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empty tomb®, inc.

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     Sylvia Ronsvalle
     (217)356-9519
     research@emptytomb.org

RELEASE AT WILL
NEW REPORT RELEASE DATE:
OCTOBER 14, 2005


New Survey of 28 Denominations That Include 146,000 Congregations:
  • 2 for Denominational Overseas Missions of Each Congregational Dollar
  • Growing Denominations Have Higher Portion of Overseas Missions
Church Giving in 2003 Down as a Percent of Income



      empty tomb, inc. is scheduled to release a new report on October 14, 2005.
      Some of the major findings in The State of Church Giving through 2003 include:

      •  empty tomb, inc. surveyed 28 Protestant denominations representing 146,000 congregations in the U.S. (of the total estimated 350,000). For each dollar donated to a congregation, denominations spent 2 on overseas missions in 2003 (see Table 17), down from 7 in the 1920s. [Table Heading Numbers in this release are keyed to the book Table Heading Numbers.]
      •  Fourteen of the 28 denominations grew in membership from 1968 to 2003. Fourteen decreased. The denominations that grew had a higher level of overseas missions support, 2.8%. The denominations that decreased had a lower average of overseas missions support, less than 1% (see Table 22).
      •  Per member giving as a percent of income declined from 2002 to 2003 to Total Contributions, and to each of the two subcategories of Congregational Finances and Benevolences. Giving as a percent of income was down overall from 1968 to 2003 as follows (see Table 1):
      1.  Total Contributions decreased from 3.11% of income in 1968 to 2.59% in 2003, a decline of 17% in the portion of income donated to the church.
      2.  Congregational Finances (funding the internal operations of the congregation) declined from 2.45% in 1968 to 2.21% in 2003, a decline of 10% from the 1968 base. Although Congregational Finances began a recovery from the low of 1.99% in the year 1992, the 2003 giving level was down from the 2.24% given in 2002.
      3.  Benevolences (funding the larger mission of the church, including overseas missions, denominational offices and seminary support, and local outreach to soup kitchens and shelters) declined 42% from the 1968 base, from 0.66% in 1968 to 0.38% in 2003.
      •  In 2003, the portion of income to Benevolences was at the lowest level during the 36-year period of 1968-2003. Giving as a percentage of income is the most useful category because it takes into account changes both in population (membership) and in the economy (income). Table 2 below presents giving and income in current dollars, as well as Benevolences as a percent of income. Table 3 below presents giving and income in inflation-adjusted dollars, as well as Benevolences as a percent of income. As long as current dollars are compared to current dollars, or inflation-adjusted to inflation-adjusted, the percent of income is the same in either analysis.
      Other findings in the new report include:
      •  empty tomb, inc. analyzed U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey data. Americans gave 1.12% of income to charity in 2003, with 72% directed to religious charities. The total was $91 billion in cash donations by individuals to charity.
      •  If church members had given an average of 10% (the classic tithe) instead of the 2.6% actually given to churches in 2003, there could have been an additional $156 billion to help people through churches.
      •  Data for nine denominations was available in the 1920s and in 2003. In the 1920s, denominational overseas missions represented 7 of each dollar given to the congregation. In 2003, it was 2.
      •  Although members of evangelical denominations gave a higher portion of income to their churches than did mainline Protestant members, the rate of decline was greater among evangelicals between 1968 and 2003.
      The levels of denominational overseas missions giving varied in U.S. denominations from less than 1 to about 9 of each dollar donated to congregations in 2003.
      However, the report highlights a 4,000 member Presbyterian congregation in South Korea that gave 70 of each dollar to overseas missions in 2003.
      The apparent relationship between overseas missions support and membership growth was of special interest to the study's authors, John and Sylvia Ronsvalle. "Perhaps the key is that a sense of larger purpose, consistent with professed beliefs, is attractive to people," they observed.
      The new book, The State of Church Giving through 2003, will be released October 14, 2005. The book will be available through Internet booksellers, or can be ordered through bookstores, or directly from empty tomb, inc. at www.emptytomb.org. The list price is $28.00.
         NOTE: Members of the working media can request a review copy of The State of Church Giving through 2003 by emailing research@emptytomb.org. Please include name of journalist, name of media, and street mailing address. A copy will be mailed by U.S. mail unless other arrangements are made.

