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Church giving rose slightly in 2005

SHARE Church giving rose slightly in 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — Donations to 65 Christian denominations rose slightly in 2005, but not enough to outpace inflation, while giving to church relief efforts was flat, according to a report by the National Council of Churches USA.

More than $34 billion in total church giving was reported to the denominations, a 2.7 percent increase from the previous year, according to findings published last month in the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches.

Individual congregants gave an average of $713 to their churches in 2005. Some donors, meanwhile, are contributing to parishes with declining memberships, causing even greater financial challenges, the yearbook said.

Benevolence giving — or contributions to church programs such as relief efforts and feeding or housing the homeless — remained flat at 15 percent.

"This level of giving for benevolence will be the source of sober reflection," the report concludes. The giving trends could lead to "less support for church-sponsored day care, fewer soup-kitchen meals, less emergency help to persons with medical problems, or reduced transportation to the elderly."