New Jersey-based megachurch Liquid Church has helped to pay off $13.7 million in medical debt for approximately 3,800 people and families, despite experiencing financial decline.
Liquid Church helped pay the debt in collaboration with the New York-based nonprofit RIP Medical Debt. Tim Lucas, lead pastor and founder of Liquid Church, said in a statement that while “investigating the crisis of medical debt, we learned how it’s destroying the financial stability of families in our communities.”
“Medical debt is tied to two-thirds of bankruptcies in America, and it ruins credit for families, impacting their ability to secure housing, car loans, job opportunities, and more,” continued Lucas.
“In response to the pandemic, our church had a heart to give some fresh hope to our neighbors in need. We want them to have a clean slate to start 2021, and to remind them that they’re loved and God has not forgotten them.”
The medical debt relief comes when many churches, including Liquid, are experiencing financial challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown orders.
Liquid shifted to exclusively online services, family programming, and small groups in March of last year, eventually adding smaller in-person services last fall.
According to the church, they saw an overall giving decline of 3% during the pandemic, which was countered by the congregation reducing expenses.
Founded in 2014, RIP Medical Debt has often partnered with churches across the United States with the goal of raising money to eliminate medical debt for those in need.
The nonprofit uses the money raised to buy medical debt for pennies on the dollar via the collection system and then forgives the debt so that those in debt incur no expenses.
RIP Medical Debt garnered widespread attention in 2016 when the organization was positively spotlighted on British comedian John Oliver’s HBO series “Last Week Tonight."
Last fall, the nonprofit worked with VIVE Chicago, a nondenominational church that is one of many VIVE campuses across the country, to help eliminate around $19 million in medical debt.
VIVE Lead Pastor Adam Smallcombe said in a statement shared with CP last September that for many, financial debt “is a type of modern-day slavery imprisoning whole families and even generations into a cycle of poverty.”
“As the church and as Christians, our mandate is to liberate people from all kinds of oppression because only free people can truly free people,” said Smallcombe at the time.
“That's why we felt as leaders it was necessary to bring this initiative to our church and they responded with bold faith and generosity.”