We all know that churches rely on the generosity of their members to fulfill what they deem to be their mission and most people are used to seeing the offering plate passed around, but Florida church is demanding members pay tithes on the penalty of removal.
The Greater Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church, whose members are predominantly black, sent a letter to six-month member Candace Petterson that she must pay the required fees or face possible removal from the church roll. They also claimed that her contribution, along with others, would partly go to pay off the church’s debts.
Although she claims to have had no knowledge of the required annual fees and others, Petterson received a notice for $1,000 from Pastor B.R. Fulton Jr., and his assistant administrator, Ladreda Spencer. The demand included a reminder that she must pay an additional $5 per month and two annual fees of $15 for her 11-year-old daughter, according to WFTS-TV.
“People were really friendly there, and I really enjoyed being there,” said Petterson, who started attending the church about six months ago after moving to a new home in the Tampa area. She added that the church is now asking her to contribute $50 per month, a yearly $250 anniversary fee, $150 for Mount Moriah Day and other assorted fees, amounting to $1,000.
Although the church has been in operation for over 100 years, the single mother believes they are requiring too much of their members, especially when they send them what amounts to delinquency letters to pay off the church’s debts. “What church charges you to help pay off what they’re going through?” Petterson said. “I’m not there for that.”
“My child don’t have a job, I’m her parent. She’s 11 years old,” continued Petterson. “Why would you charge a child $5 a month to be a member of a church?”
The Christian Post reports that Petterson was told in the letter that failure to make payments for three months or more would mean she had fallen into delinquency. “To be a member in good standing and have the right to vote, adults are to contribute the minimum amount of $50 per month,” an astonished Petterson read.
“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 asked when interviewed by WFTS-TV. “Then Mount Moriah day is on there, $150.”
Offering to grant Petterson a 90-day “hardship” exemption from the required fees, the letter continued “In order to not be removed from the church roll, your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.”
Petterson took to the church’s Facebook page in the hopes she would be supported by other members, but was dumbfounded to learn that she was reprimanded for having the nerve to publicize her complaint.
“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,” Maxwell continued. “As Christians, we are required to be obedient.”
“It’s like you say to me, if you want to be a member of this church, you need to pay this,” Petterson said, adding that she is looking for another church after her experience with Mount Moriah. “If you want to find God, it don’t say anything like that in the Bible.”
Stating that the church is charging what amounts to a membership fee, Petterson said that although she intends to find a new place of worship, she worries about others who might be taken advantage of.
The Raw Story reports that The Life Center who have been operating seven days a week since February as “Amnesia: The Tabernacle,” lost their tax-exempt status earlier this year after it was determined it was operating as a nightclub. The Florida church was examined by officials after it was reported the church charged $20 “donations” to participate in raunchy themed parties, according to an earlier reportby the news outlet.
The report continues that tithes paid to Greater Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church must be made voluntarily to remain tax deductible. However, they have not so far gone to the extremes of the other Florida church who hosted nude and slumber parties featuring the “s*xiest ladies on the beach.”