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United Methodists might be pulling charters

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The word on the trail that I have heard is that the United Methodists might be pulling their charters. Apparently they have refused to sign the annual charter agreement form, and have instead worked out with national a 6 month extension to the 2012 annual agreement form. I haven't heard what they are taking issue with. Anyone heard anything?

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First: Fred - uncalled for, cowardly and an apology to both trailwalker and Merlyn is in order. If there is one thing Merlyn can't be accused of, it's cowardice. If Merlyn had made this posting, he would have used his well known screen name. And if this topic bores you so much, then just don't respond.


Second: I've not heard of the UMC deciding to pull their charters. I did a bit of browsing and the UMC held their general conference this year. At the conference, they upheld the church teachings on homosexuality. No big deal, right?


Unfortunately, the action may have created a rift that could become unsurmountable over the next year or so. The conference meets every 4 years, and is becoming increasingly conservative - the church, founded through a merger of two other churchs in the US in 1968 - grew as many churches do - by spreading beyond geographical borders into other countries - the member churches in Africa and Latin America are decidedly more conservative and are starting to tip the balance from the more liberal views held by many US and European member churches to more conservative views.


Since the general conference, there has been a respected retired Bishop calling for churches to ignore the Methodist book of discipline when it comes to the teascings of the church regarding homosexuality, an estimated 1,000 clergy are following the Bishop, the governing body isn't responding either way - yet - and there are starting to be calls from the liberal side for the liberal denominations to split from the church and go their own way. It appears that the conferences of the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, West (including California) and some significant numbers of churches from the Great Lakes and Midwest are targets for a potential split. It doesn't appear to have gotten much farther than a "it might be time" thought exercise but it might be just enough for the governing body to be giving themselves some breathing room by not adding fuel to an already smoldering fire at this point.


Just some speculative thought - it might not have anything to do with this at all - it might just be a new governing body wanting to take more time to understand the meaning of it all.

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It is not just the Methodists who will be pulling their charters when all these CO's find out just how much their potential risk truly could be sponsoring one or several scout units. Service clubs, lodges, businesses, churches, etc., will all be taking a real hard look at their next charter and will have to make a decision on the question Is it really worth the risk financially, or alienating members of their organization? The sad part is that National is doing absolutely nothing in trying to answer CO's questions or putting their minds at ease.

I guess we have some idea why Mazzucca was very ready to go instead of trying to get an extension on his term. As Chicken Little said "The sky is falling."

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Yah, hmmmm....


What risk do yeh feel is at issue, BadenP? It'd be interestin' to hear what da Methodists concerns are. If yeh choose as an organization to have a youth program, then yeh incur da risks of havin' a youth program. I'm not sure why that's a surprise to anybody. The United Methodists run Sunday Schools and summer Bible camps and all da rest.


Now, I suppose there is some truth in sayin' that if yeh only have Methodist parishioners in your scout program, then da likelihood that they'll actually pursue a case is much less. Just out of religious loyalty and social pressure, eh? By runnin' troops that are "open" to other denominations and the unchurched, yeh probably do increase your risk of bein' named in a suit under such circumstances. In da Florida case, the Methodist church is bein' sued by Jewish parents, for example.


Still, BSA protects Chartered Partners with a fairly deep general liability policy, on top of the organization's own policies. One could wish da BSA didn't play coy about the breadth of coverage, which should be stated up front, but there's no question that da coverage is in play for da Florida case. There's also no question that that case will settle for less than the coverage limits, so the church should not be exposed to da cost of that settlement.


So what's da real concern? Probably that some nitwit BSA official or volunteer started up with the "insurance myths" and someone in da church got freaked out, then some other official did da "play coy" thing. That's why we should be aggressive about takin' people to task for perpetuatin' "insurance won't cover..." nonsense, eh? And why the BSA should just publish da terms of the first tier master policy. Silly behaviors and religious loyalty aside, there's really no safer way to run a youth program than to partner with da BSA.




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Unfortunately, what is in play with BadenP has little to do with most issues in reality. It is rather his very large personal problem with any element of the professional BSA organization. It is really just sad to me that he feels such animosity towards them. But the extreme comments and constant negativity is beyond the pale, and reflects more poorly on him than on the targets of his venom. Again, as I have said before, I just hope this attitude is not displayed in front of the kids and scouting families.


He is now being placed on my blocked list, as I simply do not feel he will change; and the occasional good comment or observation is negated by the log on his shoulder.

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I'm a Local Scouting Ministries Specialist with the UMC, but I'm in NC, not FL. After hearing about this secondhand, I emailed the United Methodist Men group that works with scouting ministries for clarification.


