“Doing church” during COVID19

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Weekday online worship throughout the diocese

Washington National Cathedral

  • Monday – Saturday Morning Prayer at 7 a.m. link
  • Evening Prayer at 7 p.m. link

All Saints, Portsmouth

  • Nightly Compline at 9 p.m. link

Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming

  • Monday – Saturday Morning Prayer at 9 a.m. link
  • Monday – Saturday Evening Prayer at 6 p.m. link
  • Tuesday Guided Meditation at 7:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday Guided Meditation at 9 a.m.
  • Fridays Stations of the Cross at 7:30 p.m. link

Calvary, Cincinnati

  • Saturday Service of Healing at 11 a.m. link

Christ Church, Ironton

  • Nightly Evening Prayer at 6 p.m. link

Christ Church, Dayton

  • Monday – Friday Morning Prayer at 10:30 a.m. link
  • Saturday, Evening Prayer at 5 p.m. via conference call (click here for info)

Church of the Redeemer, Cincinnati

  • Monday, Compline at 8 p.m. link
  • Tuesday, Morning Prayer Rite II, 8 a.m. link
  • Wednesday, Noonday Prayer, 12 p.m. link
  • Thursday, Compline at 8 p.m. link
  • Friday, Noonday Prayer at 12 p.m. link

St. Anne’s, West Chester

  • Holy Week Monday – Friday at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday Easter Vigil at 8:30 p.m.

St. Barnabas, Montgomery

  • Monday – Saturday  Morning Prayer at 9:30 a.m.

St. James, Westwood

  • Tuesdays and Thursdays Compline at 8 p.m. link

St. John’s, Lancaster and St. Paul’s, Logan

  • Monday at 9 a.m. link
  • Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., followed by Bible Study at 11 a.m. link
  • Wednesday Bible Study at 10:30 a.m., followed by worship at noon link
  • Thursday at 9 a.m. link
  • Friday at 9 a.m.; Stations of the Cross at 6:30 p.m. link
  • Saturday at 5 p.m. link

St. Paul’s, Dayton

  • Weekly Godly Play lesson link

Sunday online worship

Washington National Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral

All Saints, Portsmouth

All Saints, Washington Court House

Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming

  • 9 a.m. Ezekiel Bible Study
  • 10 a.m. link
  • 11:15 a.m. Walk in Love book group link
  • 6 p.m. Evening Prayer link

Calvary, Cincinnati

Christ Church, Dayton

Church of the Advent, Cincinnati

  • 5 p.m. Evening Prayer link

Church of Our Saviour/Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador

  • Bilingual liturgy at 10:30 a.m. link

Church of the Redeemer, Cincinnati

St. Anne, West Chester

St. Barnabas, Montgomery

St. James Westwood

St. John’s, Worthington

St. Luke’s, Granville

St. Mary’s, Hillsboro

  • 10 a.m. link
  • Noon Healing Service link

St. Matthew’s, Westerville

St. Patrick’s, Dublin

St. Paul’s, Dayton

St. Paul’s, Greenville

St. Peter’s, Delaware

St. Philip’s, Circleville

St. Thomas, Terrace Park

Trinity, Columbus

Trinity, Newark

Holy Week Resources

Celebrating at Home: Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter A worship and activities family curriculum created by the Rev. Canon Lee Anne Reat, Canon for Formation and Social Justice

 

Financial Resources

Financial relief during COVID-19 pandemic

We want to share the following information as the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues. Congregations can seek financial relief from the federal government, the Church Pension Fund and the bishop’s office. This is a lot of information but we urge you to read through this carefully.

Payroll Protection Program (PPP) – What churches need to do now

We strongly suggest that all congregations apply for this loan as it can be forgiven and it is a way to retain staff. This is time sensitive due to a limited amount of funding available, so please apply as soon as possible. By obtaining this assistance it will free up more diocesan money in the long term for assistance. 

