Church Income: Depressing Pinch

Falling income has produced among American church bodies the most serious financial pinch since the depression.

Most major denominations and a number of interdenominational groups, including the National Council of Churches (see October 10 issue, page 44), have been affected. The situation has not yet reached a crisis stage, but many boards and agencies are beginning to make modest cutbacks in expenditures.

The basic source of the churches’ current financial woes is the offering plate. There simply is not as much money in it these days. Rising costs are adding to the problem.

The downward trend in church finance goes back a number of months—in some cases years. Declines have on the whole been slight but steady. A special ad hoc committee was set up in the United Church of Christ to analyze the problem.

The Nixon administration’s battle to curb inflation may be contributing to the woes.

The American Baptist mission budget shows that for the first eight months of 1969 receipts totaled $7,078,718, down from $7,208,490 for the same period last year. Income for August was $677,119, or $68,443 less than was received for the same month a year ago.

“Since February we have had a monthly decrease,” said the Rev. Ralph R. Rott, executive director of the Division of World Mission Support. “At the beginning of the year the decrease was slight, but in August it was 1.1 per cent.”

The Presbyterian Church in the U. S. is also reporting continuing financial problems. The PCUS General Council voted to undertake an “independent” review of a major cutback in the denomination’s Board of Christian Education. In July, the board announced that its program would ...

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