CHICAGO (RNS) — This Thanksgiving, 5,888 families in Illinois’ Cook County will receive a card with the names of several congregations belonging to different Protestant Christian denominations throughout the city of Chicago and these words:
“Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We want you to know that all your debts have been forgiven.”
The churches don’t mean that merely theologically.
Together, they paid off $5.3 million in medical debt for “the poorest of the poor” — many in the city’s South Side neighborhoods of Englewood, Auburn Gresham, Washington Heights, Roseland and West Pullman, according to the Rev. Otis Moss III, senior pastor of the historic Trinity United Church of Christ. Trinity UCC, a congregation of 8,500 founded in 1961 in Washington Heights, is the first black church in the UCC and counts former President Barack Obama among its past members.
“We believe this is a moment of Jubilee for our community — a moment of Jubilee for our nation, where we reset the moral compass of our nation and for some of our churches that have lost their way in reference to the waves and the undertow of our current political situation in this nation,” Moss said at a celebration announcing the churches’ donation Sunday, Oct. 20, at Trinity UCC.