Table 17: Denominational Overseas Missions Income Excluding Any Investment or Government Income, as a Percent of Total Contributions to Congregations, 28 Denominations, 2003

Denomination Overseas Missions Income (Line 4) Total Contributions Overseas Missions Income as % of Total Contributions Cents of Each Dollar to Denom. Overseas Ministries
American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. $8,513,838 $452,422,019 1.9%
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (General Synod) $3,332,992 $44,279,992 7.5%
Brethren in Christ Church $983,500 $36,309,353 2.7%
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)3 $4,079,019 $503,410,382 0.8%
Church of God General Conference (Oregon, Ill. and Morrow, GA) $67,193 $4,297,394 1.6%
Church of the Brethren4 $1,563,623 $93,876,819 1.7%
Church of the Nazarene $45,640,480 $728,931,987 6.3%
Conservative Congregational Christian Conference5 $147,805 $52,572,753 0.3% 0.3¢
Cumberland Presbyterian Church $290,764 $49,168,885 0.6%
The Episcopal Church6 $13,193,855 $2,133,772,253 0.6%
Evangelical Congregational Church $1,045,237 $19,628,647 5.3%
Evangelical Covenant Church $7,913,682 $247,440,270 3.2%
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America $19,637,381 $2,518,612,907 0.8%
Evangelical Lutheran Synod $246,587 $13,013,890 1.9%
Fellowship of Evangelical Churches $1,288,064 $14,138,539 9.1%
Free Methodist Church of North America $5,246,433 $137,005,736 3.8%
General Association of General Baptists $1,858,866 $35,428,127 5.2%
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod7 $13,079,041 $1,256,382,217 1.0%
Moravian Church in America, Northern Province8 $467,570 $17,864,570 2.6%
North American Baptist Conference $4,092,633 $65,169,025 6.3%
The Orthodox Presbyterian Church $1,214,449 $36,644,100 3.3%
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) $14,927,067 $2,743,637,755 0.5%
Reformed Church in America9 $7,852,464 $275,354,238 2.9%
Seventh-day Adventist Church, North American Division10 $50,659,400 $1,088,682,947 4.7%
Southern Baptist Convention $239,663,000 $9,648,530,640 2.5%
United Church of Christ $8,373,084 $878,974,911 1.0%
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod $10,779,164 $279,600,740 3.9%
The United Methodist Church $56,700,000 $5,376,057,236 1.1%
Total/Weighted Average $522,857,190 $28,751,208,332 1.8%



         Notes to Table 17:

3Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Survey note: "Please note that this does not include overseas disaster and emergency relief funding." In discussions, the Division of Overseas Ministries and Common Global Ministries representative noted that it was not possible to separate the overseas disaster and emergency relief funding from that spent in the U.S. The additional funds "would be a little more but not a significant amount." Also, some activities are conducted jointly with the United Church of Christ.
4Church of the Brethren Survey note: "This amount is national denominational mission and service, i.e., direct staffing and mission support, and does not include other projects funded directly by congregations or districts, or independent missionaries sponsored by congregations and individuals that would not be a part of the denominational effort."
5Conservative Congregational Christian Conference Survey note: The structure of this communion limits the national office coordination of overseas ministries activity. By design, congregations are to conduct missions directly, through agencies of their choice. The national office does not survey congregations about these activities. The one common emphasis of affiliated congregations is a focus on Micronesia, represented by the reported numbers.
6The Episcopal Church Survey note: "The Episcopal Church USA Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society does not specifically raise money to support our non-domestic ministries. Many of the activities included in our budget are, however, involved, directly or indirectly with providing worldwide mission...Many other expenditures (e.g., for ecumenical and interfaith relations; for military chaplaincies; for management's participation in activities of the worldwide Anglican Communion) contain an overseas component; but we do not separately track or report domestic vs. overseas expenses in those categories."
7Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Survey note: "Since 1968, many of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) 35 geographic districts now sponsor mission fields directly. The money does not flow through LCMS World Mission and LCMS World Relief, but through various mission societies. In 1996, the LCMS also established the Association of Lutheran Mission Agencies which includes 'recognized service agencies' of LCMS World Mission. They work in places where LCMS World Mission used to work (or might work today), but they direct and fund the work on their own. Millions of dollars of support from LCMS members is raised and spent by these 75+ mission societies. The Congregation Statistics Reports do not include information about missions spending other than that sent to LCMS World Mission and LCMS World Relief. The dollars that support the mission societies and the Lutheran Mission Agencies would not be included in the Congregation Statistics Reports. Nothing outside of the money that flows through the mission accounting department is verifiable, and no central accounting is made of mission societies spending. District support is only a small portion of the World Mission Support figure, with most of the budget coming from direct gifts from individuals."
8Reformed Church in America Survey note: "We do not know how much money was given to missions outside the RCA structure."
9Moravian Church Survey note: The Overseas Missions Income figure was estimated for the Northern Province by the Board of World Mission of the Moravian Church. The Northern Province is the one of the three Moravian Provinces that reports Total Contributions to the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches series.
10Seventh-day Adventist, North American Division Survey note: This estimate, prepared by the General Conference Treasury Department, is for the U.S. portion of the total donated by congregations in both Canada and the U.S.


