Dozen churches across the United States will be celebrating Easter in grief come Sunday as the novel coronavirus has claimed the lives of at least seven more longtime pastors in the last two weeks. All of the pastors were older adults and some suffered from underlying conditions which left them vulnerable to the virus.
This year’s Holy Week has arrived with solemnity amid global calamity. COVID-19 forcing Christians to confront mortality. Trepidation has gripped millions of hearts. Many are desperately ill; others are compelled to have difficult end-of-life conversations with their families. Holy Week reminds Christians that through the Crucifixion of Christ, God identifies with humankind in suffering and death.
Monsignor Richard J. Guastella, pastor of St. Clare’s R.C. Church in Great Kills on Staten Island, New York, died early Thursday morning after “bravely battling the COVID-19 which led to his hospitalization last week. He was 73.
The Rev. H. Gene Sykes, who led Friendship Baptist Church in Bayonne, New Jersey, for more than a quarter century, died of complications from the new coronavirus. He was 78
The Rev. Andrea Bowman of Grace Episcopal Church of Ellensburg died from complications related to the new coronavirus. She died at 4:15 p.m. on Palm Sunday at the University of Washington ICU unit in Seattle, the Daily Record reported.
The Rev. Eddie Lee Hunter, 68, died from COVID-19. He served as pastor of Miracle Missionary Baptist Church and as the president of the Northeast District Baptist Convention. Hunter became ill around March 21.
Pastor and former St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Detective Carl Smith died from COVID-19 Thursday, the St. Louis Police Officers Association said. The post said his wife Geraldine is also in the hospital with COVID-19. Smith was a pastor at New Beginning Missionary Baptist Church. He was also a lead mediator at St. Louis Gun Violence De-Escalation Centers.
Pastor Ronnie Hampton of New Vision Community Church, a Free Methodist Church Planting Project targeting the communities of Shreveport, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C., died Wednesday evening, a day after he tested positive for the new coronavirus also known as COVID-19.
The Rev. Isaac Graham, the longtime pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Harlem, New York City, also died from the coronavirus on Sunday, just six days after he was diagnosed with the virus and hospitalized, according to a PIX11 report. He was 66.
His wife of 45 years, Cheryl, said he was stuck on a ventilator until his last breath and she was “quarantined away from him.”
“His last words to me were, ‘I love you,’” she said.