Congregations Encouraged to Vote No on BSA Bankruptcy Plan

A United Methodist Ad Hoc Committee is encouraging congregations to vote against a proposed Boy Scouts of America (BSA) reorganization plan, following months of negotiations that have failed to yield a settlement thus far. United Methodist local churches that have chartered Scout troops or Cub packs where abuse may have occurred are vulnerable to lawsuits and claims because they are not receiving sufficient protection in the BSA bankruptcy plan.

The BSA filed bankruptcy to address sexual abuse claims against the BSA dating from 1939 to 2020. The Ad Hoc Committee – comprised of eight annual conference chancellors, two lawyers from the General Council on Finance and Administration, two staff members of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, and two bishops – has been providing oversight to legal counsel retained by the Ad Hoc Committee to look out for the interests of all United Methodist congregations that have chartered BSA troops. More than 9,000 United Methodist congregations filed proofs of claim in the BSA bankruptcy case. The proofs of claim give those congregations the opportunity to vote on whether the bankruptcy plan proposed by the BSA should be approved.

The BSA submitted a plan of reorganization in September, which did not include relief for charter organizations – including United Methodist local churches – for the majority of the claims; therefore, congregations which sponsored Scout troops and Cub packs are vulnerable to lawsuits. The Ad Hoc Committee has worked to negotiate a settlement for United Methodist congregations and other chartered organizations and will continue to engage in mediation to hopefully achieve resolution and protection for all chartered organizations.

Voting on the plan began in October, and congregations that received ballots for the vote were advised by the Ad Hoc Committee to wait to take action on the vote as it continued to seek a negotiated settlement.

Regretfully, a settlement has not been reached. Because votes must be received by December 14, 2021, the Ad Hoc Committee has recommended that congregations vote against the plan, with the proviso that if a settlement is reached, the recommendation would then be to support the plan.

The plan is scheduled for review by the bankruptcy court on January 23, 2022. If United Methodists still do not have a settlement by that date, the Ad Hoc Committee will be prepared to present to the court its objections to confirmation of the BSA plan.

United Methodist Communications Office of Public Information, 12/2/2021

NOTE: The charter that provides Troop 83 the support of Riverview First United Methodist Church has been extended until March 31, 2022, while the Florida Conference waits for a resolution, if any of the settlement with the BSA. Many members have been notified that RUMC will be participating in a special charge conference this Sunday, 12/5/2022, via Zoom to record our church’s stand on a final resolution on this matter. At that meeting we will be asked to delegate our Trustees to act on our behalf.

Tuesdays at the Table is an ongoing series of online presentations from the Florida United Methodist Conference and the Upper Room. You can join the discussion each Tuesday morning, starting at 11:00 AM EST. Each session provides a 20-30 minute conversation about who we are as the people of the United Methodist church.  You can join the conversation live on the United Methodist Facebook page.

Don’t worry If you are unable to make time available on Tuesday mornings. You can watch videos of each weekly discussion on this United Methodist website page.

Here are some of the topics that a new United Methodist (or you) might be interested in:

October 5th: Should I stay, or should I go? A basic introduction to Methodism’s core beliefs.
October 12th: What is the role of the Bible in our lives?
October 19th: What is the role of reason in my spiritual life?
October 26th: How do we experience God in a complex world?
November 2nd: Do I have to believe a certain way to belong?
November 9th: Does God love everyone? Do I have to?
November 16th: Holiness? Really?
November 23rd: After I am saved, what’s next?
November 30th: Can my baptism be invalidated by my sexuality or anything else?
8002 U. S. Highway 301 South, Riverview, FL  33578  813-677-5995
Pastors Message
175 Years
About Us

Trunk Or Treat for Halloween
Riverview First United Methodist Church held a Trunk or Treat Event for the children of our community from 4:00-5:30 PM on Sunday, October 31st.  Because the sun was still out, and a safe and secure environment was on offer, many parents felt confident in allowing their children to participate.  Not only were treats and candy on offer, but there was also a bouncy house and games for the children to play.  Almost 150 children came by with their parents.  Thanks to the scouts and leaders of our Boy Scout troop, and the families of our Act 2 Church neighbors for participating with us in this fun and "not-so-scary" event.

