Virginia pastor dies from coronavirus after vowing to keep church open despite essential business order

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The coronavirus has killed a prominent Virginia pastor who told his congregation at a service in March, “I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus.”

Bishop Gerald Glenn founded New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield, outside Richmond. He died Saturday. The church announced his death on Easter.

Glenn spoke about the coronavirus on March 22, at his last known public service, days after Virginians were urged to avoid large non-essential gatherings of more than 10 people.

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On March 23, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam turned it into an order requiring nonessential businesses closed and banning all gatherings of more than 10 people.

“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that,” Glen told his followers, according to the New York Post.

Calling himself “controversial” and “in violation” of safety protocols – with “way more than 10 people” at the church – he vowed to keep his church open “unless I’m in jail or the hospital,” according to the Post.

“I am essential,” he said of remaining open, adding, “I’m a preacher — I talk to God,” according to the paper.

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New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield, Virginia.

New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield, Virginia. (Google Earth)

Glenn’s death came a week after he was diagnosed with COVID-19, the paper reported. The virus also sickened his wife.

His daughter told WTVR last week that her father at first wasn’t concerned because he had a condition that led to fevers.

Mar-Gerie Crawley said her father conducted the March 22 service to support those who were scared, not in defiance of social distancing.

She said everyone should stay home.

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"It becomes very real to you," she told the station. "I just beg people to understand the severity and the seriousness of this, because people are saying it's not just about us, it's about everyone around us."