Table 22:    Overseas Missions Income as a Percent of Total contributions, and Membership, 28 Denominations, 1968 and 2003

Number of Communions in Category 2003 Overseas Missions Income 2003 Total Contributions Overseas Missions Income as a % of Total Contrib. 1968 Membership 2003 Membership % Change in Membership 1968-2003
14 Communions with Increased Membership 1968-2003 $384,287,230 $13,648,702,189 2.82% 14,461,499 20,328,508 41%
14 Communions with Decreased Membership 1968-2003 $138,569,961 $15,102,456,143 0.92% 26,463,444 19,895,754 -25%



         Notes to Table 22:

         The 14 denominations that increased in membership from 1968 to 2003 were: Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (General Synod); Brethren in Christ Church; Church of the Nazarene; Conservative Congregational Christian Conference; Evangelical Covenant Church; Evangelical Lutheran Synod; Fellowship of Evangelical Churches; Free Methodist Church of North America; Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; North American Baptist Conference; The Orthodox Presbyterian Church; Seventh-day Adventists, North American Division; Southern Baptist Convention; Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Church.
         The 14 denominations that decreased in membership from 1968 to 2003 were: American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Church of God General Conference (Oregon, IL, and Morrow, GA); Church of the Brethren; Cumberland Presbyterian Church; Episcopal Evangelical Congregational Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; General Association of General Baptists; Moravian Church in America, Northern Province; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Reformed Church in America; United Church of Christ; United Methodist Church (1969 membership).

Table 1:    Per Member Giving as a Percentage of Income, 1968-2003

Year Per Full or Confirmed Member Giving as a Percentage of Income
Total Contributions   Congregational Finances   Benevolences  
1968 3.11% 2.45% 0.66%
1969 3.03% 2.39% 0.65%
1970 2.91% 2.31% 0.60%
1971 2.84% 2.26% 0.58%
1972 2.83% 2.25% 0.58%
1973 2.76% 2.21% 0.55%
1974 2.77% 2.21% 0.56%
1975 2.73% 2.15% 0.58%
1976 2.73% 2.16% 0.56%
1977 2.70% 2.15% 0.55%
1978 2.67% 2.14% 0.53%
1979 2.67% 2.14% 0.53%
1980 2.65% 2.12% 0.53%
1981 2.63% 2.10% 0.53%
1982 2.65% 2.15% 0.51%
1983 2.64% 2.14% 0.50%
1984 2.57% 2.09% 0.48%
1985 2.57% 2.09% 0.48%
1986 2.60% 2.12% 0.48%
1987 2.58% 2.12% 0.46%
1988 2.50% 2.05% 0.45%
1989 2.48% 2.04% 0.44%
1990 2.45% 2.02% 0.43%
1991 2.46% 2.04% 0.43%
1992 2.41% 1.99% 0.41%
1993 2.42% 2.02% 0.41%
1994 2.50% 2.09% 0.41%
1995 2.45% 2.05% 0.40%
1996 2.55% 2.15% 0.40%
1997 2.53% 2.12% 0.40%
1998 2.54% 2.14% 0.40%
1999 2.61% 2.20% 0.40%
2000 2.61% 2.21% 0.40%
2001 2.63% 2.24% 0.40%
2002 2.62% 2.24% 0.39%
2003 2.59% 2.21% 0.38%



