Pandemic Ponderings

Greetings, friends,
Part of my Coronavirus self-care over the past few weeks has been to re-watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In one powerful scene as the growing darkness spreads throughout middle earth Frodo says to Gandalf, “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish that none of this had happened.” “So do all who live to see such times,” replies Gandalf, “but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given.”
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given. With palms waving and shouts of Hosanna resounding, churches all across the presbytery ushered in this Holy Week via Zoom, Facebook Live, Mevo, live streaming, and email. As we move into this holiest of weeks through rituals the church has practiced for centuries, this is a shout out to the pastors, tech folk, lay leaders, and musicians who have decided to use the time to bless and heal a fearful and weary world. You are offering comfort and hope in a time of grief and despair. You are keeping community connected to each other and to God. You are powerfully reminding that even in this week of death, death does not have the last word. The worst thing that can happen is never the last thing.
Yet even as we hold on to the hope and confidence of the resurrection, Holy Week invites us to dwell with the brokenness, the injustices, the suffering this virus has unveiled. It says, “Do not look away.” Let your heart be broken by the things that break God’s heart. It is in acknowledging the evil and sorrow and tragedy in the world that we can rejoice all the more on that Great Gettin’ up Mornin’, that God, in Christ has overcome the world. Love wins – not just in the end but, indeed, all along the way. May your Holy Week observances, even in this strange new world, be rich and meaningful and a very present help in this trouble.
In this time of economic instability, here are several avenues churches and non-profits can pursue. I strongly encourage our churches to take advantage of these opportunities:
  • The Paycheck Protection Program which is part of the CARES Act provides small businesses with 500 or fewer employees (including nonprofits) with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits.
  • Loan amount is 100% guaranteed by the SBA and capped at 2.5 times the average monthly payroll payments during the 1-year period preceding the date the loan is made. Loan payments will be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge any fees.
  • Amounts used to fund certain expenses, generally payroll costs, rents, mortgages and utilities, may be forgiven. It is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
  • Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.
  • Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
  • Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Small businesses are encouraged to apply quickly as there is a funding cap.
  • Below are two links to get you started:
Need some help wading through all this? Denise Moore, the financial director of the IPC Foundation and finance person for the church has offered to guide churches through this process. Her email is Thank you, Denise! What a generous offer!
Another resource to walk you through some of this is Sam Allison, head of Lighthouse, CPA.  Lighthouse CPA, LLC He comes highly recommended by Doug Marshall, head of the Presbyterian Home for Children. Sam’s contact
In addition to relief from the Federal Government, the Board of Pensions is offering a dues relief program  an update related to dues relief. Feel free to call our BOP representative, Keenan Rodgers for more information. 800.773.7752, ext 7462.
In addition, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is making some monies available to churches.
Finally, this is the traditional season in which the church receives the One Great Hour of Sharing Offering which funds Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Self-Development of People, and Hunger Ministries. Many of us are wondering where we can help in these days. Well, in addition to continuing to give to your church, you can make an additional offering for the critically important work which through this offering..
Check out this personal testimony from Lesley Ann Earles, Interim, First, Livingston.
You can donate to the One Great Hour of Sharing via the link below:
That’s a lot of links in this communication but there are a lot of opportunities for sustaining your church’s ministry through this season and I wanted to make these options available to you. Feel free to call me if you want to discuss any of them. I may not know the answer, but I’ll bet I know someone who does.
Beneath the cross of Jesus, I fain would take my stand. The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land; a home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way, from the burning of the noon-tide heat and the burden of the day.
Blessed Holy Week
Sue Westfall
Please join your colleagues for a zoom call, at 4:00 PM, Maundy Thursday, April 9, 2020 at the link below. We’ll keep it brief as many of you will be preparing for Maundy Thursday services.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 201 809 351
If you wish to dial in:
1 312 626 6799
Meeting ID: 201 809 351

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