Tithe across the South Pacific Division (SPD) rose by 11 per cent in 2018, the largest percentage increase in the past 10 years.
In fact, tithe has been trending upwards over the past decade, averaging a 4.4 per increase per year.
Offerings have also grown, though not at the same rate. In the past decade the major offerings (world mission and Division) have increased at an average of 3.4 per cent per year.
SPD CFO Rodney Brady said the SPD is regarded as one of the most generous divisions in the world and, on behalf of SPD leadership, he thanked members for their faithfulness.
“We express our sincere appreciation to members for their support of the Church through tithes and offerings, which make possible continued advancement of the work of the Church in this Division,” he said.
SPD tithe growth reflects a global trend, with most divisions recording increases in 2018.
“The consistent reason that many put it down to globally is that the first quarter lessons last year were on stewardship,” Mr Brady said.
“In the SPD the Discipleship Ministries Team (DMT) put in extra effort to support the lessons with resources and short video clips.”
Mr Brady said the availability of electronic giving has also supported tithe growth. “It provides a safe, convenient way for members to return their tithes and offerings,” he said.
The Trans Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) was a standout for the SPD, having the largest tithe growth—30 per cent—followed by Papua New Guinea Union Mission (17 per cent).
TPUM president Pastor Maveni Kaufononga believes the growth is due to a number of factors, including stewardship promotion by the DMT and the Union’s discipleship focus.
“When our members are faithful to the core mission of the Church—making disciples—it moves them to be more faithful in returning their tithe,” he said.
“There is also more accountability from our Treasury team in collecting tithe from local churches—members are trusting the system more.
“The increase of our tithe proves the sincerity of our members’ commitment to the mission of God and I would like to sincerely thank our church members for their faithfulness,” Pastor Kaufononga added.
“The Lord is blessing His work and people are responding to it.”
In May the SPD reviewed finances and approved budgets for the 2019-20 financial year. One of the largest allocations (20 per cent or $A7.6m) is going to the SPD’s four main strategy areas: Mission to the Cities, Discipleship, Comprehensive Health and Media. About $A2.8m (2 per cent) of tithe will go to the General Conference’s operating budget. More than $A8m will be sent to the GC as world mission offerings. Tertiary education will account for the largest expenditure: 20 per cent (about $A9.7m) of available funds.