Denominations included in the Composite Data Set (Tables 1, 2, and 3): American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.; Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (General Synod); Brethren in Christ Church; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Church of God (Anderson, IN) (through 1997); Church of God General Conference (Oregon, IL and Morrow, GA); Church of the Brethren; Church of the Nazarene; Conservative Congregational Christian Conference; Cumberland Presbyterian Church; Evangelical Congregational Church; Evangelical Covenant Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Evangelical Lutheran Synod; Evangelical Mennonite Church; Fellowship of Evangelical Bible Churches; Free Methodist Church of North America; Friends United Meeting (through 1990); General Association of General Baptists; Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod; Mennonite Church U.S.A. (through 1999); Moravian Church in America; Northern Province; North American Baptist Conference; The Orthodox Presbyterian Church; Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Reformed Church in America; Seventh-day Adventist Church, North American Division; Southern Baptist Convention; United Church of Christ; Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod



Table 2:    Per Member Giving to Total Contributions, Congregational Finances and Benevolences, U.S. Per capita Disposable Personal Income, Current Dollars, and Per Member Giving to Benevolences as a Percent of Income, 1968-2003

Year
Current Dollars
Per Member Giving to Benevolences as % of Income
Per Full or Confirmed Member Giving
U.S. Per Capita Disposable Personal Income
Total Contrib.
Cong. Finances
Benevol.
1968
$96.79  
$76.95  
$20.44  
$3,114  
0.66%
1969
$100.82  
$79.34  
$21.47  
$3,324  
0.65%
1970
$104.36  
$82.87  
$21.49  
$3,587  
0.60%
1971
$109.55  
$87.07  
$22.48  
$3,860  
0.58%
1972
$116.97  
$93.16  
$23.81  
$4,140  
0.58%
1973
$127.37  
$102.01  
$25.36  
$4,616  
0.55%
1974
$138.87  
$110.79  
$28.08  
$5,010  
0.56%
1975
$150.19  
$118.45  
$31.73  
$5,498  
0.58%
1976
$162.87  
$129.15  
$33.72  
$5,972  
0.56%
1977
$175.82  
$140.23  
$35.60  
$6,517  
0.55%
1978
$193.05  
$154.74  
$38.31  
$7,224  
0.53%
1979
$212.42  
$170.17  
$42.25  
$7,967  
0.53%
1980
$233.57  
$186.90  
$46.67  
$8,822  
0.53%
1981
$256.60  
$205.15  
$51.44  
$9,765  
0.53%
1982
$276.72  
$223.93  
$52.79  
$10,426  
0.51%
1983
$293.52  
$237.69  
$55.83  
$11,131  
0.50%
1984
$316.25  
$257.63  
$58.62  
$12,319  
0.48%
1985
$335.44  
$272.95  
$62.48  
$13,037  
0.48%
1986
$354.20  
$288.74  
$65.47  
$13,649  
0.48%
1987
$367.87  
$301.73  
$66.14  
$14,241  
0.46%
1988
$382.55  
$313.15  
$69.40  
$15,297  
0.45%
1989
$403.23  
$331.07  
$72.16  
$16,257  
0.44%
1990
$419.65  
$346.48  
$73.17  
$17,131  
0.43%
1991
$433.58  
$358.68  
$74.90  
$17,609  
0.43%
1992
$445.01  
$368.29  
$76.73  
$18,494  
0.41%
1993
$457.49  
$380.55  
$76.94  
$18,872  
0.41%
1994
$488.84  
$409.36  
$79.48  
$19,555  
0.41%
1995
$497.71  
$416.01  
$81.71  
$20,287  
0.40%
1996
$538.39  
$453.34  
$85.05  
$21,091  
0.40%
1997
$554.60  
$466.07  
$88.52  
$21,940  
0.40%
1998
$587.91  
$495.57  
$92.34  
$23,161  
0.40%
1999
$624.80  
$527.98  
$96.82  
$23,968  
0.40%
2000
$664.26  
$563.54  
$100.72  
$25,472  
0.40%
2001
$690.69  
$586.48  
$104.21  
$26,236  
0.40%
2002
$712.07  
$607.15  
$104.93  
$27,159  
0.39%
2003
$724.73  
$618.93  
$105.79  
$28,034  
0.38%


