The pastor of a large church in Virginia has died of COVID-19 just weeks after he proudly showed off how packed his services were and vowed to keep preaching “unless I’m in jail or the hospital,” despite self-isolation recommendations from government officials amid the global pandemic.

During his last-known in-person service on Sunday, March 22nd, Bishop Gerald O. Glenn asked his congregation at New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Richmond to stand up to show off how many people were in attendance, despite warnings from federal officials to not host gatherings of more than 10 people.

“I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus. You can quote me on that,” he said before repeating the statement again to applause, saying that “people are healed” in his church.

Glenn happily announced he was being “controversial” by violating safety protocols with “way more than 10 people” at the church and vowed to keep the doors of his church wide open “unless I’m in jail or the hospital,” calling himself “essential” and a “preacher” who talks to God on the regular.

On Easter Sunday morning (Apr. 12), church officials made an announcement “with an exceedingly and sorrowful and heavy heart” that the pastor had died on Saturday, just one week after testing positive for the novel coronavirus that has so far killed more than 20,000 Americans and over 120,000 people worldwide.

Bishop Glenn’s wife, Marcia Glenn, is also sick with the virus, according to a statement posted from the church Monday morning.

Their daughter, Mar-Gerie Crawley, said her father didn’t take his symptoms seriously at first because he suffers from a condition that can lead to fever and infections. But she’s now urging everyone to stay home

“It becomes very real to you,” she told WTVR. “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.”

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