In this message:

  • Wellmark - Virtual Care at No Cost
  • Unemployment Benefits for Impacted Church Staff
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act


Wellmark - Virtual Care at No Cost

For participants in the Iowa Conference active health plan, Wellmark will cover the member cost share for all virtual visits with your personal doctor and other in-network providers through June 16, 2020. You and your covered dependents can get medical and behavioral health care at home at no cost to you with phone or video visits.

Many health care providers are working quickly to provide virtual visit capabilities to their patients, either over the phone or via video visit. You may want to reach out to your personal doctor to see if they are making arrangements for virtual visits. To search for an in-network provider near you, go to

For more information, please view the attached brochure from Wellmark at the bottom of this page by clicking on the pdf link next to 'Files'. 


Unemployment Benefits for Church Staff

The HR office has received several phone calls and emails over the past few days with questions related to unemployment benefits for local church staff.  Our ability to live, gather, and worship has been dramatically altered by COVID-19.  Most local churches are experiencing a reduced workload for many of their staff members, a reduction in giving, or both, causing concern for employees should the church determine that a layoff is necessary. 

While it is true that employment with the church is not 'insured employment' per the Code of Iowa and that our churches are exempt from paying into the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, this does not mean that a church employee is automatically ineligible for benefits. Iowa Workforce Development reviews an unemployment claimant's entire wage and employment history during the base period when reviewing the application.  For example, if an employee of your church has worked for other organizations during the base period, those wages earned may be considered when determining eligibility and benefits payable to the employee. For more information on unemployment benefits resulting from a layoff or a reduction of hours due to COVID-19, you are welcome to direct your staff to the following site: 

Unemployment during COVID-19

In addition, the stimulus bill passed earlier today and signed by the President includes expanded unemployment benefits for individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Though there may be additional guidance forthcoming, it appears that umployment benefits will be extended to those who had not previously been eligible, such as independent contractors, those who are self-employed, etc.  To learn more, you are encouraged to read through the article on the following web page, and additional resources will be provided as they become available:

 Coronavirus Relief Bill


Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Earlier this week, the federal government also passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to allow for job protected, paid time away from work to care for children while schools and daycares are closed and paid sick leave for employees caring for themselves or others due to COVID-19.  These regulations apply to certain public and private employers with the number of employees between 25 - 500, though some organizations may qualify for an exemption.  More information will be provided by the Department of Labor in April of 2020 related to the regulations.

Families First Cornonavirus Response Act 


If there is information that you would find helpful, or you would like additional resources regarding these topics, please send me an email at  


Many thanks to all of you for your care and leadership during these trying times - please take time to care for yourselves as well. My prayers are always with you, and I am blessed to be a part of this connection, the Iowa Annual Conference.

Joni Mardesen, Director of HR/CBO

Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
2301 Rittenhouse Street | Des Moines, IA 50321 | 515.974.8921