Stetson Baptist Church in DeLand, Fla., is clearing more than $7.2 million in crippling medical debt for 6,500 individuals and families who are at or below the poverty line in Volusia, Lake, Putnam, Marion and Flagler counties as well as funding three foster homes for a year. The effort is part of a church-wide giving initiative that happened on June 30, 2019 called “53rd Sunday” where the church raised over $150,000.
“To say that we are surprised is an understatement,” said Stetson Baptist Church Senior Pastor, Dan Glenn. The church’s giving goal was $48,000; enough to abolish the crippling medical debt in Volusia County and to fund one foster home for a year, “but God showed up through the sacrificial giving of all ages — children up to senior citizens,” he added. “This is what the love of Christ looks like in a very practical way.”
The church operates on a fiscal budget year beginning on July 1 and the budget is calculated for 52 Sundays in a calendar year. June 30 is the 53rd Sunday in the budget year. Stetson’s leadership decided that during the week of June 30 all proceeds would be evenly split to benefit RIP Medical Debt and One More Child (OMC) to help local families.
For every dollar donated to RIP Medical Debt, $100 in debt is forgiven. RIP Medical Debt purchases a portfolio of medical debt and forgives the debts for people who earn less than twice the federal poverty level, where the debts are 5 percent or more of the debtor’s annual income and the person faces insolvency (debts are greater than assets). The church’s donation will abolish more than $7.2 million in crippling medical debt affecting about 6,500 families.
The other half of the donations will be sent to OMC, also known as Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, which provides diapers for newborns, food for hungry children, and safety for abused and trafficked children, as well as foster homes for children in crisis. Their mission is to “meet the immediate needs of hurting children and their families while building relationships that demonstrate the love of Christ.” Last year, OMC impacted more than 249,000 children and individuals through their expert programs and creative services to offer help, healing and hope. The amount donated is enough to fund three OMC foster homes, each housing 5-8 children, for a complete year.
“Church, you made a colossal, massive, huge difference,” Glenn told the Stetson Baptist family gathered for worship on Sunday July 7. “What a beautiful picture of the grace and mercy of God.”