Counting the cost

Congregations in the recession
Among U.S. churches of better-than-average size and budget, nearly half are feeling the impact of the deepening recession and are being forced in many cases to cut staff or freeze salaries. Donations are down, said 48 percent of church leaders surveyed at these churches in February. Last August, 41 percent of respondents reported a downward trend in donations at a time when Wall Street financial firms needed rescue and gasoline prices were sky high.

But, to rephrase the old question, is the collection plate half full or half empty? Though the unemployment rate is rising, credit is tight as a drum and stocks and home values are shriveling, 52 percent of congregational executives reported that donations at their churches have not declined. They also said that church attendance is either steady (64 percent) or increasing (26 percent). Only 9 percent said worship attendance has dropped in the economic downturn.


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