Dear clergy and parish leaders in the Diocese of Kansas:
The Executive Committee of the Council of Trustees and I have been meeting weekly about financial and legal matters relating to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on parishes and our diocese.
It is difficult to anticipate the disruptive economic impact that these uncertain times will have on our faith communities. Further, information is likely hitting your inbox and your newsfeed from a variety of sources; it is difficult to keep up.
At this juncture, we would like to share with you three vital opportunities that could assist your parish during this unanticipated season.
CARES Act Payroll Protection Program
We encourage all parishes to explore how this legislation and related loan process may be an aid to you. If interested ACT QUICKLY. Gather your Vestry and meet with the local bank that services parish funds.
The following helpful information came out from The Episcopal Network for Stewardship:
Is your congregation thinking about applying for payroll protection under the CARES Act? Through this federal program, congregations may apply for a loan from a provider in partnership with the Small Business Administration for up to eight weeks of payroll and benefits relief for clergy and congregational staff, including preschool and daycare facilities, impacted by social distancing.
Consider these points to determine if your congregation might be eligible under the CARES Act.
- Eligible churches and ministries may apply for 2 months of their average monthly payroll and benefits up to $100,000 per employee.
- Funds can be used to cover payroll, benefits, employer payroll taxes, rent/mortgage payments, utilities, and interest on existing debt.
- If the church or ministry meets the employee retention requirements at 100 percent, the loan can be forgiven – this means headcount and salary cannot be reduced during this period.
- The period of protection is from February 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020.
- Borrowers will need to demonstrate that the loan was used to retain employees, maintain payroll, and pay rent and utilities.
- The SBA has not yet issued guidance on how housing allowance will factor into calculations. Check with your lender.
What can you do now?
- Ensure 2019 financial statements are complete and first quarter financial statements are prepared, as soon as possible.
- Hold necessary Vestry or board meetings to approve the loan, or take other steps that your bylaws might require when taking a loan.
Here are two documents that may be of help:
- A summary of the CARES Act by the Church Alliance
- Slides that the Diocese of San Joaquin is using to teach on this subject for the value of its information. Our own Diocese of Kansas process will of course vary slightly from that of San Joaquin.
Chancellor Frank Taylor, Treasurer Brian Geary and Comptroller Jay Currie are becoming familiar with the intricacies of this legislation and the opportunities and impact it affords our congregations.
Clergy Pension Assessment
On March 23, Church Pension Group sent out a letter outlining how parishes may be eligible to apply for a waiver to defer clergy pension assessments for a period of up to two months in order to provide some temporary financial relief. The letter is available online.
CPG already has begun processing these waivers. In order to qualify, I as bishop must confirm the following:
- The senior-most government official in the nation, state or region has declared a major disaster (such as a state of emergency). This criterion has already been met in Kansas;
- That the ability of the parish seeking relief to function has been impaired. This criterion has been met by all parishes in the Diocese of Kansas;and
- There are inadequate resources (including endowment) to pay assessments and continue to function. This criterion requires a conversation between us prior to my signature. Please send me an email describing the challenges you currently face in this area.
The “Temporary Waiver of Clergy Assessments Following Disaster” form that you must submit is available online.
Access to Electronic/Online Giving
Several churches in the diocese already have online giving options in place through Tithe.ly, PayPal and other vendors. However, we recognize not every church has the capacity to set this up easily.
The diocese would like to help by making the existing “Donate Now” feature, found on the front page of the diocesan website available for donations to parishes. You can reach out to Jay Currie by email and he will be happy to work out the details with you. Funds through this method will be sent to the diocese and then, in turn, sent to participating parishes. Please note that the diocese receives funds through this donation portal once a month.
In addition, the use of “Bill Pay” or direct deposit available through banks and credit unions can be used to send pledge and other contributions to your parish. Finally, mailing contributions will work while we are under the current restrictions.
The Right Reverend Cathleen Bascom, Bishop
Frank Taylor, Chancellor
Brian Geary, Treasurer
The Reverend Casey Rohleder, Council of Trustees President
Stephan Mann, President’s Representative