North Alabama Methodists agree to pay $448,216 in Boy Scout abuse settlement

BIRMINGHAM (AL) [Birmingham AL]

June 27, 2022

By Greg Garrison

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 scouting organization’s federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy settlement.

The United Methodist Church nationally agreed to pay $30 million over a three-year period as one of the largest church sponsors of Boy Scout troops.

“This is good news that we have reached a settlement,” said Lynn Hare, chancellor for the North Alabama Conference, in a report on 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 assigned an amount as part of the plan to spread out the payments among all United Methodist conferences.

“The conference has pledged to pay that money within a year,” Hare said.

As part of its bankruptcy plan, the Boy Scouts of America is trying to settle claims of sexual abuse against it.

Most the money for the $2.7 billion settlement trust fund to compensate survivors comes from insurance companies, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, are contributing about $250 million. The Latter-day Saints, which had been one of the largest church sponsors of Boy Scout troops, halted its affiliation with the Boy Scouts in 2019 and created its own youth program.

The bankruptcy settlement will prevent continuing legal exposure to churches that are part of the agreement, Hare said. Without the settlement, “They are at 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 Boy Scout troops instead of charters with local councils, to “decrease risk of legal exposure,” Hare said.

Through the end of October, new agreements will be signed, with equipment such as tents and trailers to be owned by the Boy Scouts, not by 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 sanctuary and youth protection plans. Each United Methodist church is also encouraged to put on its web site or publications the stories of any sexual abuse victims, Hare said.

The Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection after more than 82,000 claims were filed by men who claimed they were sexually abused as boys by scouting leaders.

As part of the agreement, United Methodist churches that chartered Boy Scout organizations will be released from claims that happened after 1976 and from certain claims before 1976 that were covered by insurance from one of the insurance companies that are part of the settlement.

Other religious organizations may still have liability and will have a year after the plan goes into effect to make a settlement and get protection.