Boy Scouts of America Bankruptcy Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

by | Aug 26, 2021 | Scouting, Board of Trustees

How can we confirm whether our church was a Chartered Organization?

Your District Superintendent has a list of churches that the Conference is aware of as holding or previously holding a charter with BSA. However, the list may not be an exhaustive list. Please consult your church’s archives and contact your local BSA District office to find out if your church has a charter history.

What if my church merged with other churches that were Charter Organizations, but my church never was? Does this affect my church?

It depends upon how the merger was structured. You may need to seek legal advice.

When should churches switch from a charter agreement to a Usage/Lease agreement?

We recommend that you work on this immediately and effective no later than December 31, 2021. Meet with the Charter Representative without delay, so that the scout troop(s) have time to make arrangements for their new charter.

If our church doesn’t seem to be on a claims list in the pending Bankruptcy litigation, does that mean there is no claim against us?

Not necessarily. The churches named as chartered organizations of BSA units may not be complete. In some limited situations, the claimant failed to clearly identify the charter organizations involved. The Conference has advised the local churches that were identified as charter organizations, but there could be unknown history that could surface later.

If a claim is brought to the church that is new/different than what has been communicated, the pastor should immediately contact the Bishop’s office and the chancellor.

Can a church be held liable if there are no claims from that church?

The church can be financially responsible to the extent that we’re a connectional body that may share in the financial impact.

Do these recommendations also apply to Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts?

Yes. Although the current language and case pertain to Boy Scouts of America, our recommendation is to switch to a “Usage/Lease Agreement” for all scouting entities.

Will our Troop need to find another organization to charter their unit?

The Scouts Council can charter the Troop. Speak to your local Scouting Council to find out more.

Who should be the point person on the Usage/Lease agreement at the church?

As is the case with other usage/lease agreements that your church may use, the Board of Trustees chair should be the point person on this agreement.

What if the scout trailer is registered to the church? Should that be changed?

Work with your Scout Council to determine the best next steps, but as the current Charter Organization, the church is responsible for the trailer.

Wouldn’t our church insurance policy cover any “bad acts” committed on church property by BSA?

The church’s insurance may not necessarily cover a claim in this situation, which is why churches that are Charter Organizations were directed to file proof of claims. If a lawsuit is served on the local church, the proof of claim then may allow the church to seek reimbursement from the bankruptcy funds set aside for future claims.

What is the difference between hosting a Boy Scout Troop and chartering a Boy Scout Troop?

Many churches allow outside organizations like the Boys Scouts to rent their buildings for meetings.  In other cases, the church itself has chartered a Boy Scout Troop or sponsors a Boy Scout Unit. In the latter case, the church signs an “Annual Charter Agreement” which suggests that the church is effectively responsible for conducting the Scouting program in its entirety, including the selection and screening of adult volunteers. As such, a local church that serves as a Charter Organization could be liable for a sexual abuse claim. Because the formal arrangement with the BSA provided insurance coverage for the BSA, DSC churches did not have financial exposure. The bankruptcy changes the financial exposure for churches that have served as chartering organizations.

What do the BSA Bankruptcy proceedings have to do with our church’s potential legal liability – aren’t people suing the BSA, not our church?

Bankruptcy can eliminate the debts of a debtor. Bankruptcy can also extinguish judgments and future claims against the debtor – particularly if the future claim is based on an act that happened before the bankruptcy proceeding. As the BSA goes through the bankruptcy process, a Chartering Organization (like a local church) may be the last entity standing with potential liability.

Who at the local church needs to be consulted on this matter?

Clergy and lay leadership, including the Board of Trustees, should work together on this matter and keep the church council apprised of any decisions, steps, or actions taken.

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Author: DSC Communications

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