Last July, I wrote a blog about the tithing that is done at most Christian churches, as opposed to the monthly church dues – of about $50 – paid by each head of household in the F.O.C. Since a tithe is ten percent and is, in all circumstances, far more than $50/month, I was surprised by some of the reactions by folks who thought that paying church dues is unbiblical. The catalyst for the Oregon City group charging monthly fees was when the church burned down and they were raising fees to build a new one.
I’ve also blogged about the rejected F.O.C. preacher, Ernest Nichols. I do not have a clear answer as to what really happened with him. Some say he was doing “bad” business. Others say that White wanted to keep the power to himself.
Another story that I’ve recently heard was that Ernest and Walter’s fight was over the church finances and what they should be spent on. Ernest wanted to create children’s services – Sunday school for kids. Ernest wanted to build an area for children. Just imagine, having Sunday school classes! That would’ve been much more relevant than trying to follow the adult-centered sermons in church. The first time I attended a children’s Sunday school class was when I showed up to teach the class.
Have you ever wondered how the folks who lost their children were able to pay their lawyers? The church had plenty of money (I thought) to pay for this. I’ve heard rumors that there was a legal mandate stating that the church could not pay the lawyers. I don’t know if that’s true or just some garbled rumor.
So the church leaders sent a letter out to heads-of-household asking for $5,000 from each family for the legal defense. People either paid it or were adamantly opposed. The next letter asked for $3000.
Because the efforts to mandate donations created division among the group, a Follower woman then started a fundraising effort – garage sales, craft sales, bring your stuff and have a rummage sale (they used to be free). She also had a knick-knack store and donated part of her profits. Then she started a website to solicit donations and represented it as donations for families with children who have terminal illness; to support grieving parents. Now only the website and private donations and sales are used to pay the legal fees.