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Pastor Glenn Scheyhing and Secretary/Treasurer Marjorie Katity labor to keep Tabernacle United Methodist Church financially stable. 

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ERMA – “How can we go on without paper checks?” Pastor Glenn Scheyhing asked, during a Sept. 28 interview at Tabernacle United Methodist Church, in Erma. 

Church Treasurer and Secretary Marjorie Katity also participated in the interview, lending her perspective on the church’s financial situation. 

Transitioning from a world of paper checks to electronic giving reveals how significantly the world changed. 

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, churches across Cape May County are finding and maintaining sources of revenue. The effort to keep doors open requires creative thinking and sacrifice. 

Digital Presence 

According to Katity, Tabernacle United Methodist Church is financially solid. Giving increased through an online portal. 

“My goal was to keep the bills paid and keep everyone connected,” she said, referring to her 2020 role. 

As secretary and treasurer, Katity worked from home before recently returning to her church office. She sent several newsletters, including crossword puzzles and coloring pages for elderly members. 

“It was so good to get back in the office,” she added. 

Scheyhing said regular tithes and offerings remained steady, and the church also benefitted from a grant from the General Conference. Two Paycheck Protection Program funds, available under the CARES Act, helped keep staff members on board. 

Staff hours were cut, according to Katity. 

Scheyhing said he “matched” recent donations given for special project offerings and missions. In August, the pastor matched $500 given by the congregation. Another special offering is planned later this year.

Digital giving also made a difference at Coastal Christian, in Ocean City. 

“We’re doing really well,” Pastor Matt Stokes said Sept. 21, during a Zoom interview. 

Coastal Christian, being one of the county’s largest churches, can seat hundreds of people at a time. 

According to Stokes, “giving kiosks” are installed throughout the building. Online giving is also available. 

“We made it as easy as possible,” he said. 

From Stoke’s perspective, providing various giving methods encourages others to give whatever God has laid on their heart. Coastal Christian maintains its ministry entirely on faith-based giving. 

Emerging Trends

Stable finances coincide with churches finding new ways of operating. Pastor Bill Laky continues to shepherd the congregation of Revolve Church. Corporate worship still takes place in Two Mile Landing Restaurant’s dining room. 

“If it’s Biblically true, it will be globally true,” Laky said, referring to how the church functions around the world. 

By not having a physical building, Laky said Revolve gave away half of its budget to missions. The ministry endured “some drop-off” in offerings due to changes in employment and families moving away. 

Yet, Laky remains confident about the ministry’s future in Lower Township. 

“A building is a tool, not a master,” he clarified. 

Two Mile Landing Restaurant is not a “permanent solution,” according to Laky. 

He speculates that churches of common faith may share spaces in the future. An older congregation, with a building, may wish to “merge” with a group of younger people.  

New Horizons

For Stokes, the future quivers with anticipation. Maintaining revenue is allowing Coastal Christian to break ground for a new complex, in Somers Point. 

According to Stokes, the site is their “promised land,” and will feature an education center and performing arts center where services and conferences can be held. 

“So many churches sit empty for the rest of the week. What if you had a community center open 24/7?” Stokes said. 

The multimillion-dollar facility would allow community participation in various programs/activities, i.e., counseling, events, sports camps, and fine arts, etc. 

How will funds be raised for such an enterprise? 

Stokes said prayer is the primary tool. As individuals seek God through prayer, they voluntarily give. Exercising individual spiritual gifts builds the church from the inside out. According to Stokes, becoming who God desires you to be is “success.” 

He said the project is not intended to “hurt anyone,” and the church staff will work with local officials. 

Tangible Community 

For Pastor Brad Boyer, at Cape Community Church, in Burleigh, the hybrid worship experience “doubled” the congregation. Yet, integrating virtual attendees with the congregation remains a “challenge,” according to Boyer. 

“We have been able to make changes to the worship space and our service that most everyone got behind. It has also drawn us outside of the four walls to engage the community, in Cape May County,” he wrote via email Oct. 2. 

Giving increased, according to Boyer, and the church operates entirely on faith-based giving. 

The coronavirus changed the world, but ministries endure. 

“God has always used the Bible and the Holy Spirit to build his church,” Laky concluded. 

Faith Matters is an ongoing series exploring the connection between individuals and their faith, impacting their families, community, and beyond. Those with a story of faith to share should contact the writer at rrogish@cmcherald.com.  

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