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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    news article

    Vote NO on BSA bankruptcy plan

    December 1, 2021 / By The Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding, Assistant to the Bishop and UNY Director of Connectional Ministries

    The United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee has notified Conferences that it recommends all churches reject the BSA bankruptcy plan, i.e., vote no:

    After months of mediation to achieve a settlement in the BSA bankruptcy and working with annual conferences about voting on the plan, the United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee recommends voting NO on the plan.

    We do not have a signed settlement that would bring healing to the survivors and a release from claims against United Methodist local churches and other United Methodist entities. These releases are essential to prevent congregations and United Methodist entities from being sued and numerous court cases for United Methodists to defend.

    While United Methodists are represented in the mediation and continue to work for a United Methodist settlement, it is not assured that we will receive a settlement. Because voting is occurring at this time, and all votes must be received by December 14, 2021, regretfully United Methodists are recommended to vote NO.

    Voting NO is essential for two important reasons:

    1. It communicates to the bankruptcy judge that United Methodists do not approve the plan because it does not provide releases for chartering organizations. Chartering organizations are key to successful scouting programs.
    2. United Methodist local churches and other United Methodist entities will not be released from liability for claims associated with United Methodist local churches involving abuse that took place during scouting activities. This will result in lawsuits against congregations, annual conferences, and other United Methodist  entities.

    In addition to urging churches to reject the plan, the UM Ad Hoc Committee also urges churches to opt out of the release (see p. 8 of blank ballot). The committee offered the following rationale for this action:

    As noted earlier in this document, the Plan currently provides all chartered organizations with a release from claims occurring on or after January 1, 1976. Conversely, it does not include any protection or release from claims prior to that date. And, importantly, the release of third parties – including the BSA, Local Councils, and any of their insurance carriers that agree to contribute an amount in exchange for being released from their policies – contained in Article X.J.4 is not limited to only those claims occurring on or after January 1, 1976. Thus, a local church that does not opt out of this third-party release will potentially lose it ability to pursue any rights or claims it may have against the BSA and its Local Councils, as well rights to coverage through their insurance carriers.

    The UM Ad Hoc Committee has created a resource, Guidance and Instructions for Local Churches, to assist with voting. To obtain, please access the online BSA Ballot Resource folder: https://bit.ly/2021BSA.

    When reviewing the guide, please remember:

    1. To vote no on the plan, you should check REJECT (see p. 3 of the guide).
    2. Instead of using your church’s legal name, enter your church name as you did when you filed the proof of claim (different from p. 4 of the guide).
    3. Though the guide provides e-filing instructions (see pp. 5-10), churches are urged to vote using a paper ballot and mail via an overnight service. 
    4. Ballots must be RECEIVED (not postmarked) by December 14th; therefore, we urge every church to complete its ballot and mail no later than December 6th to ensure the ballot is received.

    Thank you for your careful attention to this matter. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Peter Abdella (PAbdella@hselaw.com), Bob Flask (BobFlask@unyumc.org) or Bill Gottschalk-Fielding (BillG-F@unyumc.org).

     

     

    With more than 134,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 85 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."