Wespath Provides Summary of CARES Act

850-page Legislation is summarized down to 14 pages by Wespath and provides insight for what it means to churches and other non-profits.
Wespath* (the benefits and investments arm of The United Methodist Church), released its preliminary summary of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Bishop Lowry and the Cabinet highly recommend this “excellent 14-page summary” of the more than 850 page legislation. Click here to read the summary.
“As usual, Wespath did a very thorough job of dissecting the legislation and providing an excellent summary,” stated Jeff Roper, Conference Benefits Officer and Executive Director of the Roberts Center of Leadership & Administration. “While the summary on loan provisions, a question that churches have been asking since the legislation was signed into law, starts on page 11 of the summary, there is excellent information throughout. I strongly suggest reading the entire summary.” 
Other key sections of the Wespath summary include:
  • Assistance for individuals (rebate payments, unemployment changes) – page 2
  • Retirement plan changes – page 5
  • Group Health Plan changes – page 7
  • Assistance for employers (deferral of social security taxes and other) – page 8
  • Small business provisions – including nonprofits (“Paycheck Protection Program”) – page 11
  • Provisions to support charities – page 13
  • Student loan relief – page 13
While some of the provisions in the CARES Act have direct applicability to local churches, annual conferences, and other tax-exempt employers associated with The United Methodist Church (UMC), comprehensive guidelines from the government on the implementation of the CARES Act are not expected for at least another 15 days. As such, there is no immediate call to action for local churches. In the meantime, here are a few steps churches can take to prepare for the release of the official guidelines.
  • Ensure your 2019 Financial Statements are complete and your first-quarter financial statements are prepared as soon as possible.  
  • Review your church’s polity on receiving a loan and take steps toward notices of meetings that may be required.
    • If a church vote is necessary, think about how you will accomplish that during social distancing using mailed ballots or online meetings (such as ZOOM) that can accommodate large numbers of people.
    • Determine if approval is required to apply for the loan or just to sign documents. 
  • Locate an SBA approved bank or financial institution and let them know you would like to apply. Ask them to immediately provide you loan documentation requirements once published by the SBA. Information on how to find approved SBA lenders is available at sba.gov/funding-programs/loans.
  • Talk to your District Superintendent about the situation at your church (including finances). 
  • Seeking the advice and counsel of an attorney or a CPA is always advised, and especially so when dealing with new laws and situation.

Wespath's Legal Department worked with colleague lawyers in the Church Alliance to create the summary as an information source for our stakeholders across the Church. It is a preliminary assessment based on the text of the statute and the understanding of Wespath's Legal staff and in-house and outside counsel who support the Church Alliance. Wespath staff will review forthcoming regulatory guidance implementing the new law and determine our ability to implement retirement and health plan provisions. Watch the conference website for those updates as they are available.

*Wespath Benefits and Investments has been serving The United Methodist Church for over 100 years. We are the largest reporting faith-based pension fund in the United States, serving more than 100,000 active and retired clergy and lay employees of the Church. As a sustainable investor, Wespath incorporates consideration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in our investment decision-making and aspires to make a positive impact on the environment and society.