Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois Newsletter January 6, 2021
RIP Medical Debt
Across the nation, there are large groups of people who are burdened with oppressive medical debt. 43 million Americans owe about $75 billion dollars in medical debt. Our most vulnerable communities are hardest hit – the sick, elderly, poor, and veterans. Middle class families who are barely getting by can find themselves in poverty because of medical debt. More than 60% of all bankruptcies have medical debt as a key contributing factor. This debt doesn’t come from bad decisions – it comes from seeking life saving medical care. And until it is resolved, medical debt lingers on one’s credit report, negatively impacting the ability to get a job, buy or rent a home, get a loan, or buy a vehicle.

The General Council decided in September that we want to do something about this medical debt in our area. We want to demonstrate Christ’s love for them in a concrete way. We want to help individuals and families get a fresh start, so that they can continue to seek needed medical care and find financial stability. Right now, there is approximately $1.7 million dollars of medical debt owed by those living in or near the poverty level in the Illinois counties our presbytery covers. And working together, we want to abolish all of it.

How? We are partnering with an organization called RIP Medical Debt. If you haven’t heard of them, you can find out more about their mission at . RIP Medical Debt was started by individuals who had worked in the debt collection field and wanted to forgive debts instead of collecting them. They pool money from donors to buy medical debt in large portfolios. They then contact those families and forgive their debt with no tax consequences for the donor or recipients. $10,000 donated to RIP Medical Debt can abolish $1 million dollars worth of debt.

To meet our goal, we will need to raise $17,000. That sounds like a lot of money – but it comes out to $216.19 per church or about $3.40 per member. By pooling our resources, we can make a huge impact on those in need in our communities. We are going to start our campaign with our November presbytery meeting, where the offering collected will go towards this purpose. We will continue with putting the offerings from Presbytery meetings towards this goal in February and May of 2021. We also want to encourage you to think creatively about how you and your congregation can respond to this challenge. Perhaps you have money in your mission budget that can be given to this campaign. Maybe you can do a special offering, or a fundraiser, or... there are many options.

After you have collected money for this purpose, please send it to the presbytery treasurer, Wade Meranda, and make sure to note that it is for medical debt forgiveness. You can also contribute on-line through the presbytery website ( and then look for the “Give Now” button at the top right. Any money put into the funds for the November, February, or May presbytery meetings will go to this purpose.)

Working together, we can make a difference in the lives of our neighbors in need. I hope you will join us in this campaign to abolish medical debt in our region.
First ever NIGHT Presbytery Meeting
Because our February 11, 2021 Stated Meeting will be held via Zoom and we don't have to travel for the gathering, the General Council of the Presbytery decided to try an experiment. We want to see if we could include more Ruling Elders with daytime jobs while not depriving Minister members of a Saturday for sermon writing and/or family time. Who knows, maybe more people who want to see what a Presbytery meeting is all about? With the Zoom meeting between 6:00 pm and 8:30pm, YOU might decide to join us. And if you have to sign off a bit early to put the kids to bed, have a great evening!

So watch for February's newsletter and emails sharing the Zoom link for the meeting and join us! If you are new to Zoom, there is information about how to use it on the website at

Grab your dinner plate and your glass of wine or water or tea and join us for worship, some education, and some business! Spread the word - we'd love to see lots of people!
Picture Frames and New Year's Resolutions
Picture Frames and New Year's Resolutions

Several years ago, we bought our parents WiFi digital picture frames so they could see pictures of their grandkids even though they live over 600 miles away. And this year, my family got me a similar frame to sit on my desk where I am writing...

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Events, Programs, Continuing Education
The Lombard Peace Center Offers Two Single-Day Workshops in January
Conflict Transformation Skills for Churches
January 16, 2021 from 9:00am CT to 4:30pm CT

Although a normal part of life, conflict is usually seen as something negative. Acquire the knowledge and skills to transform conflict into a force for positive change and spiritual growth. This event will be repeated on Feb. 13, Mar. 22, and Apr. 10, 2021.
Healthy Congregations
January 30, 2021 from 8:30am CT to 4:30pm CT

Could your congregation use a wellness check? Learn ways to minimize or prevent destructive conflict, manage negative reactivity, and help your church stay focused on 
its true mission and purpose. This event will be repeated on Feb. 18, Mar. 27, and Apr. 17, 2021.
Remote Retreat Offering for Spiritual Guides
Wilderness, Wisdom & new Wine: a three-day remote...

Wilderness, Wisdom, & New Wine: A Three Day Remote Retreat for Spiritual Guides 2020 was a year of wilderness like we have never experienced. Some of the greatest spiritual events in history have begun in the wilderness. Out of the wilderness...

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Work Continues Through COVID-19 for Marion Medical Mission
Covid-19 has meant for the first time in 35 years Marion Medical Mission was unable to send a team to Africa.

The light that shines through Marion Medical Mission is so desperately needed... especially now. Marion Medical Mission means: Joy, making life count, making a difference, sustainable life, Goodwill, adventure.

Together the impossible is possible. We can provide God’s children with safe drinking water. We can feed the hungry.

43,000 Wells have been built, that is 5 million people with safe drinking water. It has brought us together: the extreme poor, the not so poor, the wealthy; black people, white people; Americans, Africans; white collar, blue collar; college professors, those who never attended school. God’s creation. Building wells is a righteous battle, a life and death struggle, one where the issues are clear and simple.

Through this program we are a part of each other. Our Well Program is holy ground; the Beloved Community that spans the globe. Together “We have been to the mountain top and we’ve seen the Promised Land.”

As of November 16, 3,122 wells had been built in 2020.

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King  

There are still village wells that can be purchased for $450.
NEXT Church Event Registration Now Open
A Call For The Common Good
A FREE Live-Streamed Gathering for ALL Church Leaders
from NEXT Church
March 5-7, 2021

For more information and to register, visit
January Bible Study
Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23 (NRSV)
Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”

Questions for Reflection & Discussion
1.   How would you respond if an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream and told you to move you, your child, and your spouse to another country?
2.   How can we support those who have been displaced from their homes because of death threats? How would your response change if the person is displaced because of a natural disaster, or political upheaval, or a different faith tradition, or personal financial situations?
3.   How might the Presbytery/congregation/committee be guided by this scripture?