What should I do with my tithe while I am stationed cross-culturally here at Shaw in Grahamstown? I've been asking this question for the last five months as I have tried to truly understand the spirit of giving in the black African Methodist Church.
I spent an hour or so yesterday signing 'pledge cards'. These cards are held by each 'full member' of the church and are filled in by the class leader whenever a pledge donation is made to the church. Most people seem to give R30 a month. A very few give R50 a month. Many give R10 or R20 a month. There are other opportunities to give to the church - in Sunday collections and also to the organisations.
I thought that I would try to do the same. But at the end of five months, I doubt if I have given even R100 to the church. I don't have a class or a pledge card - I don't actually know how the minister fits in to this system!
So yesterday, I gave up and returned to my culture and did an internet transfer into the church's bank account for five month's tithe. Culture or otherwise, I feel so much better for doing this. The only thing that bothers me is that I prefer my giving to be anonymous, but I have to acknowledge what I have done to the church treasurer or the transfer will keep bothering them.
I wonder how they will view my desire to tithe? They might quite possibly think that if I can give so much to the church they are paying me too much!