Table 3:    Per Member Giving to Total Contributions, Congregational Finances and Benevolences, U.S. Per capita Disposable Personal Income, Inflation-Adjusted 2000 Dollars, and Per Member Giving to Benevolences as a Percent of Income, 1968-2003

Year
Inflation-Adjusted 2000 Dollars
Per Member Giving to Benevolences as % of Income
Per Full or Confirmed Member Giving
U.S. Per Capita Disposable Personal Income
Total. Contrib.
↑↓
Cong. Finances
↑↓
Benevol.
↑↓
1968
$388.82  
$306.72  
$82.10  
$12,510  
0.66%
1969
$385.87  
$303.68  
$82.19  
$12,722  
0.65%
1970
$379.34  
$301.22  
$78.11  
$13,038  
0.60%
1971
$379.22  
$301.41  
$77.81  
$13,361  
0.58%
1972
$388.03  
$309.05  
$78.98  
$13,734  
0.58%
1973
$400.14  
$320.47  
$79.67  
$14,502  
0.55%
1974
$400.21  
$319.28  
$80.92  
$14,438  
0.56%
1975
$395.48  
$311.91  
$83.57  
$14,478  
0.58%
1976
$405.40  
$321.46  
$83.94  
$14,865  
0.56%
1977
$411.47  
$328.16  
$83.31  
$15,251  
0.55%
1978
$422.09  
$338.33  
$83.75  
$15,795  
0.53%
1979
$428.90  
$343.59  
$85.31  
$16,086  
0.53%
1980
$432.42  
$346.02  
$86.39  
$16,333  
0.53%
1981
$434.21  
$347.16  
$87.05  
$16,524  
0.53%
1982
$441.35  
$357.16  
$84.19  
$16,629  
0.51%
1983
$450.30  
$364.64  
$85.66  
$17,076  
0.50%
1984
$467.62  
$380.94  
$86.68  
$18,215  
0.48%
1985
$481.29  
$391.64  
$89.65  
$18,706  
0.48%
1986
$497.29  
$405.37  
$91.91  
$19,163  
0.48%
1987
$502.69  
$412.31  
$90.38  
$19,460  
0.46%
1988
$505.49  
$413.79  
$91.70  
$20,213  
0.45%
1989
$513.35  
$421.48  
$91.87  
$20,697  
0.44%
1990
$514.35  
$424.67  
$89.68  
$20,997  
0.43%
1991
$513.48  
$424.77  
$88.71  
$20,854  
0.43%
1992
$515.21  
$426.38  
$88.83  
$21,411  
0.41%
1993
$517.62  
$430.57  
$87.05  
$21,353  
0.41%
1994
$541.58  
$453.52  
$88.06  
$21,665  
0.41%
1995
$540.32  
$451.62  
$88.70  
$22,024  
0.40%
1996
$573.60  
$482.98  
$90.61  
$22,470  
0.40%
1997
$581.21  
$488.44  
$92.77  
$22,993  
0.40%
1998
$609.39  
$513.67  
$95.72  
$24,007  
0.40%
1999
$638.41  
$539.48  
$98.93  
$24,490  
0.40%
2000
$664.26  
$563.54  
$100.72  
$25,472  
0.40%
2001
$674.53  
$572.76  
$101.77  
$25,622  
0.40%
2002
$684.15  
$583.34  
$100.81  
$26,094  
0.39%
2003
$683.75  
$583.94  
$99.81  
$26,44  
0.38%




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