Church collection plates may go empty in U.S. as electronic giving rises

By Reuters Staff
January 24, 2011

collectionBrie Hall felt awkward the first few times she passed the collection basket at her Catholic church without tossing in a donation envelope. But it is more convenient to give her gift to God by direct debit from her checking account.

The tradition of passing the church plate in U.S. churches might become a relic of the past, as a majority of Americans pay bills electronically and move away from using cash or writing checks. Despite concerns about commercializing something so personal, electronic giving to churches is growing.

(Photo: Rev. Grainger Browning prays with offering donations at his feet during a Sunday service at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, Maryland, March 28, 2010/Jonathan Ernst)

“You just kind of get over it … because you know you’ve donated,” said Hall, a communications manager for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. At the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Washington, about half of the 1,600 congregants who give regular donations do so electronically, up from 20 percent four years ago.

Along with Catholic dioceses, religious organizations such as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America have approved electronic giving as an option for their members.

Read the full story by Susan Schept here.

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