Despite the challenging economic conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia has seen a rise in tithe.
According to Australian Union Conference CFO Peter Cameron, it was anticipated that tithe contributions might drop as a result of the temporary closure of churches due to COVID-19 lockdown measures. However the opposite has happened.
“We had expected the level of tithe to reduce in April as a result of the first full month of not meeting together at church but, in fact, there was an increase of 3.2 per cent compared to the same four-month period last year, and an increase from March to April of 1.47 per cent. We thank God for the faithfulness of our members in Australia,” Mr Cameron said.
"We would encourage all our members to continue to support their local church as the basic operating costs are not disappearing as a result of the doors being closed."
Notably, in the South New South Conference tithe was up 18 per cent for the first four months of 2020 compared to the same period last year. This is despite the region suffering five years of drought, the horrific January bushfires and now the impact of COVID-19. Tithe in North New South Wales is up by 14.8 per cent.
The news is not all positive, however: offerings are down on previous years, which could have an impact on the work of the Church.
Mr Cameron said the Sabbath school offering has fallen by 12 per cent for the January to April period compared to the same time last year, while thirteenth Sabbath offerings are down by 39 per cent.
“We would encourage all our members to continue to support their local church as the basic operating costs are not disappearing as a result of the doors being closed,” he said.
While offerings are down, there has been a noticable increase in the number of Australians and New Zealanders making contributions via the eGiving platform.
SPD stewardship leader Christina Hawkins said the number of people using eGiving for Sabbath school offerings has grown from around 600 per month to more than 2000.
“We are encouraged with how many church members are shifting to eGiving at this time,” Mrs Hawkins said. “Thank you so much for adjusting. It is enabling the mission of the Church to continue strongly.
“Our mission and the gospel commission remain the same even in this complex environment. And new opportunities are opening up for reaching secular people with the gospel while people of multi-faiths are becoming more curious about scripture and prophecy.”