Despite virtual services, Sumter members still backing churches financially

Churches adjusting as coronavirus spreads


Churches have had to adjust to the demands brought forth by the threat of the coronavirus. Along with having to livestream services with no congregations via social media, churches are having to find ways to make the opportunity of giving available to their congregations.

Many of the local churches are offering newfangled methods for their congregants to give as well as some of the tried-and-true methods.

"We've been very intentional about pushing people toward online giving," said Joseph James, the pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church at 226 W. Liberty St. "We also have a giving app (on iPhones) that is available that we're asking people to be using."

James also pointed out that the older members of his congregation send their tithes and offerings through the mail.

"A large part of our congregation is 60 and over, and they are very conscientious about their giving," he said.

While it is early in the process of dealing with the threat posed by the coronavirus, James said Trinity's giving last week was on par with what it normally receives. James pointed out all of the trials and tribulations the church in America has gone through over the years and how it has come through them all. He expects the same to happen again.

"We will get through it, and we believe that God will show the way," he said.

Jehovah Missionary Baptist Church at 803 S. Harvin St., like Trinity, will be going into its second week of Sunday services exclusively online. It also offers its congregation the opportunity to give online as well as in the old-fashioned ways.

Pastor Marion H. Newton said the younger members of his congregation are taking advantage of the online giving.

"It has been very beneficial," Newton said of the online option. "There are lots of our young people who use it. They're great with that, and it's a good option for them."

Newton pointed out, though, that a large part of his congregation still sends tithes through the mail or simply drops it off at the church office.

"There are dedicated people who really love the church, and they will find a way to make means of giving to the church," Newton said.

Scott Shields is the interim pastor at Crosspoint Baptist Church at 2755 Carter Road. He, too, will be preaching his second online sermon without a congregation in the sanctuary on Sunday. He wasn't sure how giving has gone in the first week.

"To be honest, our financial secretary has been out with the flu all week," Shields said.

He does know that donations to the church have been made online, but people still like to give with check or cash.

"We're trying to educate people how to give online," he said. "We're also reminding them they can mail it in or just drop it off at the church."

Bishop Eddie Fleming is the pastor of Sumter Church of God of Prophecy at 718 Boulevard Road. The church he has pastored at for almost 20 years doesn't have online giving available, but that hasn't slowed his congregants.

"It has been pretty good," Fleming said. "We've had people to continue to support our church. We've had people drop them off at the parsonage (located next to the church) or mail them in."

Fleming is also the regional presbyter over 11 other churches in his denomination along with his own. He said those churches also seem to be doing well.

"One of the churches got a check from an anonymous donor for $1,400," Fleming said. "People seem to be stepping up in their giving."

If the coronavirus causes churches to go an extended period of time without being able to come together, Fleming said, it will be a test to what the church has taught its parishioners.

"This is a test of how well the church has done in teaching stewardship to its members," he said. "Those who have taught well will do well."