These are uncertain times for our congregations and ministries especially in the area of stewardship and resources. If your church is experiencing a financial need, here are some of the resources that are available to you to address those needs. For more information or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Fred Holbrook or Deborah Rexrode.
Resources from Presbytery of the James
The Inspire Gift
A gift of $2,000 has been sent to each of the 101 churches, five campus ministries, two P.C.(U.S.A.) mission co-workers supported by POJ, and 23 validated ministries within POJ to be used as needed. Those checks were mailed on Monday, March 30.
Video or Audio License Reimbursement
Churches who are incurring costs to provide audio or video worship or conferencing can be reimbursed for the cost of the conference service. Submit an Expense Report with supporting receipts for reimbursement. Contact Kelley Hope for assistance with audio or video conferencing services.
An Advance Fund has been established by the POJ Trustees to assist churches in paying pastors, certified Christian educators, and other professional staff. If your church is struggling to meet those expenses, contact Fred Holbrook to request assistance. A team of two Trustees and Fred will review and respond as soon as possible.
Churches and individuals who would like to support this fund can make contributions to Presbytery of the James marked for the “Advance Fund.” It is promised that contributions to this fund will be returned in full at the end of this crisis.
Dues Relief and Deferments from Board of Pensions
For Churches Under 300 Members
Dues relief will be granted on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with POJ, for those churches with congregations no larger than 300 people with a single pastor enrolled in Pastor’s Participation that self-identify as having extreme need. Up to three months of Pastor’s Participation dues will be waived, with no change to benefits.
If these churches are also covering other employees through the plan, the Board may defer payments owed by the church for up to two months. Benefits would not be affected, and no interest would be charged. At the end of the deferment period, the outstanding balance would be paid off in monthly installments, along with the normal payment.
For Churches Over 300 Members
Churches that participate in the Benefits Plan but don’t meet the criteria above may be able to receive deferments of up to two months on payments for minister and employee coverage. Deferment decisions will be case-by-case. There will be no change in benefits and no interest charge with a deferment. At the end of the deferment period, the outstanding balance will be paid off in monthly installments, along with the normal payment.
CARES Act for Churches
The Act encourages Americans to contribute to churches and charitable organizations in 2020 by permitting them to deduct up to $300 of cash contributions, whether they itemize their deductions or not.
Employee Retention Credit
Eligible employers (including tax-exempt employers) are allowed a credit against employment taxes (FICA, income tax) based on a specific formula. The fully refundable credit would be available to any business or non-profit that has a furloughed or reduced workforce as a result of a forced closure or the quarantining of employees. The credit would also be available to any business that has seen a 50 percent drop in gross receipts when compared to the same quarter last year.
A special rule applies to eligible small employers (those with 100 employees or less) that provides a 50 percent credit for all wages paid, regardless of whether employees are furloughed or not.
The credit is capped and is refundable against payroll taxes.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
This program provides federally-guaranteed loans to cover payroll and other operating expenses.
To be eligible, the small employer must have been harmed by the pandemic between February 15, 2020, and June 30, 2020. The Act requires eligible borrowers to make a good-faith certification that:
1) the loan is necessary due to the uncertainty of current economic conditions caused by COVID-19 and 2) they will use the funds to retain workers and maintain payroll, lease, and utility payments.
The program is retroactive to February 15, 2020 to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls. Applicants can apply for this loan until June 30, 2020.
The program provides loans of up to 250 percent of an employer’s average monthly payroll costs for the one-year period preceding the loan (excluding compensation over $100,000). The loan is forgiven in full if, during the eight-week period beginning when the church receives the loan, the money is spent entirely on: payroll costs, group health care expenses, interest on any mortgage obligations, rent (including rent under a lease agreement), interest on debt incurred before February 15, 2020, and utilities. Learn more about how churches can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Unemployment Insurance Provisions
The Act creates a temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program through December 31, 2020, to provide payment to those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits (self-employed, independent contractors, those with limited work history, and others) who are unable to work as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency. The application of this provision to church employees is unclear at this time.
The Act provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by employers to employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers whose (1) operations were fully or partially suspended, due to a COVID-19-related shut-down order, or (2) gross receipts declined by more than 50 percent when compared to the same quarter in the prior year.
The Act allows employers and self-employed individuals to defer payment of the employer share of the Social Security tax they otherwise are responsible for paying to the federal government with respect to their employees. Deferral is not available to employers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program of the CARES Act.