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Three religious leaders in the area died in the past few days as Michigan becomes one of the top states with over 5,000 cases, just behind New York, New Jersey and California.
Bishop Robert Earl Smith Sr., 82, Pastor Kevelin Jones, 72, of Bountiful Love Ministries, and Elder Freddie Brown Jr., of Jackson Memorial Temple, died after testing positive for COVID-19, the Christian Post reports.
“Pastor Kevelin Jones and Bishop Robert Smith were both fathers to me," Chris Martin, pastor of Cathedral of Faith Ministries, told WJRT. "I had the chance to serve at Bountiful Love Church of God in Christ under pastor Kevelin Jones for years."
Smith, remembered as a bold witness of the gospel of Jesus, would hold a bullhorn and preach on the sidewalk, Martin added. He said both Brown and Jones had underlying health conditions.
“I never wanted to know the earth without him, but I'm going to make it because I have all these kids," Jones' wife of 48 years, Iola Jones, told FOX 66.
“I would describe him as a hero to many ... a father to many,” added Kevelin B. Jones Jr. “I haven’t seen him since the Sunday he was sitting in the back with his mask on.”
His oldest daughter, Sharee Hubbard, said she hasn't fully accepted it because she hasn't even seen her dead father, a tragedy as coronavirus is changing the way families are dealing with funeral arrangements.
Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton wrote on Facebook he is saddened to lose his dear friend Jones, who introduced him at the Michigan Democratic Convention when he was nominated for attorney general in 2010.
It's unclear exactly how the three religious leaders contracted the virus. Michigan has 5,489 confirmed cases with 132 deaths, behind states New York, New Jersey, and California.