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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Report: Giving, benevolence spending hit record lows

Giving to U.S. Protestant churches as a percentage of income is at its lowest level in at least 41 years, according to a report, and congregations are keeping a greater share of those donations for their own needs.

Members gave about 2.38 percent of their income to their church, according to "The State of Church Giving through 2009," a report by Empty Tomb Inc., a Christian research agency in Champaign, Ill.

Just more than 2 percent of income went toward congregational finances, such as operating costs and building expenses. Only 0.34 percent of income went to what Empty Tomb calls benevolences, such as charities and seminary training beyond the walls of the congregation.

Those are lows, at least going back to the first report in 1968.

The report is based on data from mainline and American evangelical congregations. Data was not available for Roman Catholic parishes.


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