Weekly Response to COVID 19
Connecting ABCOTS during COVID 19
Join Weekly Zoom calls with ABCOTS Executive Minister Dr. Harrison
Tuesdays at 11 AM EST
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 929 6541 9729
Upcoming Zoom Calls
August 18 - Rev. Maggie Lewis/Dr. Willard Ashley (Center for Career Development
And Ministry) - Addressing Mental Health Concerns.
August 25 - Dr. Eddie Cruz, Dr. Christine Rousch and Dr. Marvin McMickle.
August 4 Zoom call - Rev. Donald Porter, Handling grief and Grief Counseling during the pandemic.
July 28 - Dr. Patricia Murphy, Ecclesiastical Endorser, National Coordinator for Chaplaincy, Pastoral Counselors and Specialized Ministries.
July 21 - Zoom call with Rev. Maggie Lewis and Dr. Willard Ashley addressing Mental Health issues.
ABC-USA COVID-19 UPDATES
American Baptist Churches USA Survey Assesses Impact of COVID-19
In May of 2020, a survey regarding the impact of the global pandemic was sent to all of the American Baptist regions via each region’s executive minister. On behalf of local churches, the person most knowledgeable was asked to complete the survey. Originally requested by the members of the National Executive Council and Regional Executive Ministers Council, the survey of American Baptist congregations was aimed at assessing the impact of COVID-19.
A total of 414 congregations responded to the survey. A summary of the quantitative results is shown below. The survey results summary looks at the overall impact of COVID-19, the impact of COVID-19 on worship and ministry, future outlook related to COVID-19, and areas impacted by the virus.
Overall Impact of COVID-19
The survey indicated that a slight majority of the congregations surveyed are experiencing only a slight or moderate impact from COVID-19, while a small percentage of ABC congregations have been hit very hard by the pandemic. The majority (63%) of respondents believe that they are in an area with fewer cases than the rest of the country. About one-half (52%) of the congregations surveyed indicated that COVID-19 has had a moderate or less impact on their congregation. Some congregations (14%) report being hit very hard financially by COVID-19 stating that at least 20% of their members are unemployed.
Impact of COVID-19 on Worship and Ministry
In regard to worship and ministry, the survey respondents indicated through their response that many congregations have delivered a robust response to the adverse effects of COVID-19. While the pandemic has elicited both positive and negative influences upon the congregations surveyed, sometimes the dual influences have occurred in same areas such as worship and outreach.
88% of the respondents indicate that their congregations have been able to offer online worship during the pandemic. Only 6% indicate that their congregation has not been able to offer any online activities during the pandemic.
73% of the respondents believe that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their worship, but a slightly higher number (77%) believe that COVID-19 has also created new opportunities for worship. Similarly, 50% of the respondents believe that COVID-19 has negatively impacted their outreach, while (61%) believe that COVID-19 has created new opportunities in this same area of ministry.
Over one-half (57%) of the respondents say that their worship attendance has increased during the pandemic compared to only 14% who indicate that worship attendance has declined. In most cases, however, increased worship attendance online has not translated into increased giving. Sixty-percent report that giving has decreased compared to only 16% who report that giving has increased during the pandemic.
Nearly 4 out of 5 respondents indicate that they plan to continue to offer online worship following the stay at home orders.
Respondents indicate that their congregants miss “feeling a sense of community” the most when compared to missing other elements of worship and ministry.
Nearly three-fourths of respondents revealed that their congregation has engaged in “delivering supplies to persons who cannot leave their home” during the pandemic and at least one-half have engaged in “distributing food to those in need” and “making masks.”
While COVID-19 has taken a severe toll on some congregations, others have shown strong signs of resiliency and hope.
Nearly two-thirds (62%) of the respondents say that their congregations are not worried about paying their pastor and staff in the near future.
In terms of balancing the budget, the responses are divided into thirds, with one-third expressing no concern, another third expressing some concern, and a third expressing moderate to heavy concern. Two-percent are wondering if they will be able to remain open after this global pandemic.
Responding to a list of possible state of mind descriptors, the majority of persons (68%) indicated that they are “hopeful” and another 52% indicated that they feel “resilient” about the future.
42% of respondents said that they feel that their congregation is an extremely innovative or very innovative congregation, signaling more creative responses to COVID-19.
38% of respondents said that their congregation would be “healthier than it was before” following the pandemic, compared to only 12% who said that they believe that it would be “less healthy than it was before.”
