Zion Episcopal Church Aims to Forgive $1,000,000 in Unpayable Medical Debt
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2021
DOUGLASTON, QUEENS — Zion Episcopal Church has partnered with the non-profit RIP Medical Debt in a campaign to forgive $1,000,000 in medical bills weighing on the most vulnerable.
By partnering with RIP Medical Debt, Zion will be able to purchase the medical debt of those who are most burdened by it—for a penny on the dollar. The church will then forgive that debt as an expression of their faith that grace triumphs over greed and that love overcomes the forces of death.
The church ’s goal is to raise $10,000 by Easter Sunday—April 4—and is well on its way to that goal. Zion is inviting everyone in the Queens community to join in and forgive as much as they can at zionepiscopal.org/RIPmedicaldebt.
“The pandemic has made us more aware than ever of our mortality—our own vulnerable bodies,” said Mother Lindsay Lunnum, the rector of Zion. “We’re forgiving debt that our neighbors have incurred just because they got sick or injured. Just because they have bodies—like ours—that need care.”
RIP Medical Debt was founded by two former debt collectors. Between them, they had collected millions of dollars of debt from struggling people. But in 2014, they decided to use their expertise to help those people rather than hound them.
The non-profit buys medical debt that hospitals and insurance companies have bundled and sold to debt collectors for a fraction of its value. They then leverage campaigns like Zion’s to forgive the unpayable debt held by people who are most burdened by it: those who earn less than double the federal poverty level, whose debts are 5 percent or more of their annual income, or who are facing insolvency.
“If we each give a little, together we can forgive a lot,” said Marguerite LeBron, one of the wardens at Zion. “Nobody should have to choose between paying a bill from the ER and buying food for their families.”
Zion Episcopal Church has been serving the Queens community since 1830, inviting all people to join in loving, joyful worship, and striving to be Christ’s hands and heart in the world.
“Since the pandemic began, Zion has been drawn deeper than ever into that mission,” said Mother Lunnum. “We’re finding new ways to live out what we believe: that God knows our pain, and shares in it, and redeems it. As the church, we are feeling newly called to realize God’s dream of solidarity and redemption, especially for those hurting the most.”
The Rev. Lindsay Lunnum
Rector, Zion Episcopal Church