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Greg Laurie, pastor of the Riverside-based megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship, confirmed Monday he has tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting Washington, D.C.
Christian Broadcasting News reported Monday, Oct. 5, that Laurie, 67, attended several prayer rally events in Washington, D.C., with Vice President Mike Pence more than a week ago, as well as the White House Rose Garden ceremony on Sept. 26 to announce the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.
President Donald Trump and several members of his inner circle who attended the White House event have tested positive for COVID-19.
Attended Prayer March 2020
Hours before the Rose Garden ceremony, Laurie attended Prayer March 2020, organized by evangelist Franklin Graham and held on the Mall in Washington. Video from the event shows thousands of participants, many of whom were not wearing protective masks or practicing social distancing, kneeling in small prayer groups and waving flags.
In a separate video, Laurie is shown offering a prayer during the march while standing next to Graham. Neither man was wearing a face covering.
Many other faith leaders who attended the Rose Garden event have said they have since tested negative for the virus, but not all are adhering to Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which recommend quarantining for 14 days after spending more than 15 minutes within 6 feet of someone who tests positive for COVID-19, according to Religion News Service.
In quarantine since Friday
In a Facebook post, Laurie said he tested positive Friday and, since then, has been in quarantine with his wife, Cathe.
“I am happy to report that all members of my family have tested negative for COVID,” Laurie said in the post Monday. “My symptoms have been mild so far, and I expect to make a full recovery. I have always taken the coronavirus seriously, and it has tragically taken many lives.
“At a time like this, we need to pray for those that have it and avoid politicizing it. If our President and First Lady can get COVID-19, clearly anyone can. I chose to first tell those I was directly in touch with and the congregation I pastor. Thank you for your concern and prayers. I hope to see you all soon.”
In the video message, Laurie said his symptoms include fatigue, aches, pain, difficulty tasting food and boredom.
“I want to get out again doing what I’m called to do,” he said. “It’s important as Christians for us to be reminded that God’s in control of our lives. I don’t know why he allows me to get it but I got it And I know he will get me through it as he has always been faithful to me in the past. Ultimately, I also know my times are in his hands. When that moment comes for me to leave this world I’ll leave. And I won’t leave a moment before and I won’t leave a moment after.”
Harvest officials did not immediately comment on Laurie’s diagnosis.
Numerous well-wishers expressed hope Monday on Facebook for Laurie’s speedy recovery.
“Prayers for you and Kathy Pastor Greg!” one person wrote. “Please be careful, and may you be blessed and healthy in the name of Jesus! Please no more large crowd events, and please stay away from the WH (White House) It is not safe there.”
“Our family is praying for you Pastor Greg and Cathy. Praying for our President and First Lady. Praying for God’s healing hand on our world. This battle is real and evil. But it will not shake our Faith, Hope and trust in Lord. Get well soon,” another person wrote.
Sunday worship services at Harvest’s headquarters in Riverside are held outdoors under what is billed as the “big tent,” according to the church’s website.
“In our effort to revive in-person services, the new Big Tent is our place to congregate again as a church body, without overheating under the summer sun and still social distancing,” the website says. Join us under the Big Tent at either 8:00 AM or 10:00 AM with your family! And in the interest of caution, please don’t forget to wear your face masks!
Services at its church in Irvine are held in what use to be its parking garage to facilitate social distancing, the website says.
Harvest also has a campus in Lahaina, Hawaii. Information about whether services are being held at that location were not available.
Harvest has implemented several protocols to protect against COVID-19, church spokeswoman McKayla Dyk said. Mandatory mask wearing and social distancing is required for all Harvest employees during Sunday services, and congregants are encouraged to take the same precautions. In addition, hand sanitizer is available at all locations, and inside seating is limited to 25 percent of capacity, or 100 people.
“The church has also minimized mid-week activity and is encouraging people in the fellowship to become part of small groups that meet in homes or online via Zoom, Dyk said.
Laurie, who has been a minister since 19, founded Harvest Christian Fellowship in 1973. With a congregation of more than 15,000, it is the eighth largest church in the United States and the third largest in California.
In 1990, Laurie began holding large-scale public evangelistic events called Harvest Crusades. Since that time, more than 7.9 million people have participated in the events in person or online around the United States.
SoCal Harvest, one of the largest evangelical outreach events in the world, usually takes place for three days in August at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, attracting tens of thousands of people, but it was canceled this year for the first time in 31 years because of COVID-19. Instead, the event was reimagined as a film titled “A Rush of Hope” that was streamed Sept. 4-7 on Harvest.org, Facebook, Twitter, Roku and Apple TV channels.