The Crossing is trying to help turn the lights off on utility debt for Columbia residents.

In just two weeks, members of local church The Crossing raised $674,121 for Columbia residents who have been struggling to pay their utilities.

The Crossing donated the money to the city in the hopes that it will be used to pay off debts for those who are on the utility disconnect list and those with delinquent accounts. The church wants any remaining amount to be donated to Love Columbia, a local nonprofit that helps Columbia residents who are in need.

Those who are behind on their monthly utility payments have delinquent accounts and will receive notices in the mail that they need to pay their bill or risk getting disconnected. Residents who find themselves on the utilities disconnect list are those that have received notices but are still behind.

There were 4,495 delinquent accounts Monday, according to the city’s website. As of March 29, there were 528 pending utility disconnects, according to an April 7 presentation to the water and light advisory board.

Pastor Keith Simon, who co-founded The Crossing in 2000 with Pastor Dave Cover, challenged members of the church to donate in his Easter Sunday sermon. He wanted to see if the church’s congregation could match what it gave in September 2019, when it donated $465,000 to help Missouri residents who were struggling with medical debt.

“We see that we’ve been blessed in a lot of ways, and we wanted to share that blessing with people in our community,” Simon said.

This time around, church members shined a little brighter, far exceeding the initial goal of $400,000. Most people texted their donation amounts to GIVELIGHT, with 1,158 people in total participating in the campaign.

Simon said he was amazed when he saw the final amount, but he wasn’t surprised by the willingness of the church’s congregation to give.

“We really do want to make a difference in people’s lives,” Simon said. “We’re not asking anyone to like us or agree with us; we just want to help people.”

Dave Sorrell, head of the city’s Utilities Department, said he couldn’t yet say exactly how the donation money will be used, but the city is very appreciative of the church’s donation.

The city suspended utility disconnections in March 2020, understanding that a lot of residents were going to have trouble paying their bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disconnections resumed Oct. 26.

Payment assistance is available by calling the city’s Utilities Department at 874-7380 or by emailing UCS@CoMo.gov.

  • Hi, my name is Charlie Drape and I am a Local Government reporter for Spring 2021. Reach me at cmdfd2@umsystem.edu, or 573-882-5700.

  • Assistant city editor, spring 2021. Studying print and digital news journalism. Reach me at skylarlaird@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720.

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