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The Cares Act Loan

Last week, the Church Board met on two different occasions, ultimately deciding to receive a loan that we had qualified for from our local bank.  The amount of the loan is $84,620, and this figure was arrived at in part by estimating church operating expenses (payroll, insurance, utilities) for an 8-week period.  All indications are that this loan will be forgiven if the following stipulations are met:
  • Once received, these funds need to be used over the course of the following eight weeks.
  • The funds need to be used solely for the purpose of church operating expenses (payroll, insurance, utilities).
We intend to do both of these of course.
This money was made available to the bank through a stimulus package called the Cares Act, the purpose being to ensure that churches and small businesses can continue to operate in the short term and put them in a position to continue to operate for the long term.  To do so will be beneficial not only to employees but also to local communities and ultimately to our nation’s economy.
This much is true:  In the short term, our church is not in need of these funds.  Your contributions over these past few weeks have allowed us to continue to operate as normal.  While we are cutting some expenses (all heat was turned off in 90% of the building several weeks ago), we continue to provide support to various missionaries and mission organizations.  Over the past ten days, we have been able to send over $8,000 to numerous mission organizations that we have committed to support in 2020.  Thank you for your continued generosity at this time!
It’s important to know that having a short-term need was not one of the stipulations that had to be met in order to qualify for the loan.  In cases such as ours, these funds could prove to be more helpful in the long run.  Those on the Board feel a deep responsibility for the long term finances of the Five Forks Church, and none of us know what the long term impact of COVID-19 will be.  While convinced that God is able to provide for our needs, the Board also realizes that God works to meet our needs in many different ways.
Prior to the decision being made, there was a two-week period where our staff and Church Board wrestled with this decision on whether or not we should receive these funds even though we had qualified.  When the Board met last Tuesday and Thursday via video conference, all Board members took advantage of the opportunity to share his or her convictions and views.  The discussion was both thoughtful and helpful.
The staff reached out to our church leaders on both a Conference and Denominational level, and the input the Board received from them was also beneficial.  They provided insight, Scripture to ponder and articles to read for additional study and reflection.  In the end, each BIC congregation was given the freedom to choose for themselves whether to receive the funds or not.  Through it all, the Board devoted much time to prayer as we looked to discern God’s will.  It’s possible that at the end of Thursday’s meeting, many on the Board found themselves at a different place than where they first began.  In the end, after much discussion and prayer, the Board voted to receive the funds.  Again, we do not know what the future holds, but if it turns out that we did not need these funds in order to continue to operate, the one thing the Board does not want to do is have our church pocket the money.
Because of this, the Board has also voted to do the following:  For every dollar that comes out of the account holding the Cares Act Funds ($84,620), the same amount will be transferred from our General Operating Fund to a church account we will create to hold for the time being.  In other words, over the course of the next eight weeks, the fund holding the Cares Act money will go from $84,620 to $0.  We will create an account that over the next eight weeks will go from $0 to $84,620.
Note:  We will not be drawing money for payroll, insurance, and utilities from our General Fund as we normally would during the next eight weeks due to using the Cares Act funds. And so, we will have this unique opportunity to set money aside over these next few weeks.
This money we set aside will be held as we monitor how things develop over the course of these next few months.  If the impact of COVID-19 is long term and becomes even more serious, we may be grateful that the Lord provided us the opportunity to do this.  If these funds are not needed, then the Board will look to disburse these funds to individuals or organizations in need, likely looking to the Finance Committee to determine how this will be done.  Note:  The Finance Committee does this every February when we have excess funds to disburse from the previous year.
One of the most encouraging things to me was to observe how well our Church Board worked together throughout this process.  These things can be challenging due to the fact that we all hold different views and convictions.  However, everyone’s comments were listened to and considered.  Everyone committed to – on his or her own – prayerfully seeking God’s guidance.  Thank you to those of you who pray regularly for our Board!
Finally, I understand that this is a lot of information, and so, if you have any questions please feel free to call (717-762-2991) or email me ( with any questions or insight.   For those of you who might be interested in reading some of the articles that the Board had access to, just send me a request and I’ll be glad to email you the links.
The Lord bless you and keep you!
Pastor Bill