Some Churches Introduce Electronic Offerings

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MOSCOW -- For some churches in our area, the days of throwing an envelope or cash into a basket during the service may soon be over. Some parishes in Lackawanna County are jumping on a national trend where the church takes your collection directly out of your bank account.

The individually printed envelopes for collection bring in the income that keeps St. Eulalia's Church near Moscow running. But, the envelopes cost the Catholic parish thousands just to print.

So, church leaders came up with a plan aimed to make the envelopes obsolete.

"Like every other bill you've signed up for that has an auto-draft out of your account, there's no more running to the ATM, there's no more last-minute checks," said parish councilmember Jerry Mahon.

About three weeks ago, St. Eulalia's sent forms to all the parish families similar to what you would see from your power or cable company. It's a way for parishioners to make their weekly church collection directly from their bank account.

In the long run, it should cut costs for St. Eulalia's. But, for people already signed up, it means they don't have to run to the ATM Sunday morning or remember to pack a checkbook.

"Because it's easy, I have four children, it's efficient. It saves me time, stamps, money in the long run," added parishioner Kelly Walsh.

Newswatch 16 met with parishioners who helped bring the national trend to St. Eulalia's. Aside from its convenience, what they call "automatic offering," has some less obvious benefits.

Since you don't actually have to be present on Sundays to make your offering, collections may increase.

"I think people will consider what they want to contribute to the church and maybe increase their offering, that's a nice thing to think about," said Parish Councilmember Michael Ratchford.

Another church that offers automatic withdrawal is St. Paul's Parish in Scranton. But, members who use the program still receive envelopes in the mail with a check box that reads, "I donate electronically." So, you still have something to put in the basket every Sunday.