Church Authority & Secrecy

Ross Williams

November 23, 2020

Dear Church Leaders, I often receive questions about the authority of church leaders over financial matters and access to financial statements, systems, meetings and records.  Listed below is guidance on these topics from The Book of Discipline and other UMC publications.  The Book of Discipline is available online at https://www.cokesbury.com/forms/DynamicContent.aspx?id=87&pageid=920#9568 One of the hallmarks of our denomination is a structure and practice of openness, transparency and ...


Church Insurance

Ross Williams

November 19, 2020

Dear Trustees, Treasurers, Finance Chairs and Pastors: It is essential that churches carry adequate Property & Casualty insurance on their buildings, vehicles and operations.  This is because one uninsured incident can result in significant financial costs and potentially, the closure of a church's doors.  Being adequately insured is probably the single-most important action a church can take to protect it's assets, its people and its ministry from unforeseen events. When it comes to Property &...


2021 Budget Inputs

Ross Williams

October 05, 2020

Dear Treasurers and Finance Chairs (copy to pastors), You will most likely be working on your 2021 budgets soon.  To assist you, listed below are some inputs from the Conference: Clergy Healthcare: The Uniform Rate for HealthFlex will remain at $18,240.00.  Since clergy will have six medical plans and three dental plans to choose from in 2021, the rate charged to clergy will vary based upon which plans they choose.  Clergy are provided an annual "allowance" to spend on health care.  In some ...


AIEM Housing Allowances

Ross Williams

September 17, 2020

Dear Clergy on Appointment in Extension Ministries, We want to ensure that you understand and take advantage of an important tax benefit available to ordained clergy.  Please read the information below on how to set up a housing exclusion so that a portion of your income can be treated as tax-free for federal, state and local purposes.  While you may not be currently serving a “church”, you can still qualify for this favorable tax treatment subject to the rules below.  The most important rule is...


Clergy Housing Allowances

Ross Williams

September 17, 2020

Dear Clergy and Church Finance Leaders: The topic of clergy “Housing Allowances” can be a complicated one, involving very specific rules and confusing terminology.  It is also an area that requires action prior to the processing of payroll each calendar year.  So what follows is a summary based upon the many questions that I receive on this topic. The Basics: 1. Section 107 of the Internal Revenue Code permits a “minister of the gospel” to exclude a “Housing Allowance” from income. This Housing ...


IRS Group Ruling Changes

Ross Williams

September 01, 2020

Dear Treasurers, Finance Chairs and Pastors, In May 2020, the IRS released proposed updates to the rules for group tax exemptions. These proposed updates would make several changes that could negatively impact our churches group exemption, including:  A requirement that all subordinate organizations adopt a “uniform governing instrument;” Specific definitions for the “general supervision” or “control” that the central organization must exercise over subordinates; and A requirement that ...


CARES Act Update

Ross Williams

August 12, 2020

Dear Treasurers, Finance Chairs and Pastors, SBA PPP:  On August 4th, 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department and Small Business Administration (SBA) published a set of FAQs about Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness. While some of the FAQs repeat existing guidance in the SBA’s regulations and forms and instructions, the August 4th update provide some new information that may be helpful for PPP borrowers.  Please click on the link above to view the latest document. I've been getting ...


SBA PPP Guidance & Free Resources

Ross Williams

July 28, 2020

Dear Treasurers, Finance Chairs and Pastors, At the bottom of this e-mail is a link to a document providing guidance on applying for SBA PPP forgiveness.  If you received a PPP loan, you may find this document very helpful. Also, Horizons Stewardship has a free online resource library, Giving365 that is available to churches.  It contains over 200 videos, webinars, e-books, published articles, and other resources all designed to help churches make disciples and fund ministry.  I encourage you to...


Church Finances: How to stay afloat and thrive - even in 2020!

Ross Williams

June 24, 2020

Dear Treasurers, Finance Chairs and Pastors, The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) will host its first virtual book club with Bonnie Marden, author of “Church Finances for Missional Leaders: Best Practices for Faithful Stewardship.”  Viewers are encouraged to order Marden’s book prior to the discussion and to ask questions during the event about how to manage church finances in this uniquely challenging time. The event will be streamed live on GBHEM’s Facebook page and ...


New SBA PPP Forgiveness Rules & Application

Ross Williams

June 18, 2020

Dear Treasurers, Finance Chairs and Pastors, Yesterday, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) released a revised loan forgiveness application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The SBA also unveiled a new EZ application for forgiveness of PPP loans. The applications reflect changes to the PPP made by the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act of 2020, which became law on June 5th. The applications and instructions are available in the links below: Revised PPP Loan Forgiveness ...


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