A release from Brethren Benefit Trust
When the pandemic hit the US in full force in March 2020, it quickly became apparent to some that financial pressures were impacting a group of pastors and church, district, and camp employees. Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) was one entity that quickly realized the need.
“Our customer service representatives started receiving calls by those who almost overnight found themselves in financial difficulty, for any number of reasons,” said Nevin Dulabaum, BBT president. “Our Employee Benefits team approached me with the message that we should address this need, and so we quickly assessed our options, and in the matter of a few days created the COVID-19 emergency relief grant program.”
The Church Workers’ Assistance Plan was created as an Annual Conference directive, which in 1998 asked BBT to serve as administrator of the benevolence program. Funds contributed by the churches, districts, and camps provide financial support grants to church workers in dire financial need. BBT distributes the grants through an application system that is cared for by BBT staff.
In 2020, the Church Workers’ Assistance Plan program provided $290,000 in grants to 45 people. However, once the pandemic hit, it was immediately obvious that the need for assistance might escalate.
BBT set aside a block of funds for a special COVID-19 Emergency Grant program; got a separate, streamlined application up and running; and put the word out. Working in conjunction with the district executives, the first round of grants became available on March 20, 2020, and applications were accepted for four months.
As the district executives let BBT know how helpful this grant money was and expressed worry that the need was going to continue, BBT responded by opening up additional grant funds, in four-month blocks, three more times since then.
The next round of grants begins April 1 and runs through the end of July 2021.
“In meeting with the district executives early this year, BBT heard their strong support for extending the COVID-19 grants through the end of 2021,” Dulabaum said. “BBT will consider doing so, based on how quickly the country recovers from the pandemic as the vaccination of Americans continues,” he added.
It is important to maintain strict privacy guidelines for our grant recipients, but we can share that of the 94 COVID-19 grants awarded so far, 76 have been distributed to church employees, and 14 have been distributed to camp employees.
Please visit the BBT website, www.cobbt.org, for more information and the grant application form.
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