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David O. McKay Diaries – “Tithing”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Tithing.” You can view other subjects here.

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Wed., 2 Jan., 1952:

“6:30 p.m.–Left for home.  A little later went over to the Ward for tithing settlement; On the way over I found a car stalled in the snow, and a young couple trying to get it out.  I went over to them and helped push the car.  However, I think I strained myself in so doing, as I have felt a pain in my side ever since.”

Wed., 11 Feb., 1953:

“[First Presidency meeting]  I expressed the though at this meeting that as an experiment we should start out with two or three stakes an tell them to instruct their people to pay one-tenth of their income annually as tithing and to pay their fast offerings faithfully, and that there would be no other cash requirements, excepting only contributions toward the building of meeting houses and to the missionary fund; that the Church would take care of the Ward Budget, the Welfare and other incidentals.”

Wed., 22 Apr., 1953:

President Richards told me he had gone over Bishop Wirthlin’s conference talk on tithing, and had talked to him and Bishop Wirthlin has agreed to modify one paragraph that deals directly with deductions.  It is thought he (Bishop Wirthlin) might lay emphasis upon the necessity of being scrupulously honest in making deductions instead of telling what they should deduct.

Thurs., 10 Dec., 1953:

“At 9 a.m. attended the regular meeting of the First Presidency.

Among some of the items discussed were the following:

2.  Discussed contributions by members.  I said that I am ready to take the step that we pay our tithing, fast offerings, missionary fund, and building fund.  I think it should be tried out in one or two stakes.  I stated that Welfare projects are investments and we would have to work out how they would be handled and what to do with that income.

Thurs., 15 Apr., 1954:

“From 9 to 9:50 a.m.  The regular meeting of the First Presidency was held.

Contributions to the Church   I presented a letter which I had received signed ‘Mrs. Smith’ of Ogden, Utah.  In it Mrs. Smith complains because of so many financial demands being made upon members of the Church.  In this connection the Brethren called attention to a printed form that is sent out to the wards listing the various contributions.  The Brethren felt that we are making too many financial demands upon our people and that some could and should be eliminated.

Fri., 9 July, 1954:

First Presidency’s meeting

Among items considered were the following:

(1) Requirements for Temple Recommends

Considered a letter from President Haven Barlow of the North Davis Stake in which he asks about issuing temple recommends to non-tithe payers.  I explained that people

who go to the temple should be full tithe payers and should observe the Word of Wisdom; that as a matter of fact, it is a question of their faith.  Men who have a testimony of the Gospel and believe in it should contribute to it and if they fail to keep their promise to observe these commandments the Bishop has a right to withhold the recommend, not wholly on the failure to pay tithing but because of their lack of faith in the Gospel.  Their failure to pay tithing would indicate their lack of faith in the Gospel.”

Mon., 25 June, 1956:

Note:  – Tithing Increase in the Church

Was interested to learn from a letter signed by George Y. Jarvis, Comptroller, Church Financial Department, that the percentage of increase in collections of Tithing 1956 over 1952 is 65.9%!  Truly, the faith and integrity of the people and the growth of the Church give cause for rejoicing and thankfulness!!”

Thurs., 16 Nov. 1961:

Tithe-Paying and Issuance of Temple Recommends, and Other Ordinances.

We considered a question in regard to the payment of tithing.  The question was asked: if a man is worthy to go to the temple in every other way, but has not been a full tithe-payer, should he be refused a recommend to the temple?  Or is a Bishop justified in giving him a temple recommend on his promise to pay his tithing from then on?

I said that I understand that that is the ruling that has generally been followed.

Elder Petersen asked if the same rule would apply to ordinations in the Priesthood.  If a man is proposed to be ordained an elder, seventy, or high priest, might the ordination be performed if he promised to pay his tithing in the future?  I said the same rule should apply.”

Fri., 1 Dec. 1961:

“8 a.m.

I met with my counselors, and the Church Budget Committee as follows:  Elders Spencer W. Kimball and Delbert L. Stapley; Bishop John H. Vandenberg; George Y. Jarvis and Wallace Hight.