NEW UPDATE 4/3/20

If you are applying for the PPP program, please be in contact with Carine de Lange before applying. It is unclear at this point whether lenders providing PPP loans will require non-profit borrowers to provide evidence of their non-profit status.
 
In an abundance of caution, we will provide you with documents you may be asked to provide to your bank in order to prove your status as a 501(c)(3) organization.  These documents are as follows, all of which will be sent to you on request:
 
1.  Letter from The Episcopal Church stating that your Diocese and its participating parishes are included in the Church’s Group Exemption, which is Group Exemption Number 3741;

2.  Letter from the IRS dated July 20, 2015 reconfirming the Church’s Group Tax Exemption;

3.  I.R.S. Bulletin 4573.

4.  Customized letter from the Bishop confirming that your congregation is part of the Diocese of Southern Ohio. 

The $2 trillion federal economic stimulus bill known as the CARES Act was passed and signed last Friday. It includes a provision offering forgivable loans to small businesses, including non-profits, for the purpose of maintaining payroll and paying other qualified expenses, including mortgage interest, rent, and utilities. The maximum amount of the loan is 2.5 times the organization’s average monthly payroll expenditure over the previous twelve months, including most employee benefits, pension contributions, and employer 403(b) contributions.  The application period opens on Friday, April 3. The application period ends on June 30, but because the amount available for these loans is capped, churches should apply as soon as possible . 

The loans are backed by the Small Business Administration but are administered by banks. You may seek loans from any  Small Business Administration-approved lender. Due to the size of the program, banks that have previously not worked with the Small Business Association are now doing so.

We have set up an agreement with PNC to assist our congregations with this process. (Information updated 4/3/20)

PNC is committed to helping our customers and business owners with the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Currently, like other financial institutions, we are reviewing the additional guidance from the U.S. Treasury and waiting for the final guidelines and details from the Small Business Administration.

We will update our Paycheck Protection Program website as soon as we are able to begin the application process.

Resources available to help you prepare and consider your options:

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Alternatively contact your local bank to see if you can apply through them. We suggest that you attach this letter to the Treasury as there has been some confusion if churches may apply.

Link for the US Treasury:
https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/top-priorities/cares-act/assistance-for-small-businesses
PNC Cares Act Link:
https://www.pnc.com/en/customer-service/paycheck-protection-program.html

You can find a sample loan application here , each bank may have their own, so first inquire with the bank you will be using.

Here are some notes for completing your application:

  • The application asks for information about and signatures of owners. Nonprofits, including churches, do not have owners, so these fields can be skipped.
  • The form asks for the number of employees you have. This should be your average headcount over the last 12 months, including 1099 contractors. The count should be number of people – there is no differentiation between full-time and part-time employees and contractors for the purpose of this question.
  • Special rules apply for any employees whose earnings (including salary and SECA reimbursement) exceed $100,000. See the attached fact sheet for details.

While we are still awaiting specific guidance about exactly what documentation will be required alongside the application, congregations can begin preparing by assembling the following information. It is possible that not all of this information will be required. It is also possible that other information not listed here will be required. This list is based on the guidance we have at the moment, and additional information is emerging quickly.

  • IRS 501(c)3 letter
  • 2019 IRS Quarterly 940, 941 or 944 payroll tax reports
  • Last 12 months of Payroll Reports beginning with your last payroll date and going backwards 12 months
  • Payroll report must show the following for the time period above:
    • Gross wages for each employee, including the officer(s) if paid W-2 wages.
    • Paid time off for each employee
    • Vacation pay for each employee
    • Family medical leave pay for each employee
    • State and Local taxes assessed on the employee’s compensation for each employee.
  • 1099’s for 2019 for independent contractors that would otherwise be an employee of your business.
    • Do NOT include 1099’s for services.
  • Documentation showing total of all health insurance premiums paid
  • Document the sum of all retirement plan funding that was paid (do not include funding that came from the employee’s out of their paycheck deferrals).
  • 401K plans, Simple IRA, SEP IRA’s
  • Recent mortgage or rent statements (if applicable).
  • Recent utility bills.

