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SBC DIGEST: COVID relief bill provides for churches; Western Recorder ceases monthly publication

COVID-19 relief legislation includes provisions for churches, ministries

DALLAS (BP) – Legislation signed Dec. 27 by President Donald Trump includes provisions that could assist churches and ministry organizations, including additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as well as direct payments to some taxpayers.

An additional $284 billon is made available for forgivable PPP loans; $20 billion is included for Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses and nonprofits provided through the Small Business Administration. The PPP under the program are “Second Draw” loans. If a church or ministry has 300 or fewer employees, has sustained a 25 percent revenue loss in the first, second or third quarter of 2020 as compared to the same quarter in 2019, and has used, or will use, the full amount of the first PPP loan, then it is eligible for a Second Draw PPP loan.

GuideStone has provided a question-and-answer document with key questions related to the new legislation atGuideStone.org/Promotions/COVID-Relief-Legislation.

The law provides that a church or ministry may borrow an amount equal to 2.5 months of average monthly payroll expenses up to a maximum of $2 million. Employers may not borrow more than $10 million in aggregate between the first and second PPP loans. Additionally, the law provides a more streamlined loan-forgiveness process for those applying for PPP loans less than $150,000.

“Many Southern Baptist churches availed themselves of the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans in the early part of 2020,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. “Every church and individual must come to their own decisions as to whether they feel it’s appropriate to pursue these options. While we would not presume to tell a pastor what he should do in these circumstances, we want to make this information available for churches who are interested in learning more.”

Churches and ministries should work with a local SBA-approved bank or credit union to apply for PPP loans. GuideStone does not provide banking services, including loans.

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Western Recorder to cease monthly publication

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – The Western Recorder will cease to be a monthly publication effective March 31. While the monthly issues will cease, the Western Recorder legacy will live on with the annual meeting magazine bearing the Western Recorder name.

The publication, in its 195th year, has changed dramatically — both in appearance and content. It originally was a broadsheet (full-size newspaper), but migrated to a much smaller size before settling on a tabloid size for the majority of its existence. It was published weekly until 2015, when it moved to an every-other-week publication schedule.

In March 2019 the format shifted to a glossy print magazine. That change followed a unanimous vote by the Western Recorder Board of Trustees to move the publication from independent status to under the umbrella of the Kentucky Baptist Convention Communications Department.

The impact of the coronavirus was the death knell.

“While we were gaining subscribers and advertisers, that came to a screeching halt with COVID-19,” said Chip Hutcheson, the interim managing editor. “When churches canceled in-person services, some halted the WR because they had no way to distribute it to their members. Advertisers weren’t spending any money because of the economic plight they were experiencing.”

“I will miss the Western Recorder,” said Todd Gray, executive director-treasurer of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “The Western Recorder has been a source of news for Kentucky Baptists for many decades. Of course, that news will continue to be provided in other ways such as Kentucky Today online news service and the annual meeting Western Recorder magazine, but I will miss the monthly publication. I am grateful for Chip Hutcheson and the excellent job he has done in leading the publication of the Western Recorder magazine during a challenging time. No one could have done better at this task at this time than Bro. Chip.

“What I will miss most is interacting with Kentucky Baptists while preaching in various churches across the state who tell me that they read my articles or that they are grateful for the ministry of Kentucky Baptists and the good work God enables us to do together. Please pray for us through this transition. While we will not be providing news about Kentucky Baptist life through the Western Recorder, we do want to be certain that news is provided. Please pray that God will enable us to communicate to Kentucky Baptists clearly and consistently about the good work God is doing through our churches, our agencies and institutions, and through the Kentucky Baptist Convention Mission Board staff.”

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