Tithing Settlement

Discuss questions around local unit policies for budgeting, reconciling, etc. This forum should not contain specific financial or membership information.
jjone389
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Tithing Settlement

Postby jjone389 » Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:05 pm

I've always understood tithing settlement as an opportunity for members to declare to the bishop their status as tithe payers. Essentially, you're declaring a habit of paying tithing or not--meaning you don't have to 100% up-to-date on that particular Sunday, as long as you pay your tithing. That being true, what is the use of printing the tithing settlement statement and handing it to members the day of tithing settlement? The Bishop does not need to record those donations on that form, not does he need to record the declaration on that form for the member. Just seems like added confusion to an already chaotic process. Thoughts? If the process has been followed, the member has already received a recent donor statement showing YTD contributions. Why then can't the member just meet with the Bishop, declare his/her status, and the Bishop records it on the Tithing Declaration Report for later submission?

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Re: Tithing Settlement

Postby russellhltn » Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:20 pm

I think the member would like a "current" listing when they go in to make their declaration. It's also a chance for the member to point out any errors.
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jjone389
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Re: Tithing Settlement

Postby jjone389 » Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:34 pm

I'm sure the member does...the confusion comes from the space at the bottom of the Tithing Settlement Statement. It has room for additional donations made during tithing settlement time. It's as if you should record those donations (by hand) and then check the "Declaration of Tithing Status" box. Because of that, the member walks into the Bishop's office, gives him the forms, almost expecting the Bishop to fill them out. The Bishop, however, doesn't have time or energy to fill all that out and keep his own record of each member's declared status. It just seems like a lot of wasted time and effort. In theory, the errors should all be caught when the 1st statement is given to members, one month before tithing settlement. If we simply printed a donor statement, rather than the settlement statement, the member would have an updated sheet. Am I missing something?

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Re: Tithing Settlement

Postby russellhltn » Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:32 am

I'd guess that the member's declaration may be dependent on the last-minute donation to declare themselves "full". And some members would rather give it to the bishop directly.

I understand what you're saying, but it would take a shift on the member's part to accept that.
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jdlessley
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Re: Tithing Settlement

Postby jdlessley » Fri Nov 14, 2014 5:18 am

The purpose for giving the statement one month before is so members can check their records against what the Church has. Any discrepancies can be settled or looked into by the clerk and the member before the interview.

Between receiving the first statement and tithing settlement interview a member can make other contributions. The statement given at the time of the interview is another opportunity to find any discrepancies and for the member to verify the adjustments found previously have been rectified.

Both settlement forms are for the member and they can do with them as they see fit. There is no need for the member to bring the form into the interview. The ability for adding information to the form is again for the benefit of the member and is not to be considered an official final statement of contributions. The tax valid statement in January is the official statement a member uses for their records.
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Re: Tithing Settlement

Postby lajackson » Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:55 am

jjone389 wrote:I've always understood tithing settlement as an opportunity for members to declare to the bishop their status as tithe payers. Essentially, you're declaring a habit of paying tithing or not--meaning you don't have to 100% up-to-date on that particular Sunday, as long as you pay your tithing.

I believe this statement is generally correct, but not technically true. By that I mean that a member really is declaring to the bishop whether or not they have paid a full tithing for the year. A member may have started paying tithing in March, and now have a habit of paying tithing, but he or she is not a full tithe payer if income was earned before March and tithing not paid.

So the member is not really declaring a "habit" of paying tithing. The member is declaring whether or not a full tithing has been paid. In earlier times, tithing settlement was actually when tithing was paid. The crops were in for the fall, and farmers were able to calculate a tenth of their increase for the year. They paid the bishop at tithing settlement. (This is still allowed, by the way.)

Having a habit of paying tithing comes in, I believe, when a member declares to the bishop at tithing settlement that a full tithing has been paid so far, but the member pays as income is received, and informs the bishop that there will be more tithing for the year as paychecks come in toward the end of December.

One of the most interesting challenges I had was convincing a member who had faithfully paid tithing all year long that he did not have to come over to the bishop's home on New Year's Eve to pay tithing on the December 31st paycheck. He could still declare a full tithing if he paid his tithing the following Sunday, as he had been doing for the last 100 years. That is where the habit comes in.

I am glad for the form used at tithing settlement. It allows a bishop to teach a member about the principle of tithing, make notes that may assist the member in keeping this commandment, and help a member to feel they have done what they should to be obedient.