Most or all of the loan is forgivable, provided the following standards are met:

  • Loan proceeds must be spent on qualifying expenses: payroll and associated benefits, rent, utilities, and mortgage interest, within eight weeks following the issuance of the loan.
  • Staff and payroll must be maintained for the eight-week period after the loan is issued.
  • While not required, it is advisable that churches set up a separate account for administration of loan proceeds, to make it easier to document compliance with these standards.
  • For any portion of the loan not forgiven, payments may be deferred for six months, with a maximum 10-year term, a maximum interest rate of 4%, and no prepayment penalty.

PPP loans are unsecured, so they may be applied for without the approval of the Standing Committee, however please put it on record with Canon to the Ordinary John Johanssen that you have applied for such loan.

We suggest that you get a resolution signed by your vestry authorizing either your treasurer, administrator or clergy to apply for such loan. Here is an example.

Other financial relief provisions in the CARES Act

Refundable payroll tax credits: This small-scale relief, which provides employers a 50% credit for their share of Social Security taxes while business operations are suspended, is not available to employers who receive a PPP loan and not recommended.

Expansion of unemployment insurance: Church workers are not generally eligible for unemployment benefits because churches generally do not pay into the unemployment insurance system. The CARES Act expands the definition of who qualifies for coverage to include church employees displaced due to the pandemic. Additionally, the act provides $600 per week in addition to the state unemployment benefit to any displaced church worker, including clergy and 1099 employees. States are in charge of administration of unemployment benefits. Displaced workers should  file their unemployment claims online  as soon as possible. Processing takes a minimum of 21 days, and the current high volume means it may take longer.

Financial relief available through Church Pension Group

CPG is offering a two-month waiver for payment of clergy pension assessments to congregations who meet a strict set of requirements. Please refer to our application on our website: https://dsoepiscopal.org/covid-19-financial-assistance/

For all congregations, CPG is providing a 90-day payment grace period, ending June 30, 2020, for the following payments:

  • Pension assessments;
  • Health and dental insurance premiums due to the Medical Trust;
  • Property & casualty insurance premiums and life insurance premiums due to the Church Insurance Company; and
  • Disability insurance premiums to companies administered through CPG.

Institutions that can afford to make full or partial payments for pension assessments, health benefits (including individuals on extensions of benefits), property & casualty coverage, life insurance, and disability policies offered through a Church Pension Group company should continue to do so, but CPG is temporarily implementing a 90-day hardship grace period for those who cannot make timely payments. If you feel you cannot pay these assessments please contact Canon to the Ordinary John Johanssen to liaise with CPG.

Financial relief through the Bishop’s Office

The diocese is offering several opportunities for financial help to congregations during the pandemic crisis. These include:

  • Mission Share deferment for up to six months
  • Financial assistance to cover payroll, utilities and property insurance (if this results in a short term loan from the William Cooper Procter Fund, this will be an interest-free loan)
  • Church Pension Fund waiver of clergy pension plan assessments (maximum of 2 months)
  • Emergency fund for outreach through Episcopal Community Ministries. Any donation to ECM will be matched by the bishop through the Procter Fund. You can donate here – https://ecmsouthernohio.org/.  As mentioned in Bishop Breidenthal’s 3/28 pastoral letter he hopes that we will all remember that our theology is one of abundance and not scarcity. This is a unique opportunity to reach out to each other in this common time of need, both spiritually and financially.

To apply for any form of this assistance, please use  this application form

Questions about Mission Share payments should be directed to the Rev. David Getreu at dgetreu@nulldiosohio.org. Questions about any of the other forms of relief may be directed to the Rev. Canon John Johanssen at  jjohanssen@nulldiosohio.org  or Carine de Lange at cdelange@nulldiosohio.org.

