Happy Easter from the Regional Synod of Mid-America! During this uncertain times, the beauty of the risen Jesus is even more special. As our liturgy states, we have a “sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life” all because God raised Jesus from the dead.
At our upcoming Regional Synod of Mid-America Annual Session we will be exploring the formation of a new classis: Classis de las Naciones (Classis of the Nations). God is doing a new and amazing thing in Florida and in addition to our strong and healthy churches already doing ministry in Florida four new churches have been adopted with many more working through the process of training ministers and becoming part of the RCA. This movement is with English and Spanish speaking churches and is an exciting work of God that has caused us all to awe at his power. We ask that you pray for this meeting that is taking place via video conference on April 21.
The RCA and the Regional Synod of Mid-America have both reduced assessments for the second quarter of 2020 by 30%. More information from the RCA’s Chief Financial Officer Jillisa Tietsma on financial resources can be found HERE.
You can find all of the RCA’s COVID-19 resourcesHERE.
Previously we sent out information regarding how churches can take advantage of COVID-19 financial relief resources from the recent government stimulus package. Here is a brief overview of what is available:
Recently there was a webinar from Church Law and Tax that is extremely helpful regarding the CARES Act. Specifically it talks about the Paycheck Protection Program and we believe this could be very helpful to our churches. You may have seen the registration link from the RCA’s CFO, Jillisa Teistma, there wasn’t much time to sign up for it and it already happened, so you may have missed it. I have a link to the recording of that webinar. You can watch it here: https://www.churchlawandtax.com/web/2020/april/churches-and-cares-act-helping-congregations-and-employees-.html. Make sure to download the handouts at the bottom of this screen when you click the link. Please note that these PPP loans will be forgiven if you use the funds according to the stipulations (essentially spend the money on payroll for 8 weeks). This is just like getting a grant. Your church should really apply for this with a local (they say regional) bank. Call your local bank and see if they are doing it.
Here is a link to a summary of the Paycheck Protection Program that was developed by the US Chamber of Commerce. This also includes a checklist of items that may be required. One item that you may need is a tax determination letter indicating your 501(c)(3) status. Proof of inclusion on a group exemption roster suffices as proof of not for profit status under section 501(c)(3). If you need that proof please send a request to Angela Worthley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Do fill out the application, you can go here: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Paycheck-Protection-Program-Application-3-30-2020-v3.pdf
You can apply for a $10,000 grant through the Emergency Economic Injury Grant. This application may take 2 hours to complete and you may not qualify, but you could, and then you would get $10,000 for free. The 2 hours may be worth it. Perhaps someone in your congregation could do it and see it as a service to the church? The application is here: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
RCA Global Mission wants to help fill the void many of us are feeling by not being able to gather together while also providing an additional resource to churches who have gone virtual. They are producing weekly video messages from your missionaries on the front-lines to bring hope, a sense of community, and stories of God’s goodness as the world wrestles with the COVID-19 pandemic. All videos will be posted on the RCA Global Mission Facebook page, the RCA Global Mission YouTube Channel, and also Faithward.org. We hope these videos are a helpful resource for you and your church during this season.
Recently, the RCA introduced Tithe.ly as an RCA-preferred vendor for electronic giving. If you’d like to watch a webinar recording of how Tithe.ly works, you can use this link. If you are ready to sign up, please click here to get started. This site is set up specifically for RCA-affiliated organizations. If you sign up through this page, you will get the special RCA rates.
The RCA is hosting some Retirement/Financial Workshops – On April 20 at 1pm Central there will be a “Maximize Social Security in Your Retirement Strategy” webinar will help you understand important Social Security claiming strategies: You will learn about strategies for claiming your Social Security benefit and how it fits with other income sources to create your retirement paycheck. You can register HERE.
Free Christian Counseling for Pastors and Church Employees – The RCA’s Board of Benefits Services Employee Assistance Program provides free, confidential Christian counseling either at at an outpatient clinic in your area or via an online telehealth session. Up to 3 sessions per issue are provided at no cost to any employee of an RCA church. Some common issues addressed are depression, anxiety, work-related problems, marital issues, family issues, substance abuse, and others. The 24 hour hotline number is (833) 244-2490. For more information click HERE.