Our invitation to the community.
The best decorated "trunk" -- scary, scary.
Getting a table out so young ones could decorate their "trunk or treat" bags.
Our Bouncy House
Pooh and Piglet represented the Acts 1 Church
Playing a ring toss game in this trunk.
Shark Attack!

Melissa Stevens is an inmate at Lowell Correctional Institute north of Ocala, Florida. As inmate number G30701, she didn't know anything about Rev. Kris Schonewolf the first time they met. Until that point, it had been just another day at Lowell. Stevens was nearing the end of her sentence for grand theft auto by then. She was also turning to God to deal with the inner demons that had spent a lifetime trying to ruin her.

"In prison is where I really found God," she said. "That's when I began praying to him." Melissa grew up Catholic on the south side of Chicago but admitted, "It was more for show. There was no substance to it all, and it was just something we did every Sunday. I had no concept who Jesus is." But when you ask Jesus into your life, as Stevens said she did in 1999, he takes you seriously. You can run from him, but as the line in the song Reckless Love says, "He chases me down, fights 'til I'm found."

Jesus found her in Lowell, and Stevens prayed for someone who could nurture her new-found faith through prayer, the Bible, groups discussions, and so on.

That's when Schonewolf walked by, and Stevens recalled distinctly what happened next. "A voice inside me said, literally, 'That's her,'" Stevens said. "Kris had a light in her; I've never seen anything like it."

Rev. Kris Schonewolf is at Lowell to run the Oasis, a prison outreach ministry of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. The program began in 2019 with the support of North Central District Superintendent Rev. June P. Edwards and Bishop Ken Carter. It is designed to shine the light of God into the darkness of incarceration. There were some unexpected roadblocks in the beginning—both from the Florida Department of Corrections and then with the COVID-19 epidemic.

But Kris Schonewolf never gave up. Today, she has the confidence of the prison staff. She has developed both name recognition and acceptance among the incarcerated women. Even though there are difficulties faced every day and unexpected changes in schedule, the women come for all of the offerings provided—worship, bible studies, guitar lessons, crochet lessons, and the mentoring through the volunteers that write letters. Their lives are impacted in so many ways.

Schonewolf said her approach is simple. "I just love them with the love of God," she said. "They're wounded, hurt, abandoned, and abused. But they are God's daughters and deserve to be treated with respect."

You can read the full story of the new Women’s Prison outreach at Lowell, please go to this link. 

Do you want to help this 
important ministry? You can 
support Midnight at the Oasis, 
a fundraising event which will 
be held in person on Tuesday, 
January 25, 2022 at the 
Lake Deaton UMC in the 
Villages from 4 until 9 PM. 

The purpose of the event is to 
raise both funds for and 
awareness of the Oasis at 
Lowell Correctional 
Institution, a United Methodist 
ministry that operates in the 
second largest women’s prison in the United States. Tickets are $50 per person or $250 per table.  To purchase tickets go to this link.
Rev. Kris Schonewolf, Chaplain
The Oasis at Lowell Correctional Institute
Annual Conference 2022 Announcement
Get ready to see one another! The Florida Annual Conference 2022 session will be back to an in-person event and will be held on June 9-11 (a general schedule will be released in the new year) on the campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland. The theme for Annual Conference 2022 will be: Rebuilding the Church, Remembering the Body: Creating a Spiritual Home for All.

“We have been through an extraordinary season with many complexities and constraints, and all of this has kept us from the joy of coming together, and we likely have taken this gift for granted,” said Bishop Ken Carter. “I am excited about the 2022 Annual Conference, and I believe God will bless us during these days.”

Thanks to vaccinations and proper protocols, we feel confident that an in-person gathering can occur in June of next year. While we will still offer a livestream option for those not able to be present in Lakeland, voting on Conference matters will only be available to in-person lay and clergy members.

As we have for the past two years, your Annual Conference planning team will continue to follow state and local health guidelines, including those of Florida Southern College as our hosts. It is possible that mask-wearing and social distancing may still be recommended so please watch for more details as we draw closer to June.