Respondents noted additional areas impacted by COVID-19, including:
Our leadership team, committee, and board meetings
Ability to grieve with those who died
Support of the homeless
Ability to integrate our new pastor
Need to gather as the Body of Christ
Has just made each of these look different
Sense of security
Sovereign Insurance Group's Risk Management resource, ThinkHR, is hosting a The FFCRA - What Employers Need to Know Webinar
As we hear more about reopening you are excited about the prospects of getting back to the business of the church. I am also sure you are taking as many precautions as possible to help your congregations reopen safely. As a part of our continued effort to provide your congregations with more information about changes in operations and changes in employment law due to the FFCRA, Sovereign Insurance Group's Risk Management resource, ThinkHR, is hosting a The FFCRA - What Employers Need to Know Webinar. Join us for our next webinar on Thursday, June 4th at 10:00 AM PDT / 1:00 PM EDT, a comprehensive look at the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, including all available regulatory guidance. This is a free resource that any of your congregations can sign up and learn more about the FFCRA and how it will impact their employees and what it means for them during this time. If you have any questions regarding this resource or if you are interested in knowing more about the National Insurance Program and our resources please feel free to reach out to or visit Sovereign Insurance Group 484.654.3393
Clergy (Pastors, Chaplains, Spiritual Caregivers) are invited to participate in ABHMS' virtual retreat.
Are you struggling with grief and loss due to the challenges
during COVID-19? Are you struggling with grief as you try to minister to individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic?
You are invited to American Baptist Home Mission Societies' (ABHMS) three-day virtual conference
"You Are Not Alone: A Space for Grace Retreat"
1-3 p.m. Tuesdays, June 16, 23 and 30.
Each day will feature a different grief-related topic; you can participate in as many or as few days as you prefer.
Day 1: June 16th - You Are Not Alone: We have each other. We can grieve. Topics Covered: Stages of Grief and Loss
Registration is free, but required for this webinar. Spaces are limited. Register at youarenotalone.ministrelife.org
ABC-USA Office of the General Secretary Releases Discussion Guide for Reopening Church Buildings
VALLEY FORGE, PA (5/1/20)—The American Baptist Churches USA Office of the General Secretary has released a new resource for American Baptist churches. The resource, “Discussion Guide for Reopening Your Church Building,” is designed to help American Baptist churches look at various points of consideration as they implement new methods, policies and procedures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is available in English and Spanish.
The Discussion Guide, developed with input from members of the Regional Executive Ministers Council, specifically focuses on two core areas, the physical and the personal. The physical area focuses on considering how to safely practice ministry and prepare your facility for ministry in this new era. The personal looks at the lingering effects of grief, economic distress, isolation, and other negative impacts from the pandemic which may create new needs among congregants.
View the Discussion Guide for Reopening Your Church Building here.
April 7, 2020
Dear MMBB Family:
As we continue to grapple with the continuing effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the pace of change is rapid and ongoing. It can be challenging to keep up with the volume of information whether it concerns the rising number of people stricken with the disease and its rapid spread, the shifting market and investment environment, or understanding the details of the recent stimulus legislation passed by Congress and its impact on pastoral leaders, churches and faith-based organizations. We take seriously MMBB’s fiduciary responsibility and ongoing commitment to serve our members. Therefore, we strive to ensure that the information presented about the CARES Act is accurate and reflects the clearest understanding of the specific provisions available to non-profits, clergy, churches and other religious entities. We appreciate your patience as we exercise our due diligence to examine multiple legal, financial, and legislative resources.
To that end, below is a list of frequently asked questions about the CARES Act. We hope this offers a clear explanation of what is available to members (individuals) and employers, and the procedures you need to follow to apply for assistance and various benefits. Our Service Center is available to answer questions that apply to your individual needs. Please call us at 800.986.6222 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May you, your families and your congregations remain healthy and safe and continue to find hope in the knowledge that God is our refuge and strength.
Grace and Peace,
Louis P. Barbarin, CPA
Chief Executive Officer
CARES Act Frequently Asked Questions
On March 27, 2020 President Trump signed the Coronavirus Relief, Aid and Recovery Economic Act (CARES Act), which is intended to “provide emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.” The types of assistance are broad and complex, covering many different aspects of American life. These FAQs will focus on those aspects that may be the most impactful for MMBB’s members and employers.
Relief for Individuals
Student Loan Relief
Relief for Employers
What provisions of the CARES Act applies to churches and church-related employers?
The CARES Act provides several forms of relief that churches and church-related organizations may be able to utilize. These include the Paycheck Protection Program Loan, Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan, a limited payroll tax credit, and the delay of payment of payroll taxes for a limited period of time.
What is an Emergency Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)?Please contact MMBB at 800.986.6222 or for information about either of these programs.
