By Roy Hayhurst
DALLAS — The U.S. Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans will be available to churches and ministries. The loans provide another category of assistance that initially had seemed to be unavailable to churches.
“Churches and pastors have options available to them depending on their own situations and convictions,” GuideStone® President O.S. Hawkins said. “It is good that the options are available for pastors and churches who may need to access the federal relief that is being made available due to economic circumstances that are beyond their control.
“While we would never tell a pastor what he must do, it is good that the options are available for pastors and churches who may wish to avail themselves of the options available through this legislation.”
The application can be accessed by visiting covid19relief.sba.gov/#/.
“Initially, the regulations spoke of ‘private nonprofits,’ which seemed to exclude churches and ministries,” said Harold Loftin, chief legal officer for GuideStone. “However, the Small Business Administration is taking a broader view as it relates to the coronavirus Economic Injury Disaster Loans, as it specifically allows for faith-based organizations to apply for the loans.”
Applicants for a loan in response to COVID-19 from an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan can request an advance of up to $10,000 that is to be issued within three days of application. Funds can be used for sick leave due to COVID-19, maintaining payroll to retain employees during economic interruption, rent, mortgage payments, and other limited obligations. These funds do not have to be repaid, even if the loan requested is denied, effectively making the initial $10,000 a grant.
If the same applicant obtains a Paycheck Protection Program loan through the Small Business Administration, the $10,000 forgiven under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan reduces what can be forgiven under the Paycheck Protection Program loan.
Support for including faith-based organizations, including churches, in the economic relief is bipartisan in Washington. On Tuesday, March 31, four members of the U.S. House of Representatives — Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat; James Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat; and Mike Johnson and Steve Scalise, both Louisiana Republicans — wrote Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, and Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza. In the letter, the congressmen wrote, “We can assure you that Congress did not intend to require non-profits to possess an exemption determination letter to be eligible for assistance through any other section of the CARES Act either.”
“The recognition of the importance of faith-based organizations, especially churches, to their communities and to their staff is welcome from these members of Congress,” Hawkins said. “We applaud the members of Congress and the members of the Trump administration who are working diligently to ensure economic relief for all Americans, especially pastors and churches who serve the physical and spiritual needs of the communities they serve.”
Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention®.