Online giving service:  Individuals may make gifts to congregations using the diocese’s online giving form at https://diosohio.wufoo.com/forms/wzviwgl17ia0ah/.  The diocese will absorb payment processing fees while our churches remain closed. Contributions will be disbursed to congregations each week via check (as long as there is a minimum of $50).

Bishop Breidenthal, his staff and the Trustees and other leadership of the diocese are working hard to be responsive to the resource needs, financial and otherwise, to enable on-the-ground ministry in a fast-changing situation, and we suggest you check here daily for updates and read the e-Connections and clergy news being sent frequently.

Even with these relief provisions and government assistance, due to limited financial resources and the fluidness of the current situation, painful choices about how most faithfully to use such limited financial resources will be unavoidable. Congregations should know that they are not alone in these challenges, and that the bishop’s staff is available for consultation and assistance each step of the way even if we are working faithfully from home.

Other financial resources

  • SBA Issues Guidance and New Application Form for Paycheck Protection Program Loans link  (added 4/3/20)
  • Summary of CARES Act Provisions from Church Alliance link
  • Information on the CARES Act (Coronavirus Relief package) link
  • An overview of the CARES Act for Churches link
  • Disaster loan assistance from the US Small Business Administration link
  • Summary of the Paycheck Protection Program link
  • Paycheck Protection Program Infomation link.     Application (updated 4/3/20)

Resources from Church Pension Group

  • 90-Day Extensions on Benefits and Insurance Payments
    • Until June 30, 2020, CPG will not cancel any group benefits or property & casualty insurance coverages or charge interest for failure to make timely payments.
      Institutions that can afford to make full or partial payments for pension assessments, health benefits (including individuals on extensions of benefits), property & casualty coverage, life insurance, and disability policies offered through a Church Pension Group company should continue to do so, but we are temporarily implementing a 90-day hardship grace period for those who cannot make timely payments.
      This means that parishes, dioceses, individuals, and institutions in the Episcopal Church and IARCA, as applicable, can make pension and other benefits and insurance payments up to 90 days after the date of invoice without disruption of coverage or any accrued interest. Note that these extensions apply to programs offered through the Church Pension Group only. If you have any questions, please contact CPG Client Services at (866) 802-6333, Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM through 8:00 PM ET, or your CPG regional account representative.

Worship Resources

Prayers in place of Eucharist

Act of Spiritual Communion (from Project Canterbury)

Now make a special effort to realize the presence of Jesus in your soul, and make your act of Spiritual Communion, remembering how at countless altars of the Church the Holy Sacrifice is being pleaded and souls fed sacramentally by the Body and Blood of Christ.

In union, O Dear Lord, with the faithful at every Altar of Thy Church, where Thy blessed Body and Blood are being offered to the Father, I desire to offer Thee praise and thanksgiving. I present to Thee my soul and body, with the earnest wish that I may ever be united to Thee. And since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, I beseech Thee to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to Thee and embrace Thee with all the affections of my soul. O let nothing ever separate me from Thee. Let me live and die in Thy love.–Amen.

Grant, O Lord Jesus Christ, that as the hem of Thy garment, touched in faith, healed the woman who could not touch Thy Body, so the soul of Thy servant may be healed by like faith in Thee, Whom I cannot now sacramentally receive; through Thy tender mercy, Who livest and reignest with the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost ever one God.–Amen.

This is found at: http://anglicanhistory.org/oceania/wood_communion1916.html

Spiritual Communion Prayer

My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

I love you above all things and I desire to receive you in my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment receive you sacramentally,

Come at least spiritually into my heart.

I embrace you as if you were already there

And unite me wholly to you.

Never permit me to be separated from you.

Amen.

St. Augustine’s Prayer Book (published by Forward Movement) has a good section on spiritual communion, beginning on p. 290

 

Other resources

Parochial reporting during physical distancing

Things to Consider When Holding a Funeral Over Zoom, a resource shared by Province V

Online Stations of the Cross

We are designing a Stations of the Cross for online use leading up to Easter.

