“I needed to step back and think, what did it mean for me as a spiritual leader to not have the same faith mindset, since I was anticipating a downturn?” Robinson said. “Here were the members of the church stepping up — I had to lean into that. And rightfully, I was able to do so with great joy.”
Even before, the church had embraced frugality in order to pay down its debt, which has fallen from $2 million in 2013 to less than $300,000 today.
When services went virtual, savings on utilities and other costs helped keep the budget balanced. PPP loans of some $290,000 were also key to maintaining employees on the payroll and offsetting lost revenue from renting out space and other services.
At West Harpeth Primitive Baptist Church, another church in Franklin, giving is down but only slightly. Hewitt Sawyers, the pastor, attributes that to the scant turnover among the more than 150-year-old historically Black congregation’s members, many of whom are committed to financially supporting the church and work in sectors that were less damaged by the pandemic than others.
“We’ve just been wonderfully, wonderfully blessed,” Sawyers said.
Budget projections for this year are rosy enough that West Harpeth leaders are hopeful they can tackle a needed building renovation.
“We are extremely optimistic about it,” Sawyers said. “We’re planning on trying to do that in ’22, and we feel very, very, very comfortable about trying to get that done.”
The Associated Press receives support from the Lilly Endowment for coverage of philanthropy, nonprofits and religion, in partnership with The Conversation US. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
This article originally appeared on APNews.com.