After receiving $3.6 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans (PPP), Ohio megachurch Crossroads Church now says it will donate $2.5 million to local, national, and international nonprofits.
The gift is part of the church’s 25th anniversary and was announced during services last weekend . Crossroads, which now has 11 campuses and an estimated attendance of 35,000, was founded in 1996 by a small group of believers in Hyde Park, an affluent Cincinnati neighborhood on the east side.
“I hope that Cincinnati would see us for the last 25 years as being a blessing for the city,” Crossroads senior pastor Brian Tome told a local news outlet. “Regardless of what your religious affiliation is, or your political affiliation, or your world view, I’m hoping that people look at our church and say, ‘Man, I’m glad that they’re in our city.'”
So far, the church has given money to local ministry City Gospel Mission, as well as international nonprofits Jeevan Aadhar and Restavek Freedom. The two international groups help vulnerable children in Haiti and India.
These gifts will be in addition to the church’s normal giving activities, according to the church’s announcements. The funds for the gifts come from the church’s operational budget.
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In 2021 alone, the church served others with food drives, racial reconciliation events, flood relief, help for healthcare workers, and blanket collection for the homeless, according to the Crossroads website.
“God has blessed Crossroads over the past 25 years and we don’t take that lightly, so we want to use what we’ve been given to bring positive change in the communities we serve,” Tome said in a statement.
While Crossroads is giving away money now, in 2020 and 2021, the church received millions in government loans to support 403 employees across its multiple locations.
The church told local news sources that it had used the money to hire additional employees to serve the community. Pastor Tome said he believed the PPP loans to Crossroads and other local churches yielded positive results in the lives of many people.
“Who knows the number of additional suicides that would take place? Who knows the number of additional divorces that would take place? Who knows how many people would be hungry if it weren’t for our church’s engagement?” he said. “And that’s just ours. That’s not all the churches all around the region.”
Yet from the beginning of the pandemic to early this year, the church kept its buildings closed. Although the church attempted to reopen in July 2020, it cancelled plans after only one service.
Overall, religious organizations have received $9.21 billion in PPP loans, according to public resource site FederalPay.org. Many of the churches that received loans were megachurches, which already had millions of dollars in assets.
PPP loans are supposed to incentivize small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll, according to the Small Business Administration website. If businesses spend the loans on payroll expenses, they can apply to have the loans forgiven.
But many megachurches have come under suspicion for misuse of their PPP loans.
Churches like Willow Creek cut jobs after receiving PPP loan money. Other church leaders have used the loan money to buy expensive houses or dozens of luxury cars. Government loans have also gone out to several churches and ministries with recent cases of financial misconduct.
Crossroads is an interdenominational church, which favors a more literal interpretation of Scripture. On its website, Crossroads encourages its members to tithe and says if they don’t see God’s blessing in 90 days, the church will give them their money back.
Jackson Elliott is a Christian journalist trained at Northwestern University. He has worked at The Daily Signal, The Inlander, and The Christian Post, covering topics ranging from D.C. politics to prison ministry. His interests include the Bible, philosophy, theology, Russian literature, and Irish music.