Gospel singer and pastor of Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, New York, Donnie McClurkin called the last 2 ½ months “harrowing” as the nation continues to reel in civil unrest over racial injustice and the coronavirus pandemic.
Sharing how he was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, McClurkin said Thursday that he has been busy comforting people from his more than 2,000-member congregation who have lost loved ones to the coronavirus while recovering from his own infection.
“I had to walk people through the death of their loved ones. It was all in 2 ½ months. You had 32, 33 people that I had to deal with losing in 2 ½ months as well as going through COVID[-19] myself you know. So it’s been a very harrowing experience,” McClurkin revealed in an interview with Inspiration 1390.
He said he contracted the virus near the end of March and he made an appointment to get tested but it took four weeks for health officials to get back to him. By then, he said, all his symptoms were gone.
“By the time I got to test all my symptoms were gone. I’ve gone through two weeks of all of the fever, the loss of taste, smell, the aches, the fatigue, and then still had to do the digital shows that we had to do each week, deal with the members that were dying, deal with the members’ family that were dying and bishop friends of mine that were dying. It hit really hard,” he explained.
He also noted the ongoing economic fallout from the virus that has forced many people to seek help from food banks run by organizations like his church that has been giving away food to hundreds of people each Wednesday.
“Food lines every Wednesday, we have food distribution every Wednesday. Our line stretches around the church with about 350 people every Wednesday,” McClurkin said.
The “We Fall Down” singer who says he has been eager to gather in-person again says he is willing to wait until it’s safe to do so because he has been able to do virtual worship effectively.
“A lot of people are going frantic over the doors being closed because we are such churchaholics in so many ways. I believe that we are supposed to gather together. I believe that we shouldn’t forsake it but God allowed something to happen … that caused our churches across the board to be compromised and the doors to close in many churches and then it led us to this device,” he said pointing to the computer.
“We started doing our digital services, a lot of pastors were afraid that it would affect their congregation, their income, the zeal of the people. It had no [negative] effect” for his church, McClurkin said.
He said his church has flourished virtually through the increased reach of his services as well as giving.
“It increased ours by thousands of people. Around the world now, people are watching Perfecting Faith Church’s Wednesday’s mid-week service and Sunday morning service. The membership has remained strong. The financial aspect has gotten stronger and people are accepting Jesus Christ, I’m telling you … 200 people on a broadcast are saying that [they are saying] the Sinner’s Prayer with us,” he said.
The Perfecting Faith pastor also addressed the civil unrest over the death of George Floyd and structural racism and said the Church should not be a place where people run to escape reality.
“Let the Church not just become an entity where we run and escape from reality but let us become one who speaks to reality and tells the Gospel truth about how things are supposed to be by the grace of God and by the power of our voice,” he said.