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Author Topic: What's the deal with "Dues"/Assessments???  (Read 1384 times) Average Rating: 0
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Arystarcus
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« on: June 20, 2005, 05:54:46 PM »

I've been wondering where the whole idea of "dues" - or to call them by a friendlier sounding term - assessments, originated.

When was the idea that that one had to pay a specific amount to the Church in order to be considered a "member" and to vote for parish elections, etc., started?

What is their purpose and why are they necessary?

In my jurisdiction, OCA, one is "assessed" a specific amount, per year that has to be paid or else you are not considered a member. I have heard that if they are not kept up to date upon your repose, that you could be denied a full Orthodox funeral service. I put "heard" in italics because it could be hearsay and I don't want to be spreading rumours.

I have also been told that my "dues" are not to come out of my tithe, but are to be paid over and above the 10% of my income (the amount which my protestant upbringing has branded into my mind, which has subsequently carried over into Orthodoxy) which I donate to the church.

Why can't "dues" be taken out of my tithe? Any particular reason for this?

Also - is this idea of a "head tax" prevalent throughout all of Eastern Orthodoxy - Serbian, Greek, Antiochian, Ukrainian, ACROD, etc.?

Finally, to any of our Oriental Orthodox brethren, is the practice of charging people assessments also in your respective Churches?

Please share your thoughts on this and wisen me up!  Wink

In Christ,
Aaron
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yBeayf
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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2005, 05:57:15 PM »

I've seen dues in every parish I've been to. They're for the administrative overhead of running the parish -- things like the priest's salary, keeping the electricity running, and other important stuff like that.

While it's expected that every member of the parish will pitch in their fair share, if someone is truly unable to pay then it would be a very unusual priest who would not permit them to be counted as a member of the parish.
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Elisha
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« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2005, 06:38:04 PM »

Arystarcus,
This is strictly an OCA administrative thing at the Diocesan level.  The Diocese needs to get money somewhere and those letters it sends out is not enough.  The "Assesment/Dues/fair share" thing is a tax on the parish.  For example, I've heard that currently, the OCA charges each parish something like $70 per "member" (official steward/dues paying) per year.  Again, this is for all the bishops to travel, administrative stuff at a high level and what not.  I've NEVER heard about it being something that a member needs to be concerned about as being separate from their weekly (or if you pay montly, whatever) tithe/stewardship/whatever amount.  The amount is a flat amount and thus even for those not well off, it is still probably some fraction of what they would give in a year anyway.  I wouldn't really worry about it.
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Arystarcus
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« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2005, 06:48:28 PM »

I'm not really worried about it, it's just that I was wondering where the idea came from and why they are required. I was well aware of their existance before I was chrismated and that one was/is expected to pay them, so it doesn't come as a surprise or anything like that.

Insofar as the assessments being seperate from and in addition to my tithe, that was what I was told by my priest, so that is why I thought I'd ask about it.

In Christ,
Aaron
« Last Edit: June 20, 2005, 06:51:13 PM by Arystarcus » Logged
Arystarcus
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« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2005, 06:54:25 PM »

In regards to whether or not members are assessed specific "dues" in the Coptic Orthodox Church, I received the following reply from His Grace, Bishop Youssef:

Quote
To be a member of the Orthodox Church we need to ask ourselves what is the Church?  The Church is a group of people who believe in their communion with God the Father, in Jesus Christ the incarnate Word of God, by His Holy Spirit. Thus we conceive of our redemption, and our membership of the church, a deep understanding of the Holy Bible, an acceptance of the Kingdom of God within our souls, a communion with the heavenly creatures, and the experience of eternal life. 

In the Old Testament, the children of Abraham had the covenant of circumcision with God (Gen.17). In the New Testament Christ offered a new covenant giving His Blood and Body, and presenting them as the Eucharist to His people, the Church.

To be a member in the Orthodox Church you have to be baptized, and have to partake in the Holy Mysteries of the Church.  Any faithful member can serve in the Church.

The Coptic Orthodox Church doesn’t ask anyone for specific dues.  Members give their tithes and their donations to Church willingly not only because it is mentioned in the Holy Bible, but because all the blessings that comes with it.  You can read more about this in the article titled, “The virtue of giving”:

http://www.suscopts.org/literature/literature.php?misc=search&subaction=showfull&id=1102863028&archive=&cnshow=news&start_from=&

So, is the situation the same throughout all of the other Oriental Churches??
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Arystarcus
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2005, 01:13:18 AM »

Well, in some doing of my own research I saw that on the directory of church on the Armenian Church's website (http://www.armenianchurch.org)that churches are listed as having "x" amount of  "estimated number of members" and "dues-paid members".

So, this leaves me to wonder if the Syriac or Indian Orthodox churches impose dues.... Anybody know?

And finally, is the consesus that dues are to be taken from the amount you tithe, or are they in addition to it?

What do you folks do?