The Book of Common Prayer (free pdf download from Church Publishing)

The Online Book of Common Prayer

Lenten Bible Study – 3 Week VIRTUAL Study of the Psalms

Daily Prayers from Forward Movement

The Good Book Club from Forward Movement

Hymns Unto God – a listing of public domain hymns

Prayer & Worship in Our Homes
(free 5-course class from Church Next)

Music copyright law considerations

US Copyright issues related to live streaming music

As many churches continue to offer live worship services online, Church Publishing has joined with many other music publishers to allow free use of our hymns through One License. These free resources are available until April 15, 2020. Please visit www.churchpublishing.org for a full list of books and resources available in print and eBook format.

Lifelong Learning at VTS offers Triduum Under Quarantine, resources for planning online worship for Holy Week.

The Diocese of Colorado offers Connected in Common, a hub for resources for home-based worship and community

Technology Resources

Formation Resources

FREE Online Sunday School Lessons

Looking for activities for your children while they are at home?  You can continue Sunday School with these and other resources are available online.

Free Online Lectionary Based Sunday School Curricula:

Free At Home Sunday School Lessons (not Lectionary Based):

Free stained glass window coloring pictures from the Cathedral of St. John the Devine, New York

Weekly Godly Play story

Posted weekly by St. Paul’s, Dayton

Follow-up to pastoral letter (March 31, 2020)

Some have requested more clarity about the directives embedded in my Lent 5 pastoral letter. Here they are, with some additions for Holy Week and Easter:

  • Stay home if you can (if you have a home).
  • Observe physical distancing in public (minimally six feet).
  • Do not gather physically for worship.
  • Do not enter your church to stream worship; do everything from home (if you have one).
  • Do not do church work from church.
  • Clergy: Do not practice “virtual communion,” even from home, or “communion to go.” Morning/Evening Prayer with Daily Office or eucharistic readings is always fine. The eucharistic rite through the confession and peace is also fine.

***********************
Regarding Holy Week and Easter led remotely:
(These rites begin on p. 270 of the Book of Common Prayer.)

  • Palm Sunday: No virtual blessing of palms; go straight from p. 272 to the peace.
  • Maundy Thursday: The usual rite through to the peace (no virtual washing of feet).
  • Good Friday: Follow the Prayer Book.
  • Holy Saturday: Follow the Prayer Book.
  • Easter Vigil:
    • Opening collect
    • No lighting of paschal candle or exsultet (we’ll light when we emerge from lockdown)
    • Skip to: The Liturgy of the Word (following Prayer Book directions)
    • Carry on with: Renewal of Baptismal Vows
    • Then follow from “Alleluia, Christ is risen” through to the Prayers of the People
  • Easter: Eucharistic rite through to the peace

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I hope these directives are helpful.

Blessings,

+Tom Breidenthal

A Pastoral Letter from the Bishop (March 29, 2020)

March 28, 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

In the midst of this pandemic, which has overtaken the human race so quickly, and for many, unexpectedly, I wish to say that, like so many others, I am praying for the sick and for those who have died. I am concerned especially for those in this diocese who, in increasing numbers, are falling ill or are afraid.

I invite us all to do what we can to support our fellow citizens whose livelihood is draining away.  Let’s support them as they seek ways to offer their skills and expertise in ways which are both safe and can be compensated.  Let’s also be mindful of prisoners, the homeless, people living in group homes and nursing homes, and all others who are not in a position or don’t have means to protect themselves from infection.

I wish to express my gratitude and admiration to all the people in this corner of God’s church who are embracing the discipline of isolation by staying at home. This is a spiritual discipline as well as a practical necessity. It is spiritual because we have a God-given obligation not to cause harm to others if we can possibly avoid it. In this case, that  means avoiding becoming the occasion for the spread of COVID19.

