Pastor Greg Wiest and Marcia Semple look over a bulletin Wednesday while the new eGive program is displayed on a computer at Glade Run United Presbyterian Church in Valencia. The program allows parishioners to give offerings and donate to the church through debit and credit cards online.
JUSTIN GUIDO/CRANBERRY EAGLE
The offering plate might be a little lighter for ushers on Sunday morning. That’s because many churches are accepting tithes, offerings and gifts online from debit and credit cards. Glade Run United Presbyterian Church in Middlesex Township has been using eGive, an online service for donating to nonprofits, churches and schools, for about five years, but announced Sunday that eGive will now accept credit and debit cards. “As a church, we are just adapting to what the next generation is using to handle their finances,” said said the Rev. Greg Wiest, Glade Run pastor. Before this change, eGive would use bank account information to automatically withdraw the funds. “I decided what my tithes and gifts should be that month and I pick the day and it comes out of my checking account,” said Marcia Semple, the elder of stewardship at Glade Run. Semple said Bradley Locke, the steward of eGive, was against accepting debit and credit cards at first, but after praying and receiving e-mails from unhappy donors, he changed the program to accept the cards. “The younger people I know typically don’t have cash or checks,” Wiest said. “They have debit or credit cards.” Semple said in 2012, “17.1 percent of our total giving came through eGive and the range of number of gives per month is 30 to 35.” The average attendance at Glade Run is about 200 people. Semple said during the summer months when people are on vacation and attendance is lower that less people are able to give regularly. With the ability to give online, members of the church are able to donate no matter where they are. Dutilh United Methodist Church, like Glade Run, also noticed that with the addition of electronic giving, members have been able to continue donating regularly during the summer months when they are away. Dutilh, which has two campuses in Mars and Cranberry Township, allows its members to make an automatic deduction from their bank accounts, donate online using debit or credit cards, as well as donate through its YouTube page. “When people are not able to participate in the church on Sunday, they will go online to donate,” said the Rev. Dwayne Burfield, Dutilh pastor. Burfield said he saw the need for a way to give electronically after looking into his own wallet. “I noticed I didn’t carry really any cash, everything was debit or credit cards and I also didn’t carry the checkbook, my wife always had that in her purse,” Burfield said. Semple, Wiest and Burfield all recognize the younger generations pay all their bills online and shop online, so naturally they were looking for a way to donate online. “In this day and age a lot of people do everything online, their banking, their buying, so it fits right into the mold and is convenient,” Burfield said. With events such as vacation Bible school, marriage seminars and financial classes, Dutilh also allows people to pay for their events online. “People can go to our website and register online and pay online without trying to snail mail a check to get to our offices before closing,” Burfield said. With its online Web presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and online worship services, Dutilh said cost of the donation and security companies are easily covered. Burfield recommends that churches that have a website and online presence to look into accepting digital donations. “You never know when someone who is outside of your congregation, may look at your website and see that you are doing some kind of great mission work and might want to just give to that out of the blue,” Burfield said.