Pastor Gerald O. Glenn of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield, Virginia had refused to adhere to the state's social distancing order, holding a crowded church service weeks ago. However, the 66-year-old has now succumbed to complications caused by coronavirus.
An elder from his church, Bryan Nevers, announced the death on the church's Facebook page, stating: "It is with an exceedingly sorrowful and heavy heart that I come to you this morning and regret to inform you that last night, April 11 at 11 p.m., our father, Bishop Gerald Glenn, transitioned from labor to reward. I can't lie, the first thing I asked God was why?"
The pastor's wife, Marcietia Genn, as well as their three children and their son-in-law have all also tested positive for coronavirus. It has been reported that the wife and son are at home recovering, but the pastor's two daughters and son-in-law are all still hospitalized with severe symptoms.
Nevers had announced to the church's Facebook followers on Sunday: "Bishop and mother, right now both Derek and Amanda are currently hospitalized with pneumonia in both lungs. We are believing God for healing right now in the name of Jesus. Saints, don't stop praying."
He added, "Our bishop has always told us as they wheeled him into the operating room, he'll proclaim that God is still a healer. We now have a duty to embrace one another in the love of Jesus."
Virginia state announced on 17 March that non essential gatherings of more than 10 people should be cancelled in-line with the new federal guidelines for social distancing to tackle the spread of the coronavirus. However, Pastor Glenn held his church service as normal on 22 March.
During that service, Glenn declared, "I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that."
Hinting at why he was still holding church services despite the guidelines, he said that his job as a pastor was essential, and that he would continue running his church actively "unless I'm in jail or the hospital".
During the service he said, "I just you know, I can't make y'all think like I'm thinking, but this thing has helped me. It has made me realize my own mortality. And I can honestly tell you of a truth today. If I die, I'm not worried about death."
He added, "I will not be afraid, I will not be subject. I told my children, don't be afraid, don't be neurotic. Yes, it's out there, but God is out there too. You ought to never talk about the virus without talking about God. Every time somebody talks about the virus you ought to say 'Jesus.' When they talk corona, you ought to say 'to God!' God is bigger than the virus, God is bigger than our struggles, He's bigger."
However, it is reported that just three days after that church service, the pastor started to display symptoms. He made several trips to the doctor, but it was thought that the symptoms were brought on by a separate underlying health condition.
Pastor Glenn tested positive for coronavirus on 3 April.
On Sunday, Nevers announced, "Bishop has taught us that God is big enough to handle our 'why?' Bishop has touched our lives in so many ways. We at NDEC share so many of life's important memories with bishop and mother. Bishop has been there when we were sick, prayed for healing.
"Bishop has been there when we've gotten married, leading us in our sacred vows before God. Bishop has been there for the birth of our children and later leading us into the dedication ceremony.
"Bishop and mother have been there with us at our spouse's deathbed comforting through Scripture, prayers and tender words."
He added, "Most importantly, Bishop Glenn has faithfully stood in this pulpit, Sunday after Sunday and Wednesday after Wednesday preaching the word of God with power. Leading us to the Lord and helping us grow in our relationship with Christ. Our Bishop epitomizes the words of Scripture in Jeremiah. 3:15. 'Then I would give you shepherds after my own heart who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.
"Our bishop has been a friend as well as a spiritual shepherd to so many of us here at New Deliverance and around the country. He will be missed by us all. NDEC as we enter into prayer in the morning for the next 30 days, let us continue to pray for mother Glenn and the first family. They need our prayers saints," he said.