As we all know, sheltering in place denies us the great blessing of gathering in our churches. The unavailability of public worship in the physical presence of others is painful for everyone, myself included.  When we emerge —as we will— from this crisis, we will surely have a new appreciation of what it means to be together on the Lord’s Day.  The temptation will be to resume going to church before it is safe to do so. I am urging all of us to resist that temptation. Our cathedral, which had planned to continue live-streaming Morning Prayer on Sundays with clergy, readers, organ and a skeleton choir all physically present in the chancel, decided to shift to an absolutely remote approach. That is, we would all exercise our worship leadership roles out of our own homes by way of zoom technology.  This was a difficult but necessary decision, not only for the safety of the people directly involved, but in order to model staying away from public spaces, even in small numbers. I find it almost unthinkable that we shall move out of Lent into Holy Week and Easter season in isolation from one another.  But this is the price we must pay to protect others and ourselves.

I have been able to officiate at (now totally remote) Morning Prayer for the cathedral for a few Sundays, and will certainly continue to do so as we move into Holy Week and Easter. But I have only been available so far because local visitations have had to be cancelled. I have been unable to visit St. Paul’s, Greenville and St. James, Piqua. We will look for ways to make this up, either remotely until this time of physical absence is past, or by rescheduling normal visitations (as well as area confirmations) once these become possible again. In the meantime, please check the cathedral and diocesan websites for on-line service times and information about access.  There are also a number of churches doing creative things on-line. This is a good thing, and I encourage us all to take advantage of them.  One benefit of resorting to virtual worship is that the distances that make it harder for us to experience one another’s worship have been rendered irrelevant for the time being. A list of diocesan congregations offering on-line worship can be found on the diocesan website .

But virtual worship raises some interesting questions and temptations. The weekly celebration of the eucharist has become central to our worship over the last fifty years. So it is no surprise that I have been asked if we might not celebrate the eucharist remotely. Let me share with you some reasons why this is not a good idea.

(1) To detach holy communion from physical presence flies in the face of incarnational theology.  By incarnational theology I mean the belief, absolutely central to Christianity, and certainly to our Anglican tradition, that God’s word, the second person of the Trinity, became flesh in Jesus. That means that our embodiedness, and the physicality of the entire created order, has been declared good, once and for all, forever. The very term “body of Christ” reminds us both of Christ’s physical union with us and our physical union with one another, as it is restored to its original purity in Christ by our embrace of our connection to one another at its deepest level. The celebration of the eucharist in physical proximity, however infrequent, is the enactment of that embrace. There is no such thing as virtual physicality. Either our bodies are present to one another in real space, or they are not. Attempting to celebrate communion “virtually” leads us down another path.

(2) The eucharistic act cannot be reduced to the reception of the consecrated bread and wine: it is a common act of repentance and trust in God through hearing God’s word, whereby we offer ourselves to God in order to be returned to ourselves as the body of Christ. Countless parishes in the Episcopal Church know well that there is no failure of grace or of weekly renewal as the body of Christ in the absence of a priest or regular reception of the sacrament. Why? Because they know that the sacrament is God’s affirmation of their faith, not the prerequisite of their mission.

(3) Christian history is full of times when believers could not freely or safely gather. We often rediscover in such times that we are Christ’s body by God’s grace, not by our will, and that our ability to live that reality out even in separation and sacramental drought is an opportunity for real renewal.

(4) Zoom and similar platforms are no substitute for real presence, however comforting it is to see one another’s faces. The argument that a zoom meeting provides the basic conditions for a sacramental gathering is faulty. Some advocates of virtual communion argue that two people side by side each other in a pew are not necessarily present to one another. But in fact they are present to one another whether they like it or not, in a way they can never be virtually, because physicality is the fundamental basis of our vulnerability to one another — it is the vulnerability we cannot “turn off.” Our physical presence to one another is inseparable from and is the very substance of the sacrament of the altar — which is, by the way, why in our reformed tradition a priest cannot celebrate the eucharist physically alone. Tuning into a virtual eucharist does not overcome this fundamental reformation (and ancient catholic) objection to private communion. Virtual communion is essentially private communion, however public the image of any participant on the screen may be.

