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Weekly Review

Billy Graham Chaplains Respond, Online Attendance Up But Giving Down, Including Ex-Offenders in CARES Act

Warren Cole Smith

Ministries Respond to Tornadoes.  The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT) has deployed crisis-trained chaplains to Polk County, Texas, to provide emotional and spiritual support after tornadoes devastated the area Wednesday evening.  The National Weather Service said there have been at least 26 tornadoes as part of the storm system, leaving at least six people dead.  At least 20 people were injured in Polk County.  “Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are on their way to the hardest-hit areas to serve the community alongside Samaritan’s Purse,” said Jack Munday, international director of the RRT.  Thursday’s deployment is RRT’s fifth tornado response in the last two weeks, having gone to four different states in the southern part of the U.S. after storms on Easter Sunday.  

Online Attendance Up.  A recent survey of pastors conducted this month by the Center for Bible Engagement shows that 62 percent of churches are recording better attendance for online services than for regular church services. However, when it comes to financial participation, 42 percent say that giving is worse than before the pandemic while 33 percent say giving is about the same. The survey also revealed that some church leaders are worried about what happens once quarantine has lifted. Arnie Cole, CEO of Back to the Bible and the Center for Bible Engagement, says there are reasons to believe people may not be returning to the pews.  “How church leaders plan and respond now will make the critical difference in how the Church continues after the pandemic,” says Cole. “Each of us can choose to virtually attend any church with an online presence. This choice can be an add-on to our active participation in our local church, or a substitute for it. Online worship with the mega church across the country can be a ‘yes, and’ or an ‘in lieu of.’ As behavior scientists, we believe the ‘in lieu of’ scenario is the more likely one, and that has many pastors and leaders concerned.” 

CARES Excludes Second Chance Entrepreneurs.  Prison Fellowship, the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, said the Paycheck Protection Program Increase Act fails to address the restriction that disqualifies second chance entrepreneurs from having access to relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  Currently, the Paycheck Protection Program’sinterim rule denies applicants if they have a felony within the past five years. The application also includes several questions that make it unclear as to whether other types of criminal records or past involvement with the justice system may prohibit access to these loans.  A statement released by the ministry said, “The rule excludes far too many individuals, many of whom are invaluable job creators in their communities. This collateral consequence not only undermines the livelihood of business owners with a criminal record, but all the Americans they employ.”  

ECFA Changes.  The following organizations have had membership status changes in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.  ADDITIONS:  The Dallas Dream Team (Carrollton, Tex.), LINC Ministries International (Houston, Tex.), 4Kids of South Florida (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.), Mirror Ministries (Richland, Wash.), Great Commission Association of Southern Baptist Churches (Morgan Hill, Calif.) 

REMOVALS:  Jimmie Hale Mission (Birmingham, Ala.)Jay Strack Evangelistic Association (Orlando, Fla.), Student Leadership University (Orlando, Fla.), Highland Park Evangelical Free Church (Columbus, Neb.), Spanish Central District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (McAllen, Tex.) 

MinistryWatch Rating Changes.  The following ministries have their profiles updated with the most recent year’s financial data.  The Financial Efficiency rating of each ministry is in parenthesis.  If this rating represents a change from the previous year, that change is noted:  Jack Van Impe Ministries (1 Star, Transparency Grade:  D)Keys for Kids Ministries (1 Star, Transparency Grade:  C)LATCOM (Down from 2 Stars to 1 Star, Transparency Grade:  A), Leadership Ministries Worldwide (3 Stars, Transparency Grade:  A)Life Training Institute (4 Stars, Transparency Grade:  D)Lifechangers/Bob Mumford (3 Stars, Transparency Grade:  D)Maranatha Volunteers International (3 Stars, Transparency Grade:  D), Sammy Tippit Ministries (Up from 3 Stars to 4 Stars, Transparency Grade:  D), PureHope (Up from 2 Stars to 3 Stars, Transparency Grade:  C), Promise Keepers (Down From 3 Stars to 2 Stars, Transparency Grade: C) 

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Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren previously served as Vice President of WORLD News Group, publisher of WORLD Magazine and has more than 30 years of experience as a writer, editor, marketing professional, and entrepreneur. Before launching a career in Christian journalism 20 years ago, Smith spent more than seven years as the Marketing Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

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