We miss you and look forward to seeing you all in person again as soon as we’re able. It has been great to connect with many of you via social media and through our church’s online platforms on Sundays and throughout the week. We are still better together!
As treasurer, I felt it my duty to perhaps answer some of the questions we all might have in the back of our minds in regard to this unprecedented season we’re all experiencing. I, like many of you, have been thrilled with the efforts of our leadership team who continue to offer outstanding online opportunities for us to be a church even while we are largely in our homes. They are to be commended and we are blessed to have the team we do.
That said, beyond the important things like worship, teaching, prayer and community, you may also be wondering how things are unfolding on a practical level, specifically with regard to finances. I wanted to take just a moment to hopefully answer some of those questions and keep you informed on this front.
First I’ll say thanks to Elaine Odishaw, our office administrator, things are running very smoothly from an operations standpoint. She is taking care of us all very well, and I personally am always so grateful for her outstanding effort, expertise and attitude. Thank you Elaine!
Federal Government Programs
As you’ve likely seen, our government has offered several programs in order to help both individuals and organizations through this time. We have applied to participate in two of those programs at the direction of our Deacons Board.
We’ve applied for and received a $40,000 operations loan from our bank, guaranteed by the government. If paid back by 2022, we’re only required to repay $30,000, so in effect we receive a $10,000 grant. This is a great help since we’re essentially able to apply the additional $10,000 toward any expenses we incurred in transitioning our ministry to an online environment. All things being equal, we will have no concern in paying back the required portion by the allotted time, so this is a welcome help to be sure.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
We’ve also applied to participate in the wage subsidy program which, if approved, will grant us a subsidy equal to 75% of our organization’s salaries for a given period. We have been approved and received the first instalment as of May 13, 2020. We’re grateful for this program as our commitment is to keep our staff employed. Their jobs look very different, their hours and demands on their time are often in flux, but our desire as leadership is to alleviate any concerns they might have around their employment status to allow them to continue to focus on doing the outstanding job they do. Access to these funds certainly makes that all the easier from a budgetary standpoint.
Financial Update: Giving
That gives me a good segue into an update on our own giving and budget situation. In summary, I would say I’ve once again been reminded of just how grateful I am to be part of this church who continues to surprise and come through when it counts. Our giving situation has been affected, there’s no denying, but the degree to which I would venture to say is in the minority of what many are facing - and in the best way!
Our giving was up in January and February of 2020 over the same time period in 2019, which is to be both expected and commended. It wasn’t quite as high as we need to meet the increased budget, but it was trending in the right direction. When March hit and the shut downs began and we transitioned online, we expected a drop. We were indeed down by nearly 30% in March 2020 versus March 2019. Again, not entirely unexpected.
April is the interesting part. Our giving in April 2020 was actually up over giving in April 2019. I feel confident in saying that most church treasurers were not anticipating seeing growth in their giving during these first weeks and months. I am so humbled at how you, our church family, have been stepping up and in to this challenge. God has truly been good.
That said, we are still a bit behind where we should be year-to-date. We’re hopeful the aforementioned government subsidies will help us offset that to a degree, for sure. I don’t want to paint too rosy a picture and have us take our foot of the proverbial gas, but I can’t help commending you and celebrating God’s goodness to us yet again. Even in regards to the building fund, it is behind where we were this time last year, but only by a few thousand dollars. Even amid uncertainly, our people remain committed to God’s call in regard to our facility journey, and we believe He will not forsake our faithfulness.
With regard to the building and my role as chair of the committee, you’ll likely have correctly assumed some things are on pause to say the least. We had intentions of launching our campaign the very day the shutdown began, which certainly has all of our antennae up and our ears listening for what God is saying in this moment. Our committee has been meeting and I’m actually very excited about what has been coming out of those discussions. God continues to show himself on this long and winding road, and although I don’t have any meaningful update to bring at this time, I expect we’ll have some things to talk about sooner than later. In the meantime, we invite you to continue to bring it before God in prayer. We’re starting to expect the unexpected from God in this, and we don’t want to miss what He has for us now!
So in closing, as Pastor Gord has been saying, if these times have meant financial strain for you and your family, our intention is not to add to that. Please don’t feel any guilt or shame if your ability to participate in giving has been impacted in this season. That said, for those who are able, your generosity remains as needed as ever.
If you’ve yet to participate and would like to, you can visit our Giving Online page to get started today.
Thank you again, and God bless!