TAMPA, Fla. — A woman in Florida says that she is shock after receiving a letter from the leaders of her congregation, demanding that she pay $1,000 in dues every year or else “be removed from the church roll.”
“What church charges you to help pay off what they’re going through?” Candace Petterson told local television station WFTS-TV. “I’m not there for that.”
The letter, sent by Greater Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church Assistant Administrator Ladreda Spencer earlier this month, informed Petterson that she was “delinquent in [her] financial support.”
“Anytime a member fails to contribute the minimum assessed amount for three or more months in the year, they become a delinquent member,” the letter states. “In order not to be removed from the church roll, your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.”
The correspondence goes on to explain that there are two levels of dues: one standard for youth and another for adults. Youth dues are $90 a year and adult dues are $1,000 a year. Once a youth member graduates from high school or college—whatever their highest level of education desired—and completes their studies, they are held to adult financial contribution standards.
“My child don’t have a job, I’m her parent. She’s 11 years old. Why would you charge a child $5 a month to be a member of a church?” Petterson, a single mother, asked.
“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 letter reads, noting other special donations are required for the church anniversary and “Mount Moriah Day.”
“Fifty dollars per month, now this shocked me because I haven’t heard about the $50 per month. So where did this come from?” Petterson told reporters. “Then Mount Moriah Day is on there, $150.”
The note requests that Petterson contact the church office for a “review of [her] financial contribution record and the amount needed to retain [her] membership.”
“It’s like you say to me, if you want to be a member of this church, you need to pay this,” Petterson lamented. “If you want to find God, it don’t say anything like that in the Bible.”
Leaders of Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church have confirmed that the office sent the letter, but have declined to comment further.
Petterson is now seeking a new church to attend.
“No church should determine how much one should give and require one to contribute that amount, and certainly not on condition of expulsion from the congregation, if one is unable to keep up with the contributions,” one commenter stated. “There are many places in the Bible where tithes and offerings are addressed, but there is certainly not a particular dollar amount. What this church is doing is not according to Christian teaching, and is definitely unethical.”