Information for Places of Worship, Worshippers (General and PPP)


We are living through one of the most monumental and ever-evolving chapters of our nation’s history. During these difficult and trying times, people of faith are turning towards their religious foundations and community leaders for guidance, support, and comfort.

Unfortunately, in an effort to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, we are unable to turn to the physical places of worship we have come to rely upon as sanctuaries in times of darkness. However, we can still turn to our communities of faith through prayer chains, live-streamed sermons, phone-call devotionals, and FaceTimeSunday school classes.

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Additionally, many church leaders have been curious about whether they qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) - all churches are eligible for the forgivable loans available under the Paycheck Protection Program. I have also provided below answers to some common questions regarding places of worship and the PPP.

These guidelines for faith and community leaders, as well as for members during these unprecedented times,can help us to navigate this chapter and come through it stronger than we were before.

Attending Religious Services

We have received a number of questions regarding the attendance of religious services. Guidance on attending religious services can be found on the Commonwealth of Virginia Coronavirus FAQ page.

Attendees may travel to their place of worship, park in the parking lot and listen to the religious message while remaining in their vehicles.  Participants must remain in their vehicle at all times, except as necessary to visit a restroom.  There must be no more than 10 individuals leading the religious ceremony or functioning outside of the church in support of the religious ceremony. 

Any interaction by the faith leaders and those in the vehicles must be strictly limited, such as using social distancing methods when passing out palms, serving Holy Communion using sealed or self-contained elements, and priests directing congregants to place ashes or water on their own forehead as opposed to priests applying the ashes or water directly on the foreheads of the congregants. 

Any objects used for collecting monetary offerings shall not be passed from attendee to attendee but may be offered to attendees in a  vehicle  as along as the object stays in the possession of the person assisting with collection.  Appropriate measures should be taken for the safety of those functioning outside of the cars.  Faith communities should also adhere to any noise ordinances. 


PPP Information for Churches

Who is eligible for the SBA Paycheck Protection Program? All churches are eligible for the forgivable loans available under the Paycheck Protection Program. 

Do you need to file a Form 990? No church should have to file a Form 990. If you are told you need to file a Form 990, please contact our office at (202) 225-4021.

What box do you check on the SBA Application Form 2483?

  • Churches should check the “501(c)(3) nonprofit” box in the top left corner of the form.
  • You do not need to have any formal recognition from the IRS in order to be considered a 501(c)(3) entity. You do not need a determination letter from the IRS.


Why should I check the “501(c)(3) nonprofit” box?

  • You are automatically recognized as a 501(c)(3) organization as long as you are organized and operated exclusively for the exempt purposes outlined in section 501(c)(3).
  • To qualify for tax-exempt status, the organization must meet the following requirements:
    • the organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific or other charitable purposes;
    • net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder;
    • no substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation;
    • the organization may not intervene in political campaigns; and
    • the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.

 For more information:

Before a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in your community: Plan

A COVID-19 outbreak could last for weeks or even months in your community. Depending on the severity of the outbreak, public health officials may recommend community actions to reduce spread of COVID-19. Local public health officials may make recommendations appropriate to your local situation, such as flexible sick-leave and telework policies.

Establish ongoing communication with your local public health department to facilitate access to relevant information before and during an outbreak.

Having a good contingency plan in place and developing flexible policies and procedures to accommodate public health recommendations can help reduce infection. During your planning process, remember to engage key partners across both public and private sectors, such as local businesses, schools, other community- and faith-based organizations, and community leaders. You can find your local Virginia Health Department by clicking here. Also, the specific details of your plan should be based on the extent of the outbreak and the size of your organization and workforce, complexity of your day-to-day operations, and type of on-site and off-site services your organization provides to vulnerable populations.

Connect to community-wide planning.

Find out if your local government has a private-public emergency planning group that meets regularly. Building strong alliances before an outbreak may provide your organization with the support and resources needed to respond effectively. Also, in recognition of the “whole community” approach to emergency planning and management, your input as community leaders and stakeholders helps ensure the completeness and representativeness of your local government’s emergency operations plan.

During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community: Act

Establish a “buddy” system to ensure vulnerable and hard-to-reach community members stay connected to COVID-19-related news and services.

It is important that your emergency operations planning team meets regularly (even if by video or telephone conferencing, rather than in-person) during an outbreak to accurately assess, manage, and communicate possible risks. Special consideration should be given to communicating risk to vulnerable populations in your community, including older adults and others with access and functional needs. Encourage those you serve to seek out a “buddy” who will check on and help care for them if they get sick. Early action to slow the spread of COVID-19 will help keep staff and volunteers healthy and help your organization maintain normal operations.

Establish alternative forms of communicating with your organization.

For faith and community leaders, much of your engagement with your communities occurs face-to-face. During a COVD-19 outbreak in your community, you must find alternative methods to communicate and engage with your organization. These methods can be as simple as establishing a phone-based prayer chain or as in-depth as live-streaming a weekly sermon or speaker from your home. Below are a few suggestions to maintain contact with those in your organization through an outbreak:

  • Telephone prayer chain
  • Live-streamed sermons or speakers (can be done through hosting services or Facebook Live)
  • Tele-conference devotionals
  • Weekly email updates that you encourage members to submit photos of themselves at home during containment practices
  • Face Time, Skype, or group video call faith-based classes, scripture studies, and other small-group activities.


After a COVID-19 outbreak has ended in your community: Follow Up

Establish criteria and procedures for when and how response actions will be phased out. 

Remember, a COVID-19 outbreak can last for a long time. When public health officials determine that the outbreak has ended, work with them to identify criteria for phasing out and ending your organization’s COVID-19 actions. The criteria should be based on reduced severity or a slowing of the outbreak in your local area.

Click here for further guidance from the CDC on ways to stay connected, stay prepared, and stay healthy through these trying times. You can also click here for a checklist of important steps to take as leaders in your community.

I strongly encourage you to reach out remotely, ensuring that you continue to practice social distancing, to folks in your community and congregation during this time.



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