Beloved pastor dies of coronavirus after holding service during pandemic.
A bishop in Virginia has died after continuing to hold church services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bishop Gerald Glenn’s death was announced on Sunday. Glenn led the New Life Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Richmond and held his last church service on March 22, according to the New York Post.
“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that,” Glenn said a day before the state began restricting gathering to less than 10 people. He added that “people are healed” in his church.
The preacher reportedly told his congregation to stand up during the March 22 sermon to show the numbers at the service and said he would keep the church’s doors open “unless I’m in jail or the hospital.”
“I am essential,” Glenn said. “I’m a preacher — I talk to God!”
His wife, Marcietia Glenn, has also tested positive for the coronavirus. The couple’s daughter, Mar-Gerie Crawley, warned people to stay at home after her parents became infected.
“It becomes very real to you,” she told.
Crawley said her father’s last sermon wasn’t meant to defy the state, but rather give hope and support those in the congregations who were afraid of the pandemic.
“I just beg people to understand the severity and the seriousness of this, because people are saying it’s not just about us, it’s about everyone around us,” she said.
Glenn was a popular pastor and community leader in Richmond. Sen. Tim Kaine called Glenn a “friend and a pillar of Richmond faith community.”
Fellow pastor and friend of 46 years, Dr. Larry Miles, told NBC 12 that he was devastated by the news and noted that Glenn was loved by his church and took a genuine interest in churchgoers and their families.
“I’m just taking it day by day, moment by moment,” Miles said. “I struggled very hard yesterday trying to get through my own virtual service, and trying not to cry as much.”
“As long as we live, Gerald will never die because I have a piece of him. I have a piece of Gerald Otis Glenn, and I treasure that. I really, really do,” the pastor added.
As of Monday afternoon, there have been more than 5,700 infections in Virginia and almost 150 deaths. In the city of Richmond, there have been 167 cases and four deaths, according to the latest count by the New York Times.