South Pacific Division (SPD) president Glenn Townend recently thanked church members for their faithfulness in returning their tithes and offerings in a year ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tithe across the South Pacific was up 2.7 percent in 2020, with the Australian Union Conference recording the biggest increase (6.9 percent from January to November). In the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference, tithe remained stable. At the same time, the Trans-Pacific Union Mission recorded a 3.46 percent increase despite a turbulent year for the Pacific islands due to the pandemic’s impact on the local tourism industry and the effect of two devastating cyclones. In Papua New Guinea, where there have been significant economic challenges, tithe declined by 9 percent.
Simultaneously, offerings in the Trans-Pacific and Papua New Guinea showed remarkable growth in 2020, up 106 percent. These unions follow the “one basket” offering plan, where 50 percent goes to the local church and the other 50 percent is split between the local mission (20 percent), local union (10 percent), and the General Conference (20 percent). COVID-19 restrictions have meant that many smaller church groups now meet in more places where people live, attracting many new believers, which has contributed to the growth in offerings. “This is just an absolute blessing we can thank God and His people for,” Townend said.
Australia and New Zealand saw a significant decrease in Sabbath School offerings, down by 29 percent, while giving to other projects for the global church is down by 31 percent. This has raised concerns that fewer people are meeting for Sabbath School, whether in church, at home in small groups, or by video conference — potentially impacting the believers’ spiritual growth. According to available data, participation in offerings in Australia and New Zealand is as low as 5 percent in many conferences. Australia and New Zealand follow a calendar offering plan where the local church receives the offering on 60 percent of Sabbaths, while offerings on the remaining Sabbaths are allocated to mission advancement needs, including Adventist World Radio, Hope Channel, and the world mission budget.
“Even if we are restricted in meeting together, we can still give to support the ministry in our local church and community and world mission projects by using the giving app or giving website,” Townend said.
“In the South Pacific Division, we want to make the most of the opportunities of sharing the hope of Jesus in these troubled times,” he continued.
“As people increasingly search for something to depend upon, what a privilege we have in carrying forward the mission God has given us in reaching the world for Him. One vitally important way of helping that mission move forward is by partnering with God—not only through returning a full and faithful tithe but also by being generous and giving regular, systematic offerings that advance mission outreach locally and globally.
“May God bless you as you continue to return your tithes and offerings to Him from a grateful and generous heart.”