The worldwide COVID pandemic these last two years has altered the way we live in so many different ways. Last summer, as infection numbers declined, so did overall moral and attendance numbers as parishioners gently returned to in-person worship. The clergy and vestry of Resurrection – Sautee worked very hard to hold everything together by continuing the legacy of Christian mission and purpose in serving their very rural community. They dreamed of beginning the program year with a big mission project that parishioners and the surrounding community could get excited about and rally behind.
Inspired by the work of their sister parish St. Dunstan’s in Atlanta and speculating that the pandemic must have made the issue of personal medical debt so much worse, they decide to try and do something about it.
The mission of Resurrection’s Compassion Team Ministry is to “Love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves by embodying Christ’s love through deeds of compassion within our parish and our broader community.” In that spirit of love, Resurrection partnered with RIP Medical Debt to relieve the burden of medical debt for individuals in the North Georgia area who are facing insolvency.
Partnering with RIP Medical is a modern-day story of manna from heaven or loaves and fishes. Every dollar contributed forgives $100 of medical debt. That means $100 can forgive $10,000, and $1000 multiplies to $100,000. Resurrection’s Vestry set a goal of raising $10,000 by All Saints Sunday November 7th, and if they reached their goal, the Vestry also pledged to match $10,000 from Resurrection’s Shepherd’s Fund for outreach.
With parish and community support, they were able to not only meet their goal of $20,000 but concluded their campaign by raising $31,043.08! The medical debt was recently bought in February, and 2,357 families in North Georgia were notified that Resurrection Episcopal Church in Sautee has forgiven their outstanding medical debt which totaled $2,650,123.20. And another bit of grace is that once the debt is forgiven, the recipients are notified their debt is removed from their credit ratings, instantly improving their credit score.
The folks at Resurrection are thankful that St. Dunstan’s example allowed them to not give in to the temptation in believing that there is nothing we can do. Instead, God blesses us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.