Church members upset by ultimatum over tithing

Posted: Friday, April 20, 2001

BOSTON (AP) -- The letter had the threatening tone of a bill collector, but it wasn't from a credit card or utility company demanding past-due payments. It was from a church.

Nearly half the members of the Holy Tabernacle Church of God in Christ Apostolic received letters warning them to pay tithes to the church or else get booted, according to The Boston Globe.

Alfreda Moore, the church's executive secretary, wrote to more than 200 congregants, telling them they were late in paying tithes. She warned members they had 30 days to make payments by check or money order.

''Please be advised that you are in default in the payment of tithes to the Holy Tabernacle Church of God in Christ Inc., for a period in excess of 90 days,'' the newspaper quoted the letter as saying. The letter warned that if the money isn't paid, ''all privileges of membership in the Church will be immediately suspended.''

''My spirit just kind of broke,'' sand Sandra Smith Cosby, a daughter of the church's founder who received the letter last month.

''Our job is to bring people in, not kick people out,'' she said.

Paying tithes is a tradition in some churches that comes from an Old Testament exhortation to give the church 10 percent of one's earnings. The letter was the latest problem in a power struggle at ''Holy Tab,'' a Dorchester Pentecostal church. The church, which once had 1,400 congregants and eight choral groups, was founded 35 years ago by Joe L. Smith, the church's only pastor until his death last year.

Cosby and about 70 other congregants filed a lawsuit against their church earlier this year, claiming that they were denied a voice in choosing a new pastor and prohibited from seeing the church's financial records.



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