General Secretary Letter
March 24, 2020
Supporting our churches, pastors, and regions
Dear American Baptist Family:
Thank you for sharing your prayers, litanies, and resources during our 21 day Call to Prayer issued by the members of our National Executive Council and Regional Executive Ministers Council for the healing and recovery of COVID-19 victims. While this special emphasis runs from March 21 thru April 11, we will continue to post your submissions in the coming months at www.abc-usa.org/coronavirus. I’ve never known of a great act of the church that was not undergirded with prayer.
As Christians, we know that prayer and action go hand in hand. We pray fervently and we act diligently by maintaining social distances, washing our hands, safely volunteering, and following the mandates of our local, state, and national governments. As American Baptists, we have an exemplary record of exceeding expectations in doing the right thing.
Today, I am encouraging all of us to take another action and continue to support our churches, pastors, and regions during this critical time of ministry.
I have spoken to many pastors during this time of chaos and bewilderment and I believe that our ABC pastors are working harder now than prior to the onset of COVID-19. They are working differently, and with even more effort as they check on their congregants through electronic means, meet the emotional needs of families, youth, and the elderly, help staff community resources, research and post best practices related to the pandemic, figure out how to stream worship services and Bible studies, and the list goes on and on.
In the same way that a missionary must learn an entirely new set of practices in order to minister in a new culture, our pastors are learning how to be a pastor in the midst of social distancing restrictions and other disruptive conditions. Some of these learnings will have positive implications for the future of ministry and require deeper thinking, more collaboration, and increased creativity. Such adaptive work is extremely difficult and can take its toll on the leaders of our congregations and regions. Ministry has become even more difficult in recent days and we must not ignore the emotional, financial, and physical health of our pastors.
Our local churches, pastors, and regions are worthy of our support. Thank you to all who are continuing to support your local church and pastor through the mailing of your tithes and offerings and online giving, For those who are able, consider giving a special donation to your region as well. Some have told me that they plan to donate all or a portion of their government reimbursement check to their church or their region’s pastoral emergency fund. Just as many churches have discretionary funds to be able to support members and neighbors in need, many regions have special funds dedicated to supporting pastors in need.
Our national offices are also searching for ways to support our pastors and churches and we are monitoring potential benefits from the government stimulus package and other sources of assistance. News of benefits will be distributed through multiple channels including our ABC regional offices.
We have always been a bold and compassionate people. This is an opportunity to shine once again as we pray, act, and support our churches, pastors, and regions.
Acting General Secretary
I have never visited a congregation that was not able to care for the needs of persons in their community in critical times. I am encouraging all of us to do the same for our pastors during this unprecedented set of circumstances.
Our national and regional leaders pray and support you daily.
We act – mandates and service. We support - our pastors and regions.
People in New Testament times were not always able to assemble together and they found ways to support their local shepherds and ministry servants. Today, we benefit from enhanced technology.
IF your congregation needs assistance in streaming your worship online, contact your region or this website. If your congregation needs assistance with online giving, contact your region or this website.
In previous communications I have emphasized early protocols from the CDC, called for concern without panic, and reminded us to care for those hardest hit by this health crisis.
THE MINISTERS AND MISSIONARIES BENEFIT BOARD MMBB RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS FROM NEC AND REMC OFFICERS
NON-CONTRACTUAL BENEFITS AVAILABLE TO ABC-USA CLERGY
Ordained pastoral leaders, whose employers who cannot afford to continue their premiums during this time, will be placed on temporary continuance of $10/month premium for a period of up to 2 years. The key objective is to keep intact important life insurance and disability protections for members of the Comprehensive Plan.
This involves a reduction in compensation to fix the premium to the lowest level while maintaining important life and disability benefits for the member. This could be extended to those pastoral leaders who are forced to leave their churches or whose church is forced to close.
During the period of continuance, MMBB would pay the $10/month premium on behalf of the employer from its Non-Contractual Benefits Fund..............Click here for more information
From the Desk of Dr. James M. Harrison, ABCOTS Executive Minister
A Message from The Center for Career Development and Ministry
Can we help?
Pastors, would it help to talk with one of our coaches as you navigate through these uncertain times?
We know you are feeling the stress not only as this pandemic affects you and your family personally
but also as you address the needs and concerns of a congregation that is depending on you for leadership and vision.
We know that many of you are worried about how your church can continue to pay you
if this "stay at home" mandate continues for an extended time. We know that each day brings new challenges and fresh anxiety.
Can we help?
Contact me at and I'll match you with a coach who can meet with you via Zoom Videoconference.
No charge. We can get through this together.
The Center for Career Development and Ministry
1. Let us start with prayer for our Churches, its Leaders, and our Government Leaders. (I Timothy 2:1-2; II Chronicles 7:14).
2. Recognize this is a very serious time. The World Health Organization has made the assessment that COVID19 can be characterized as pandemic. It is a real threat to the health of our communities............Click here for more info