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North Carolina church buys up then burns thousands of struggling families' medical debts
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North Carolina church buys up then burns thousands of struggling families' medical debts

A church in North Carolina has again unburdened thousands of families who were struggling with medical debt, setting their obligations ablaze.

Trinity Moravian Church in Winston-Salem bought up and canceled nearly $3.3 million in medical debt belonging to 3,355 families.

According to the Dispatch, this is the second year that members of the church have taken part in the Debt Jubilee Project, which assumes past-due medical bills of residents in the area. Through the project, congregants previously purchased $1.65 million of debt, liberating 1,356 people in Forsyth and Davidson Counties.

When an individual fails to pay down an outstanding medical bill, the medical company that is owed will frequently hire a debt collection agency. When the agency similarly fails in its collection efforts, the debt is sometimes sold to a third-party collection agency for pennies on the dollar to help recoup the loss.

The Dispatch indicated that these third-party agencies have the legal right to either collect or forgive the debts. In partnership with RIP Medical Debt in New York, the Debt Jubilee Project exercised its right to do the latter.

Rev. John Jackman, the pastor of the church, told the Dispatch, "Most of these families were making a go of it until someone has to go into the hospital for a few days or to the doctor for a serious [medical condition]. … We can’t fix the system, so this is something we can do."

Jackman told WXII-TV that the Jubilee Project with RIP Medical Debt "raised $15,000 and with that, we were able to go in and bid and buy $3,295,863.64 in medical debt in Davidson County."

On March 26, the church held a symbolic debt-burning ceremony.

"Some of the poorer folks that we deal with get a medical bill of $1,000 or $3,000. It might as well be $10 million; they just can't deal with it," Jackman said. "For them to get the letter that says that’s forgiven, I think, is such a relief."

"You got to eat, and you got to take care of your children. ... You've got to do what you have to do just to live," Mary Bertstone, a member of the congregation, told WXII-TV. "And that[medical debt] is never going to rise to the top and it's always going to make you feel bad."

Trinity Moravian Church and its members will reportedly continue burning debts, one county at a time. According to the Debt Jubilee Project, it will seek to help families in Yadkin, Surry, Stokes, and Rockingham Counties next.

“It feels good,” Jackman said. “Even if we don’t know them personally, to know that we have helped families by decreasing their burden, it’s a good feeling. That’s how God operates.”

The informal motto of the Moravian Church is reportedly "in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love."

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Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon

Joseph MacKinnon is a staff writer for Blaze News.
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