Pastor’s Pen February 4, 2022

Dear Church,

In this Pastor’s Pen, I offer two updates.  The first is in regards to the lessening of restrictions and the second update is a rather long one on Scouting and the recent called session of the Virginia Annual Conference.

Update on Restrictions

This week we will no longer have to maintain physical distancing.  The measures the Relaunch Team reviews indicate that the recent Omicron surge has dropped significantly.  We will still require people to wear masks in the church building as we are considered to be in a high risk of community transmission.  The exceptions are those speaking while leading worship and when 1-2 singers serve as song leaders. As always children 2 and younger do not have to wear a mask.

This Sunday we will see a return of Kid’s Quest and the nursery as well as the choirs.  We are all looking forward to the return of these wonderful ministries.

The Relaunch Team meets again this Monday. We will make further recommendations should the rates continue to drop.  I appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate through the ups and downs of seeking to be church during this pandemic.

Update on Scouting

In December, I shared information regarding the Boy Scouts of America and the Bankruptcy Case.  The following comes from a recent email from the Virginia Annual Conference:

United Methodist leaders have reached a settlement in the matter of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) pending bankruptcy proceedings. Upon final court approval, the settlement would absolve any claims of sexual abuse that may have occurred in congregation-sponsored Scouting programs.

 Under the terms of the settlement, United Methodists would raise and give $30 million over a three-year period into a fund that will be utilized to compensate survivors, and United Methodist congregations that charter Scout troops and packs would be released from all abuse claims involving Scouting activities. A team has been formed to identify strategies and materials that may be used to raise the funds. The church would also agree to work for the healing of survivors and recommit to work toward ending sexual abuse of young people. Through the General Commission on United Methodist Men, United Methodists will work with the BSA to continue to ensure Scout safety and grow Scouting ministry as part of its mandate through The Book of Discipline.

There have been over 80,000 claims filed in this case. The BSA wants to emerge from this bankruptcy case but in order to do so BSA must settle with the survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  The Survivors Trust Fund is expected to be $2.7 billion.  The UMC desires to resolve all claims and contribute to the Survivors Trust Fund.  We also desire to still work with the BSA so that local churches can be chartering organizations of local troops.  Of the $30 million the UMC seeks to contribute in this settlement, the Virginia Annual Conference is to contribute $988,456.

We had a special session of the Annual Conference this past Saturday to determine how we would raise the money to put into the Survivors Trust Fund.  At first, it appeared that every local church would contribute to the fund over a 2 year period. This would have been another apportionment for all churches to fund.   However, prior to the meeting, the Council of Finance and Administration (of our conference) reviewed the final year-end numbers and offered another option.   This option would mean that the Virginia Annual Conference would fund the $988,456 from conference reserves in 2022.  By a vote of nearly 75%, the conference clergy and lay delegates voted on the option to have funds come from the conference reserves which means there will be no additional apportionments required by each local church.

We were asked to vote on this by February 1 to show the Bankruptcy Court our willingness to contribute to the Survivors Trust Fund.  The agreement with the survivors must be approved by the Bankruptcy Court and the proceedings are set to begin on Feb. 22, 2022.  I will keep you informed once a determination has been made.

Please be in prayer for all the survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  They need our prayers and support and the establishment of this fund is a way to show support.  Our expectation as a church is to continue to support Troop 893 for years to come.

Grace and peace,







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