DELAND, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Stetson Baptist Church has reportedly cleared more than $7.2 million in crippling medical debt for 6,500 individuals and families at or above the poverty line in Central Florida.
The generous offering is part of a church-wide initiative, called the '53rd Sunday,' where the church raised $153,867.19 and split it between two causes on June 30th.
“To say that we are surprised is an understatement,” said Stetson Baptist Church Senior Pastor, Dr. Dan Glenn. “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,” he added. “This is what the love of Christ looks like in a very practical way.”
The church's budget is said to be calculated for 52 Sundays in a calendar year. June 30th was the 53rd Sunday in the budget year. So, church leaders decided that during the week of June 30th, all proceeds would be evenly split to benefit 'RIP Medical Debt' and 'One More Child' to help local families.
For each $1 donated to RIP Medical Debt, $100 of debt will be forgiven. RIP Medical Debt chooses only those in need to have their debt cleared. Those who earn the rewards must earn less than two times the federal poverty level, must have debts that are five percent or more of the debtor's annual income, and the person must face insolvency.
The church's initial goal was reportedly to donate $24,000, forgiving all debt in Volusia County which meats RIP Medical Debt's criteria. However, church leadership decided that the excess raised will be applied to abolish medical debt in Lake, Putnam, Marion, and Flagler Counties as well. A total of about 6,500 families were affected.
The other half of the $153,867.19 raised will be sent to One More Child, which provides diapers for newborns, food for hungry, children, safety for abused and trafficked children, and foster homes to children in crisis. The organization hopes to "meet the immediate needs of hurting children and struggling families while building relationships that demonstrate the love of Christ.”
This story was written in Orlando, Florida.