A church in Florida recently sent a collection notice to a woman, notifying her of the $1,000 that she is now required to pay as fees to the congregation for having failed to tithe in due time. The notice also warned that the woman in question, Candace Petterson, might face possible removal if she did not agree to pay the delinquency fine.
Petterson, who is a single mother, said that she started attending Greater Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church less than six months ago after relocating to the Tampa area and was shocked to received such a collection notice from them. She explained that her refusal to tithe had led to her receiving the delinquency notice from the church, which expects her to pay $50 every month along with other miscellaneous fees to continue being considered a member in good standing and be able to vote on church-related matters.
The church, which has mostly black members, has been operating in the area for over a century. Part of the $1,000 that it asked Petterson to pay includes an annual $250 anniversary fee as well a $150 contribution for Mount Moriah Day. The church has been unabashed about keeping aside some of its collection to pay off previously incurred debt.
“What church charges you to help pay off what they’re going through?” Petterson said. “I’m not there for that.”
The letter from Pastor Fulton and assistant administrator Ladreda Spencer also informed Petterson that children, including her preteen daughter, were expected to contribute $5 each month to the church apart from the yearly fees of $15. In conclusion, the letter mentioned that those who fail to make the necessary contributions for more than three months automatically fall into delinquency and are then required to pay the hefty fine.
“In order to not be removed from the church roll, your attention to this matter [is] greatly appreciated,” the letter warned, but offered to grant her a 90-day “hardship” exemption.
While the church’s officials acknowledged having sent Petterson the letter, they refused to comment any further on the matter.
Shocked at the church’s conduct, Petterson posted a copy of the letter on the organization’s Facebook page, only to be snubbed by other church members who somehow fail to see how obnoxious the congregation’s demands are.
“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.”
A church in Florida lost its tax-exempt status earlier this year after Panama City officials discovered that it was functioning as a nightclub with raunchy themed parties for a $20 donation from every member. Even though Greater Mount Moriah Primitive Baptists Church is not known to offer any such service, its tithes must be voluntary if the organization hopes to retain its tax-exempt status.
Petterson said that her recent experience managed to sour her idea of religion and churches. She hopes to find a new place of worship that does not coerce its members into paying steep fees in order to be accepted and allowed there.
“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.”
Photo Credits: Wheat and Tares