A Virginia pastor died from COVID-19 coronavirus after holding a church service with more than the advised 10 people. Bishop Gerald O. Glenn, 66, held his last known in-person service at New Deliverance Evangelistic Church on March 22 and died April 11.
“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that,” Glenn said at the time, according to the New York Post. Glenn reportedly also said “people are healed” at his church. A week later Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a social distancing order.
Located in North Chesterfield, Virginia, Glenn’s church was informed of his death on Easter Sunday by church elder Bryan Nevers.
“It’s with an exceedingly sorrowful and heavy heart that I come to you this morning and regret to inform you that on last night, April 11 at 9 p.m., our father, Bishop Gerald Glenn, transitioned from labor to reward,” Nevers said. “Saints I can’t lie the first thing I asked God was why.”
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine mourned the faith leader on Twitter. He wrote: “My heart sinks as I learn this morning that Bishop Gerald Glenn, pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church, died yesterday from COVID-19. He was a friend and pillar of Richmond faith community. May all do as much for so many.”
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Glenn’s wife, Marcieta Glenn, also tested positive for the virus. In a post on its Facebook page, the church asked its members to “pray continually” for the first family “during this time of intense grief.”
“While they are mourning the heartbreaking earthly absence of their family patriarch & spiritual father, they also have family members who are struggling to survive this dreaded pandemic,” the post read. “Whenever you pray & every time you pray, call out their names and the names of all who need healing & comfort. Be encouraged, God is still in control.”
Glenn is the latest faith leader to die of the coronavirus and among those who came under fire for still holding in-person services.
There are many churches that transitioned to livestream services, but some churches continued to defy stay-at-home orders and held in-person services on Easter.
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While many offered messages of condolences and support in the post’s comments, others said they hoped Glenn’s death would serve as a lesson to others to heed the stay-at-home mandate and stop in-person services.
“While I am sorry you have lost your pastor, I hope this serves as a lesson to other pastors who insist on live services that you are putting peoples lives at risk. Glenn insisted he would keep preaching until he was in jail or the hospital and said ““I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that”. So please, please stop the in person services,” Carmen Sorge responded on Facebook.
The Glenns’ daughter, Mar-Gerie Crawley, told WTVR it’s wasn’t uncommon for her father to get fevers and show other symptoms due to his diverticulitis. They initially tried to treat him at home, but then his symptoms worsened. She advised people to take the virus seriously.
“When it comes knocking at your front door and the people that you spend every day with, it becomes very real to you,” Crawley said. “So I just beg people t understand the severity and the seriousness of this because like people are saying, it’s not just about us, its about everyone that’s around us.”