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Some church buildings received mega PPP loans. A number of received tiny ones.

(RNS) — When the Rev. Janet Gullickson heard that church buildings can be eligible for Paycheck Safety Program loans firstly of the COVID-19 pandemic, she sprang into motion.

Gullickson, pastor of Love Energy Church in Minneapolis, knew her small Pentecostal congregation would possibly want a hand paying its payments after worship providers had been shut down in March of 2020. The PPP mortgage appeared like a godsend. So Gullickson contacted an area financial institution and utilized. She aimed low, pondering the church solely wanted about $7,500.

As a substitute, the church received $75.

“One way or the other I made an error,” stated Gullickson. “Once I went again, they simply stated it was too late. I couldn’t repair it. So I stated, ‘Oh, nicely, , God provides.’”

Greater than 123,000 spiritual teams had been accredited for PPP loans, in line with information from the Small Enterprise Administration. The mortgage to Love Energy Church — also called Love Energy Music and Miracles Ministries — was the smallest and certainly one of three loans for below $100. The opposite two went to a small startup church in Georgia and a gospel dance ministry in New Jersey.

Sixteen spiritual teams had been accredited for loans of lower than $200, whereas 75 teams had loans of lower than $500, and 299 had loans of lower than $1,000. These tiny loans went largely to church buildings or to people — guidelines for the PPP loans allowed self-employed employees to use. A Hindu temple in Arkansas was additionally accredited for a mortgage of $780. Two church buildings received loans for $666.

Whereas some megachurches — like Lakewood Church in Houston, pastored by televangelist Joel Osteen — utilized for multi-million-dollar loans, small loans for spiritual teams had been extra commonplace. In accordance with an RNS evaluation of SBA information, about 23,000 loans to non secular teams had been for lower than $10,000, whereas practically half had been for lower than $25,000.

Of the 123,083 loans to non secular teams, solely about 13,000 had been for greater than $150,000. These bigger loans accounted for about $5.5 billion of the greater than $9 billion value of PPP loans accredited for spiritual teams. 

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The mortgage information displays the bigger actuality of the divide between very massive congregations and small congregations. Whereas megachurches and huge congregations make a lot of the information, the median congregation is small, with about 65 individuals attending weekly providers, in line with the Religion Communities Right now survey, with an annual finances of about $120,000.

For some smaller congregations, navigating the PPP mortgage course of was troublesome and the outcomes disappointing.

Come up Worldwide Ministries, a non-denominational storefront church in Cocoa, Florida, utilized for what church leaders thought can be a $2,400 PPP mortgage. The mortgage turned out to be for $240.

“We imagine we submitted the whole lot that wanted to be submitted,” stated the Rev. Latardra Fuller, the church’s senior pastor. “Nonetheless, that was the end result we acquired.”

The Rev. Latardra Fuller. Picture courtesy of Come up Worldwide Ministries

After consulting with a CPA, Fuller stated church leaders realized they’d made a mistake within the utility course of. Ultimately they concluded a mortgage can be extra bother than it was value.

“We decided that this wasn’t a route we have to go,” Fuller stated. “It actually didn’t assist us.”

Fuller, who based Come up together with her husband in 2012, has been a pastor since 2005. Her first church was a congregation based by her dad and mom, Feed My Lambs Christian Ministry, which she took over as pastor after her father’s demise.

The tiny mortgage didn’t decelerate the church’s ministry, she stated. Members of the predominantly Black church of about 35 individuals continued to tithe in the course of the pandemic. Together with Sunday providers, the church provides Bible research, mentoring and different assist providers for household, together with a vibrant youth outreach.

“We’re blessed that we’re persevering with to maneuver ahead,” Fuller stated.

Segun Idowu, government director of the Black Financial Council of Massachusetts, argues the Payroll Safety Program had a variety of important flaws that made it more durable for small organizations, particularly Black-run organizations, to get loans.

For instance, Black companies in Massachusetts, he stated, had been much less more likely to be accredited for PPP loans than white companies, partly as a result of the mortgage program favored bigger organizations that already had current relationships with lenders. The identical was doubtless true for Black church buildings, he stated. 

This system additionally had a first-come, first-serve method with no set-asides for minority-owned organizations or organizations run by ladies, or teams that wanted extra time to use. That made it simpler for bigger teams to get loans.

“The method simply was not set as much as assist individuals who actually wanted the assistance,” he stated. “On the finish of the day, this system was set as much as get cash out as rapidly as attainable.”

All informed, the SBA reported that 11,823,594 PPP loans had been accredited for a complete of $799.8 billion — with loans to non secular teams making up a really small share.

After studying many small church buildings had run into points making use of for loans, the Massachusetts Council of Church buildings organized webinars to supply extra info and surveyed member congregations about their experiences. The group additionally helped a small, faith-based credit score union at Messiah Baptist Church in Brockton, Massachusetts, turn into certified as a SBA lender for the PPP program, resulting in seven loans to church buildings for a complete of about $150,000.

"Plenty of Small Congregations but Fewer People in Them" Graphic courtesy of Faith Communities Today

“Loads of Small Congregations however Fewer Individuals in Them” Graphic courtesy of Religion Communities Right now

For at the least one congregation, a tiny mortgage was all they wanted. Christ Church of Love Inc. of Columbia, South Carolina, borrowed $380, which was later forgiven. The church’s pastor informed RNS the mortgage match the small church’s want.

Congregations that received very small loans tended to be ordinary-sized church buildings like Salem Lutheran Church, a 133-year-old congregation on the outskirts of Correctionville, Iowa, about 30 miles east of Sioux Metropolis. Based by German immigrants, the church attracts a couple of dozen individuals on most Sundays, church member Nora Clausen informed RNS. The congregation, which has shared a pastor with one other close by Lutheran church, borrowed $496.

The combo-up with a PPP mortgage proved a headache for Love Energy Church, at the least within the early days of the pandemic, when the church was not assembly.

“It was a little bit of a wrestle with the church being closed,” stated Gullickson. “It simply picked up once we received again, and I assume we made it by way of.”

Based in 1978 by a charismatic minister named Ann Sandell, for many years the church has finished avenue evangelism and jail ministry, distributes meals and runs a clothes closet. The congregation is maybe greatest recognized for the Love Energy Jesus mural — which adorned the congregation’s long-time dwelling on Washington Ave. in Minneapolis — in addition to its long-running radio and tv ministry, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

An artist and athlete, Sandell, who died in 2018, had a disaster of religion after dropping two kids to uncommon illnesses. In her 40s, she rediscovered her religion, which led her to show Bible research and, later, to discovered Love Energy, in line with her obituary within the Star Tribune. Gullickson turned senior pastor eight years in the past, after serving as an affiliate pastor to Sandell beginning in 1986. Her husband, Rick, can also be a pastor on the church.

The church stays small however lively, with about 35 members.

“We’re a smaller church however very dedicated,” Gullickson stated.

She describes them as a Matthew 25 church, a reference to Jesus’ famed parable in regards to the sheep and the goats, the place those that fed, clothed and sheltered individuals in want are welcomed into God’s kingdom.

“We love the individuals. We love the gospel. I actually really feel like individuals are going by way of a troublesome time — and there’s hope in God. So, we’re there to encourage individuals and strengthen them with the phrase of God.”

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