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Church Mourns Loss of Pastor Who Rejected Social Distancing

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The founder and pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church (NDEC) in Richmond, Virginia, passed away Saturday from complications due to Covid-19. During the last in-person sermon he gave on March 22, Bishop Gerald O. Glenn had said he would keep preaching unless he were “in jail or in the hospital.” Within that week, however, the church made the decision to suspend services, and three weeks later, the pastor died. 

“It is with an exceedingly sorrowful and heavy heart that I come to you this morning,” said a church leader in a Facebook announcement posted on Easter Sunday. “Last night, April 11, at 9 p.m., our father, Bishop Gerald Glenn transitioned from labor to reward. Since I can’t lie, the first thing I asked God was, ‘Why?’ But bishop has taught us that God is big enough to handle our ‘why.’” 

He went on, “Our bishop has been a friend as well as a spiritual shepherd to so many of us here at Deliverance and around the country. He will be missed by us all.” The leader asked that as the church enters a 30-day mourning period for the bishop, the members would remember to pray for the pastor’s wife, Mother Glenn (who also has Covid-19), as well as the whole Glenn family. 

The leader encouraged the church to show one another the love of Jesus and quoted Isaiah 41:10, which says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Church Guide to Coronavirus 1

“I don’t know how,” he said, “but I got to say it: God will get the glory from this.”

New Deliverance Mourns Death of Pastor

The week prior to Bishop Glenn’s March 22 sermon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recommended that people avoid gathering in groups of 50 or more, and President Trump had advised against groups of 10 or more.

NDEC decided to hold a service the next week anyway, recording and posting it to YouTube, although the church’s videos have since been removed. The New York Post reports that during his sermon, Glenn described the decision to gather for worship as “controversial” and his role as a pastor as “essential,” minimizing the virus’s risk to the members. He said, “I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that.” 

The next day, the governor of Virginia issued an executive order banning all gatherings of 10 or more people. On March 27, The church issued a letter to members, announcing that services were suspended.

In a video posted to Facebook on April 4, Glenn’s daughter, Mar-Gerie Crawley updated the church that both her mother and her father had tested positive for Covid-19. While her mother had had pneumonia, she was no longer showing signs of it at the time. But Bishop Glenn also had pneumonia, and Crawley described his situation as “more complicated,” noting he had just been put on a ventilator. “This is the darkest our family has ever seen,” she said, but added that people’s prayers and support have meant a great deal to the family.

According to WTVR News, Crawley said that the purpose of the March 22 sermon was to encourage New Deliverance members, not to oppose state guidelines. She now entreats everyone to be cautious and shelter at home: “It becomes very real to you. I just beg people to understand the severity and the seriousness of this.” 

In a Tuesday post to her personal Facebook page, Crawley said that she and several other family members had also tested positive for Covid-19. She asked her New Deliverance family to trust in God during this time and to persevere in love.

“I don’t have the words right now to express myself,” she said. “I pray that God would give me the strength to in the future. What I do want to leave with you is this, God did not call us to fight, He called us to love. That’s how we will honor my Father. Love them in spite of. God will fight our battles. You all keep the faith and we will talk to you soon.”

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Jessica Mouser is a writer for churchleaders.com. She has always had a passion for the written word and has been writing professionally for the past two years. She especially enjoys evaluating how various beliefs play out within culture. When Jessica isn't writing, she enjoys playing the piano, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.