What should your local church do now?
Every church should review its status as a legal corporation registered with the State of Oklahoma to make certain that it is current and up to date. The members of unincorporated churches may be personally liable for damages, so incorporating your local church is strongly encouraged and recommended for this and other important reasons.
Review, update, and audit your policy and practice of Safe Sanctuaries in your local church. Report to your Church Council the results of the process. Address any weaknesses you discover. Appropriate Safe Sanctuary policies provide checks and balances to provide for everyone’s protection.
Review your insurance coverage and ensure it meets the conference minimum standards. (Those standards can be found on page 244 of the 2020 Journal.) Make your insurance broker aware of all activities and the presence of all outside groups that use your church facilities. Ensure adequate liability coverage that is appropriate for your congregation and that meets the minimum requirements of the conference and denomination.
Intentionally include discussions about the safety of participants, especially children and other vulnerable populations when designing and evaluating new or current ministries.
What should your church do about the relationship with the troop you charter?
A charter agreement with the BSA is a twelve-month agreement that must be renewed annually. Each church that charters a Boy Scout Troop will need to inform your District Superintendent of your intentions for the rest of this calendar year and for the next calendar year.
Evaluate the relationship between the church and troop. If it is safe, strong, and vital, consider continuing to charter the troop.
If a local church wishes to renew their charter with the Scout Troop, the administrative body of the church should follow a process that includes the following items:
- Secure, study, and approve working with the troop in accordance with the annual charter agreement.
- Review and approve the agreements in The Chartered Organization Representative Guidebook which sets forth the agreements and duties of a chartering organization and what can be expected from the BSA organization.
- Review the BSA Youth Protection Mission Statement and make sure it is in compliance with your local church Safe Sanctuary Policy.
- Consult with your insurance broker and/or attorney to determine the implications of Chartering a BSA Troop.
- Each local church must have a scouting representative who will serve as the point person from the church who relates to the troop and the BSA. The representative may not be a leader in the troop.
- Do not create or maintain a relationship with an unchartered troop.
Do not establish a new charter with a BSA troop until all litigation is resolved.
What should your church do if it moves to a facility use agreement?
Should your church elect not to renew your charter next year, notify your District Superintendent, Scout Master, and your Boy Scout Council representative of your intentions.
In the event your church moves to a facilities use agreement, you will have no other relationship with the troop beyond allowing the use of your facilities for their activities.
For churches that move to a facilities use agreement, a template for such an agreement will be released next week. Prior to taking this action, each church should consult your insurance broker to determine the specific implication that will result from such action. In general, a facilities use agreement will make the chartering organization ineligible for the General Liability coverage through the BSA. The local church’s general liability insurance will become the only protection for the church and its members. You should be aware that the charter agreement, if terminated, allows a transition period for the troop to secure a new chartering organization.
Facility use agreements are negotiated with chartering organizations.
Conduct an audit to record all property and items that your chartering organization owns for the benefit of the troop. All bank accounts, equipment, trailers, and similar items are owned by the chartering organization. The ownership of these assets will need to be transferred to another chartering organization. The church name will need to be removed from everything associated with the BSA, including flags and uniforms that have been used by the troop.
Do not enter into a facilities use agreement with an unchartered troop.
What should your church do if the decision is made to terminate the charter and not make the building available for the use of a scout troop?
Inform your District Superintendent, the leaders of the troop and the Boy Scout executive office of your decision and the effective date of the decision.
With gratitude for your leadership,
Bishop Jimmy Nunn
Rev. Dr. Joe Harris, assistant to the Bishop
Rev. Derrek Belase, executive director of Connectional Ministry
Randy Compton, conference Treasurer
Rev. Connie Gibson, dean of the Cabinet
Rev. Tish Malloy, director of Transitional Ministry
Kent Fulton, conference Chancellor