The North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church has agreed to pay $448,216 to help pay sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America as part of the federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy settlement of the scout organization.
The United Methodist Church has agreed nationwide to pay $30 million over a three-year period as one of the church’s largest sponsors of Boy Scout troops.
“It’s great news that we’ve reached a settlement,” Lynn Hare, chancellor of the North Alabama Conference, said in a report released June 23 at the conference’s annual meeting.
The North Alabama Conference, which represents 638 congregations and 118,963 church members in North Alabama, was awarded an amount as part of the plan to split payments among all Methodist conferences united.
“The conference is committed to disbursing this money within a year,” Hare said.
As part of its bankruptcy plan, the Boy Scouts of America is trying to settle the sexual abuse claims against them.
Most of the money for the $2.7 billion trust fund to compensate survivors comes from insurance companies, but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, contributes to around $250 million. Latter-day Saints, who had been one of the biggest religious sponsors of Boy Scout troops, ended their affiliation with Boy Scouts in 2019 and created their own youth program.
The bankruptcy settlement will prevent continued legal exposure to churches that are part of the agreement, Hare said. Without the settlement, “they run a legal risk of being sued,” she said.
Starting June 30, new agreements will be in place with the Boy Scouts, she said. Churches will have affiliation agreements with scout troops instead of charters with local councils, to “decrease the risk of legal exposure”, Hare said.
Through the end of October, new agreements will be signed, with equipment such as tents and trailers belonging to the Boy Scouts, not the individual churches that had sponsored them.
“We are making a separation between the church and the Boy Scout unit,” Hare said.
The agreement provides for safe havens and youth protection plans. Each United Methodist Church is also encouraged to put on its website or publications the stories of all victims of sexual abuse, Hare said.
The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy after more than 82,000 claims were filed by men who claimed they were sexually abused as boys by Boy Scout leaders.
As part of the agreement, United Methodist churches that have established Scouting organizations will be released from claims that arose after 1976 and from certain pre-1976 claims that were covered by insurance from one of the insurance companies that are part of the regulation.
Other religious organizations may still be held liable and will have one year after the plan takes effect to reach a settlement and obtain protection.