Church Donations Holding Strong in the Heartland

By: Crystal Britt
Let's hope 2009 brings better economic news.  Our part of the country might not be recession proof, but it certainly appears we're better off that others...just ask your local pastor.
Many congregations are stepping up instead of stepping out.  In fact, at one Cape Girardeau church folks are actually giving more.
Pastor Paul Short of Saint Andrew Lutheran Church is very proud of his congregation.  He's actually beaming!
"Our offerings have been up over last year, that's a blessing," Pastor Short said. "We're up, not flat, but up over last year."
Members have even gone above and beyond raising thousands of dollars to build a fishing village in Haiti.  They most recently gave about $47,000 to build homes for families living currently in huts or shacks.
"They're (the congregation) not giving to a budget, we don't preach budget we preach missions," Pastor Short said. "He (God) takes what we have in our hand and multiplies it." 
Bethel General Baptist Church near Advance is home to a smaller congregation.  Pastor Kyle Sessions says the church averages about 100 people each Sunday.  When hard economic times hit he braced for the worst, but has been pleasantly surprised.
"I think it has tightened up things, but people were faithful and they've been faithful that God would supply their need," said Pastor Sessions.
As for weekly offerings, Sessions says, "We're tracking pretty well for past years."
But, he says there is still room for improvement.
"Might be down just a little bit, what we voted as a total operating budget, but doing pretty well." 
We're talking one or two thousand dollars, not bad especially for a church that's currently debt free.
"It's good to know we've been blessed and our people have been blessed and responded in giving," Pastor Sessions said. 
It's good news as churches begin the New Year with hopes that spirit of giving continues.