The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


A prescription for caring

N.J. congregation starts coalition to help people access medicine

Mark Peters was 11 years old when his mother died of cancer. Her death, which happened on his birthday, left him with clear memories of her six-month struggle.

As a teenager he began working at the local pharmacy, where he learned that the store had forgiven his family a debt of a couple thousand dollars for the cancer medicines his mother took.

Several decades later, Peters was a pharmacist employed by a pharmaceutical company. He knew the costs of prescription drugs could be a major burden to uninsured people or patients whose insurance plans lacked adequate coverage for their medications.

“It was time for me to find a way to give back some of what was given to my family,” he said. So Peters went to his pastor, Mark Summer of Zion Lutheran Church, Oldwick, N.J., with a plan to link churches, health-care providers and other community organizations to help people find ways to obtain medicines that would preserve their life or allow them to function in spite of their illnesses.

Summer knew about the need. “In every faith community,” he said, “pastors hear stories about people with unmet needs for medicines or prescription costs that are draining their reserves.”

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Embracing diversity