Hearty credit to GuideStone for their fast action, research, and simple explanation of how the COVID-19 Pandemic Phase III Stimulus Package might affect you and your church or ministry. Great work also by Baptist Press (which carried GuideStone’s Q&A Friday and a FB live event yesterday with Jonathan Howe asking questions of GuideStone Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel, Harold Loftin, Jr.
- We all get checks or deposits, with an income cap.
- Churches are eligible to obtain small business loans for “payroll protection.”
- Church staff under many circumstances are eligible for unemployment benefits.
- You can tap your retirement fund (but I hope you don’t)
I’m beginning to see a few things on this: (1) lots of questions; try reading the Q&A and listening to the FB live event first. That might answer your questions, (2) some bad advice, but we can deal with that later, and (3) A lot of confusion.
In my church which has a small staff (one full time position, another full time position vacant, four part time staff), offerings are as much as or perhaps slightly better than before the crisis. We are now three Sundays without meeting and it looks to stretch out for at least another four.
What are you seeing? How is your church doing financially? What perplexes you about the stimulus package?
Seems like just yesterday we were talking about problems with government giving churches money to buy scrap tire playground surfaces. So far, I haven’t read or heard any objection from any of the church-state watchdogs. GuideStone is in a consortium with dozens of faith groups to lobby for this.
Every answer that might be given here is opinion. I’d point you to GuideStone and Baptist Press. I see that the state conventions are talking, as are some self-appointed experts and consultants. Best case for us is that offerings hold up and we don’t have to cut or reduce hours for any staff. Since those who are laid off are eligible for benefits, that might be the route some churches take. I’ve never dealt with unemployment insurance or benefits. I don’t know what the time lag is or how simple or complex the process is.
I acknowledge there are unknowns here, many to me. I recognize there are unknown unknowns and unforeseen consequences also.
I’m not an active pastor, as in with a real church with budget, expenses, offerings and staff; thus, my stress level is quite stable. But then, I am in a high risk group for the virus.