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BLACK CHURCHES SEEN STRUGGLING

A national survey of 141 black Protestant congregations showed 54 percent of the members believe their churches face serious financial problems. The two-year study was conducted at the Interdenominational Theological Center, a consortium of six seminaries sponsored by black Protestant denominations.

The report said the typical black congregation has an average attendance of 250 and an annual budget of $181,500. It spends 77 percent of income on basic local programs and operations, with little left for outreach ministries.

One purpose of the survey was to determine if the churches can fill the gap in light of cutbacks in government assistance programs, said management consultant Walter Collier, the lead researcher. With a median household church offering of $1,930 annually, Collier said, expanded outreach efforts are unlikely.

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