April 13, 2020by Reverend Dan on April 13, 2020
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. Someone I know has COVID-19.
I met Pastor Gerald Glenn in late 1999. He had planted a church on the south side of Richmond four years earlier, and his ministry was thriving. He heard there was a new church plant on the west end of town, and for our first service, he sent five of his deacons and ministers to bring us a seed offering and worship with us. Even though this was year 1999, the partnership had significant overtones in Richmond. His was a predominantly African American membership on the edge of one of the lower-income neighborhoods of Richmond, and the church I was planting was a predominantly white congregation close the most affluent part of town. It created a buzz when the media found out we were working together and for some reason it fascinated a lot of folks.
Over the next few years, our paths crossed often. We marched together to protest a group who were trying to establish a “White Supremacist Church” (that phrase doesn’t even make sense) under a not-for-profit religious exemption; I preached a revival in Cleveland, Ohio for the national organization of his denomination; and we talked about new church plants and where the best opportunities might be. During this time, Gerald was elevated to the title of bishop in the Church of God in Christ and was eventually elected to the College of Bishops for that denomination. He completed his doctorate in 2007, and was a pillar in the Virginia faith community and beyond , working on councils with governors and national officials on race relations.
Gerald is fighting this awful virus just like I knew he would, with grace and dignity and courage. His eyes have not left the prize, or the calling God has placed on his life. I pray fervently for Gerald every day. The world and the church of Jesus Christ still need him. And I pray for his wife (his lifelong partner in ministry) their five children, and their ten grandchildren.
The thing I cherish most about Gerald was some advice he gave me one day. I happened to be driving through his neighborhood one Saturday afternoon, and he was in the yard working, so I slowed the car down and rolled my window down and waved. As soon as he saw me, he yelled out, “Preach Jesus tomorrow!”
To this day, after graduate classes and seminars on preaching, those two words are the best advice I ever received on homiletics (preaching). Gerald, hang in there my brother. The world needs to hear your voice “Preach Jesus” many more times. I love you, my friend.
This devotional was written last week when I was told that Gerald had contracted the virus. On Easter Sunday, I received a phone call letting me know that Bishop Gerald O. Glenn passed away late Saturday evening. “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.’ ‘Yes”, said the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” Rev. 14:13
“Father, Please be with all those fighting this awful virus, and help us all to keep our eyes focused on the prize which is heavenward in Christ Jesus, for it’s in His name that we pray, AMEN.”