United Church of Christ wipes out medical debt for over 11K St. Louisans

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

BLACK JACK, MO – Local, regional and national leaders of the United Church of Christ announced on Saturday that church donations, matched by a generous gift from the Deaconess Foundation, have wiped out $12.9 million in medical debt for 11,108 families in St. Louis and St. Louis County. A news conference was held at Christ the King UCC, which begins the celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. The group talked about why the campaign got started and how it is bringing debt relief to scores of local neighborhoods.

“This endeavor is the intent of the United Church of Christ to make this tangible ministry of debt abolishment in our denominational regions another expression of the ways we seek to live out our commitment to Three Great Loves:  Love of Neighbor, Love of Children, Love of Creation, and to call attention to the impact of the failure to expand Medicaid in Missouri on poor families,” said the Rev. Traci Blackmon, senior pastor, Christ the King UCC, and UCC associate general minister of Justice and Local Church Ministries.

Church bodies raised more than $60,000, matched by a $40,000 donation from the Deaconess Foundation. Working with the New York-based nonprofit RIP Medical Debt, the group bought medical debt in December at pennies on the dollar. Families will receive letters on MLK weekend telling them that their medical debt has been forgiven.

“We recognize access to health care is a persistent challenge for the 1 in 5 children living in poverty in the St. Louis region,” said the Rev. Starsky Wilson, president, and C.E.O., Deaconess Foundation, St. Louis. “Furthermore, medical debt is a drag on family stability and economic mobility for these families.”

“People should not face poverty because of illness or injury,” said the Rev. Rebecca Turner, pastor, and teacher, of Christ Church UCC, Maplewood, MO. “We see the way this action can interrupt a downward spiral into a black hole of poverty and can give families a chance to ‘reset’ their financial situation.”

“What a way to be sharing vital communion together for the forgiveness of medical debt for the poor in St. Louis city and county!” said the Rev. Ginny Brown Daniel, Missouri Mid-South Conference minister.

The United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination, has nearly 900,000 members and 5,000 congregations nationwide. Headquartered in Cleveland, it is a church of many firsts: the first mainline denomination to ordain a woman, the first to ordain an openly gay man and the first predominantly white denomination to ordain an African-American.

More can be learned about the UCC’s justice ministries is here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.


Latest News

More News