A Virginia bishop who defied warnings about the danger of religious gatherings during the pandemic and vowed to keep preaching “unless I’m in jail or the hospital” died over the weekend after contracting Covid-19, his church said. The bishop, Gerald O. Glenn, 66, the founder and pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Chesterfield, Va., died on Saturday night, according to Bryan Nevers, a church elder. Mr. Nevers announced the death of Bishop Glenn during an Easter sermon, which was posted on the Facebook page of the Richmond-area Pentecostal congregation . He said that Bishop Glenn had transitioned from labor to reward. “The first thing I asked God is, ‘Why?’ ” Mr. Nevers said. “The bishop has touched our lives in so many ways.” Image Bishop Gerald Glenn in 2008.Credit…Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch, via Associated Press Mother Marcietia Glenn, 65, the bishop’s wife, also tested positive for the virus, Mar-Gerie Crawley, their daughter, said in an April 4 post on the church’s Facebook page. Ms. Crawley said at the time that her father was on a ventilator at the hospital. “It becomes very real to you,” Ms. Crawley said on Facebook. “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.” The church’s members held vigil and some fasted for Bishop Glenn, whose death was widely mourned, including by Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia. “My heart sinks as I learn this morning that Bishop Gerald Glenn, pastor of New Deliverance Evangelistic Church, died yesterday from COVID-19,” Mr. Kaine wrote on Twitter on Sunday. “He was a friend and pillar of Richmond faith community. May all do as much for so many.” Bishop Glenn’s death came as church leaders from Pope Francis to local pastors grappled with the challenges of social distancing. Some church leaders have notably defied pleas from governors and public health officials to shutter houses of worship. In Florida, the pastor of a Pentecostal megachurch was arrested last month after holding services with hundreds of worshipers .On March 17, Gov. Ralph S. Northam told Virginians avoid nonessential gatherings of more than 10 people , in accordance with federal guidelines on social distancing. During a March 22 sermon, Bishop Glenn preached to a few dozen worshipers at the church, video on the website of the television station WTVR showed . The sermon was posted on YouTube and later removed. At the time, the bishop was quoted by local media outlets as saying that “I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus.” Local media reported that Bishop Glenn said that he would keep preaching “unless I’m in jail or the hospital.” On March 30, eight days after that sermon, Mr. Northam issued a stay-at-home order in Virginia.

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