Bahama Tales - Church Offerings

Growing up, I've visited many different kinds of churches. Each one had their own ways of doing things, but I have two memories that stand out in my mind, which are completely opposite.

When we were in Nassau, we attended a rather large Brethren church. (bigger than our little churches on Cat Island) I remember that when it was offering time, men would pass a cloth bag with wooden handles down the aisle and everyone would put their hand inside. My father told me that it was so no one knew how much anyone else gave. He said that if anyone had a real need, they were to feel free to take some money out. He quoted the verse "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth." (Matthew 6:3) He taught me the value of tithing my pennies and giving to those in need.

Then later, in another church in Devil's Point, on Cat Island, we visited a church. I think they were having a special speaker and my father wanted to see hear what he would say. The room was small and crowded and we sat on wooden benches. There was a lot of shouting and loud "Amens." I was used to our conservative meetings, but offering time was a shock even to me, a young child. People walked to the front to dropped their money in a plate. The preacher stood next to the plate and announced, "Brother George has given twenty dollars to the Lord. Amen! Thank you, Brother George. Is there anyone else who'd like to give to the Lord?" One after the other people would go to the front and give their money and have it announced loud and clear. The larger the amount of money, the louder the clapping and shouting and "Amens" and pride in the giver's face. My father didn't have remind me of the next verse...

Matthew 6:4
"That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly."

Most churches practice something in between these two ways of collecting church offerings. Personally, I prefer a Joash box at the door, but whatever way is used, I'll remember the lessons I learned as a child.

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