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NY Church Hands Out $100 Bills to its Congregants

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"This year the needs are greater than ever..."

DEPEW, N.Y. (The Blaze/AP) -- Back in September, the Blaze reported on a "spiritual stimulus" plan underway at a New Jersey church.

Now, once again, a house of worship has opted to give out money to congregants in hopes that the cash will be turned around to help others.

Envelopes each containing a $100 bill were handed out to about 85 families and individuals older than 18 near the end of Sunday's service at The Vine Wesleyan Church in Depew, in suburban Buffalo. BuffaloNews.com has more:

It didn't matter whether the recipient was a regular worshipper or a guest.

About $8,500 was distributed. Families with college-age children received more than one envelope.

"As the Bible says, 'It's more blessed to give than to receive,'" the Rev. Christopher Baldwin, pastor at The Vine, said in a telephone interview after the Sunday service.

The cash was accompanied by a letter telling recipients that the money could help them meet a need in their lives or the lives of someone else. The letter read, in part:

"Traditionally we have taken a special offering at Christmas Eve and we have sent it to a Christ-centered ministry. This year the needs are greater than ever in so many places including for some of us [in] our own families.

"In lieu of taking a Christmas Eve offering this year we're going to give back to you so that you can meet a need in your own life or the life or ministry of someone else."

The Rev. Christopher Baldwin told The Buffalo News that the church's leaders decided to give to its own congregation rather than collect Christmas Eve offerings that typically have been donated to places recovering from natural disasters.

Karen Fohl of Lancaster says she and her husband plan to double the $100 and donate it to the Buffalo City Mission. The church's hope is that other individuals, as well, will ensure that the money goes to good use.

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