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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Benevolence giving at all-time low

Benevolence giving as a percentage of income hit an all-time low in 2000, found a study by empty tomb inc. Based on figures from the National Council of Churches' Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, giving for international missions, charities, denominational administration, seminaries and schools declined 39 percent between 1968 and 2000.

The study found that overall per-member giving increased in both current and inflation-adjusted dollars, but overall giving as a percentage of income declined from 3.10 percent in 1968 to 2.64 percent in 2000. Benevolence figures in 2000 represented 0.40 percent of income.

"People are concerned about keeping the lights on and the staff paid at their churches, both of which are valid needs," said study author Sylvia Ronsvalle. "But those activities ought to be the platform from which to reach out to a hurting world. Instead [people] appear to be emphasizing their comfort over the needs of their local and international neighbors."


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