Ohio megachurch helps pay $46.5 million in medical debt, highest amount ever paid off

Brian Tome, senior pastor of The Crossroad Church, a multisite megachurch primarily based in Cincinnati, Ohio, preaching on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020.
Brian Tome, senior pastor of The Crossroad Church, a multisite megachurch primarily based in Cincinnati, Ohio, preaching on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. | YouTube/Crossroads Church via screengrab

A multisite megachurch primarily based in Ohio partnered with a nonprofit to eliminate $46.5 million in medical debt, the largest medical debt relief amount to date.

Crossroads Church, a nondenominational church with multiple campuses in Cincinnati, as well as elsewhere in Ohio and central Kentucky, worked alongside RIP Medical Debt to raise the funds.

Senior Pastor Brian Tome announced the total amount of medical debt cleared near the beginning of his sermon on Sunday, receiving an applause from the congregation.

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“The partner we work with said in a one-time shot, a one-time act, that’s the largest amount of medical debt that has ever been retired in one shot. Come on, who’s excited about that?” declared Tome, receiving more applause. “That is amazing.”

The money raised by the church in partnership with RIP Medical Debt has been given to many families in the Cincinnati area and some families outside of Ohio, according to Tome.

In a post to their Facebook page on Sunday, Crossroads Church celebrated the news, thanking all those who donated to the charitable endeavor.

“We asked our Crossroads community to come together and bless some of our neighbors in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee. And you did just that. Thank you!” the church said.

RIP Medical Debt was founded in 2014 and based in New York. It garnered headlines in 2016 when the group was positively featured on John Oliver’s HBO series “Last Week Tonight." 

The nonprofit often works with churches to buy medical debt for pennies on the dollar through the collection system and forgive the debt so those in debt incur no expenses.

Families who had the debt forgiven were notified through bright yellow envelopes sent in the mail. On Sunday, Tome read from a response from one of the families who got an envelope.

“I got emotional because I have been so needing a break with getting my credit together. I really appreciate the gift,” said the unnamed recipient, as read by Tome to the congregation.

“You have no idea how, when trying to get on the right track, sometimes it seems like a really long journey. Thanks a lot!”

Last September, RIP Medical Debt worked with The Crossing of Columbia, Missouri, to eliminate $43 million in medical debt.

The Crossing raised $431,597.30 for the effort, which the nonprofit used to purchase around $43 million in medical debt incurred by families in the state.

Pastors Keith Simon and Patrick Miller of The Crossing said in a statement at the time that they considered their effort a Jubilee in homage to the practice in Ancient Israel in which every 50 years all debts were forgiven.

“It was called the Jubilee. A day of liberation. Debts forgiven. Indentured servants released. Mortgaged property returned. And on this same day everyone’s sins were forgiven,” they said last year. 

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