Churches mourn as bishop, pastor and elder all die of coronavirus

Bishop Robert Earl Smith Sr.
Bishop Robert Earl Smith Sr., pastor Kevelin Jones of Bountiful Love Ministries and elder Freddie Brown of Flint, Michigan, died of complications from coronavirus in March 2020. |

Michigan’s Genesee County is in mourning as a bishop, a pastor and an elder are among the four people who have died of the new coronavirus.

Bishop Robert Earl Smith Sr., pastor Kevelin Jones of Bountiful Love Ministries, and elder Freddie Brown, all from Flint, have died over the past few days.

“Pastor Kevelin Jones and Bishop Robert Smith were both fathers to me. I had the chance to serve at Bountiful Love Church of God in Christ under pastor Kevelin Jones for years,” ABC12 quoted pastor Chris Martin of Cathedral of Faith Ministries as saying.

Martin remembered Brown as a servant and a family man and said the elder and Jones had underlying health conditions.

Pastor Jones’ wife, Iola Jones, said she never wanted to “know the earth without him. but I’m going to make it because I have all these kids,” according to NBC25.

“I would describe him as a hero to many ... a father to many,” added Kevelin B. Jones Jr. “I haven’t seen him since the Sunday he was sitting in the back with his mask on.”

“I don’t think I have fully accepted it because I haven’t seen my father,” Jones’ oldest daughter, Sharee Hubbard, was quoted as saying.

“He taught all of us a lot about family and faith and a lot about having joy,” Martin recalled. “He was a man of hospitality. He was the guy that would give you anything that he had. He would often go to Genesee Valley with bull horns and preach repentance or the Bible or go door to door and preach.”

“He loved this church and gave everything he was and is, to ensure that the doors of this church stayed open for this community, for the family, and so individuals would have a place to come and worship God freely,” MLive quoted Jones’s 45-year-old son, Nic South, as saying.

Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton wrote on Facebook that Jones introduced him to the Michigan Democratic Convention when he was nominated as Attorney General in 2010.

It’s not known how the three contracted the COVID-19 disease.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Michigan rose from 3,657 on Friday to 4,658 as of Saturday, and the deaths from 92 on Friday to 111 on Saturday.

Across the United States on Sunday, there were 135,000 confirmed cases with 2,612 recoveries and 2,381 deaths, according to John Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Center. The majority of the deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in New York, at 678.

Around the world, as of Sunday afternoon, there were 710,918 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus with 33,597 deaths and 148,995 people recovered.

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