In ordinary times, I would be looking to give the Congregation my regular update on our finances next month … these are not ordinary times.
The shutdown resulting from COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our revenue picture.
The budget approved at our AGM on March 1st relied on four major sources of income to fund our expenditures: Offerings, Thrift Shop, Rental Income, and Communications and Neighbourhood Engagement.
With the shutdown of our church in mid-March we had to end our rental contracts and close the Thrift Shop. Tuesday Night Jazz moved to on-line streaming, and while donations continue, they are not the same as when we were able to come together in the church.
Even with the slight easing of restrictions coming into place now, some things have not changed for us and are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Physical distancing is here to stay for a long time. The physical layout of our church and, particularly that of the Thrift Shop, pose significant challenges in being able to maintain that distance.
Impact on the Thrift Shop:
The Thrift Shop has been closed for two months with no prospect of being able to re-open in the foreseeable future. The Thrift Shop is too cramped to be provide adequate spacing of either volunteers or customers. Because of our reduced financial resources and no prospect of Thrift Shop revenue, the Board, with regret, made the decision that the Thrift Shop Manager and Chaplain, Joan Scandrett, would be laid off. We have spoken with Joan to provide support and to assist her in accessing the federal programs available to laid-off employees. COVID related lay-offs can be for a period of four months. We will re-assess our situation in September. We want to thank Joan for her service and compassion.
Communications and Neighbourhood Engagement:
We have hired Christine Chepyha on a contract basis as Interim Communications Director while Gordon Miller is on restorative leave. Christine will be providing the key functions of the position in order that we can maintain, and grow, our on-line presence.
What have we been doing to address the cash crunch?
Our offerings and our bank balance alone will not be sufficient to pay our costs indefinitely. Without other income, we could run out of money before the end of the year.
All United churches across the country are getting strong support from the United Church of Canada and their Regional staff. They are providing advice on ways to protect our cash and to how to secure other types of funding.
We have applied for the federal wage subsidy of 75 percent that applies to all salaried employees (not contractors). We are exploring a line of credit with our financial institution. We have contacted the Victoria Foundation to enquire what funds would be available to us should we need them. The United Church of Canada has established an emergency loan program, with the expectation that churches will look at other sources first. They have allowed churches to defer their regional assessments for the year.
Finally, I want to thank the people of the congregation for your continuing support. For those able to contribute financially, donations can be made through PAR (ie. Pre-authorized remittance – a monthly automatic withdrawal), post-dated cheques, regular cheques in the mail, or by using the Donate here button on our website that will take you to the Canada Helps page.