April 10, 2020

The Indiana Conference is carefully and prayerfully monitoring the daily updates and information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on all of us. The passage of the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security” (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020, includes provisions intended to financially aid businesses and households. According to the Act, ministries are included in this package, and some of the provisions may aid our impacted churches and those who serve.

Our current reality reveals two facts:

  1. Unemployment has surged to a historical high within a matter of weeks, hurting many of our beloved church attenders and their ability to give.
  2. Our churches and leaders are being forced to reassess their budgets and expenses in this unprecedented situation, and in some instances, hard decisions about cutting back on personnel are being made.

Indiana, as well as the vast majority of states, exempt churches from paying unemployment taxes. Churches may elect to pay into their state unemployment insurance program; however, that is extremely rare. When churches don’t pay unemployment taxes, employees who are “released from employment” are ineligible for any unemployment benefits associated with their time serving the ministry.

However, with the current understanding of the CARES Act, unemployment benefits are being extended to those not traditionally eligible, and as of today’s writing, we would encourage all church staff — laid off, furloughed or terminated due to the COVID-19 crisis — to apply for unemployment.

Unemployment offices are currently making internal changes to accommodate their extraordinary number of applicants. Until those changes are in place, applicants may be prematurely declared as ineligible. Thus, we encourage everyone negatively impacted by this crisis to not only apply for unemployment but to continue to check your status regularly as we anticipate that those denied or deemed ineligible will soon be accepted and/or eligible.

This advice is given to those who are self-employed, independent contractors, and working for our churches and their affiliates (i.e. daycares, preschools).

Please continue to visit our Conference website (inumc.org) as we will be sharing updates and information until we all make it through this crisis. Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to Kathy Mitchell, Associate Director of Support Services, at kathy.mitchell@inumc.org.

Related: Learn about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance from the Department of Workforce Development