One of the more controversial issues FireTag zeroes in on is the fact that Community of Christ President Stephen M. Veazey has apparently decided to tie priesthood ordination more closely with tithing as an additional mechanism to deal with a noticeable dropoff in World Church Tithes (CofChrist members may contribute to either local or world church funds). FireTag believes the economy has nothing to do with the dropoff, although the so-called "recovery" has been highly checkered, focusing disproportionately upon the TARP-subsidized financial industry and the public sector. FireTag refers to a June 22nd post on another blog that addresses President Veazey's actions in greater detail.
The issue surfaced during the closing remarks delivered on June 6th, 2010 by President Veazey to the World Church Finance Board in Independence, Missouri. The address focused on what is described as "the dire need to improve giving to World Ministries Mission Tithes and his hope for the church". But here's the one part that attracted the concern of this other CofChrist blogger:
A nonnegotiable for me is that I will not compromise vision, message, and the Spirit’s clear guidance in the face of threats from individuals that they will withdraw their financial support if they do not agree with church direction or certain decisions.
Another nonnegotiable for me is priesthood support of World Ministries Mission Tithes. Soon, we will put in place an administrative policy that will state clearly that we will not approve the ordinations of people whose understanding of the gospel and ordained ministry does not include awareness and support of the worldwide ministries of the church through tithing.
Apprarently, President Veazey received communications after the 2010 World Conference from members who were displeased at some of the proposals adopted during the Conference, to include approval of the new Section 164 of the CofChrist's Doctrine and Covenants, and who threatened to reduce or withhold financial support as a result. It is not specified whether the critics thought the CofChrist became too "pro-gay" or not pro-gay enough. Nevertheless, Beware The Chicken expressed disapproval of President Veazey's remarks, characterizing them as arrogant, elitist, and uninspiring. BTC writes, "If the President wants tithing to be a response to the ministry of Jesus, rather than admission to the club, then don’t threaten to deny what are supposed to be calls of God due to a failure to pony up in a sufficient manner".
I believe President Veazey's relatively stern response was triggered by his desire to show critics that he will not allow himself to be swayed by what he considers to be "emotional blackmail", just as the LDS Church leadership likewise won't allow itself to be "emotionally blackmailed" into changing its doctrine on homosexuality.
Is this really any different than our approach in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Not necessarily; we also tie priesthood ordination with tithing. For example, when we prepare to confer either the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood upon a male, the bishop conducts a worthiness interview, which includes a question about whether the person pays a full tithing. If the answer is in the negative, priesthood ordination can be delayed until the person brings his tithing settlement up to date. Full membership in the LDS Church, to include callings, ordinations and temple access, is contingent upon full commitment. Partial commitment only reaps partial blessings.
In the final analysis, the question about whether or not President Veazey should tie priesthood ordinations more directly to tithing is best determined by members of the Community of Christ. But it is hardly a unique or unprecedented process.