From what I understand, the UMC as a whole has every intention to continue supporting scouting, but apparently there were some legal concerns about liability, and they would like to see some modifications to the chartering contract. Because it came so late in the year, right as the recharter process was getting underway, a 6 month delay was agreed on, so it doesn't interfere with local units while the lawyers for both sides haggle over the wording of the charter contract.


I got the following letter from Mark Stowe, from the Office of Scouting Ministries, General Commission on United Methodist Men (Basically, he's the guy at the top of all scouting related stuff in the UMC.)






United Methodist Church Re-chartering Issue




On October 18, 2012, we were informed that an email correspondence was sent from the Rev. Annette Stiles Pendergrass, superintendent of the North Central District of the United Methodist Church in North Central Florida to local church officials that instructed them not to sign the charter agreement between the church and the local BSA Council in its current, approved form.


On November 14, a conversation was held between BSA General Counsel and GCFAs General Counsel. As a result of this call a six-month extension to the current annual charter agreement was proposed and accepted.

In discussing the charter registration process with pastors, please note the Q&A below and use as a reference.


Can Local Councils Re-Charter UMC Sponsored Units?


Under the Church direction units will be permitted to proceed with the normal re-registration process and continue the scouting programs without interruption for a period of 12 months. Youth in church-sponsored scouting programs can continue working on their rank advancement and participate in educational activities.


This agreement was confirmed by Richard Rettberg, General Counsel, GCFA, United Methodist Church, in an email dated 11/23/12 and was sent to all conference chancellors nationwide.


Just to clarifyBoy Scout troops (units) sponsored by United Methodist churches should register as usual, EXCEPT they will not need to sign a new charter agreement at this time. The current charter (annual charter agreement) is extended for six months.


Are Local Councils Required to Have the Annual Charter Agreement Document Signed?


No. Under the current agreement between the United Methodist Church and the Boy Scouts of America both parties agreed to a six-month extension of the current charter agreement.


Both parties are working towards the final draft of a new annual charter agreement which will be provided to local councils within a six-month period. The council will ask for the new document to be signed by local United Methodist Church pastors.

Are Local Units Sponsored by Methodist Churches Insured?


Yes. As long as they re-register they will maintain the general liability coverage provided by the BSA.

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I started a thread about this a couple of months ago because my Council was the first to find out. In Florida, the UMC added a paragraph to the end of the Charter agreement and then copied the form. It was sent out to the Methodist churches with instructions to not sign the Charter unless the BSA agreed to the added paragraph. Since the document is a National document and not a local Council document, we sent it on to Irving to be resolved. Until we sent it to the National office, they were unaware of this. Apparently the National BSA lawyers and the UMC Men's Group lawyers have been discussing the issue.


The issue was over the liability issue if lawsuits are filed over sexual abuse. Guess they didn't realize that the defendent can choose who to sue regardless of an agreement between the charter partners.

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In Catholic COs around here, I have been hearing grumblings of almost a reverse charter process. Besides the liability insurance, the COs desire a "certification statement" from Council that the registered CO unit leaders have had a background check and undergone YP in the last year.


Perhaps the "certification statement" idea started as the diocese (and schools) have realized the following:

1. When their COR signs off for an adult leader application, that adult usually starts before Council comes back with any background feedback (if any). Oops.

2. The diocese has found that state background checks are taking 6 weeks, 8 weeks, even longer for old folk (microfiche and stone tablet checks), so if a new scout leader volunteers in Sept, he/she could not come on board until Nov/Dec.

3. The legal advantage of shifting the liability to BSA, even for leaders the CO approved/selected?





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Nah, as I understand it, RememberSchiff, da issue with Catholic COs is that their internal YP rules require a background check. Those are expensive, eh? So if da BSA is also doin' a check, then it's a duplication of costs. They'd rather have da BSA bear that cost, but only if they get actual confirmation that a check was done and came back clean, eh? Otherwise they have to do their own. Right now, since da BSA background check process seems to be a black hole, they're doublin' the cost.


Seems reasonable on their part.


Be interestin' to see if da UMC push results in a change in da charter for all units or just UMC units.




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"The issue was over the liability issue if lawsuits are filed over sexual abuse. Guess they didn't realize that the defendent can choose who to sue regardless of an agreement between the charter partners."


Yeah, BSA had to see that one coming a million miles away. No insurance coverage for criminal acts. So without a guarantee of indemnity, someone is sticking their necks out, be it BSA or the CO's.



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