No fewer than 30 bishops and prominent clerics have died of COVID-19 in America’s largest black Pentecostal church, Church of God in Christ (COGIN).
Christian Headlines quoting The Washington Post reports that the deaths occurred in Michigan, New York and Mississippi.
About nine per cent of Americans identify with COGIC and follow its historical black Protestantism.
Among those who died are Phillip Brooks, First Assistant Presiding Bishop; Timothy Scott, the Mississippi Bishop; and Bishops Robert Harris and Robert Smith.
Health officials linked the multiple deaths to conferences and funerals held by the church.
The church, according to the newspaper, COGIC representatives from 200 jurisdiction gather in February and March yearly while lay readers, church staff and other clergy hold workers’ meeting.
Such meetings include Historical Louisiana First Jurisdiction held Los Angeles, Kansas East Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Ministers and Conference held in Kansas City. The newspaper said both meetings were held in March.
Charles Blake, the presiding bishop of COGIC, has insisted on the closures and restrictions of the church.
He said, “I’d like to take this opportunity to unequivocally state that all Church of God in Christ local, district, state and international gatherings should absolutely cease.
Blake had earlier in a statement on March 25 said, “It is our unhappy duty to report that we have now experienced losses of both leaders and laity within our denominational body due to the coronavirus or other illnesses.
“Numerous saints are critically ill and in dire need of spiritual and medical interventions. Fervent prayer is our biblical response to any and all societal challenges.”