PEI

Donations up for some P.E.I. churches despite pandemic

Some churches on P.E.I. say they are on par — or above pre-pandemic donation levels.

COVID-19 limiting gatherings, not donations

Zion Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown is on par with donations with pre-pandemic years, says Rev. Douglas Rollwage. (Tony Davis/CBC)

COVID-19 has put a dent in the number of people gathering at Island churches but not the amount of donations coming in.

Some churches on P.E.I. say they are on par or above pre-pandemic donation levels.

Rev. Douglas Rollwage with Zion Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown says though there is an option to drop money off at the front desk, collection plates haven't been passed in over a year.

"Our congregation has really come through, they have been very faithful. About a third of our offerings come through a preauthorized debit system which we have," he said.

Rollwage says he was surprised offerings weren't down considering the church had to stop gathering all together at points in the pandemic. (Tony Davis/CBC)

People have also been donating online through the church's website. Others have dropped off or mailed in cheques, Rollwage said.

"At Christmas time it seemed like every day there was people coming in and making up for time they had lost," he said.

"It actually has been a very good year. Our financial situation in 2020 was almost identical to that of 2019."

'Great feeling'

Donations aren't needed to go to church or participate, but Rollwage said they are important to supporting the church and its initiatives.

The budget for the church is typically $350,000 to $400,000, and Rollwage said "almost all of that" is generated by congregational donations.

I believe we've been up by about eight per cent, you know, that's absolutely fantastic.— Rev. J.D. Kennedy

Rollwage said he was surprised offerings weren't down considering the church had to stop gathering all together at points during the pandemic.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "For me really inspiring and an indication in not only the faithfulness of the congregation, but that we had managed to continue to provide ministry for them through other formats."

The church is offering live streamed services. Rollwage said they were lucky to have a lot of infrastructure in place to make that transition easy.

Collection plates haven't been passed in over a year at Zion Presbyterian Church, says Rollwage. (The National/CBC Archives)

Live streaming has paid off for the church. Rollwage said donations have come in from across Canada and the United States.

Winsloe United Church also started live streaming services and have also been getting donations from outside the province.

"People who have never set forth in our church, you know, discovering us online and because of that felt moved to send us some money," said Rev. J.D. Kennedy. "That's incredible."

The fact people are feeling moved by their faith, to reach out and help — I mean, geez Louise that's what it's all about.— Rev J.D. Kennedy

Donations at Winsloe United are up compared to past years, he said.

"I believe we've been up by about eight per cent, you know, that's absolutely fantastic," he said, adding many things were put on hold due to pandemic protocols. 

"Our fundraisers are down about 100 per cent, but because of the extra giving by our people we've been able to offset that a bit."

People kept putting cheques in envelopes and dropping them off at the church, setting up recurring preauthorized donations or sent money online, Kennedy said.

"The fact people are feeling moved by their faith, to reach out and help — I mean, geez Louise that's what it's all about for me at least."

Now, both churches are getting ready to navigate Easter weekend with limits on gathering. Rollwage said he's just happy to be offering a service — last year COVID-19 cancelled the service completely.

More from CBC P.E.I.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tony Davis grew up on P.E.I. and studied journalism at Holland College. He can be contacted at anthony.davis@cbc.ca

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