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UCG Board Member States
Local Churches Should Keep Member Tithes

INDIANAPOLIS--One of the most visible changes in the procedures of the United Church of God involves tithes and offerings. Dennis Luker, a member of the transitional board of the UCG, explained the new policies to delegates at the general conference here May 1.

The big change: Church members will send their tithes to their local church instead of to the home office.

Mr. Luker called the policy a "recommendation" of the organizers of the UCG and the board of directors, although anyone would still be free to send donations to the home office.

At the time of the next general conference, the policy on offerings, which he then explained more fully, "can be revaluated."

A doctrinal statement will eventually be developed on tithing, but "I think all will agree that it [tithing] is a biblical way of financing God's work," Mr. Luker said.

The recommendation of the UCG is that tithes be collected locally at the congregation, although not during church services, then sent to a bank account set up in the area by the local church opened for that purpose.

Director Ray Wooten explained more details in another address the next day.

Mr. Luker said the recommendation is that "all local church expenses be paid from these tithes and offerings, then the rest be sent to the home office."

He digressed for a moment to note that "our headquarters is going to be called the home office. Isn't that a warm, friendly term?"

The reasons for the new approach on tithes and offerings:

  • "This is the most efficient and practical way of doing it," Mr. Luker said.
  • The policy "places trust in the local pastor, the local leadership and the entire congregation." It trusts "that they're converted and motivated by God's Holy Spirit."
  • "This approach will empower and motivate the congregation to do more of the work locally; in other words, local evangelism."
  • "This approach will eliminate the need for time and energy-consuming local fund-raising projects, like selling candy and fruit, etc." (At this point delegates erupted into wild applause. "I should have put that point first," Mr. Luker said.)
  • "This approach is putting faith in God that He will motivate His people to be faithful in supporting a home office so that a national and international work can be done."

The board, through Mr. Luker, also recommended that ministers' salaries and fringe benefits be paid from the home office "so that standardization and fairness can be achieved for all ministers." (There was applause after this statement too.)

As to timing, when to begin sending in donations, Mr. Luker said that "we recommend that local congregations begin sending tithes and offerings to the home office as soon as possible after this conference." The congregations "would send the surplus after all local church expenses have been deducted."

As a one-time exception to the recommendations, Mr. Luker said the board requests that the "entire Pentecost offering from all the congregations be sent to the home office to give it a kick start."

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