A pastor at a Virginia church who openly defied an executive order that bans gatherings larger than 10 people to prevent the further spread of coronavirus has now died from the disease. During his last in-person service on March 22, Bishop Gerald O. Glenn encouraged his congregation at New Deliverance Evangelistic Church to stand up to show how many were in attendance despite the ban on large gatherings.
Glenn vowed to keep holding services unless, he said, “I’m in jail or the hospital” and was proud of the large services, The New York Post reports.
“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus,” he said as the audience clapped during his last service. “You can quote me on that.”
He proudly announced that he knew he was being “controversial” by being “in violation” of the executive order, with “way more than 10 people,” but he vowed to keep his church open.
“I am essential,” he said. “I’m a preacher. I talk to God!”
Church officials announced his death Sunday, noting “with an exceedingly sorrowful and heavy heart” that he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 the week before. The pastor’s wife, Marcietia Glenn, has also been diagnosed with the disease, and church members are offering prayers for her recovery.
In an interview with WTVR, the couple’s daughter, Mar-Gerie Crawley said her father dismissed his symptoms early on because he had a condition that sometimes leads to fevers and infections. She’s now urging people to stay home.
“It becomes very real to you,” she told the station. “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.”