Here are a few articles to get started as we absorb this 1,400-page legislation.

This act has multiple provisions for churches and church employees:

Unemployment insurance for laid off church employees. Under the CARES Act, those normally not eligible (including church employees) can collect unemployment benefits if they are laid off.

The Paycheck Protection provisions allow small businesses, which include churches and other non-profits to apply for loans which can convert to grants.

The SBA application form is here:

  1. Are churches eligible?  Yes.  There is some misinformation out there and some lenders are confused, but churches are eligible.
  2. What is the application period for the Paycheck Protection Plan loans/grants?  It opens April 3.  There is no close date yet, but because the pool of money is limited, applicants should start now.
  3. If you take the loan/grant, do you have to submit to an audit to get forgiveness?  Not likely.  You will have to document through payroll records, canceled checks, etc., that you spent the money as allowed (at least 75% on payroll), but that is a far cry from an audit.  The SBA’s ability to audit individual claims is going to be severely limited.
  4. Who is the “owner” of the congregation/synod?  NO ONE.  The space on the application for ownership of 20% or more of the entity does not apply and should be left blank.  Do NOT say that the synod or the ELCA owns a congregation. IT IS NOT TRUE. If congregations put down the ELCA, it will put the ELCA over 500 employees and no one will receive relief. 
  5. Do we share common management or ownership (question 3 on the application)? NO.
  6. Do we need a congregational meeting to approve borrowing money?  Maybe. One option is to hold a remote meeting; remote meeting instructions can be found HERE.  If timing is an issue, the congregation can start the application process and ratify later, when you can hold a remote meeting.  Another option is to treat it as a grant application (assuming the congregation is going to comply with the rules for forgiveness) so a meeting is not necessary.  If no meeting is held now, be sure to have a meeting when the congregation can, to ratify the action.

ELCA summary document