Church clears more than $7.2 million in medical debt for Central Floridians

The forgiven debts apply to those who live in poverty

By Lina Ruiz - Digital Intern

DeLAND, Fla. - A church's act of kindness is providing 6,500 individuals and families with millions of dollars in medical debt relief. 

Stetson Baptist Church is clearing more than $7.2 million for those in need in Volusia, Lake, Putnam, Marion and Flagler counties. The effort is part of a giving initiative called "53rd Sunday" where the church raised $153,867 split between two causes: RIP Medical Debt and One More Child.

For every $1 donated to the charity RIP Medical Debt, $100 is forgiven. This totals to the $7.2 million. The other half, donated to One More Child, also known as Florida Baptist Children's Homes, provides diapers, food, safety and foster homes for children in need. 

“Our goal was to give enough to abolish crippling medical debt in Volusia County, but God showed up through the sacrificial giving of all ages — children up to senior citizens,” Senior Pastor Dan Glenn said.

The initial goal to relieve Volusia County's debt was $24,000, which meets RIP Medical Debt's criteria. The organization purchases a portfolio of medical debt and forgives it for those who earn less than two times the federal poverty line. The debts at this level are 5% or more of the debtor's annual income, where their dues exceed their income. 

The church calls it "53rd Sunday" because its fiscal budget is calculated for 52 Sundays in a calendar year. June 30, the day the funds were donated, was the 53rd Sunday in the budget year. 

"We as a church want to be about making a difference in our community, making a difference outside of our walls. We don't want to just be a church that serves ourselves, we want to be a church that serves others," Glenn said.

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