While additional COVID-19 assistance funds are currently being considered in Congress, assistance grants remain available through the Annual Conference. After careful consideration of the available resources and based on our current understanding of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and any follow-on taxpayer-funded assistance, the following steps are recommended to NC Conference local churches at this time. We hope this guide will be helpful as you navigate this rapidly changing environment.
1. Complete work for CARES Act grants
If your church received assistance through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, guidance is available from Wespath and other organizations providing summaries of the provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to assist you in what to do now. The CARES Act provided funding for 501(c)3 organizations through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. If your church received a PPP loan, stay in contact with your bank or financial provider, and apply for forgiveness of the SBA PPP loan when the bank begins receiving applications. Your bank or lender is your primary contact for the forgiveness application.
2. Apply for a COVID-19 Mission grant from the NC Conference Missions Team
For emergency spending related to direct needs resulting from the impact of COVID-19 on our local communities (available to all NC Conference churches while funding lasts). To apply, complete an application for assistance on the COVID-19 Response Assistance Request Form for Churches.
3. Apply for financial assistance through the NC Conference COVID-19 Response Fund
Assistance may be provided through the Conference COVID-19 Response Fund to assist churches and ministries impacted during this time of unprecedented crisis. Through a joint effort of the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, Insurance Committee, and Board of Pension, funding has been made available to assist churches with varying needs during the crisis to include mission support, payroll, health insurance premiums, church pension contributions, utilities, etc. Up to three months of church contributions for Conference health insurance and pension may be requested. Apply for assistance through the COVID-19 Response Assistance Request Form for Churches.
4. Encourage persons who have been laid-off due to the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for unemployment benefits.
The CARES Act temporarily expanded eligibility and benefits under unemployment programs so those who may not have been eligible previously could be approved. To apply for benefits, contact the North Carolina Division of Employment Security – des.nc.gov or (888) 737-0259. While you may file a claim over the phone, due to higher than normal volume, it is recommended you do this online, a process that will take approximately 20 minutes. Under normal circumstances, there is a one week waiting period for benefits, but this has been waived due to this event, and if someone qualifies, it will take about 2 weeks for the first payment to arrive.
5. Stay informed and connected
Learn of updates and changing priorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sign up for Conference Communications and read your email to be informed of updates to guidance and procedures for obtaining assistance. If your church does not need assistance, consider ways you might support your UMC family and give to support the needs of other churches through the COVID-19 Response Fund.
6. Remember that God is with us
Even now, as we navigate these uncertain times, we are joined together as one in Christ’s Church and through our connection in The United Methodist Church. Contact your District Superintendent for support and assistance in finding ways to continue to grow in ministry with a hurting world during this time.