The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


One big world

Benevolence is how Pennsylvania congregation stays connected

Despite the nosedive in the stock market, a sour economy and taking on a $3.8 million building and renovation project, Trinity Lutheran Church, Camp Hill, Pa., still gives more than a tithe of its income to benevolence.

For 2004, its $146,000 for mission support of the ELCA is about 11 percent of the congregation's $1.3 million budget.

Becky Enney shares a story based on the Prodigal Son with children at the contemporary service at Trinity Lutheran Church, Camp Hill, Pa. Photo by Laura Mathews."And believe me, there's hand-wringing guilt over not being able to give more," said J. Stewart Hardy, pastor of Trinity. Only a few years ago, he added, the benevolence was in the $250,000 range at the 2,600-member congregation in an upscale suburb of Pennsylvania's capital, Harrisburg.

"We will not allow our benevolence to drop below a tithe," he said. In recent years, Trinity has encouraged members to tithe. The leaders model that in their personal giving.

"Our benevolence will never get down to 10 percent," echoed David Bihl, chair of the stewardship committee. "There's just no way."

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