We Did It!  And How.  And Why.

First, the bad news:  after consulting with Deacon Chair Kathy Kendrick and Church Council Chair Todd Smith, we have come to the sad conclusion that we must extend the period of no in-person worship or other activities on our church campus until at least Sunday, May 17.   Having read all the expert medical advice that we could procure, and having heard from respected local medical sources who suggest that the peak of the coronavirus in middle Georgia will not occur until mid-May or later, none of us as church leaders could, in good conscience, recommend everyone gathering for worship any sooner than May 17.  Even that may be optimistic.  If we are able to gather on May 17, it would be without holding Sunday School and only having the one service at 10:45 am, with families endeavoring to keep appropriate social distance as we do so.  But I fervently hope we can meet then:  that would be the day we honor our graduates, particularly our high school seniors. 

Now for the good news:  as of Tuesday, April 21, Vineville Baptist has received a check for $126,000 from the federal government’s Payroll Protection Plan!  I want again to express my deepest appreciation to Bob Willingham, chair of Finance, and to Peggy Jones, our financial secretary, for their heroic work.  Peggy had to pull together a wealth of financial data to make this application possible, and Bob has shepherded our request through layers of bureaucratic red tape.  We are indebted to them both!

However, it took more than Bob’s and Peggy’s heroic action to make this application happen.  We had to act quickly as a church leadership team to ensure that our request was submitted in a timely fashion.  Plenty of small businesses and churches were slower with their requests and now have had to wait for Congress to replenish this fund.  Our church leadership team acted with alacrity and focus; you have reason to be proud of them.

I remind you, this check for $126,000 is presently considered a loan. But as long as the church does not lay anyone off between now and the fall, and as long as 75% of this money goes for personnel expenses, then the loan will be considered a grant – the church will incur no indebtedness!  In other words, if we abide by the rules, this is “free money!”

Of course, we were not able to follow our normal parliamentary procedure in applying for this free money.  The request was extremely time sensitive, and we as a church were enjoined by gubernatorial decree from gathering in a large meeting.  So, once I had outlined the main points of the proposal and sent it to Todd and Kathy for review, they forwarded it on to the full Church Council, who responded quickly and unanimously in favor of submitting the grant application. 

There may be some who feel that we acted precipitously and without proper congregational approval.  But our actions were governed by a high regard for honoring the church’s stated desire.  Last year the church commissioned a committee to study the Morning School’s future and bring a report.  That committee discovered that the church highly regarded the value of the Morning School and wanted to see it continued.  The congregation in church conference ratified that recommendation.  Yet, with no funds coming in because the Morning School could not meet, we could not have kept paying the staff, which would have probably meant the end of the Morning School program.  Having received this loan/grant, we can now continue to pay the salaries of our church staff, Morning School staff and our Higher Life staff even amidst a financial climate when our receipts will be diminished by our inability to gather for worship and by the financial hardships suffered by many in our fellowship.  We had to act quickly in order to keep faith with what the church had previously expressed.   In truth, the church’s financial life was at stake.  Of course, I am glad to discuss the particulars of this process with any who desire further conversation on the topic.   

A word from your pastor,
Dr. Richard Kremer