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Re: Tithing Settlement

Postby aebrown » Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:12 am

lajackson wrote:
jjone389 wrote:I've always understood tithing settlement as an opportunity for members to declare to the bishop their status as tithe payers. Essentially, you're declaring a habit of paying tithing or not--meaning you don't have to 100% up-to-date on that particular Sunday, as long as you pay your tithing.

I believe this statement is generally correct, but not technically true. By that I mean that a member really is declaring to the bishop whether or not they have paid a full tithing for the year.

As long as we're trying to be "technically true," I would adjust your use of the past tense in your statements. A person who attends tithing settlement on November 16 is unlikely to "have paid a full tithing" for the entire year. What they are declaring is that they are a full-tithe payer for the year, which may include an implicit (or explicit) promise to make payment(s) through the end of the year to make that a reality.

lajackson wrote:A member may have started paying tithing in March, and now have a habit of paying tithing, but he or she is not a full tithe payer if income was earned before March and tithing not paid.

And one other minor adjustment to this issue: I agree completely with the above statement if the person was a member for the whole year. But if they were baptized at some point during the year, their only responsibility in order to be a full-tithe payer for the year is to pay tithing on income earned since they were baptized.

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Re: Tithing Settlement

Postby lajackson » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:47 am

aebrown wrote:As long as we're trying to be "technically true,"

You worded it better than I, and it sure beats everyone showing up on December 31st for tithing settlement.
aebrown wrote:. . . their only responsibility in order to be a full-tithe payer for the year is to pay tithing on income earned since they were baptized.

Absolutely correct. Increase before baptism does not need to be included in the calculation.

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johnshaw
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Re: Tithing Settlement

Postby johnshaw » Fri Nov 14, 2014 3:32 pm

It is also very likely that the process doesn't really make sense anymore, it hasn't changed in any significant way in 20-30 years, since we've been doing finances with computers. Nobody is old enough to remember why we do it the way we do - so we makeup reasons why its the way it is (these made up reasons are not necessarily wrong, there are many principles that can be taught, reinforced or learned through tithing settlement).

Tithing Settlement is the way it is because tithing was initially understood as a tithe of increase year-over-year (drawing a salary was not very common) and it took time evaluating what increases in the family pig, goat, chicken, cow, horse, onions, potatoes, wheat, disaster, famine, disease truly was.

I'd be just as happy to fill out a form and check a box that tells my bishop that I'm a full-tithe payer. Maybe we could have TS on the off-year of our TR interview in which we basically do the same thing. I'm not particularly interested interested in whether I'm full in 2015 or 2014, but each time I receive certain callings, when I go to my TR interviews, etc.. I am accounting for my Tithing status. Sometimes I think we do things for years longer than they need to be done because we fail to stop and question their real need/value (or at least consider the value vs something else, etc...)
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

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Re: Tithing Settlement

Postby gregwanderson » Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:20 pm

Amen, John Shaw. Amen. After participating in Tithing Settlement for a few years as the financial clerk I came to the same conclusion, which is, that Tithing Settlement is essentially left over from a bygone era and it is not necessary. Of course, Bishops will tell you that it's valuable because it might be the only "interview time" they have with some ward members. Well, if that's the purpose, then let's not call it "Tithing Settlement" anymore and, instead, be honest about the purpose.

On these forums I've seen countless requests to automate many aspects of church service and/or create apps for many aspects of church functions. People want to make donations online, to manage home teaching online, to access all MLS functions online, etc.. I'm surprised there haven't been more requests to implement an online version of Tithing Settlement. There are places where the majority of members of a given ward may live in a concentrated area which isn't particularly close to the meetinghouse. Yet everyone has travel to the Bishop's office for Tithing Settlement (on cold, wintery evenings) just to officially say "Full Tithe Payer" and then go home. (Let's face it. Very few members who are not full tithe payers will bother to go to Tithing Settlement.) And the clerk has to sit in another room for several hours doing little more than printing a few papers and waiting. It seems unnecessary to me.

President Hinckley gave a very interesting talk in the October 2002 Priesthood Session of General Conference (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2002/10/to-men-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng) which has often made me wonder what happened behind-the-scenes. He said…
...we know that the administrative load is very heavy on our bishops and stake presidents, as well as some others. An awareness of that fact has led the Presidency and the Twelve to hold a number of meetings, some of them long and interesting, in which in effect we have taken the Church apart and then put it together again. Our objective has been to see whether there might be some programs we could do away with. But as we have analyzed these, we have not seen much that could be dropped. To drop one is like giving away one of your children. You haven’t the heart to do it.

I can only speculate about what programs and elements of the church almost didn't make the cut. I have my own wish list of things that should be dropped, of course, but I'll just have to wait and pray.


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