Elder Kimball who was spokesman for the group, presented the budget for 1962 as itemized on their worksheet.  Elder Kimball said that they had brought in each of the departments and had told them, as they went over their budgets, that the requests this year were far in excess of the estimated income of the Church, although they had not given them any figures.  They have all cut as much as they think they can cut.  He said we may need further cuts.

The budget, as now presented, is $20,000,000 over the estimated income of the Church.  After a lengthy discussion (see minutes of the First Presidency of this day for details), I said that we should, as nearly as possible, cut our budget down to our estimated income, and if we have to make capital investments, that is a different thing.  It was decided that the capital investments such as Archives building, new office building, garage and foundation, retirement center, Deseret Gym, auditorium, Bureau of Information, etc., would all be eliminated from the budget; also the Oakland Temple, improvements in the Salt Lake Temple, and the Los Angeles apartments, that they are not budget items.

It was also agreed that a campaign should be started to increase the tithing income; this campaign to be a part of the Stake Conference programs for 1962, so that in every stake conference the payment of tithing would be considered.  It was also felt that some disciplinary action should be taken in our expenditures in order that the wards, stakes and missions may know that we need more tithing.  It was mentioned that notwithstanding there has been an increase in tithepaying, yet the percentage of tithe-payers is still not what it should be by any means. 

We shall take to the Council next Thursday the decision to carry on a tithing campaign as a part of the quarterly conference program.  I said that we should hope to increase the tithing by $15,000,000 in order to keep within our budget.  I said I have that confidence in the people, and I think that we can do it.  I indicated that I did not in any way want to retard the progress of the Church.  Following the Budget Committee Meeting, we met with the Presiding Bishopric who brought to our attention many matters that come under their supervision.

Fri., 5 Jan., 1962:

“[First Presidency Meeting] Letter to Stake, Wards, Mission Districts and Branches about Tithing. President Moyle read a draft of a letter proposed to be sent to every stake president, bishop, district and branch president throughout the Church, reviewing the rapid growth of the Church and the demands upon the Church for money to provide housing for the new wards and stakes, and to extend every agency and facility to make available the blessings of the Church to all the membership, and ask the officers of the Church by precept and example to encourage members to observe the law of tithing, to assure the income to the Church being sufficient in the coming years to meet the demands which will be made by the growing Church. The letter also counsels the brethren to practice every appropriate economy, to avoid extravagance, and every form of waste and unnecessary expense.

I said that the counsel is timely, and it was agreed that the letter be sent out and that the General Authorities at quarterly conferences follow up on the subject.”

Fri., 8 June 1962:

“9:00 – 10:30 a.m.

Was engaged in the regular meeting of the First Presidency.  Bishop John H. Vandenberg, Bishop Robert L. Simpson, and Bishop Victor L. Brown of the Presiding Bishopric came into the meeting and the following matters were discussed.

Bishop John H. Vandenberg called attention to notices that have been sent out by the Brigham Young University to certain individuals who are employed by companies in the United States who have established a policy of matching gifts by their employees to educational institutions.  These members pay their tithing to the Brigham Young University, so that the matching payment by the corporation might be treated as a contribution to the Brigham Young University Destiny Fund.  Bishop Vandenberg said that the Presiding Bishopric see no objection to the program; that they think it is all right if we can get funds matching tithe payments by members.  However, they feel that if such a policy must be followed, a letter should go to the Presidents of Stakes and Bishops of Wards notifying them of this program so that they would be informed.

I said that it is all wrong for the B.Y.U. to write letters making solicitations of this kind; that any proposition of this kind — that is, where people want to send their tithing to the B.Y.U. to be credited as tithing on the B.Y.U. budget account with the understanding that the individuals’ employer will match his payment — should come to the First Presidency just as it has been done heretofore in one or two cases, at which time the First Presidency can make the necessary arrangements.  This should not be done as a Church-wide program or solicitation.

