The Seventh-day Adventist Church is now in “survival” mode financially as it estimates a $26 million decline in tithe and mission offerings from their more than 21 million members around the world amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“According to reports received from division treasurers, the decrease in tithe income could be estimated as low as 5 percent and as high as 25 percent in some places, and the decrease in mission offerings as low as 10 percent and as high as 40 percent,” world church treasurer Juan Prestol-Puesán said during his Oct. 8 financial update to the members of the General Conference Executive Committee, according to the Adventist Review.
The Adventist Church headquarters estimates the impact of the decline will amount to $26 million and pointed to budget control measures such as the suspension of allocations to selected functions; introduction of budget reductions for departments and programs; and reduction, reallocation, and redirection of personnel to blunt the impact of the decline in donations.
Prestol-Puesán said between March and June 2020, all major church regions reported a decline in tithe and mission offerings, year-over-year and noted that the trend is expected to continue through December.
“We know that the year 2020 is a survival year, and that normality may return sometime in 2021,” he said.
Earlier this year, prominent megachurch pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes said churches “across the board” were being impacted financially by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think across the board it is difficult to maintain the kind of financial impact that we normally would have and that’s a problem because right now churches really want to embrace the community,” Jakes, who leads The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, told "CBS This Morning.
“We’re feeding people, we’re serving people, we’re reaching out to people in need and we help to keep some sort of equilibrium in the sociological fiber of our community. If we don’t have the resources to do that, that becomes difficult.”
Mark Chaves, a Duke University professor who specializes in the sociology of religion and is the principal investigator of the National Congregations Study, told The Citizen’s Voice earlier this month that a third of churches have no savings accounts, endowments or reserve funds.
He further noted that donations from churchgoers are “by far the most important income stream for the vast majority of churches.”
When it comes to pastors in poorer countries where the coronavirus has resulted in a drastic reduction in regular tithing, Open Doors U.K. and Ireland reported that some pastors now barely have enough money for food.
“Normally, when Christians suffer the church is where they turn to for help," Open Doors Asia Communications Director Jan Vermeer told Premier Christian News.
“But with COVID-19, the church pastors can barely look after their own families never mind the streams of people who come knocking on their doors for help. Everywhere we turn we’re seeing the same dire situation. Pastors whose income is based solely on giving from members of the church don’t have anything to eat,” Vermeer said.