Last weekend, Bishop Gerald Glenn of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield, Va. passed away after testing positive for the coronavirus.
This was also after drawing criticism last month when he insisted on holding services last month, despite CDC warnings to limit gatherings, and despite a March 17 call from the governor to avoid non-essential gatherings of more than 10 people, the New York Times reports.
The social distancing guidelines prompted many churches to go online, but Glenn had another take.
“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus,” Glenn told his congregation during a sermon on March 22, one of his last known in-person addresses.
Glenn vowed to keep on preaching “unless I’m in jail or the hospital,” according to local media, the New York Times notes.
Mere days later, four members of Glenn’s family have also tested positive for the virus, unable to mourn the death of the bishop as they try to care for ailing relatives, his daughter Mar-Gerie Crawley told CNN.
Crawley said that herself, her husband, her mother and her sister have all been battling the virus during this difficult time.
However, she also defended her father, noting that Glenn was taking precautions at the church and enforcing social distancing.
“When he decided to have services, he was very clear in posting signs and having hand sanitizer, and wearing gloves and not congregating with people after service, during service,” Crawley said. “People were asked to sit six feet apart. Family members sat together. That’s it. After service, there was no talking and hanging around. Everyone left.”
Glenn, she said, wanted to offer the congregation comfort during the uncertainty of the pandemic, she added.
“He … wanted to give them a message of hope that it’s OK that this virus is out there. God is out there, too, and we believe that God will protect us.”
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