In one small gesture to preserving our faith in this year of the plague, an unidentified church posted a sign outside their brick-and-mortar facility that made me laugh:
“The church has left the building”.
The church is, of course, not bound by physical space. And yet the building and all its functions endures for us as where we gather, in his name, to share our spirituality, our community, our love, and our rituals of belief. It does matter, not in the short term, perhaps, but in our history and in our future.
In this time of pandemic, we are challenged on how to hold our communities together, how to protect our physical congregational resources. We are using great innovation to pursue our spirituality, but how do we preserve our operations for the future when we can return to “the building”.
There are several resources open to congregations to help them weather this storm, bridge that tumult. So we are offering a list of resources to use as you need them.
From our ally in Texas, Texas IMPACT, we bring you assistance for keeping people hired by your church intact. The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) offer loans that, if used for payroll and other core needs, actually becomes a grant. This is part of the Small Business Administration (SBA), and you will need to go through your bank to do this. This provision is part of the CARES Act that Congress passed March 27. The loan applications are open now.
A sample application may be viewed on the SBA web pages here
California Nonprofits has good information on their web pages regarding resources that can help here They can link you to many resources that may be helpful to your operations.
Help for those whom you serve
There is great ambiguity about whether the CARES Act federal funding of $1200 per person will cover the truly indigent. Some say yes, but without addresses, many will not receive it. With bank accounts – and those are not impossible for the homeless if the church lets them use the church address – some credit unions allow accounts with photo ID, evidence of an address, and $1.00 in savings. That way homeless people can receive direct deposit of the $1200. Without those resources, it will be very difficult for the truly indigent to get the help to which they are entitled.
We are staying abreast of other developments, most in California programs and any expansion of CARES at the federal level, and will try to update you all as things change.
We hope these opportunities are helpful for both church in the material sense and churchin the service sense. We all are stronger if we work together to get ourselves and those we tend through this very hard time.