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Clarksville church erases $1.5 million in medical debt in communities hit by storms

RIP Medical Debt
Posted at 5:27 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 10:42:02-05

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Whether it's the words that are shared or the songs that are sung, the Senior Pastor of Madison Street United Methodist Church in Clarksville hopes faith is at the center of everything they do. "We’re constantly looking for ways that we can make a difference in our community because we believe that’s part of what God calls us to do," said Rev. Harriet Bryan.

So as soon as the news broke that communities in Kentucky were leveled by tornadoes, Rev. Bryan knew they had to step up. "Like everyone else, we wanted to do something to help," she said.

Legions of volunteers appeared to have the debris removal covered, so she challenged her congregation to take a different approach. "We knew that there would be others that would be hurting that people may not be thinking of," said Rev. Bryan.

They partnered with RIP Medical Debt, a nonprofit that purchases outstanding hospital payments and instead of sending more bills, mails out a bright yellow envelope announcing those charges have been forgiven. "Who had lost, perhaps, their home and still had this albatross of medical debt, it just seemed like a no-brainer," she said.

You see, helping people after a devastating tornado is something this congregation knows about all too well. Twenty-three years ago, Madison Street's century-old sanctuary was reduced to splinters by a tornado that hit Clarksville. Rebuilding took years and was only possible through the kindness of others and a reliance on faith. "This is one of the ways we say, God has not forgotten you. God cares and we care too," said Rev. Bryan.

It's a faith they now get to share with others. "If we can take one burden off someone who was hurting, we wanted to be able to do that," said Rev. Bryan.

Madison Street United Methodist Church was able to erase more than $1.5 million in medical debt across several counties in Tennessee and Kentucky. Many of them felt the impact of tornadoes and floods.

If you receive a yellow envelope from RIP Medical Debt, DO NOT THROW IT AWAY. NewsChannel 5 would also love to share your story. Please email Chris.Davis@NewsChannel5.com so we can get in contact with you.