An Update on Scouting
Christ Church and our relationship with the post-lawsuit BSA
I occurs to me that many of you probably know very little about what has been happening at Christ Church in our scouting ministry. Please notice how I said that. I specifically said, “our scouting ministry” rather than saying “our scout troop” or even just “at Troop 50.” I hope that we will all begin to speak, and think, about scouting this way, as ministry, and I will explain that shortly.
First, you may have heard national news stories about the lengthy year-long lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and their ensuing bankruptcy. It is a long story, about which I could bore you for hours, but here are a few important things to note. At the very beginning, the BSA decided that its goal, as much as possible, was justice for those persons who were harmed by abuse under their watch. Toward that end, they included in their negotiations anyone with a claim, and did not ever seek to exclude anyone for whom the statute of limitations would have expired. Therefore, many of the plaintiffs admitted to the lawsuit have claims that would have legally expired decades ago but the BSA included them anyway because it was the right thing to do. This is a part of the reason that the settlement that has been reached is the largest legal settlement in the history of the United States.
During the negotiations of this settlement, many of the organizations that charter scout troops, such as the Catholic Church, the Mormon church, the United Methodist church, and others, worked with the BSA so that they would be included in the settlement so that they could not be sued later for the same thing. Toward that end, these organizations, and their insurance carriers, contributed large sums of money toward the final settlement.
Because the United Methodist Church paid out something like ten million dollars, they changed their instructions and advice on how we, as a local church, should treat our scout troops, and thus limit our legal liability. Their advice was to stop signing the charters with Troop 50 that we have signed for over a hundred years, and instead allow some other organization in town sign a charter instead, and then our only involvement would be to have the troop sign a “facilities use agreement” as we would if they were only renting space from us.
That didn’t sound right. After 100 years of our relationship between Christ Church and Troop 50, it didn’t seem right to make them feel a if they needed to “belong” somewhere else. And so, I talked to our district superintendent, our Annual Conference lawyer, and the folks in Nashville, TN that are the UMC liaison with the BSA. It turns out that there is another option, but it’s an option they aren’t even talking about. That option is to treat our scouts as if they were, as they should be, a youth ministry, or an outreach ministry, of the church. And so, our trustees increased our insurance coverage, and we signed a regular charter just like we have for the last 100 years. Oddly, our new charter included many additional protections (for us) that the UMC had asked for during their earlier negotiations.
So, I hope that you will join me in thinking about our scout troops and cub pack as “Our scouting ministry” or simply as an extension of our existing youth ministry (because it always has been). I believe that thinking about scouting in this way will lead us to new membership participation in scouting and the way that our church and troop relate to one another.
It’s also important for you to know that our troops have continued to grow. Our Girls’ Troop 50 has recently added a second patrol, so that we now have four fully equipped patrols, two girls and two boys. And that means that they need more equipment, more adult leaders, and more space. Currently, our troops store many of their belongings in their scout trailers, but that means that whenever they go anywhere, they take with them a great many things that they don’t need simply because those things “live” in the trailer. But, with Men’s Challenge moving to the Neighborhood Center this month, our trustees have given the first-floor corner room (next to the elevator) to our scout troops to use for storage. That will allow some of our troop equipment to be stored indoors rather than in the trailer, and it will also allow many shelves, cabinets, klondike sleds, and other things to be moved out of the Scout Room and give them enough meeting space to accommodate our growing troops.\
I’m sure that I will have more to say about this on Scout Sunday, February 12th, but please prayerfully consider how you can be a part of this exciting and growing youth outreach ministry of our church with your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness.
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