April 2, 2020
Dear ABC-MI Family,
I hope and pray you are experiencing God’s faithfulness during this time which is becoming more of a marathon than a sprint. At times I have said to my wife Erika, “Honey, is this reality or did we get dumped in a science fiction movie?” None of us have a context by which to govern our actions during a world-wide pandemic. Yet, we are not without direction and hope. We have the divinely inspired words of Scripture that remind us – God is with us; He hasn’t abandoned us; and we are dearly loved. I pray His sustaining grace would fortify your weary soul this day with renewed confidence in Him.
No doubt every church has been experiencing significant challenges as it relates to doing ministry in this COVID-19 crisis. One of the challenges many churches are experiencing is related to the financial impact on their congregants and the church as a whole. By now I trust that you have heard about the CARES Act that was signed into law. All of the impacts and provisions contained in it are well above my pay grade. However, I do want to point out two important pieces.
One is the stimulus checks to which many (not all) adults will be entitled. I would invite those who are able, to consider what portion of the stimulus check you might make available to your local church to provide support so they continue to thrive long after this crisis is over.
The second aspect of the CARES Act I want to draw to your attention is the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program). This forgivable loan being administered by the Small Business Administration is available to 501c3 organizations. Many of our ABC-MI churches are in fact a 501c3 organization. I would invite each and every congregation to give expedient consideration to this unique opportunity. Church boards will need to move quickly to not only make the determination on whether or not they will participate in this program, but also put together the necessary documentation needed to apply for this forgivable loan. My understanding is once the money set aside in this portion of the law is spent, the potential for these forgivable loans may well come to a close. The funding provided through the PPP to help paid staff in a Small Business (501c3’s are being viewed as a small business by the Federal Government) requires the staff to be operating at or near normal work hours in order for the loan to be forgiven. A direct link to the application for these forgivable loans is available here. More resources may be found on our website: abc-mi.org.
Lastly, I want to encourage every church to prayerfully consider how they might best use this time to be a blessing to the people around us. The world is watching to see if the Church of Jesus Christ has anything to offer them in the midst of this crisis. May they see tangible evidence of our faith, hope and good deeds.
To help support your witness for Jesus Christ in these days I want to share a fun activity for you and your family – “Good Neighbor Bingo.” This adaptation (see below) was developed by the Tri-Village Community Church, so you’ll need to adjust a couple of the squares to fit your context. Give each person in your church a “Good Neighbor Bingo” card and together let’s make a difference in our community for Jesus Christ!
As we continue to move forward and be faithful to the call of Jesus on our lives, please know you are in my thoughts and prayers. If I can support your church in some way, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Come what may – may we be found faithful to the King and the Kingdom!
Rev. Brian D. Johnson
American Baptist Churches of Michigan