Congress adds funding to Paycheck Protection Program, other relief efforts
By Roy Hayhurst
DALLAS (BP0 — President Trump signed legislation that provides additional funding for the popular Paycheck Protection Program, which provides small businesses — including churches and ministries — funding to keep workers paid and employed during the coronavirus pandemic.
The initial wave of the program provided $349 billion for loans; however, that initial funding was exhausted within only two weeks. The new legislation signed today (April 24) adds an additional $310 billion to the program and is also expected to go quickly.
“Many churches and ministries, along with many small businesses, were unable to access the initial funding through the Paycheck Protection Program,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. “We expect this next round of funding will also be exhausted quickly. While we would never tell pastors or churches what to do, it is good that they know the options available to them through this legislation, as well as understand that timeliness is of the essence if they decide they want to pursue the loans.”
The loans under the Paycheck Protection Program can be forgiven if certain conditions are met. The loan must be used to cover payroll costs (including insurance and retirement benefits), mortgage, interest, rent or utility costs during the eight-week period following the origination of the loan. The forgiven amount may be reduced based on a formula that compares a church or ministry’s employment in pre-COVID-19 periods with the number of employees and each employee’s wage or salary in the eight-week period following the origination of the loan.
GuideStone Chief Legal Officer Harold R. Loftin, Jr. created a Q&A document that addresses common questions related to the Paycheck Protection Program and other parts of the CARES Act.
Churches interested in applying for a Paycheck Protection Program loan should contact a Small Business Administration-approved lender. Most banks and many credit unions participate in SBA programs. Since every taxpayer’s situation is unique, it is recommended that individuals consult with an accountant or attorney familiar with the unique status of ministers’ income and taxes before taking action.
Missouri’s The Baptist Home headquarters relocating to Baptist Building
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP) — The Baptist Home’s (TBH) Board of Trustees on April 3 authorized TBH President Rodney Harrison and the executive committee to develop a plan for moving the TBH corporate office from Ironton, Mo., to the Baptist Building in Jefferson City. TBH is a senior adult residential facility with four campuses.
The centralized location will better serve the TBH campuses statewide. Harrison plans to establish his office at the Baptist Building as soon as the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders are lifted, although he will regularly travel to all four TBH campuses as well.
“Moving the corporate office has been discussed by Baptist Home leadership for over two decades,” Harrison said. “When approached about the position, one of the board’s desires was to establish a centralized presence. My commitment is to work with the board and current leaders to develop a transition plan that serves the residents of the Home and honors the community and employees in Ironton while enhancing our ability to connect with the churches of the Missouri Baptist Convention.”
TBH trustee chairman Ken Parker, pastor of First Baptist Church in Kearney, Mo., said, “It’s with great anticipation that we have approached this new chapter in the life of The Baptist Home. Having the headquarters centralized will be a plus, recognizing that each of the four campuses will remain accessible to leadership. The main goal in all we do moving forward is the continuation of top-quality care and services for each of our residents.
“Further, under the new direction of our president, Dr. Rodney Harrison, we think this move will also help create synergy among our MBC entities, part of which may be some long-term cost-saving measures related to the move.”
Drive-thru food bank worker killed at L.A. church
LOS ANGELES (BP) — A volunteer at a Los Angeles church’s drive-thru food bank died April 17 after being struck by a ministry client’s vehicle.
Arturo Franco Melendez, 58, was loading groceries into the back of a car at the food distribution ministry of First Southern Baptist Church in Sylmar when the SUV waiting in line behind him surged forward and pinned him between the two vehicles. Paramedics transported Melendez to a local hospital, where he died the same day.
Melendez had volunteered at First Southern Baptist’s Valley Hunger Relief ministry nearly three years and was always “very protective of me,” First Southern Baptist pastor Ray Grubb said. “If he saw me doing too much, he would just jump right in and take charge. He was energetic and enthusiastic.”
The driver who struck Melendez was elderly, and authorities believe he may have mistaken the gas pedal for the brake pedal, according to the Los Angeles CBS affiliate CBSLA. After the initial accident, the driver put his vehicle in reverse with the door open, striking the cars behind and beside him as well, Grubb said.
The episode was “a tragic accident,” according to CBSLA, and no crime appears to have been committed.
Since the accident, First Southern Baptist sought to minister to both the Melendez family and the family of the driver who struck him.
“There aren’t words to explain what a great human being he was,” Melendez’s widow Teresa told CBSLA. “He was a great friend, a great brother and a great son.”
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Valley Hunger Relief was distributing food to approximately 6,000 needy individuals per month. The ministry started in 1994 after a magnitude 6.7 earthquake left thousands of Southern California residents in need, and the church never stopped giving out food. A year and a half ago, First Southern Baptist constituted Valley Hunger Relief as a separate 501(c)(3) organization, though it remains a ministry of the church.
When L.A. residents began sheltering in place last month, the ministry went to a drive-thru format, with two lines of vehicles pulling through the parking lot to receive groceries each Wednesday and Friday. Evangelistic services held each Friday have been canceled to maintain appropriate social distancing, but volunteers continue to share the Gospel on a one-on-one basis.
The church is still calculating the amount of food distributed amid the pandemic, but it says volume clearly has increased. Three hundred cars were loaded with groceries the day of the accident. Two days earlier, 388 cars received food donations.
Following Melendez’s death, there was consideration of shutting down Valley Hunger Relief temporarily. But “we felt like maybe there were better ways to honor our volunteer’s memory than closing down,” Grubb said. “He loved what he was doing, and he loved coming.” Plus, “there are just hundreds of people in this valley that depend on us for their resources.”
The mood was “much more sober” yet still “enthusiastic” on the first day of food distribution following the accident, Grubb said. The day included lunch provided by L.A. City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who has said she plans to introduce legislation increasing traffic safety measures at sites like Valley Hunger Relief.
“I understand the public’s anxiety and urgency to get the resources they need for their families,” she said according to CBSLA. “However, we can’t afford to put even more lives at risk.”
Through the grief, First Southern Baptist continues to feel God’s call to help its community — and His provision too.
“It just seems like the more we give out,” Grubb said, “the more we receive.”