South Pacific Division president Pastor Glenn Townend has thanked church members for their faithfulness in returning their tithes and offerings in a year ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tithe across the South Pacific was up 2.7% in 2020, with the Australian Union Conference recording the biggest increase (6.9% from January to November). In the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference, tithe remained stable, while the Trans Pacific Union Mission recorded a 3.46% increase despite a turbulent year for the Pacific islands due to the pandemic’s impact on the local tourism industry and the effect of two devastating cyclones. In Papua New Guinea, where there have been significant economic challenges, tithe declined by 9%.
At the same time offerings in the Trans Pacific and Papua New Guinea have shown remarkable growth in 2020, up 106%. These unions follow the “one basket” offering plan, where 50% goes to the local church and the other 50% is split between the local mission (20%), local union (10%) and General Conference (20%). COVID-19 restrictions have meant that many smaller churches now meet in more places where people live, attracting many new believers, which has contributed to the growth in offerings. “This is just an absolute blessing we can thank God and His people for,” Pastor Townend said.
However, in Australia and New Zealand there has been a significant decrease in Sabbath School offerings, down by 29%, while giving to other projects for the global Church is down by 31%. This has raised concerns that less people are meeting for Sabbath School, whether in church, at home in small groups, or by Zoom—potentially impacting the believer’s spiritual growth. According to available data, participation in offerings in Australia and New Zealand is as low as 5% in many conferences. Australia and New Zealand follow a calendar offering plan where the local church receives the offering on 60% of Sabbaths, with offerings on the remaining Sabbaths allocated to mission advancement needs including Adventist World Radio, Hope Channel and the world mission budget.
“Even if we are restricted in meeting together we can still give to support the ministry in our local church and community and world mission projects by using the egiving app or egiving website (see links below),” Pastor Townend said.
“In the South Pacific Division we want to make the most of the opportunities of sharing the hope of Jesus in these troubled times,” he continued.
“As people increasingly search for something to depend upon, what a privilege we have in carrying forward the mission God has given us in reaching the world for Him. One vitally important way of helping that mission move forward is by partnering with God—not only through returning a full and faithful tithe, but also by being generous and giving regular, systematic offerings that advance mission outreach locally and globally.
“May God bless you as you continue to return your tithes and offerings to Him from a grateful and generous heart.”