Congregational giving stagnates

While the majority of charitable giving goes to churches and other religious organizations, giving by churchgoers dropped slightly in 2004, a new study says.

The study, “The State of Church Giving through 2004,” is the 16th annual study of congregational giving by Empty Tomb, a Christian research and service organization based in Champaign, Ill.

Giving by a group of 40 Christian denominations, representing 40 million church members, grew to almost $779 million in 2004 from more than $750 million the previous year, representing a 1.16 percent drop in the portion of inflation-adjusted income donated.

The percentage directed to cover operational aspects of congregations fell 1.31 percent, the study says, while the portion directed for use outside congregations decreased 0.34 percent.

The churches studied spent an average of 2 cents of each dollar on international missions, the study says, ranging from a high of 9 cents per dollar in the Primitive Methodist Church to a low of 1 cent for the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches.

Had churches given the traditional tithe, or 10 percent of income, giving by congregations would have increased by $164 billion, the study says.

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