Tithes and offerings are starting to rebound after taking a hit in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a finance report presented at the Division Executive Committee (DEC) year-end meeting held online last Thursday.
Tithe grew by 8% in the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference (NZPUC) and 6% per cent in the Australian Union Conference (AUC) from January to August 2021 compared to the same period last year, according to the report. Tithe in the Trans Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) is down 1% on last year, while in Papua New Guinea Union Mission (PNGUM) it is down 16%. However, the latter’s result has bounced back significantly from the January to May period when it was down 32%.
Presenting the report, SPD finance manager Andrew Wanke said a standout region was South New Zealand, where tithe is up 25% on the previous year. Samoa is up 20% on last year and Eastern Highlands Mission (PNG) is up 16%.
“Overall, when we look at the trends, we received $148 million tithe in the Division totally [in the] 2020 calendar year and looking at the current numbers to August, [we] project out about a $149-$150 [million], possibly even more tithe in [the] 2021 calendar year,” Mr Wanke shared with the DEC delegates. “So that is really good news for our Division.”
Mr Wanke said offerings have also started to bounce back. Major offerings per $1 of tithe were down to 6.1 cents in 2020, but are now at 6.5 cents.
Strategic project funding totally $41.9 million was allocated throughout the Division during the 2017-2021 period. The majority of the funds were allocated to the AUC (22.4%), SPD Discipleship Ministries Team (21.5%) and Comprehensive Health Strategy (20.6%).
Mr Wanke said low interest rates are continuing to impact the Division’s budget. “A few years ago we were at 3%, now it’s down to 0.55%,” he said. “We are looking at about $3 million in the Division budget that has been reduced because of the sharp decline in interest.”
Division CFO Francois Keet is thankful that the Church has weathered the storm of the past two years.
“We want to give all honour and glory to God for blessing His church in such a mighty way, and want to express a special word of appreciation to you, our members, for your faithfulness during these difficult times. This demonstrates how resilient God’s church is to see us through the closing moments of this world.”