A Tampa woman says her church says she must pay more than $1,000 a year in donations to be considered a member of her church.
Candace Petterson, a single mother, thinks that her church is asking too much. She had been looking for a church closer to her new home. Finding the Greater Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church, she says, was a blessing.
“People were really friendly there, and I really enjoyed being there,” Petterson said.
After six months of things going perfectly, she received a strange letter.
“To be a member in good standing and have the right to vote, adults are to contribute the minimum amount of $50 per month,” Petterson read.
While the letter mentioned ‘adults’, Petterson’s 11-year-old daughter would also have to meet financial obligations.
“My child don’t have a job, I’m her parent. She’s 11 years old. Why would you charge a child $5 a month to be a member of a church?” Petterson asked. In addition to the monthly fee, her daughter would also have to pay $15 for Mount Moriah Day and another $15 for the church's anniversary, reports Patheos’ Friendly Atheist Blog.
“Fifty dollars per month, now tis shocked me because I haven’t heard about the $50 per month. So where did it come from?” asked Petterson. “Then Mount Moriah day is on there, $150.”
The letter tells Petterson that she would also have to $250 for the church anniversary. That brings the total to $1,000 in required donations for one year of membership.
Petterson says she was told one of the fees is to help pay off the church’s debt. “What church charges you to help pay off what they’re going through, I’m not there for that,” Petterson said.
When reached, church leaders acknowledged that the letter had come from them but did not offer an explanation, reports ABC Actions News.
Several messages were left for the church’s pastor, but he has not yet responded.
Peterson says she’ll try to find a new church to worship at, but worries that she’ll be taken advantage of again through membership fees.
“It’s like you say to me, if you want to be a member of this church, you need to pay this. If you want to find God, it don’t say anything like that in the Bible,” Petterson said.
Photo Credit: Screenshot via ABC Action News