Church members complain about collection notices

TAMPA -
Most people who attend church are used to seeing the offering plate passed around the pews.  People donate what they can as a proud member of the congregation. 
 
But a Tampa woman told ABC Action News her church says she must pay more than $1,000 a year in donations or she wouldn't be considered a member.
 
"People were really friendly there, and I really enjoyed being there," said Candace Petterson. 
 
Petterson said finding the Greater Mount Moriah Primitive Baptist Church was a blessing. The single mother had been looking for a church closer to her new home and six months in, things were going perfectly. That is, until she received an odd letter at her home last week.
 
"To be a member in good standing and have the right to vote, adults are to contribute the minimum amount of $50 per month," read Petterson. 
 
To her surprise it was from the church stating she was delinquent in her financial support. 
 
"Fifty dollars per month, now this shocked me because I haven't heard about the $50 per month.  So where did this come from?" asked Petterson. "Then Mount Moriah day is on there, $150."
 
The letter goes on to tell Petterson along with those two charges, she would also be on the hook for a yearly church anniversary fee of $250-- a total of $1,000 in required donations a year. Petterson says she was told one of the fees is to help pay off debt held by the church. 
 
"What church charges you to help pay off what they're going through, I'm not there for that," said Petterson. 
 
Even Petterson's 11-year-old child would have to meet the financial obligations, or also face possible scrutiny.
 
"My child don't have a job, I'm her parent. She's 11 years old.  Why would you charge a child $5 a month to be a member of a church?" said Petterson. 
 
We reached out to church leaders who acknowledged the letter had come from them, but did not offer any other explanation. 
 
We also left several messages for the church's pastor, but so far, have not heard back.  At this point, Petterson says she'll now try and find a new place of worship. But she worries others might be being taken advantage of by what amounts to a membership fee. 
 
"It's like you say to me, if you want to be a member of this church, you need to pay this.  If you want to find God, it don't say anything like that in the Bible," said Petterson. 
 
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