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Church initiative provides debt relief to local families

| February 15, 2024

NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Feb. 15, 2024) – Tuscarawas County’s Moravian churches helped wipe out more than $116,000 in medical debt for 161 local families.

All participated in a campaign called Debt Jubilee that raised more than $100,000 and erased over $10 million owed by patients in communities with a Moravian church or mission. Schoenbrunn Community Moravian Church Pastor Ben Lippert says it was inspired by the efforts of a congregation in North Carolina that went viral and caught the attention of national Moravian church leaders.

“All six Moravian churches in our valley took that on and raised thousands of dollars, and in the work of doing that we erased almost $11 million in medical debt in 37 U.S. counties, so it was just powerful to see how much one little church doing something is like a tidal wave of gratitude or compassion.”

The churches partnered with the organization RIP Medical Debt, which says that every dollar donated erases $100 in debt on average. 

“I was looking up some statistics this morning and 2 out of 5 Americans have some type of medical or dental debt. Even more shocking, 1 percent owe more than $10,000. Basically, their goal is to buy some of this for fractions on the dollar by churches or other nonprofit organizations to help people get some debt medical relief because it can really be a never-ending cycle for folks caught in that system.” 

Lippert says it’s personal for his congregation, which has a member awaiting a kidney transplant.

“That’s enough of an emotional burden to carry but on top of that he’s dealing with the crippling financial debt that comes with this, and it’s just so hard to see families go through that. So that personal connection made it real easy for our church to give to this organization.”

Beneficiaries get a letter from the organization letting them know their medical debt has been purchased and wiped out with no strings attached.

“I’m going through student loan debt and if something just showed up in the mail saying my student loan debt had been canceled, it would change my life. So knowing that we can do that for somebody else with medical debt just really touches my heart. “

The organization is trying to raise $500,000 to help patients with medical debt here in Ohio. For details or to contribute, visit

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