Virginia pastor dies from coronavirus after holding church service

Pastor Gerald O. Glenn of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church succumbs to COVID-19 after vowing to keep his church open

A Virginia pastor has succumbed to the coronavirus after saying he would keep his church open until he was “in jail or the hospital.”

Pastor Gerald O. Glenn of Richmond’s New Deliverance Evangelistic Church told parishioners at his last service on March 22 that, “I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that,” reports the New York Post. 

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Virginia did not issue a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people until the day after that sermon, reports, although social distancing was recommended.

His church remained filled despite dire statistics about the rate of African-American fatalities and the risk for those with underlying conditions. According to his daughter, Mar-Gerie Crawley, her late father had diverticulitis, which can cause fevers and infections, so he initially dismissed the symptoms.

“I am essential,” Glenn told the church. “I talk to God.”

Glenn’s wife Marcietia Glenn has also tested positive for COVID-19.

The church announced Glenn’s passing on its Facebook page.

Crawley says her father didn’t intend to defy an order as it was not yet officially in place, but wanted to provide support to church members who were frightened by the virus.

Once her parents were diagnosed, she asked that people pay heed to the social distancing and stay at home orders.

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“It becomes very real to you,” Crawley said. “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.”

The church is requesting prayers for Crawley’s mother.

Glenn is the second Virginia pastor to die of the coronavirus after holding services despite warning about the pandemic. Pastor Landon Spradlin, also a musician, died last week after attending Mardi Gras in New Orleans.