Small Central Texas Church Eliminates Over Three Million in Medical Debt

The idea was sparked after coming across an article published by Episcopal News Service—it told the story of a small church in Santa Fe that had raised funds and succeeded in wiping out all medical debt in collections in the state of New Mexico.

Last summer, the Rev. Richard Pelkey, rector, Deacon Jan Halstead, and Carol Monroe, outreach coordinator of Christ Church, Cedar Park, began exploring how the small church in Santa Fe was able to accomplish such task.

They came across a group called RIP Medical Debt. A non-profit founded by two men who spent their long corporate careers running national collection agencies.‚ÄØIn retirement, they decided it was time to give back and use the immense body of knowledge they had gathered for the benefit of others.

According to the RIP Medical Debt website, for every $100 someone donates, it relieves $10,000 in medical debt.

Because this sounded too good to be true, the three of them spent a long-time poring over their tax records, their operating statements, and the 501c3 filings, just to be certain that these guys were the real deal.

After performing their due diligence, ‚ÄØthey contacted the non-profit and notified them that Christ Church wanted to help.

The team began the campaign with RIP Medical Debt and set what they thought was an audacious goal of $10,000. To put things in perspective: Christ Church is a very small church and the entire church budget for the year is around $200,000.‚ÄØ

“The number seemed enormous, but we felt that even if we fell a bit short, we would still be helping,” said Monroe.

Christ Church launched their campaign on Sunday, August 2021.

“The response was immediate and overwhelming. Many parishioners wrote enormous checks, and some of them wrote more than one.‚Äö√Ñ√ò‚Äö√Ñ√òWhen we drew our campaign to a close at the end of calendar year 2021, several folks came to me privately to say that if we had not reached our $10,000 goal, they would make up the difference so that we could,” shared Monroe. 

Last week, Christ Church, received their final report from RIP Medical Debt. Halstead couldn’t believe the amount of folks they were able to relieve from medical debt and how much money they were able to raise.

The total number of recipient families they helped is 1652; and the total amount of medical debt eliminated is $3,149,468.07.

“I am just so excited for these families and so proud of the giving heart of this congregation,” said Halstead.        

In 2020, St. Mark’s, Austin, also participated in a campaign through RIP Medical Debt. In hopes of alleviating the financial burden of some families, that church forgave over $500,000 of medical debt with a gift of just over $5000. At that time, the Rev. Zac Koons said that  parishioners were blown away.

RIP Medical Debt is a tax-exempt charity that buys and abolishes medical debt by working with donors to abolish debt for a specific target population. The money given to this organization can make an impact of 100 times what is raised through church campaigns.        

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