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Published: Monday, 5/7/2007

Reverse donations aimed at teaching rewards of tithing

BY ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The Rev. Lynn O'Dell gives out $10 bills with no strings attached, only the hope that those who accept the money will give it to those who offer the person spiritual nourishment. The Rev. Lynn O'Dell gives out $10 bills with no strings attached, only the hope that those who accept the money will give it to those who offer the person spiritual nourishment.
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Bill and Barbara Catlin knew before they even arrived at Unity Church for Sunday services yesterday that they would be leaving with spiritually fed hearts and an extra 10 bucks in their wallets.

The Catlins and their grandson, Perry, were among several dozen people who were given $10 bills yesterday as part of the church's "reverse tithe" program. The purpose was to demonstrate the spiritual principle of tithing - giving 10 percent of one's income to a place or a person - that offers a feeling of being spiritually fed, said the Rev. Lynn O'Dell, pastor of the church.

Mr. Caitlin said the family learned about the minister's intentions on Saturday from a friend and decided then that the three of them would give their money, and perhaps some more, to the two Toledo children recently taken from their parents after cages were found in their home.

"I feel spiritually fed by thinking I have made something a little bit better for someone who is less [fortunate] than I am," the Toledo man said.

"I'll be fed by helping those kids."

Ms. O'Dell said that people have become accustomed to giving money to their church. The church in turn has been giving 10 percent of what it collects to help four organizations.

But recently church leadership decided that to truly practice what it preaches, the church should give money to those who offer spiritual nourishment to the church itself. That would be the visitors to its services, Ms. O'Dell said. "In May we decided to tithe to the congregation," she said. "We're giving back to them with the instructions that they have to help us spread the good around."

Iris Hollins of Toledo was surprised when she received a $10 bill and immediately thought she would give it back to the church.

But Ms. O'Dell's instructions that the money was to go somewhere else beside the church meant she was forced to think about where it should go.

She decided to break it into dollar bills and distribute it throughout the week to those whom she feels a connection with. She decided she might even throw some of her own money into the mix.

Bonnie Shrider knew exactly where the money she was given was going to go. Every day, the Toledoan starts her day reading from the Daily Word, a booklet put out by Unity Village, an organization associated with her religion.

She said she wants to donate the money to the group so that it can offer the booklets to more people elsewhere.

The purpose "is to understand what tithing really is and what it does for you in your life," she said of the church's decision to hand out money. "If you want abundance in your life, you have to give."

Ms. O'Dell said that in the upcoming weeks she will ask members of the congregation to share their stories of tithing during the Sunday service. She said she hopes the stories of others will help those who were unable to determine where they are being spiritually fed.

"I don't know where I'm giving mine yet," she said. "But I'm going to carry it around all week and when I find the right situations, I'll have it to give."

Contact Erica Blake at:

eblake@theblade.com

or 419-724-6076.



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