(5) Some proponents of virtual communion appeal to the tradition of spiritual communion as an argument for zoom communion. It is just the opposite. The possibility of spiritual communion reminds us that the riches of God’s forgiveness and grace, signified and conveyed by the sacraments, is not dependent on our reception of the sacraments. The sacraments assure us of God’s grace, but they only feed us if we receive them in faith or at least approach them in hunger. If we are deprived of the sacraments, it is precisely our faith or our longing for the presence of the crucified and risen one that makes up for it. This period of time when we are denied normal church may well help us get more in touch with our hunger, not only for God but for one another, and by hearing and reading God’s word to renew the essentially physical basis of our relation to one another as the body of Christ.

All of which is to say that the Daily Office (Morning and Evening Prayer) is the way our tradition has always drawn close to God when we could not draw close to one another bodily, or were constrained to do so without the prerequisites for a legitimate celebration of the sacrament. A fast from communion goes hand in hand with honoring the gift of physical presence to one another, even as we grieve its temporary loss. Acknowledging that loss, and submitting to its strictures, may well sanctify our loneliness, and renew our zeal for life together in Christ.

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal
Bishop of Southern Ohio

A message from the bishop regarding financial relief (March 27, 2020)

March 27, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I write to offer some financial relief to churches that find themselves especially vulnerable during the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic. This virus has caused frustration and anxiety in all of us and especially those who are the most vulnerable among us.

I am deeply grateful for the continuing ministry that all of you are offering to those who are hungry and scared. Our Lord said, “Do not be afraid” and we are all being tested.

In consultation with the Trustees, we are providing an opportunity for congregations to apply for financial relief related to this crisis. Please note that the diocesan priorities for funding are for payroll, utilities, and property insurance payments. We cannot guarantee that all requests will be fully funded, but we will do our best. Each applicant will be contacted to discuss the relief he or she is requesting. The application for all financial aid will be available on our website early next week at http://diosohio.org/doing-church-during-covid19/.

I am also directing Diocesan Council to allow a grace period for congregations, if necessary, to defer their monthly mission share contributions for up to six months. Those congregations that can continue to pay their mission share are encouraged to do so to lessen the impact on diocesan program expenses. I can assure you that the diocesan staff is carefully reviewing all expenses to curtail unnecessary costs. Questions about your mission share payment may be directed to the Rev. David Getreu at dgetreu@nullalink.com.

The Trustees are also making available non-interest bearing loans from the William Cooper Procter Fund for those who cannot meet their immediate financial needs.

In an effort to provide temporary relief to parishes whose ability to function is severely impaired, the Church Pension Fund has also committed to waive the obligation parishes owe to CPG for clergy pension plan assessments for a period of up to two months.

To qualify, I, as Bishop, must certify 1) that the senior most government official in his or her nation, state, or region has declared a major disaster (such as a state of emergency). This has already happened in Ohio; 2) that as a direct result of the disaster, the ability of each parish in question to function has been severely impaired, and; 3) that there are inadequate resources (including endowments) within the affected congregation, or the diocese, to pay assessments and continue to function.

Finally, I have requested that an emergency fund be established, to which individual contributions will be matched by the William Cooper Procter Fund. This fund will be administered by Episcopal Community Ministries (ECM) to assist those congregations in continuing their outreach ministries during this crisis. Please use the application form posted on the diocese website to apply for all of the above-named assistance.

I hope that we will all remember that our theology is one of abundance and not scarcity. This is a unique opportunity to reach out to each other in this common time of need, both spiritually and financially.

Please know that I am here to serve you and am continually praying for you.

Do not hesitate to contact me or Canon John Johanssen or Carine de Lange of my executive staff with your suggestions and requests.

Faithfully,

The Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal
Bishop of Southern Ohio