Faith In Crisis: Meeting Our
Financial Challenge Together
All clergy invited to Thursday CARES Act workshop and Q&A
To: parishes, missions, schools, and organizations in the Diocese of Los Angeles
The world, our communities, and our Church are facing an unprecedented, global crisis. The public health crisis has created an economic crisis, and we are all acutely aware of our financial vulnerabilities and responsibilities. We are also all deeply committed to caring for our clergy, lay ministers, administrators, staff, and other employees who work with faith and diligence for the church and our neighbors. This letter addresses some immediate needs and resources available to stabilize our finances, weather the storm, and protect our employees.
For now, please do not make sudden or rash moves about employment or finances. Prayerfully and deliberately consider your financial situation and needs. Do not lay off employees, access restricted funds, reduce compensation, or make other significant, irrevocable decisions without care, deliberation, and close consultation with your vestries, Bishop’s committees, boards, and the Bishop and Standing Committee.
State and federal governments have enacted some important and valuable resources that may help us shore up our churches, organizations, and employees, and avoid lasting harm. These include forgivable “payroll protection” loans under the SBA’s Emergency Small Business Loans, FEMA-style Economic Injury Disaster Loans and immediate grants, deferred payroll taxes, and incentives for increased charitable contributions.
The memo linked
provides a basic orientation to these programs. Please read it and consider whether and how these programs may be useful to your church, school, or organization. Please let us know if you want to apply for any of these programs. The Diocese is working on how best to coordinate and assist you in this process.
Most church, school and institutional staff are covered by the self-funded Diocese unemployment program which is limited in the time and scope of benefits that can be provided; therefore, the best way to support your employees in a financially prudent way is to continue to pay them, allow them to work remotely where possible, and apply for payroll reimbursement using the programs described in this memo. As employers, we should be also be aware of federal resources available to pay for emergency paid sick leave and emergency family medical leave through payroll tax reimbursement.
Specifically related to programs of The Episcopal Church, the Church Pension Group is allowing churches to apply for deferment of pension payments for up to two months, subject to the bishop's approval. Some banks are also allowing deferments of mortgage payments for up to 90 days. Remember that deferment is not forgiveness and payments will need to be caught up by year's end.
The DIT portfolio has declined significantly since the onset of this crisis, so withdrawing funds now should be considered a last resort. If the past is any indication the market should rebound once the pandemic subsides.
How do we address the financial needs of the church at this time? We are all called to remember that
everything we have, everything we do, everything we are is a gift from God – and it is a gift that is meant to be shared. This truth about God's economy has never been more important in our lives as Christians than right now. Your sharing your time, your talent and yes, your treasure with your congregation is critical right now. Indeed, our people and so many who are visiting us virtually are hungry for the message of love and hope we provide. It is important that church leadership in EVERY congregation in the diocese remind their members that the work of the church continues even when the doors of the church are not physically open. In fact, in these days, the work of the church is much more intense than it has ever been. People want to help — that's our human nature. People want to give — that's our human response to the many gifts we have been given. By reminding members and providing opportunities for giving – both by mailing in pledges and by the ability to receive online pledges and gifts, the work of the church can continue. Safe practices for processing receipts and paying bills CAN be followed at this time. We are all in this together, working to the glory of God.
This is the beginning of a very challenging season, and we will share more information and resources as the situation develops. Please share your questions and ideas. Keep us posted and informed about your situations and decisions. Stewardship means prudently managing all God’s treasure entrusted to us. With faith, prudence, creativity, and resilience, we all will emerge with strength, by the grace of God.
We invite you to meet with us on Thursday, April 2 at 2 p.m. via Zoom. In this meeting we will have an opportunity to address any questions you may have and concerns you would like to raise. We have also invited Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Baker to join the meeting as well. You may have question about the resources outlined in the attached memo. He will be available to speak to those questions as well. An invitation to the meeting will be forthcoming as well as guidelines for submitting questions.
Until then, please see attached and be assured of our prayers. We also ask you to keep us in your prayers. This is such a critical time. We want to do everything we can to make the best of it for the sake of God’s glory and the health of the church.
Yours in Christ,
The Right Rev. John Harvey Taylor
The Right Rev. Diane Jardine Bruce
The Rev. Canon Melissa McCarthy