By Ron Nicola, Chairman of the Department of Stewardship of the Antiochian Archdiocese
From The Word, October 2005
The concept and practice of tithing is being talked about more frequently throughout the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese. To some, this is a positive and long overdue development. For others, discussion of tithing within the context of the Orthodox Church is both confusing and unfamiliar. It is true that the practice of tithing has not been common within most Orthodox communities in North America, but this does not mean that a discussion of tithing is out of place. In fact, just the opposite is true. There is nothing about tithing that places it out of the realm of the Orthodox Church, other than the fact that it has not been part of the tradition of our churches for the past few generations. There are countless individuals and some entire parishes within the Antiochian Archdiocese who currently tithe. Their example is a beacon for the rest of us to learn from and follow.
Patterns of giving in Orthodox parishes tend to be influenced by three key factors. The first one is custom and tradition. For many people, especially those who are Orthodox by birth, their approach to giving to the church is often influenced most by practices their families and their parishes have followed for years. For long-established parishes, systems of giving may have been in place for generations within the community. As much as parish councils talk about encouraging people to give more, the customs and traditions of the past work to perpetuate an ongoing mind-set. The faithful of the community become locked in to giving what they have always given, often without thinking much about the amount in relation to other considerations.
Second, giving is often influenced by parish needs. The parish council builds a budget for the coming year, publicizes the information to parishioners, and encourages the faithful to offer their “fair share” for the coming year. In this same vein, a parish building program or some other special parish project can inspire parish members to give a one-time donation or a multi-year pledge toward the advertised campaign. This kind of need-based giving is a very common guideline used by individuals to decide how much to offer at a specific point in time.
by Ron Nicola
from The Word, October 2003
“Money and the Church” is the title of an article the Department of Stewardship has used in its parish workshop programs for many years, and the phrase is also the focus of an initiative being launched by this department. The author of the article, Fr. James Worth, is identified in the article as the pastor of the Transfiguration of Christ Church in Denver, Colorado. The former codirector of the Antiochian Archdiocese Department of Stewardship, the late George Dibs, introduced me to this article in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and its clarity and style fit beautifully with the workshop materials we were developing. I never had the pleasure of meeting Fr. James, but if his pastoral skills were reflective of this beautiful article, I am sure he served the Lord in a manner befitting our Orthodox teachings and traditions.