We decided that we would invite President Wilkinson of the B.Y.U. to meet with us next Tuesday, June 12th, at which time this matter would be explained clearly to him. 

Tues., 12 June 1962:

9:10 a.m.

Following the above consultation, I went into the regular meeting of the First Presidency.

We first met by appointment President Ernest L. Wilkinson and had a long conversation with him regarding tithing and matching gifts from corporations to the Brigham Young University.  It was explained that some 141 corporations and foundations throughout the country have adopted a matching gifts’ program to aid higher education.  These companies will match dollar for dollar any gift made by their employees to institutions of higher learning.  They consider such gifts as investments in their future as business and industry must look to colleges and universities as a source of educated and highly trained manpower essential to their success.

Since the Brigham Young University is largely financed by tithing of members of the Church, the question of members who are employed by corporations and businesses which participate in matching gift programs paying their tithing to the B.Y.U. and receiving full credit for tithing on the records of the Church was considered.  If this procedure were followed, the University would qualify for matching gifts from the employer of the member.  The amount of the matching gift comes to the University as an aid to education grant.

A letter from the First Presidency dated June 21, 1961, was read, in which a contribution to the University from one Neil C. Winegar of $800 was received in keeping with the intent that a matching contribution would be made by his employer.  Authorization was given for them to accept this money.

I said, ‘That is wrong.  We shall permit others to do that, but we should be notified.  It is not right to say that tithing may be paid to the Brigham Young University.  It is a precedent, but we should decide — it will always come through the First Presidency, and instructions on this should not be sent out to Stake Presidents.  After some discussion on this matter I said that we shall tell the Presiding Bishopric to handle this matter; that these contributions must not go to the B.Y.U. Destiny Fund; that the order on paying tithing should not go from the B.Y.U.; that it should come from the First Presidency.  (For details, see minutes of the First Presidency of this day)

Fri., 28 Sep., 1962:

We also held our regular meeting with the Presiding Bishopric.  Among matters presented by them was the matter of the Annual Tithing Report. Bishop John H. Vandenberg explained a plan to obtain more complete statistics on the subject of tithe-payment and said it will be necessary to have the bishops with the help of the financial clerks at the time of the annual tithing settlement report, gather the specific information desired, and to send it confidentially to the Presiding Bishopric. After a discussion on this matter, it was agreed that maintaining the strictist possible confidential nature of the tithing reports is imperative and that accordingly the statistics desired must be assembled and reported by the bishop with the confidential help of the finance clerk only. I said that I think this is such a sacred thing that I should confine the making of this report to the Bishop and the clerk who will help him. The clerk is the financial secretary to the bishop. Bishop Vandenberg said, “We will formulate a letter and submit it to you and say it is personal and confidential with the bishop. It is not to be discussed with anyone, with the other clerks, or wives or counselors or anyone.”

Fri., 24 May 1963:

Tithing Records – Information About not to be Released

Bishop Vandenberg of the Presiding Bishopric explained that the information about tithing paid by members of the faculty of the Brigham Young University has been requested, and asked whether or not it should be released.  Limited authorization formerly given President Wilkinson was considered.  I said that we do not intend to force faculty members to pay tithing, nor do we intend to release information about tithing they pay.  Special permission was given on one occasion, but it has not been continued regularly.  Bishop Vandenberg said that it is the Bishop’s prerogative to interview the person, and the responsibility rests with the person paying tithing.  Bishop Victor L. Brown suggested that President Wilkinson might be informed as to whether or not faculty members are tithe payers, part tithe payers, nor non tithe payers.  I indicated approval.  Bishop Vandenberg said that accordingly they would disapprove of giving information about the amount of tithing paid.”

Fri., 7 Jan. 1966:

“Tithing – Payment by Widows on Insurance

Bishop John H. Vandenberg raised a question regarding widows paying tithing on their deceased husband’s insurance.  Bishop Vandenberg said that his answer to this question had been that the difference between the premiums paid and the amount received from the insurance should be tithed.

We agreed that this was correct.