Church leader dies of COVID-19 after ignoring guidance

·2 min read

The leader of a church in Virginia who defied social distancing guidelines to hold services for his congregation last month has died of complications from COVID-19. The death of Bishop Gerald Glenn, the leader of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Richmond, was announced by the church during Easter Sunday services online. Last month, Glenn ignored guidance to avoid gatherings and declared "God is larger than this dreaded virus" before his congregation. 

Glenn died a week after he and his wife tested positive for COVID-19, according to CBS affiliate WTVR. Their daughter, Mar-Gerie Crawley, said in Facebook video that they were having health issues and started searching for ways to treat their symptoms at home — especially her dad, who suffered from diverticulitis. He died on on Saturday. 

Glenn delivered his last sermon at the church on March 22, dismissing strong recommendations to practice social distancing that became mandatory the next day.

"I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus," Glenn said during the service. 

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam officially banned all gatherings of more than 10 people on March 23, but as WTVR reports, the recommendation had been in place for days. 

Crawley said her late father's sermon was done to comfort people, not endorse socialization or disrespect the guidelines. She also insisted people should respect coronavirus measures.

"When it comes knocking on your front door and the people you spend every day with, it becomes very real to you," Crawley said. "I just beg people to understand the severity and seriousness of this."

The church called for prayers and said final arrangements for Glenn would be made within the next few days. 

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