There’s an important initiative happening that I wanted to share. The Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ (SNEUCC) has teamed up with RIP Medical Debt to eliminate the medical debt people carry in some of the neediest communities around us. As a member of the SNEUCC Board of Directors, we were asked to make a personal contribution to this endeavor and I was honestly thrilled to do so. Why? Because the $100 I donated helped to erase $10,000 of medical debt for my neighbors. Seriously. Can you believe it?
Now I know that we are in the midst of a matching campaign here at CFC and we are still raising funds to replace our roof. Though churches can’t just focus inward. Because Jesus commanded that we love God, love ourselves, and love our neighbors.
As I shared in my sermon on Sunday, these lengthy Gospel readings throughout Lent focus on Jesus’ one-on-one encounters with people. We can see transformations happening before our very eyes. What better way to show the new life Jesus offers, to walk in his footsteps, to truly see those in need than to give what we can in a way that helps our neighbors be free from the burdens of debt that was incurred while they were seeking healing?
On Tuesday night, our Ministry of Mission & Witness voted to donate $1,000 from our church’s Mission Funds toward SNEUCC’s RIP Medical Debt campaign. With my $100 donation, we’re already contributing $1,100 on behalf of our church! Our gifts will eliminate $110,000 of medical debt for our neighbors right here in Southern New England! Seriously. Can you believe it?!? The members of Mission and Witness and I also wanted to open this opportunity for individual donations from our congregation (and beyond!), so please follow the link here to donate And follow links below to read more information from the SNEUCC campaign. So come on, CFC—let’s do our part to show forth God’s love for everyone!
(This Week’s Thoughts 3.12.20)
One of the first justice actions we will take as the new Southern New England Conference is to work together to make a difference in the lives of those saddled by medical debt in our region.
Medical debt is a huge problem, causing the poorest among us to cut back on some of the most important necessities including food and clothing while simultaneously putting them at risk of having needed heath care services refused.
It is also a problem that can be addressed. With every $100 we raise, we can eliminate $10,000 in medical debt in some of the neediest Southern New England communities, including Springfield, MA, Bridgeport and Hartford, CT, and Providence, RI. We will do this by working together with New York-based nonprofit, RIP Medical Debt, the same organization that worked with Chicago area churches to erase $5.3 million in debt and with St. Louis area churches to erase $12.9 million there.
Read the letter from the Bridge Conference Ministers regarding this effort here.
The deadline for contributions to this initiative is Friday, April 17 (The Friday following Easter). We will post updates and lists of donors on this site as we move toward our goal and our deadline.
Individuals can donate online here.
|UCC abolishes $12.9 million in medical debt in St. Louis, continuing national initiative
United Church News, Jan. 19, 2020
UCC celebrates Giving Tuesday generosity, maps next medical debt buys
UCC forgives millions in debt in Chicago, announces national effort
The following is from the RIP Medical Debt website’s FAQs:
Who qualifies for debt forgiveness?
When we purchase a portfolio of medical debt, we abolish debt for individuals who:
- Earn less than 2x the federal poverty level (varies by state, family size).
- Debts are 5 percent or more of annual income.
- Facing insolvency — debts are greater than assets.
We only buy debt that has been pre-qualified by our partners to meet at least one of these three criteria.
We never collect on debt we purchase, only forgive it.
Do recipients of debt forgiveness have any adverse consequences?
No. With your help, we abolish medical debt permanently. Recipients have no adverse tax consequences, obligations, or strings attached.
For those whose medical debts are forgiven, the forgiveness is a gift from a detached and disinterested third party (RIP) as an act of generosity, so forgiveness of the debt does not count as income to the debtor. We will not file a Form 1099-C with the IRS.