Faith Community Financial Support

Support from Your ECMN Finance Team

Representatives of your Trustees and ECMN Council, as your ECMN Treasurer, Bishop, and Bishop-elect, have been in regular communication as the COVID-19 situation has unfolded. We are looking to and caring for the overall financial health of ECMN, of the Pooled Investment Fund, and of the long-term sustainability of faith communities in light of the economic impact of this pandemic. We have already taken actions and will continue to take actions that ensure that ECMN is sustainable for the long term.

In light of all this, we write to you today, specifically, to ask you to reach out. If you are facing financial issues or if you have needs or have questions, please contact us. Your Missioner for Finance, Jennifer Gamberg, is a great place to start: jennifer.g@episcopalmn.org or 612-870-3308.

We will walk with each faith community individually, as this situation will impact each one uniquely. Please know that we will do everything we can to support you and your faith communities.

While it is extremely difficult to be physically disconnected from our communities, we, as those following the Way of Jesus, who are guided by the Holy Spirit, cling to the promise that Jesus will lead us “into all truth” (John 16:13).

Financial Relief Available through Church Pension Group

CPG is offering a two-month waiver for payment of clergy pension assessments to congregations that meet a narrow set of criteria. Learn more on the CPG website. All waiver requests should be submitted in writing to the ECMN Financial Task Force by emailing Jennifer Gamberg at jennifer.g@episcopalmn.org. The Task Force will review the request, follow up with the faith community if necessary and if qualified, the waiver will be prepared and the Bishop will sign.

For all congregations, CPG is providing a 90-day payment grace period, ending June 30, 2020, for the following payments:

  • Pension assessments;
  • Health and dental insurance premiums due to the Medical Trust;
  • Property & casualty insurance premiums and life insurance premiums due to the Church Insurance Company; and
  • Disability insurance premiums to companies administered through CPG.

Learn more on the CPG website.

Updates about CARES Act Loans - ECMN Loan Tracking

Many faith communities have shown interest in seeking financial support through the Small Business Disaster Loan Program and the Paycheck Protection Program, both provisions of the CARES Act passed by congress in March. While all funds currently available have been lent, it appears that Congress may authorize another $250 billion dollars, so, all faith communities still interested in accessing these funds should get their application in now.

Remember, it’s important to not overextend yourself by requesting more than you are eligible for.  There is a chance that you would need to repay a portion of the money if it is later discovered that you did not meet the requirements or closely follow the directives of the program. To calculate the loan amount that you should consider applying for, use this loan calculator form

ECMN Loan Application Tracking

In order to ensure that ECMN is providing the best support possible, we ask that, if you have submitted a loan request, and before you accept a loan, you provide us with some more detailed information by filling out this form.

This information will be reviewed by the ECMN Financial Team.

Please, if you have questions or would like assistance, reach out to your Missioner for Finance, Jennifer Gamberg, at jennifer.g@episcopalmn.org.

CARES Act Webinar

The Bishop, Treasurer and Vice-President of ECMN Council provided more information about these provisions of the CARES Act, and how faith communities can access these funds. If you were unable to join, the meeting will be recorded, and the recording will be available here.

First Steps in Taking Action

1. If you need assistance, please reach out to your Missioner for Finance, Jennifer Gamberg at jennifer.g@episcopalmn.org.

2. Click here to find a spreadsheet tool for faith communities to determine their PPP loan amount when completing the SBA loan application.

3. Click here for a link to more information about this loan program.

4. Click here for a link to the universal application for a loan.

Finance Message and Information

In the face of the current pandemic and ensuing economic crisis, many of our faith communities - both Parish and Mission - are doing all that they can to sustain their communities and continue their connectedness: missional, pastoral and financial. 

We are all aware of the historic action taken by the federal government to approve and enact the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, (CARES Act) which includes an important source of financing for small businesses and non-profits that provides loan capacity through a qualified lending institution, for which non-profit religious organizations are eligible.

With this in mind, the Bishop, Standing Committee, and the Trustees grant and approve “blanket authority” for parishes and mission faith communities in ECMN to make applications individually for these loans. 

While the act is too voluminous to be summarized here, many summaries, including this one by the National Law Review, can be found online. 

As with any Federal support, each faith community will need to make its own application and set up its own processes for seeing to it that the stipulations and requirements of the receipts under the Act will be upheld, as it is not likely that Council, Standing Committee, ECMN Missioners and Officers, or the Trustees will have the capacity to individually monitor, report, and reconcile compliance to each individual circumstance for each individual application by faith communities.  

That being said, we are available to assist faith communities as they walk through this process. If you need assistance, please reach out to your Missioner for Finance, Jennifer Gamberg at jennifer.g@episcopalmn.org.

As each application is underwritten and administered only by lending institutions qualified by the Small Business Administration (SBA), we will need to take it on faith that their process will confirm the veracity of the individual compliance and affirmations of each faith community.

What Does the CARES Act Offer? 

The CARES act offers faith communities of the Episcopal Church access to funds to assist them as they experience the financial impact of the COVID-19 epidemic as gatherings and buildings are closed and income is lost.  The funds come in the form of a loan program which is focused primarily on continuing salaries for workers that would otherwise be laid off, essential utilities, medical insurance premiums, and other expenses.

Funds will be accessible fairly quickly and, if certain provisions are met, the loans may be entirely or partially forgiven. 

The loan program will be administered through local banks that participate in the Small Business Administration lending program, virtually all banks in Minnesota. Applications will be accepted as of April 3, 2020. There is a cap on the amount of funds available, and it is presumed that money will be lent on a 'first come - first served' basis, so, if you are considering applying for funds, we recommend that you do so sooner rather than later. 

Please thoroughly review this site for all in-depth information.

Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”)

The focus of the PPP loan program is to support small businesses, including qualifying non-profit organizations, during closures related to the COVID-19 epidemic. 

PPP loan proceeds may be used for:

  • Payroll costs, excluding the prorated portion of any compensation above $100,000 per year for any person
  • Mortgage interest and rent payments
  • Utilities
  • Interest on debt that existed as of February 15, 2020

The application period opens on Friday, April 3. The application period ends on June 30, but because the amount available for these loans is capped, churches should apply as soon as possible.Churches and other nonprofit organizations (501 C3) are eligible for these loans.

  • There is a standardized application that many banks will accept, however, individual institutions may require different/further application information. If you have a bank that you already work with, we recommend that you start there to seek a loan.

  • Once the loan program is fully implemented, it is expected that loans will be funded the same day the application is completed.
  • Faith communities may borrow up to 2.5 times their average monthly payroll. For purposes of calculating “Average Monthly Payroll”, most Applicants will use the average monthly payroll for 2019 (or 2020 January – March), excluding costs over $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. 
  • Most or all of this loan may be forgiven – not paid back at all – if institutions meet minimal criteria. The principle balance of the loan will be reduced by an amount equal to all expenses for payroll, utilities, and rent or mortgage interest, during the 8-week period after the loan is granted.  Any remaining principle balance will be amortized over a period of up to 2 years, at an interest rate of 1% per annum. However, the first payment will be deferred for 12 months.
  • It is believed that management of the loan, documentation appropriate for forgiveness, and developing a payment plan for any remaining principal balance will be administered by the loan officer at the local bank. The exact details of this process are still in preparation.
  • The institution must attest that the COVID-19 virus epidemic has negatively impacted their business.
 
(Adapted from the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, and Church Alliance Summary of CARES Act Provisions)
 

Financial and Management Resources

The CEEP Network and The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS) offered a moderated conversation about money, meaning, and ministry for volunteer stewardship teams. Click here to watch the video recording of this webinar.