When the coronavirus shuttered church services in 2020, treasurers at all levels of the church braced for the worst. What would happen to tithe and offerings if members simply watched services from home and didn’t have a designated place and time to turn in their tithe envelopes? Would members use the online giving options that had been created?
It turns out that they would and they did, according to the year-end tithe report recently posted on the North American Division website. The year of 2020 ended with tithe of $1,093,421,650.01, a gain of $18 million compared with $1,075,010,963.32 in 2019.
Tom Evans, recently retired treasurer of the North American Division, calls this report simply amazing. People are faithfully giving, he points out.
They are returning their tithe, but the sad news is that the combined Sabbath School and Mission offerings have not seen the same result. The World Mission Offering is off by 21.18%, and Sabbath School is down 22.14%. In 2020, the combined offering was $16,486,809.93; in 2019 it was $20,917,105.92.
In the breakdown of the NAD tithe numbers, eighteen conferences registered a loss for the year. For some, it was a small loss, less than 1%. Tithe in the Washington Conference was down 0.21%. And the South Atlantic Conference saw a difference of negative 0.22%.
There were 42 conferences that saw a gain. Again, for some it was a small gain. In the Illinois Conference it was less than 1% — at 0.13%. Northern California Conference just made it over the 1% line to 1.15%. The conferences with the biggest gains were the Mountain View Conference with an increase of 21.50% and the SDA Church in Newfoundland with 20.08%. The Alleghany East Conference experienced a large increase in per capita giving — 28.98%, but it was a tough year for the conference with a 2.75% loss in tithe dollars year over year.
In 2021, the numbers that will be watched closely will be church attendance. As more and more congregations are allowed to again have in-person services, will the membership return? Or will the comfort of sitting in one’s living room and watching a service online replace the experience of worshipping in a church sanctuary?
Evans thinks there is something to be said about being in church giving SS and mission offerings. But he praises the Lord that members continued to return their tithe in 2020.
The North American Division 2020 Tithe Comparison Chart:
Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.
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