COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Resources

Things to Consider Before Re-Opening Church Buildings

Rev. Phil Hart has been asked to serve on the Governor’s Re-Opening Workgroup, specifically focusing on faith communities and community events. This work is now in the hands of a small "writing group"; he hopes that the information will be available within the next couple weeks.  

He has encouraged the group to create guidelines that are:

(1) based on  the Governor’s “Michigan Safe Start Plan” https://www.michigan.gov/documents/whitmer/MI_SAFE_START_PLAN_689875_7.pdf
(2) reviewed and supported by the science and public health community, and
(3) updated as new information and facts are learned.  

When this resource is completed, we will make sure it is widely distributed across our Conference.

As Congregations consider re-opening their buildings for worship, the United Church of Christ National setting has shared an evolving resource for congregations to use to help with their decisions on when and how to re-open. It is important to note, this resource is not specific to Michigan.  We encourage our churches to wait for the Michigan specific guidelines as you consider when to re-open your buildings for worship.
UCC National Setting Resource Re-Opening

 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Shown below are the updated versions of the FFCRA Summary and Memo that were sent from the National office to all Conferences yesterday, March 30th.  Guidance continues to come from the DOL on a daily basis interpreting the Act. UCC Leadership is hopeful that we will have regulations soon.

This update includes an explanation why ministers’ wages may not be qualified leave wages for which churches can claim the payroll tax credit.  It is likely a result of the unique tax treatment of ministers and not something actively considered in drafting the legislation.  I do know that some government relations personnel from some denominations are reaching out to the government to determine the impact, so it is possible that this may be clarified in future regulations. 

Video: FAMILIES FIRST ACT: Response to COVID-19 - Webcast
Heather E. Kimmel, General Counsel for the United Church of Christ, will offer a webcast on the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Summary (March 30, 2020)

 

CARES Act (updated May 4, 2020)

*IMPORTANT*

The following is a summary of information regarding the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stimulus) passed by Congress:

  • Churches are eligible to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program Loan (Paycheck Protection Program Information Sheet).
  • The loan amount will be forgiven as long as:
    • The loan procedes are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made; and
    • Employee and compensation levels are maintained.
  • Proceeds used for other purposes will have to be repaid.
  • Churches may need to have their Councils or Trustees agree to apply for this loan - that needs to happen as soon as possible.
  • Applications can be downloaded from the Treasury Department Here. Please note that there have been several revisions to the application form already. Make sure you are using the one currently posted at the time you make your application.

This program is administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) and more information can be found at sba.gov.

SBA Faith based Facts - Final 

Top SBA Lenders in Michigan

The CARES Act also includes Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.  This extends coverage to workers who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment (if permitted under state law), do not have sufficient work history, or otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment under state or federal law and become unemployed or cannot find work due to COVID-19.  This includes workers laid off from churches and religious institutions who may not be eligible under the state’s program.  Please see the attached CARES Act Unemployment Insurance Explainer, stating this.  Churches which may normally be exempt from state unemployment requirements are covered under the CARES Act, but we do not know how States will administer this for those unemployed church workers.  It is not clear how ministers will be treated under this program.  Workers will only be eligible for PUA if they are unemployed for specified reasons relating to COVID-19.  Unemployment will be administered by each state.

Cares Act Unemployment Insurance Explainer (updated March 30, 2020)

The following resources may be helpful to those interested in loans and unemployment under the CARES Act.  The Baptist Press article particularly addresses unemployment for ministers and asserts that ministers will be able to apply for unemployment relief from the state—each state will administer unemployment using the federal funds, so much remains to be determined with the unemployment provisions.

https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?id=F85A3E6B-1FDA-4F73-92A0-587015A47E4C#EIDL

http://www.bpnews.net/54550/qa-how-churches-pastors-are-eligible-for-relief-in-stimulus-package

 

Other Resources

 

More information is available on the National UCC website: https://www.ucc.org/coronavirus

 

 


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