12 July 2021  |

Dear Aunt Sevvy,

I was interested in your answer to the man in the small church who wanted to give his tithe to his needy congregation rather than to the conference. My question is related, but slightly different. 

I like my conference, I am happy with my pastor, and I want to help pay his salary. But I see little use for all the levels farther up and, after the women’s ordination decision, I don’t want any of my money going to the General Conference. Is there a way to support my pastor without supporting the GC?

Signed, My Religion Is Local

Dear Local,

The denomination’s stewardship system is like an everything-included, all-you-can-eat buffet—for the denominational organization. If you give your tithe to the conference, they spend some of it on your pastor, but a chunk of it automatically goes up the ladder to the union conference and then to the General Conference—and you have no control over that.

Yet if you direct your tithe to your local congregation’s budget, your treasurer can pay lots of utility bills—but nothing goes to the pastor’s salary.

This system has worked pretty well, as long as you don’t mind having no control of how your money is spent. It certainly has kept denominational offices staffed, though (as in the question you reference) small congregations often struggle to pay their own bills. 

Aunty isn’t recommending this, but if you want to redirect your money, here are some things you should know:

  1. If you want your gift to stay closer to home, never, in any communication, on any envelope, in any letter, or on any check, use the word “tithe.” That word is the designation that means your money must go into the conference sorting machine to be sent up the financial ladder. If you don’t want your money to go above your local church or local conference (or whoever you’re designating it for) eliminate that word from your vocabulary, even if what you’re sending is a tenth of your income. If you refer to your gift as tithe, the treasurer must put it into the tithe fund.
  2. But what about supporting your local conference? Every conference has a local budget for funds that aren’t sent on to the union and General Conference (GC). It is usually designated for things such as the youth camp and the academy. However, some conferences also have a personnel fund meant for emergency personnel needs. You can call your conference and ask if they have such a fund. Again, refer to it as just a donation, not tithe.
  3. The GC sends money to missions. If you want to support missions, you will have to give to them separately—and many overseas organizations will enthusiastically extend their hands. But, beware! As some have discovered, your money may not end up where you expected. Perhaps a better way to support missions would be through the Sabbath School offerings. 
  4. Finally, you will have to be more deliberate in how you give. It won’t be as easy as sliding a check into the envelope and dropping it into an offering plate. You might have to do some research, and perhaps even mail your carefully identified gift directly to the conference office.

Redirecting your donations has more to do with your own peace of mind than influencing the organization. It would take many, many people redirecting their money away from the tithe fund for it to make a difference in how the church manages its stewardship package. 

Again, Aunty is only telling you how you would do this, not suggesting that you do it. 

Aunt Sevvy

You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—always without identification of the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.

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