State Board approves FBSC ministries’ participation in CARES Act loans

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Pictured Above: State Board of Missions President Brian Stowe, pastor of First Baptist Church in Plant City, leads a virtual special called meeting of the Board.

JACKSONVILLE–During a special called meeting held virtually April 2, the State Board of Missions authorized the cooperating ministries of the Florida Baptist Convention to participate in the loan program of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), provided by the U.S. Government to help during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The CARES Act offers economic stimuli in a variety of applications, including individual payouts, enhanced unemployment benefits and government-backed payroll protection loans, many of which are available to ministries and ministers.

According to the Florida Baptist State Convention’s Bylaw 16, the Board must approve participation in loan programs for all cooperating ministries, including the Florida Baptist Convention, Inc., the Baptist College of Florida, Florida Baptist Children’s Homes and Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center.

The Board entered the called videoconference meeting to allow the ministries to apply for the loans in a timely way through their own banking institutions.

In making the recommendation to the Board, Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, said according to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) if the loan is used to cover payroll costs, the loan may be forgiven, converting it to a grant which does not require repayment.

The recommendation was approved with the following stipulations as outlined in the Business and Financial Plan of the Florida Baptist State Convention:

–total loan cannot exceed 10 percent of the ministry’s prior year operating budget;

–loan amount does not exceed 15 percent of the ministry’s total annual income; and

–loan must have projected maturity date of 60 months or less.

In a related matter, the Board learned that during a March 23 videoconference call, the Administrative and Finance Committee approved adjustments to the Convention’s 2020 budget to provide fiscal stability during this period of uncertainty. These included reductions in staff compensation; reductions to other employee benefits; and ministry-related budget line items by 30 percent.

Green also shared with the Board that the Convention has been “standing in the gap” by providing interest-free loans to Florida Baptist churches as they continue to operate in this time. To date, the Convention has approved loans to 31-plus churches for a total amount over $300,000.

The State Board of Missions originally was scheduled to meet March 27 in Jacksonville, but due to the coronavirus and the need for members to travel, that meeting was postponed. The next meeting scheduled for May 27-29 will be held through videoconferencing.

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