A Florida woman was sent a delinquency notice from her Tampa church, stating that she either had to pay $1,000 in tithe or find another church to worship.
Candace Petterson had been attending the aptly-named Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church for about six months, following her move to the Tampa area. Then last week, she received a letter from the church, reminding her to pay up or else.
“To be a member in good standing and have the right to vote, adults are to contribute the minimum amount of $50 per month.”
The single mother, who at first felt blessed for finding a place of worship near her new home, was now stunned to realize that the church considered her a delinquent due to her lack of financial support.
“Fifty dollars per month, now this shocked me because I haven’t heard about the $50 per month. So where did this come from?” asked Petterson. “Then Mount Moriah day is on there, $150.”
The church also asked her to pay $250 for a yearly anniversary fee, in addition to other miscellaneous fees — some of which were specifically requested to assist with paying off the church’s debt — and this amounted to the annual $1,000.
“What church charges you to help pay off what they’re going through?” Petterson asked. “I’m not there for that.”
The notice also stipulated that children, which would include her 11-year-old daughter, are required to pay a monthly fee of $5, as well as a twice-yearly fee of $15.
Furthermore, Petterson was reminded that high school graduates, unless they’re in college, are required to make donations to the church as adults.
“When a member graduates from high school, they are required to contribute as an adult unless they are [in] college. Once and individual graduates from college, or enter graduate school they are required to contribute [as an] adult. If you are still in college, not graduate school, please provide a copy of your last semester grades to the administration to retain your youth status.
If you have moved, joined another church, or are having financial hardship, please contact your ward leader, or pastor Fulton. If you were placed on hardship, this has been extended for 90 days. You should make every effort to contribute the amount fully required.”
Understandably upset, Peterson posted a copy of the disturbing letter on the church’s Facebook page, where one “good standing” member took the time to chastise her for publicly complaining.
“I love my church and my pastor,” said member Bonnie Maxwell. “I know people have their opinions regarding the letter that was sent out to this young lady and put over social media. I don’t understand why so much negativity about paying a monthly assessment of $50 a month, that you already knew about. If you go to a club or a bar whatever you wish to call it every weekend, you are paying about $10 or maybe more to get in the door and then paying again for drinks.”
“As Christians we are required to be obedient,” she added.
Petterson told ABC Action News that the experience had left such an unpleasant taste with her that she’ll be be seeking a less exorbitant church to worship.
“It’s like you say to me, if you want to be a member of this church, you need to pay this,” she said. “If you want to find God, it don’t say anything like that in the Bible.”
[Image via ABC Action News / Facebook]