In Christ,
Aaron
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Keble
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2005, 09:13:26 AM »

Arystarcus,
This is strictly an OCA administrative thing at the Diocesan level.ÂÂ  The Diocese needs to get money somewhere and those letters it sends out is not enough.ÂÂ  The "Assesment/Dues/fair share" thing is a tax on the parish.

All the hierarchical Protestant churches do this. In ECUSA, it's semi-voluntary; in PCUSA it's mandatory and in fact is called the "presbytery tax". All in all it's not a bad way to pay for a hierarchy.
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Salpy
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2005, 08:42:05 PM »

As far as the origin of the practice is concerned, I always thought paying dues to be a member of a church was something that started here in the U.S.  At least that's how it is in the Armenian Church.  In the "old country" nobody paid dues.  People just donated oil for the lamps, etc. whenever it was needed.  Spiritually speaking, anybody baptized and chrismated in the Church is a member.

At my church, paying dues is a pretty unpopular idea, resisted by most of the immigrants.  We have somewhere between five to ten thousand people who consider our church to be their parish, but only a couple hundred pay dues.  I think the minimum is $75.  It would be unthinkable to deny someone a sacrament or funeral because they are not a dues paying member.  The only benefit attached to dues that I am aware of is voting during the parish assembly.

I think the whole thing is a way for the diocese to raise money.  For every person who is an official "member," our parish has to pay a certain sum to the diocese.  Consequently, we have to charge people to be members.  As I said, on a spiritual level, anyone who is baptized, etc. in the church is a member.
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GiC
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2005, 09:23:16 PM »

To deny someone a Funeral because they did not pay their dues would be simony, I could not imagine that any church would do that. The only implications of the 'dues' is whether someone can vote in parish council elections or and serve on the parish council or not...considering the fact that 'parish councils' are outside the scope of the Canonical Tradition of the Church and is Canonically nothing more than an advisory committee, charging for membership could not be regarded as a Canonical Problem.
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Arystarcus
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2005, 09:31:58 PM »

Quote
All the hierarchical Protestant churches do this. In ECUSA, it's semi-voluntary; in PCUSA it's mandatory and in fact is called the "presbytery tax". All in all it's not a bad way to pay for a hierarchy.

Keble,

Thanks for info, I was not aware that this practice also exists within Protestant churches as well. My background is Baptist and United Methodist, so when I first heard about these "dues" I was quite surprised.

Quote
As far as the origin of the practice is concerned, I always thought paying dues to be a member of a church was something that started here in the U.S.  At least that's how it is in the Armenian Church.  In the "old country" nobody paid dues.  People just donated oil for the lamps, etc. whenever it was needed.  Spiritually speaking, anybody baptized and chrismated in the Church is a member.

Salpy,

Thank you for your insight as well. I am quite interested in the Armenian Church, as I know next to nothing about it and what I have been reading online has been interesting an done day I hope to visit an Armenian Church to see things first-hand.  Smiley

Quote
At my church, paying dues is a pretty unpopular idea, resisted by most of the immigrants.  We have somewhere between five to ten thousand people who consider our church to be their parish, but only a couple hundred pay dues.  I think the minimum is $75.

The situation at your church coincides with what I posted early on about the membership of churches on the Armenian Church's website for the Diocese of the Eastern United States.

In the OCA, the assessments are $240 a year.

In the Armenian church, are the assessments considered part of your tithe to the church, or in addition to it?

Quote
It would be unthinkable to deny someone a sacrament or funeral because they are not a dues paying member.

It is to me as well!  Shocked  I am pleased to know that this is not the case in your church.

I was told by a friend in the GOA, as well as by someone in the OCA, that unfortunately, if one hasn't "paid up" their "dues" to the church that they would be denied a full church burial - somebody please tell me this is false....  Embarrassed   ÃƒÆ’‚Â

If it's true, it's quite disheartening, to say the least....  Sad

In Christ,
Aaron
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SeanMc
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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2005, 09:41:59 PM »

Quote
To deny someone a Funeral because they did not pay their dues would be simony, I could not imagine that any church would do that.

I know an Eastern Catholic Church in my area that did that. Of course, the person they wanted it from was extremely rich (>2 mansions, etc.), but still,  its hard to draw the line.
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GiC
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« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2005, 09:50:27 PM »

I know an Eastern Catholic Church in my area that did that. Of course, the person they wanted it from was extremely rich (>2 mansions, etc.), but still,ÂÂ  its hard to draw the line.

It's still simony...and the Canon Law of the Roman Church in this Regard is even more severe than ours, the priests and/or bishops responsible for this should be deposed canonically.
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Salpy
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2005, 09:52:23 PM »

Regarding the question on tithing:

I know the Bible says ten percent of your income should be given, but I've never heard anyone at our church tell people they should donate a certain amount.  It's just up to individual people to donate what they want.  If you want to just pay the dues, that's fine.  If you want to go beyond that, I'm sure that would be even better, but I've never known there to be any pressure.

We do ask for donations when people buy candles, or when someone asks for a requiem.  It is not, however, mandatory.  I think there is also a fee for weddings and other things.  Knowing my priest, however, I can't imagine him turning someone away because they couldn't pay.
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