NEWS FROM CAMP MANITOQUA
While the impact of COVID-19 is not one that Camp Manitoqua could have forecasted, we rest assured that we love and serve a faithful God who does not socially distance Himself from His children and cares about the ministry happening on our grounds. Amidst these days of change and uncertainty, a generous donor gave us some great news. They are willing to match all donations up to $65,000 within the timeframe of April 13 – April 24, 2020. As a ministry, we consider your church as one that is crucial in supporting our mission and vision to see God’s Spirit change lives. Would you consider giving a one-time, tax deductible gift payable to Manitoqua Ministries? Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar by our generous donor and allow us to continue ministering to thousands of summer campers and retreat guests. Should you choose to participate, you can click HERE.
All current events at Manitoqua are postponed with the hope that summer camp will still happen.
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
Living in Resurrection Hope…
I was almost about to say that Easter is over for another year when I realized how wrong that is. Certainly, the Easter worship celebration was uniquely different this year as we gathered in living rooms, family dens, offices, or other places wearing our Easter best or favorite pajamas. We gathered around computer screens, iPads, iPhones, or TV screens to celebrate that Christ is Risen Indeed! But Easter is never over for those who are followers of Christ who call themselves Christians. Every day, every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrected Lord. Our hearts are always singing, “I serve a Risen Savior, He’s in the world today.” So, rather than saying Easter is over, I gladly proclaim that Easter is not over – we experience Jesus’ resurrection presence every single day.
We live in the midst of very challenging times and it is easy to be overcome with fear and anxiety. Many people are scared of what COVID-19 will bring to their families or to the places where they work. Others are frightened as they live in isolation from their loved ones. Still others are worried about friends and family members serving in the front lines of first responders, community care centers, hospitals, and emergency rooms. This is war – considering the huge impact of this rapidly spreading pandemic throughout the world.
This is not the first time that people have battled fear and anxiety. When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, the disciples were afraid and scattered through Jerusalem. Jesus knew what was going to happen to him in the next few hours. He would be falsely accused, beaten, tortured, crucified, and sweat drops of blood. Yet in the context of that incredible pain and suffering He had promised His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
We would do well to listen to Jesus’ words today because we serve a powerful risen Christ who wants to reign in our lives and give us hope and peace. Even in our churches we’ve become accustomed to living lives of safety, protection and dependability. Over the past few weeks we’ve been reminded how life can be completely out of our control. Our economy is on hold, and our government is trying to protect us from catching the coronavirus through practicing social distancing, stay-at-home orders or lockdown. Our pastors and churches have had to overcome the obstacles of navigating through technology in preaching, worshipping, care giving, and financial challenges.
Perhaps God can use this uncertain time to humble us and remind us of the true meaning and purpose of life. Perhaps this is the time to show the world that we won’t give into fear, but our hope is built upon the Solid Rock – Jesus Christ. All other ground is sinking sand. Let’s affirm that hope and worship Him every day – He is risen! He is risen indeed!
— Wayne Van Regenmorter
LINKS YOU MAY FIND USEFUL
What to Do when Money Gets Tight – Don’t begin the conversation with the expenses to cut. Instead, focus on your organization’s assets and how they can be leveraged in service of your missional impact, writes the executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.
7 Insights to Help You Overcome a Fear of Talking About Money – This article from Outreach Magazine is practical and insightful and may be even more appropriate in our current COVID-19 situations. The article eloquently states: “Focusing on what you want for people, not just from them, makes all the difference in the world.”
How to Lead Calmly in A Global Outbreak – Leading during a global health crisis requires trust in medical professionals and the courage to love and not fear, say two pastors who cared for a congregant whose life was upended by Ebola.
Will Your Church Be Ready When the Crisis Ends? – When we finally welcome people back into our pews, there will be many who have been affected negatively by this crisis. How will our churches adapt? What have we learned from this time as we have adapted our worship and pastoral care?