The United Church of Christ National Setting is offering financial assistance to local churches whose ministries have been challenged by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As one, the national officers have collectively identified $2.6 million in COVID-19 relief, $1.5 million in loans that will be administered through the Cornerstone Fund and another $1.1 million in micro grants. The grant application process opens June 1. Grant money will be available through the process detailed below by the UCC executives.
From the Revs. John Dorhauer, Traci Blackmon and Karen Georgia Thompson:
The prolonged impact of COVID-19 has caused increased challenges for many of our churches and conferences. The national setting, in addition to the phenomenal work of Conferences, seeks to respond with holistic support of local churches in addition to the ecclesiastical and administrative resources available through our ministries and on ucc.org. We want to provide financial assistance to local church ministries and Conferences during this unprecedented time. As a result, several routine granting cycles for 2020 are suspended for this year only as we redirect funds to meet present challenges while maintaining the integrity of the intent of grant funds. Below please find a list of resources with links to their corresponding application or landing page. Our prayer is that this offering will be useful to churches most in need during this COVID-19 pandemic season.
Operational Grants for Churches that Perform Direct Service
These funds are for general operating support, directed to support churches’ ability to carry out their mission rather than specific projects or programs. General operating support is intended to grant the working capital needed to sustain day-to-day operations. This fund can be applied for by congregations as well as Conferences who are applying on behalf of congregations. All applications require Conference endorsement. For questions concerning this grant, please contact Rev. Aaron Wade at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Operational Grants for Congregations of Color and Ethnic Minority Congregations in the UCC
These funds are intended for general operating support that has been allocated specifically for Congregations of Color and Ethnic Minorities in the United Church of Christ: non-dominant racial/ethnic churches, indigenous churches and African-American churches. This fund can be applied for by congregations as well as Conferences who are applying on behalf of congregations. All applications require Conference endorsement. For questions concerning this grant, please contact Rev. Aaron Wade at: email@example.com
Community Garden Grants
These funds are direct service funds set aside for churches to support community garden programs. These funds are intended to be seed monies to maintain or establish sustainable urban and community gardens to improve the public's health, well-being, economic vitality, and create resilient ecosystems for present and future generations. All applications require Conference endorsement. For questions concerning this grant, please contact Rev. Aaron Wade at: firstname.lastname@example.org
UCC COVID-19 Conference Recovery Grant
In response to COVID-19, this grant will provide support to Conferences to meet needs created or worsened due to COVID-19. The funds are earmarked for community support in areas hardest hit by the pandemic. Conference Ministers may apply on behalf of their Conference. For questions concerning this grant, please contact Rev. Monica Dawkins-Smith at: email@example.com
Make a Difference! Caring for Authorized Clergy Fund Grant
These grants are available to persons authorized for ministry in the United Church of Christ (ordained, licensed and commissioned) who are experiencing crisis in their vocational and/or personal lives (e.g. counseling, immediate intervention, early intervention and referral assessment, psychological testing). Funds are not meant for long-term support, salaries or other income. Conference staff must apply for this grant on behalf of an authorized minister. For questions concerning this grant, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Low-Interest Sustainability Loans in partnership with the Cornerstone Fund
Administered by the United Church of Christ Cornerstone Fund, this loan program is in response to the adverse impact COVID-19 is having on UCC churches. These loans assist UCC Churches that are experiencing cash flow problems due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Loans of $5,000 to $20,000 at 2.5 percent interest rates are being made available.
The National Setting is also allocating resources to these additional COVID-19 programs:
Medical Debt Abolishment:
RIP National Debt Abolishment
With profound gratitude for essential workers who themselves live at or below poverty and are burdened with medical debt, the national setting will contribute $15,000 to RIP Medical Debt for a special national campaign to abolish the medical debt of low-income essential workers through their COVID Heroes Fund. The UCC contribution will abolish approximately $1.5 million dollars of debt from the families of these workers.
Sustainable Farming Response:
FCAB Just Food Project
The national setting has provided a $15,000 sustainable farming grant to Franklinton Center at Bricks, in Whitakers, N.C., to provide resources to increase the harvesting capacity of community farms in one of the poorest ZIP codes in the nation. Produce grown at FCAB will help sustain families in that area throughout the summer.
International COVID-19 Response:
UCC COVID-19 International Relief Grant
In response to COVID-19, this grant will provide support to international organizations that the UCC currently works with to meet needs created or worsened due to COVID-19. The funds are earmarked for international support in areas hardest hit by the pandemic. Applications are not being received for this grant. For questions concerning this grant, please contact Phyllis Richards at: email@example.com
UCC COVID-19 Refugee and Asylum Grant
In response to COVID-19, this grant will assist churches and community organizations that provide relief efforts to the refugee and asylum-seeking community. Applicants showing that the situation was caused or worsened due to COVID-19 will be considered. These funds will be available for United States and territories, and international organizations with proven capacity to address these community-based needs. For questions concerning this grant, please contact Phyllis Richards at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional financial assistance:
Pension Board Ministerial Assistance Emergency Grant
Funds provide direct financial support to those who serve the church and are facing financial difficulties. Active and retired clergy, lay employees, and their surviving spouses may be eligible. To apply for an emergency grant, contact the Conference office where you have authorization for ministry and speak with a member of the Conference staff. Explain your situation and ask them to forward your request for an emergency grant. If the Conference supports your request, conference staff may call or email the Director of Ministerial Assistance.
Cornerstone Loan Options
The Cornerstone Fund offers competitively priced and low-fee borrowing options that are specifically designed to meet the unique need of churches and nonprofit organizations. Loans provide short-term financing to fill the gap between needed funding and availability of collected funds.