A Church of Scotland pastor has written a letter to his congregation of 600 members — only 200 of whom regularly attend services — saying they must act more like Christians or else leave the church, according to the Nov. 1, 2003, edition of ReligionJournal.com.
“There is a clear need for members to raise their level of giving significantly,” the Rev. Daniel Hawthorn wrote. “Membership entails committing a realistic part of your income for church work.” The letter also tells members they should improve their prayer life, increase their Bible reading and be more diligent in telling others about their faith, The Daily Telegraph of London reported. In the letter, Hawthorn advised each member to reflect on whether he or she wanted to remain a church member and said he would prefer, if necessary, a smaller membership consisting of people who take their faith seriously.
Most of his parishioners, at Belhelvie Church in Aberdeenshire, criticized the notion. “The church door should be open to anyone at any time. The church is threatening us by saying we can remain members so long as we attend and worship regularly and pay up,” said one. Another told the Telegraph, “Surely this goes against everything the church stands for? It is almost as if they are attaching conditions to Christianity. I always thought the church door would remain open to anyone.”