Metro Detroit churches struggling during coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis

Without congregations, church donation money plummets

UTICA, Mich. – For weeks we’ve been talking about the dire financial issues face businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown, and churches are among those with bills to pay.

Without congregations, there’s little money coming in via donations. That has forced churches to make major changes.

The auditorium inside Stony Creek Church in Utica is empty, but families made cut-outs so the pastors have something -- or somebody -- to look at while they’re live online.

But the absence of real people brings the absence of real money.

“We saw just in the first two weeks almost $10,000 less than our average weekly giving,” executive pastor Chris Bourdeau said. “We had to tighten our belts, like a business. The electric bill is going down. Payroll -- one of our staff members took a voluntary lay off.”

It’s the same story for every denomination. In the Catholic church, the Archdiocese is monitoring financials every day.

“Yes, we’re very concerned,” Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said. “It’s not the principle responsibility we have. The principal concern is we want to stay on mission, but like every other household and family, we’re going to have to stay within our budget. So, yeah, it’s a big concern.”

Electronic giving has been a major help, though. The challenge was getting the older generation to use that method.

“As a matter of fact, we’re even pushing harder on electronic giving,” Vigneron said. “We have a special portal for the net: give.aod.org. People can make contributions through that to their parishes. It goes right to their parishes."

About the Authors: