A US pastor who questioned the severity of his state's lockdown orders has died after contracting coronavirus. Bishop Gerald Glenn of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Virginia had hosted an in-person church service on 22nd March, just a day before state governor Ralph Northam issued an executive order banning all public and private gatherings of ten people or more.
"I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus," Glenn declared during his final sermon. "I got way more than 10 people here," he added, before criticising the government for “making moral decisions for church members.”
“I know I’m on some controversial territory," Bishop Glenn admitted, "I don’t care about your opinion. I’m not trying to appease anybody.”
On 3rd April, Glenn's daughter, Mar-Gerie Crawley took to Facebook Live to reveal that her father had been hospitalised and was in a “pretty critical condition.”
Crawley said her family members were initially sceptical that Glenn had been infected with covid-19, telling WTVR that it wasn't uncommon for him to get "fevers or sinus infections."
Soon, however, his condition deteriorated, and the family began to suspect the worst.
“He was very lethargic, so my mom decided that evening, once his breathing became laboured, she took him back and at that point they kept him. They did the COVID-19 test on him, and we got it back that day and it was positive,” Crawley added.
Church official Bryan Nevers announced the sad news during New Deliverance Evangelistic’s Easter Sunday livestream: “It is with an exceedingly sorrowful and heavy heart that I come to you this morning, and regret to inform you that on last night, April the 11th at 9 p.m., our father Bishop Gerald Glenn transitioned from labour to reward.
“Our bishop has been a friend, as well as spiritual Shepard to so many of us here at New Deliverance, and around the country. He will be missed by us all. ENDC, as we enter into a period of mourning for the next 30 days, let us continue to pray for Mother Glenn and the first family."
US Senator and former running mate of Hilary Clinton, Tim Kaine, paid tribute to the minister on Twitter, writing:
"My heart sinks as I learn this morning that Bishop Gerald Glenn, pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church, died yesterday from COVID-19. He was a friend and pillar of Richmond faith community. May all do as much for so many."
Glenn is survived by his wife and their five children. Do keep his family in your prayers at this difficult time.